THE MINISTRY OF BAHÁ'U'LLÁH
The Birth of The Bahá'í Revelation
The train of dire events that followed in swift succession the calamitous attempt on the life of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh mark, as already observed, the termination of the Bábí Dispensation and the closing of the initial, the darkest and bloodiest chapter of the history of the first Bahá'í century. A phase of measureless tribulation had been ushered in by these events, in the course of which the fortunes of the Faith proclaimed by the Báb sank to their lowest ebb. Indeed ever since its inception trials and vexations, setbacks and disappointments, denunciations, betrayals and massacres had, in a steadily rising crescendo, contributed to the decimation of the ranks of its followers, strained to the utmost the loyalty of its stoutest upholders, and all but succeeded in disrupting the foundations on which it rested.
From its birth, government, clergy and people had risen as one man against it and vowed eternal enmity to its cause. Muhammad Sháh, weak alike in mind and will, had, under pressure, rejected the overtures made to him by the Báb Himself, had declined to meet Him face to face, and even refused Him admittance to the capital. The youthful Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, of a cruel and imperious nature, had, both as crown prince and as reigning sovereign, increasingly evinced the bitter hostility which, at a later stage in his reign, was to blaze forth in all its dark and ruthless savagery. The powerful and sagacious Mu'tamíd, the one solitary figure who could have extended Him the support and protection He so sorely needed, was taken from Him by a sudden death. The Sheríf of Mecca, who through the mediation of Quddús had been made acquainted with the new Revelation on the occasion of the Báb's pilgrimage to Mecca, had turned a deaf ear to the Divine Message, and received His messenger with curt indifference. The prearranged gathering that was to have taken place in the holy city of Kárbilá, in the course of the Báb's return journey from Hijáz, had, to the disappointment of His followers who had been eagerly awaiting His arrival, to be definitely abandoned. The eighteen Letters of the Living, the principal bastions that buttressed the infant strength of the Faith, had for the most part fallen. The "Mirrors," the "Guides," the "Witnesses"
comprising the Bábí hierarchy had either been put to the sword, or hounded from their native soil, or bludgeoned into silence. The program, whose essentials had been communicated to the foremost among them, had, owing to their excessive zeal, remained for the most part unfulfilled. The attempts which two of those disciples had made to establish the Faith in Turkey and India had signally failed at the very outset of their mission. The tempests that had swept Mazindarán, Nayríz and Zanján had, in addition to blasting to their roots the promising careers of the venerated Quddús, the lion-hearted Mullá Husayn, the erudite Vahíd, and the indomitable Hujjat, cut short the lives of an alarmingly large number of the most resourceful and most valiant of their fellow-disciples. The hideous outrages associated with the death of the Seven Martyrs of Tihrán had been responsible for the extinction of yet another living symbol of the Faith, who, by reason of his close kinship to, and intimate association with, the Báb, no less than by virtue of his inherent qualities, would if spared have decisively contributed to the protection and furtherance of a struggling Cause.
The storm which subsequently burst, with unexampled violence, on a community already beaten to its knees, had, moreover, robbed it of its greatest heroine, the incomparable Táhirih, still in the full tide of her victories, had sealed the doom of Siyyid Husayn, the Báb's trusted amanuensis and chosen repository of His last wishes, had laid low Mullá `Abdu'l-Karím-i-Qazvíní, admittedly one of the very few who could claim to possess a profound knowledge of the origins of the Faith, and had plunged into a dungeon Bahá'u'lláh, the sole survivor among the towering figures of the new Dispensation. The Báb--the Fountainhead from whence the vitalizing energies of a newborn Revelation had flowed--had Himself, ere the outburst of that hurricane, succumbed, in harrowing circumstances, to the volleys of a firing squad leaving behind, as titular head of a well-nigh disrupted community, a mere figurehead, timid in the extreme, good-natured yet susceptible to the slightest influence, devoid of any outstanding qualities, who now (loosed from the controlling hand of Bahá'u'lláh, the real Leader) was seeking, in the guise of a dervish, the protection afforded by the hills of his native Mazindarán against the threatened assaults of a deadly enemy. The voluminous writings of the Founder of the Faith--in manuscript, dispersed, unclassified, poorly transcribed and ill-preserved, were in part, owing to the fever and tumult of the times, either deliberately destroyed, confiscated, or hurriedly dispatched to places of safety beyond the confines of the land in
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