His Revelation all that are on earth bear Him allegiance, Mine inmost being will rejoice, inasmuch as all will have attained the summit of their existence.... If not, My soul will be saddened. I truly have nurtured all things for this purpose. How, then, can any one be veiled from Him?"
The last three and most eventful years of the Báb's ministry had, as we have observed in the preceding pages, witnessed not only the formal and public declaration of His mission, but also an unprecedented effusion of His inspired writings, including both the revelation of the fundamental laws of His Dispensation and also the establishment of that Lesser Covenant which was to safeguard the unity of His followers and pave the way for the advent of an incomparably mightier Revelation. It was during this same period, in the early days of His incarceration in the fortress of Chihríq, that the independence of the new-born Faith was openly recognized and asserted by His disciples. The laws underlying the new Dispensation had been revealed by its Author in a prison-fortress in the mountains of Ádhirbayján, while the Dispensation itself was now to be inaugurated in a plain on the border of Mazindarán, at a conference of His assembled followers.
Bahá'u'lláh, maintaining through continual correspondence close contact with the Báb, and Himself the directing force behind the manifold activities of His struggling fellow-disciples, unobtrusively yet effectually presided over that conference, and guided and controlled its proceedings. Quddús, regarded as the exponent of the conservative element within it, affected, in pursuance of a pre-conceived plan designed to mitigate the alarm and consternation which such a conference was sure to arouse, to oppose the seemingly extremist views advocated by the impetuous Táhirih. The primary purpose of that gathering was to implement the revelation of the Bayán by a sudden, a complete and dramatic break with the past-- with its order, its ecclesiasticism, its traditions, and ceremonials. The subsidiary purpose of the conference was to consider the means of emancipating the Báb from His cruel confinement in Chihríq. The first was eminently successful; the second was destined from the outset to fail.
The scene of such a challenging and far-reaching proclamation was the hamlet of Badasht, where Bahá'u'lláh had rented, amidst pleasant surroundings, three gardens, one of which He assigned to Quddús, another to Táhirih, whilst the third He reserved for Himself. The eighty-one disciples who had gathered from various provinces
were His guests from the day of their arrival to the day they dispersed. On each of the twenty-two days of His sojourn in that hamlet He revealed a Tablet, which was chanted in the presence of the assembled believers. On every believer He conferred a new name, without, however, disclosing the identity of the one who had bestowed it. He Himself was henceforth designated by the name Bahá. Upon the Last Letter of the Living was conferred the appellation of Quddús, while Qurratu'l-`Ayn was given the title of Táhirih. By these names they were all subsequently addressed by the Báb in the Tablets He revealed for each one of them.
It was Bahá'u'lláh Who steadily, unerringly, yet unsuspectedly, steered the course of that memorable episode, and it was Bahá'u'lláh Who brought the meeting to its final and dramatic climax. One day in His presence, when illness had confined Him to bed, Táhirih, regarded as the fair and spotless emblem of chastity and the incarnation of the holy Fátimih, appeared suddenly, adorned yet unveiled, before the assembled companions, seated herself on the right-hand of the affrighted and infuriated Quddús, and, tearing through her fiery words the veils guarding the sanctity of the ordinances of Islám, sounded the clarion-call, and proclaimed the inauguration, of a new Dispensation. The effect was electric and instantaneous. She, of such stainless purity, so reverenced that even to gaze at her shadow was deemed an improper act, appeared for a moment, in the eyes of her scandalized beholders, to have defamed herself, shamed the Faith she had espoused, and sullied the immortal Countenance she symbolized. Fear, anger, bewilderment, swept their inmost souls, and stunned their faculties. `Abdu'l-Kháliq-i-Isfahání, aghast and deranged at such a sight, cut his throat with his own hands. Spattered with blood, and frantic with excitement, he fled away from her face. A few, abandoning their companions, renounced their Faith. Others stood mute and transfixed before her. Still others must have recalled with throbbing hearts the Islámic tradition foreshadowing the appearance of Fátimih herself unveiled while crossing the Bridge (Sirat) on the promised Day of Judgment. Quddús, mute with rage, seemed to be only waiting for the moment when he could strike her down with the sword he happened to be then holding in his hand.
Undeterred, unruffled, exultant with joy, Táhirih arose, and, without the least premeditation and in a language strikingly resembling that of the Qur'án, delivered a fervid and eloquent appeal to the remnant of the assembly, ending it with this bold assertion: "I am the Word which the Qá'im is to utter, the Word which shall
put to flight the chiefs and nobles of the earth!" Thereupon, she invited them to embrace each other and celebrate so great an occasion.
On that memorable day the "Bugle" mentioned in the Qur'án was sounded, the "stunning trumpet-blast" was loudly raised, and the "Catastrophe" came to pass. The days immediately following so startling a departure from the time-honored traditions of Islám witnessed a véritable revolution in the outlook, habits, ceremonials and manner of worship of these hitherto zealous and devout upholders of the Muhammadan Law. Agitated as had been the Conference from first to last, deplorable as was the secession of the few who refused to countenance the annulment of the fundamental statutes of the Islámic Faith, its purpose had been fully and gloriously accomplished. Only four years earlier the Author of the Bábí Revelation had declared His mission to Mullá Husayn in the privacy of His home in Shíráz. Three years after that Declaration, within the walls of the prison-fortress of Máh-Ku, He was dictating to His amanuensis the fundamental and distinguishing precepts of His Dispensation. A year later, His followers, under the actual leadership of Bahá'u'lláh, their fellow-disciple, were themselves, in the hamlet of Badasht, abrogating the Qur'ánic Law, repudiating both the divinely-ordained and man-made precepts of the Faith of Muhammad, and shaking off the shackles of its antiquated system. Almost immediately after, the Báb Himself, still a prisoner, was vindicating the acts of His disciples by asserting, formally and unreservedly, His claim to be the promised Qá'im, in the presence of the Heir to the Throne, the leading exponents of the Shaykhí community, and the most illustrious ecclesiastical dignitaries assembled in the capital of Ádhirbayján.
A little over four years had elapsed since the birth of the Báb's Revelation when the trumpet-blast announcing the formal extinction of the old, and the inauguration of the new Dispensation was sounded. No pomp, no pageantry marked so great a turning-point in the world's religious history. Nor was its modest setting commensurate with such a sudden, startling, complete emancipation from the dark and embattled forces of fanaticism, of priestcraft, of religious orthodoxy and superstition. The assembled host consisted of no more than a single woman and a handful of men, mostly recruited from the very ranks they were attacking, and devoid, with few exceptions, of wealth, prestige and power. The Captain of the host was Himself an absentee, a captive in the grip of His foes. The arena was a tiny hamlet in the plain of Badasht on the border of Mazindarán. The trumpeter was a lone woman, the noblest of her sex in that Dispensation, whom even
some of her co-religionists pronounced a heretic. The call she sounded was the death-knell of the twelve hundred year old law of Islám.
Accelerated, twenty years later, by another trumpet-blast, announcing the formulation of the laws of yet another Dispensation, this process of disintegration, associated with the declining fortunes of a superannuated, though divinely revealed Law, gathered further momentum, precipitated, in a later age, the annulment of the Sharí'ah canonical Law in Turkey, led to the virtual abandonment of that Law in Shí'ah Persia, has, more recently, been responsible for the dissociation of the System envisaged in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas from the Sunní ecclesiastical Law in Egypt, has paved the way for the recognition of that System in the Holy Land itself, and is destined to culminate in the secularization of the Muslim states, and in the universal recognition of the Law of Bahá'u'lláh by all the nations, and its enthronement in the hearts of all the peoples, of the Muslim world.
Upheavals in Mazindarán, Nayríz and Zanján
The Báb's captivity in a remote corner of Ádhirbayján, immortalized by the proceedings of the Conference of Badasht, and distinguished by such notable developments as the public declaration of His mission, the formulation of the laws of His Dispensation and the establishment of His Covenant, was to acquire added significance through the dire convulsions that sprang from the acts of both His adversaries and His disciples. The commotions that ensued, as the years of that captivity drew to a close, and that culminated in His own martyrdom, called forth a degree of heroism on the part of His followers and a fierceness of hostility on the part of His enemies which had never been witnessed during the first three years of His ministry. Indeed, this brief but most turbulent period may be rightly regarded as the bloodiest and most dramatic of the Heroic Age of the Bahá'í Era.
The momentous happenings associated with the Báb's incarceration in Máh-Ku and Chihríq, constituting as they did the high watermark of His Revelation, could have no other consequence than to fan to fiercer flame both the fervor of His lovers and the fury of His enemies. A persecution, grimmer, more odious, and more shrewdly calculated than any which Husayn Khán, or even Hájí Mírzá Aqásí, had kindled was soon to be unchained, to be accompanied by a corresponding manifestation of heroism unmatched by any of the earliest outbursts of enthusiasm that had greeted the birth of the Faith in either Shíráz or Isfahán. This period of ceaseless and unprecedented commotion was to rob that Faith, in quick succession, of its chief protagonists, was to attain its climax in the extinction of the life of its Author, and was to be followed by a further and this time an almost complete elimination of its eminent supporters, with the sole exception of One Who, at its darkest hour, was entrusted, through the dispensations of Providence, with the dual function of saving a sorely-stricken Faith from annihilation, and of ushering in the Dispensation destined to supersede it.
The formal assumption by the Báb of the authority of the promised Qá'im, in such dramatic circumstances and in so challenging a tone, before a distinguished gathering of eminent Shí'ah
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