Sleep had departed from me that night. I was enthralled by the music of that voice which rose and fell as He chanted; now swelling forth as He revealed verses of the Qayyúmu'l-Asmá, again acquiring ethereal, subtle harmonies as He uttered the prayers He was revealing. At the end of each invocation, He would repeat this verse: `Far from the glory of thy Lord, the All-Glorious, be that which His creatures affirm of Him! And peace be upon His Messengers! And praise be to God, the Lord of all beings!'"
"This Revelation," Mullá Husayn has further testified, "so suddenly and impetuously thrust upon me, came as a thunderbolt which, for a time, seemed to have benumbed my faculties. I was blinded by its dazzling splendor and overwhelmed by its crushing force. Excitement, joy, awe, and wonder stirred the depths of my soul. Predominant among these emotions was a sense of gladness and strength which seemed to have transfigured me. How feeble and impotent, how dejected and timid, I had felt previously! Then I could neither write nor walk, so tremulous were my hands and feet. Now, however, the knowledge of His Revelation had galvanized my being. I felt possessed of such courage and power that were the world, all its peoples and its potentates, to rise against me, I would, alone and undaunted, withstand their onslaught. The universe seemed but a handful of dust in my grasp. I seemed to be the voice of Gabriel personified, calling unto all mankind: `Awake, for, lo! the morning Light has broken. Arise, for His Cause is made manifest. The portal of His grace is open wide; enter therein, O peoples of the world! For He Who is your promised One is come!'"
A more significant light, however, is shed on this episode, marking the Declaration of the Mission of the Báb, by the perusal of that "first, greatest and mightiest" of all books in the Bábí Dispensation, the celebrated commentary on the Súrah of Joseph, the first chapter of which, we are assured, proceeded, in its entirety, in the course of that night of nights from the pen of its divine Revealer. The description of this episode by Mullá Husayn, as well as the opening pages of that Book attest the magnitude and force of that weighty Declaration. A claim to be no less than the mouthpiece of God Himself, promised by the Prophets of bygone ages; the assertion that He was, at the same time, the Herald of One immeasurably greater than Himself; the summons which He trumpeted forth to the kings and princes of the earth; the dire warnings directed to the Chief Magistrate of the realm, Muhammad Sháh; the counsel imparted to Hájí Mírzá Aqásí to fear God, and the peremptory command to abdicate his
authority as grand vizir of the Sháh and submit to the One Who is the "Inheritor of the earth and all that is therein"; the challenge issued to the rulers of the world proclaiming the self-sufficiency of His Cause, denouncing the vanity of their ephemeral power, and calling upon them to "lay aside, one and all, their dominion," and deliver His Message to "lands in both the East and the West"--these constitute the dominant features of that initial contact that marked the birth, and fixed the date, of the inception of the most glorious era in the spiritual life of mankind.
With this historic Declaration the dawn of an Age that signalizes the consummation of all ages had broken. The first impulse of a momentous Revelation had been communicated to the one "but for whom," according to the testimony of the Kitáb-i-Iqán, "God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor ascended the throne of eternal glory." Not until forty days had elapsed, however, did the enrollment of the seventeen remaining Letters of the Living commence. Gradually, spontaneously, some in sleep, others while awake, some through fasting and prayer, others through dreams and visions, they discovered the Object of their quest, and were enlisted under the banner of the new-born Faith. The last, but in rank the first, of these Letters to be inscribed on the Preserved Tablet was the erudite, the twenty-two year old Quddús, a direct descendant of the Imám Hasan and the most esteemed disciple of Siyyid Kázim. Immediately preceding him, a woman, the only one of her sex, who, unlike her fellow-disciples, never attained the presence of the Báb, was invested with the rank of apostleship in the new Dispensation. A poetess, less than thirty years of age, of distinguished birth, of bewitching charm, of captivating eloquence, indomitable in spirit, unorthodox in her views, audacious in her acts, immortalized as Táhirih (the Pure One) by the "Tongue of Glory," and surnamed Qurratu'l-`Ayn (Solace of the Eyes) by Siyyid Kázim, her teacher, she had, in consequence of the appearance of the Báb to her in a dream, received the first intimation of a Cause which was destined to exalt her to the fairest heights of fame, and on which she, through her bold heroism, was to shed such imperishable luster.
These "first Letters generated from the Primal Point," this "company of angels arrayed before God on the Day of His coming," these "Repositories of His Mystery," these "Springs that have welled out from the Source of His Revelation," these first companions who, in the words of the Persian Bayán, "enjoy nearest access to God," these "Luminaries that have, from everlasting, bowed down, and will everlastingly
continue to bow down, before the Celestial Throne," and lastly these "elders" mentioned in the Book of Revelation as "sitting before God on their seats," "clothed in white raiment" and wearing on their heads "crowns of gold"--these were, ere their dispersal, summoned to the Báb's presence, Who addressed to them His parting words, entrusted to each a specific task, and assigned to some of them as the proper field of their activities their native provinces. He enjoined them to observe the utmost caution and moderation in their behavior, unveiled the loftiness of their rank, and stressed the magnitude of their responsibilities. He recalled the words addressed by Jesus to His disciples, and emphasized the superlative greatness of the New Day. He warned them lest by turning back they forfeit the Kingdom of God, and assured them that if they did God's bidding, God would make them His heirs and spiritual leaders among men. He hinted at the secret, and announced the approach, of a still mightier Day, and bade them prepare themselves for its advent. He called to remembrance the triumph of Abraham over Nimrod, of Moses over Pharaoh, of Jesus over the Jewish people, and of Muhammad over the tribes of Arabia, and asserted the inevitability and ultimate ascendancy of His own Revelation. To the care of Mullá Husayn He committed a mission, more specific in character and mightier in import. He affirmed that His covenant with him had been established, cautioned him to be forbearing with the divines he would encounter, directed him to proceed to Tihrán, and alluded, in the most glowing terms, to the as yet unrevealed Mystery enshrined in that city--a Mystery that would, He affirmed, transcend the light shed by both Hijáz and Shíráz.
Galvanized into action by the mandate conferred upon them, launched on their perilous and revolutionizing mission, these lesser luminaries who, together with the Báb, constitute the First Vahíd (Unity) of the Dispensation of the Bayán, scattered far and wide through the provinces of their native land, where, with matchless heroism, they resisted the savage and concerted onslaught of the forces arrayed against them, and immortalized their Faith by their own exploits and those of their co-religionists, raising thereby a tumult that convulsed their country and sent its echoes reverberating as far as the capitals of Western Europe.
It was not until, however, the Báb had received the eagerly anticipated letter of Mullá Husayn, His trusted and beloved lieutenant, communicating the joyful tidings of his interview with Bahá'u'lláh, that He decided to undertake His long and arduous pilgrimage to the
Tombs of His ancestors. In the month of Sha'bán, of the year 1260 A.H. (September, 1844) He Who, both on His father's and mother's side, was of the seed of the illustrious Fátimih, and Who was a descendant of the Imám Husayn, the most eminent among the lawful successors of the Prophet of Islám, proceeded, in fulfillment of Islámic traditions, to visit the Kaaba. He embarked from Búshihr on the 19th of Ramadán (October, 1844) on a sailing vessel, accompanied by Quddús whom He was assiduously preparing for the assumption of his future office. Landing at Jaddih after a stormy voyage of over a month's duration, He donned the pilgrim's garb, mounted a camel, and set out for Mecca, arriving on the first of Dhi'l-Hájjih (December 12). Quddús, holding the bridle in his hands, accompanied his Master on foot to that holy Shrine. On the day of Árafih, the Prophet-pilgrim of Shíráz, His chronicler relates, devoted His whole time to prayer. On the day of Nahr He proceeded to Muná, where He sacrificed according to custom nineteen lambs, nine in His own name, seven in the name of Quddús, and three in the name of the Ethiopian servant who attended Him. He afterwards, in company with the other pilgrims, encompassed the Kaaba and performed the rites prescribed for the pilgrimage.
His visit to Hijáz was marked by two episodes of particular importance. The first was the declaration of His mission and His open challenge to the haughty Mírzá Muhít-i-Kirmání, one of the most outstanding exponents of the Shaykhí school, who at times went so far as to assert his independence of the leadership of that school assumed after the death of Siyyid Kázim by Hájí Muhammad Karím Khán, a redoubtable enemy of the Bábí Faith. The second was the invitation, in the form of an Epistle, conveyed by Quddús, to the Sheríf of Mecca, in which the custodian of the House of God was called upon to embrace the truth of the new Revelation. Absorbed in his own pursuits the Sheríf however failed to respond. Seven years later, when in the course of a conversation with a certain Hájí Níyáz-i-Baghdádí, this same Sheríf was informed of the circumstances attending the mission and martyrdom of the Prophet of Shíráz, he listened attentively to the description of those events and expressed his indignation at the tragic fate that had overtaken Him.
The Báb's visit to Medina marked the conclusion of His pilgrimage. Regaining Jaddih, He returned to Búshihr, where one of His first acts was to bid His last farewell to His fellow-traveler and disciple, and to assure him that he would meet the Beloved of their hearts. He, moreover, announced to him that he would be crowned with a
martyr's death, and that He Himself would subsequently suffer a similar fate at the hands of their common foe.
The Báb's return to His native land (Safar 1261) (February- March, 1845) was the signal for a commotion that rocked the entire country. The fire which the declaration of His mission had lit was being fanned into flame through the dispersal and activities of His appointed disciples. Already within the space of less than two years it had kindled the passions of friend and foe alike. The outbreak of the conflagration did not even await the return to His native city of the One Who had generated it. The implications of a Revelation, thrust so dramatically upon a race so degenerate, so inflammable in temper, could indeed have had no other consequence than to excite within men's bosoms the fiercest passions of fear, of hate, of rage and envy. A Faith Whose Founder did not content Himself with the claim to be the Gate of the Hidden Imám, Who assumed a rank that excelled even that of the Sáhibu'z-Zamán, Who regarded Himself as the precursor of one incomparably greater than Himself, Who peremptorily commanded not only the subjects of the Sháh, but the monarch himself, and even the kings and princes of the earth, to forsake their all and follow Him, Who claimed to be the inheritor of the earth and all that is therein--a Faith Whose religious doctrines, Whose ethical standards, social principles and religious laws challenged the whole structure of the society in which it was born, soon ranged, with startling unanimity, the mass of the people behind their priests, and behind their chief magistrate, with his ministers and his government, and welded them into an opposition sworn to destroy, root and branch, the movement initiated by One Whom they regarded as an impious and presumptuous pretender.
With the Báb's return to Shíráz the initial collision of irreconcilable forces may be said to have commenced. Already the energetic and audacious Mullá Alíy-i-Bastamí, one of the Letters of the Living, "the first to leave the House of God (Shíráz) and the first to suffer for His sake," who, in the presence of one of the leading exponents of Shí'ah Islám, the far-famed Shaykh Muhammad Hasan, had audaciously asserted that from the pen of his new-found Master within the space of forty-eight hours, verses had streamed that equalled in number those of the Qur'án, which it took its Author twenty-three years to reveal, had been excommunicated, chained, disgraced, imprisoned, and, in all probability, done to death. Mullá Sádiq-i-Khurasaní, impelled by the injunction of the Báb in the Khasá'il-i-Sab`ih to alter the sacrosanct formula of the adhán, sounded
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