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Release the Sun

by William Sears

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Chapter 18


The Prime Minister, Mirza Taqi Khan, despatched orders to Chihriq for the Bab to be brought from the prison to Tabriz. He vowed to himself that this would be the last journey the Bab ever made on this earth. Forty days before the arrival of an officer and his soldiers at Chihriq, the Bab collected all the documents and writings in His possession. He placed them in a special box along with His pencase, His seals, and His rings. He entrusted the box to Mulla Baqir, one of His disciples. The Bab also wrote a letter which he addressed to Mirza Ahmad, who for a long time had served faithfully as His secretary. He put the key to the box in Mirza Ahmad's letter, and instructed Mulla Baqir to take the utmost care of the box and letter. He emphasized the sacred character of the box and told Mulla Baqir to conceal its contents from everyone except Mirza Ahmad. Mulla Baqir found Mirza Ahmad in Qum, where he delivered the letter and the box to Mirza Ahmad. Mirza Ahmad read the letter and was deeply moved. He told his friends that he must leave at once for Tihran to deliver his trust. They all feared that the end of the Bab's earthly life was nearing, and they were eager to know what was in that treasured box. They overwhelmed Mirza Ahmad with their entreaties and he agreed to disclose a little something

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of what it contained. Nabil, the historian, was present at the time Mulla Baqir arrived in Qum. He was an eye-witness to the opening of that beautiful box. "We marveled when we beheld, among the things which that box contained," he said, "a scroll of blue paper, of most delicate texture, on which the Bab, in His own exquisite handwriting, had penned, in the form of a pentacle, about five hundred verses, all consisting of derivatives of the word `Baha.'"[F1] The sight of this beautiful document caused great excitement among the followers of the Bab. They knew how often the Bab had told them to expect Someone far greater than Himself soon after His passing. Was the praise of this name "Baha" yet another indication in which direction they must turn their eyes, they asked each other. They knew the word Baha to be one of the titles of Husayn `Ali, a distinguished nobleman of Tihran, a follower of the Bab at this time, later known as Bahá'u'lláh. Nabil continued his account: "We were overcome with admiration as we gazed upon a masterpiece which no caligraphist, we believed, could rival. That scroll was replaced in the box and handed back to Mirza Ahmad, who, on the very day he received it, proceeded to Tihran. Ere he departed, he informed us that all he could divulge of that letter (from the Bab) was the injunction that the trust was to be delivered into the hands of [Bahá'u'lláh] in Tihran." Now that the shadow of death was hovering over Him, the Bab knew He must make clear once and for all the link that bound him to His Successor. As disaster struck on all sides, He sought to keep alive the fading hopes of those whom He would soon leave behind. From that very night when he had disclosed His Mission to Mulla Husayn, the Bab constantly referred to the One Who would come after Him. He alluded to this great event in nearly all of His writings. the Bab frequently told His followers that He, Himself, was merely "the channel of grace from some great Person still behind the veil of glory."[F2] The Bab warned His followers against the mistake made by the Jews in refusing to accept Christ because of the Old Testament, the Christians refusing Muhammad because of the New Testament, and the Moslems denying Himself because of the Qur'an. "Beware, beware," He cautioned them, "that the words sent down in the Bay n [the Bab's Book] shut thee not out as by a veil from Him."

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"My sole purpose is to awaken you to the coming of His day," He assured them on yet another occasion. "I, Myself, am, verily, but a ring upon the hand of Him...If He were to appear at this moment, I would be the first to bow down before Him."[F3] "The Bay n deriveth all its glory from `Him Whom God shall make manifest,'" the Bab declared. "The Bay n and such as are believers therein yearn more ardently after Him than the yearning of any lover after his beloved." Although this great Figure was still hidden from their eyes, the Bab promised His followers that the One Who was to come would grow from a seed into a mighty tree. This Tree, He told them, would shelter all humanity. "The germ that holds within itself the potentialities of the Revelation that is to come, He said, is endowed with a potency superior to the combined forces of all those who follow Me.[F4] Now, on a special scroll, written in His own hand, the Bab had paid a final tribute of love and respect for Bahá'u'lláh. It was no longer a vague reference, or a concealed intimation. The Bab knew that the hour of death was upon Him. Dr. T. K. Cheyne in his book points out how plainly the lives of the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh were woven together during those days for anyone who had "eyes to see." "The end of the Bab's earthly Manifestation is now close upon us," Dr. Cheyne wrote. "He knew it himself before the event, and was not displeased at the presentiment. He had already `set his house in order,' as regards the spiritual affairs of [His] community, which he had, if I mistake not, confided to the intuitive wisdom of Bahá'u'lláh."[F5] The following pages are written to show the Bab's deep awareness of Bahá'u'lláh's coming. They show how the Bab carefully prepared certain souls to know, recognize, love and accept Bahá'u'lláh after His own martyrdom, so that the Faith of God might go on to fulfill its destiny. During those earliest days when students of scripture in America, Europe, Asia and Africa were expecting the Promised One, Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim both repeatedly told their followers that the hour for His coming was now at hand. There would be twin Messengers in this day, they said. They would both appear in Persia. They would follow each other in rapid succession exactly as foretold in the holy Scriptures. They would be the two successive

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"trumpet blasts" mentioned in the Qur'an for the "last days"; the return of Elijah followed by the Lord of Hosts foretold in the Old Testament; the "second woe" and the "third woe" that would follow quickly as promised in the Book of Revelation for the day when the Lord would come "quickly into His temple." The Bab Himself emphasized the brief time that would separate His own Mission from the One to come after Him: "O My God! Bear Thou witness," He wrote, "that through this Book, I have covenanted with all created things concerning the Mission of Him Whom Thou shalt make manifest, ere the covenant concerning My own Mission had been established."[F6] Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim promised their followers that some of them would live to see both of these Messengers of God. After the Dawn [the Bab], they were told, they would see the promised Sun [Bahá'u'lláh]. Shaykh Ahmad was in Tihran when Bahá'u'lláh was born. The following historical account of his visit has been preserved: "Shaykh Ahmad, who recognized in its full measure the meaning of this auspicious event [the birth of Bahá'u'lláh], yearned to spend the remaining days of his life within the precincts of the court of this divine, this new-born King. But this was not to be. His ... yearning unsatisfied, he felt compelled to submit to God's irrevocable decree," and turned his face away from the city. "Ere his departure from that city he breathed a prayer that this hidden Treasure of God, new born amongst his countrymen, might be preserved and cherished by them, that they might recognize the full measure of His blessedness and glory, and might be enabled to proclaim His excellence to all nations and peoples."[F7] Shaykh Ahmad considered this moment of Bahá'u'lláh's birth to be the hour foretold in the prophecy: "Ere long shall ye behold the countenance of your Lord resplendent as the moon in its full glory. Yet shall ye fail to unite in acknowledging His truth and embracing His Faith." Shaykh Ahmad also believed this to be the hour of fulfillment for those prophetic words: "One of the most mighty signs that shall signalize the advent of the promised Hour is this: `A woman shall give birth to One Who shall be her Lord.'" The following similar words had been written in the Book of Isaiah for the time of the end when the promised Saviour would

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would appear: "For Thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of Hosts is His name; the God of the whole earth shall He be called."[F8] Shaykh Ahmad repeatedly impressed upon the minds of his followers the certainty of the appearance of twin Messengers. Mirza Muhammad, a follower of Shaykh Ahmad, recalls in this eye-witness account some of the excitement of those days of expectancy: "At the hour of dawn," he said, "I found him fallen upon his face, wrapt devotion...To my great surprise, he turned to me and said mysteriously: `That which I have been announcing unto you is now revealed. O Muhammad, verily I say, you shall live to behold that Day of days.' "Sometime afterwards, whilst conversing with the followers of the Bab, I was informed that the birthday of the Bab fell on [October 20th, 1819]. I realized that the day to which [my friend] had referred did not correspond with this date, that there was actually a difference of two years ... This sorely perplexed me." Long afterwards, he met a friend who told him of the Mission of Bahá'u'lláh and shared with him some of His writings. He was moved to the depths of His soul. "I asked him the date of Bahá'u'lláh's birth," Mirza Muhammad said. "He replied, `He was born at dawn on the 12th of November, 1817.'* "It was the very day and hour! Instinctively I fell prostrate upon the ground and exclaimed: `Glorified art Thou, O my God, for having enabled me to attain unto this promised day.'"[F9] The hour of Bahá'u'lláh's birth marked the fulfillment of still another prophecy which spoke of the twin Messengers Who would appear at the time of the end. It was foretold that the Herald in that day would say of Him Who was yet to come: "I am two years younger than My Lord."[F10] Siyyid Kazim, who succeeded Shaykh Ahmad, continued to prepare his followers for that same approaching day. "Verily I say," he told them, "that after the Qa'im [the Bab], the Qa'im [Bahá'u'lláh] will be made manifest. for when the star of the Former [the Bab] has set, the Sun of the beauty of Husayn [Bahá'u'lláh] will rise and illuminate the whole world." There is yet another proof of the unique oneness which linked the Mission of the Bab with that of Bahá'u'lláh. According to the *See Appendix, Note Three.

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solar calendar of the West, the Bab was born October 20, 1819 and Bahá'u'lláh was born November 12, 1817. However, according to the lunar calendar of the East (in Iran, the land of Their birth), the Bab was born on the first day of the month of Muharram and Bahá'u'lláh was born on the second day of Muharram. These twin successive holy days are celebrated as one great joyous Festival. Siyyid Kazim told his followers: "What stress Shaykh Ahmad laid upon all those verses as foreshadowing the advent of twin Messengers Who are to follow Each Other in rapid succession, and Each of Whom is destined to suffuse the world with glory! How many times did he exclaim: `Well is it with him who will recognize their significance and behold Their splendor!' "How often, addressing me," Siyyid Kazim concluded, "did he remark: `Neither of us shall live to gaze upon Their glory. But many of the faithful among your disciples shall witness the Day which we, alas, can never hope to behold.'"[F11] When the Bab was on His way to Tihran to meet the Shah, the Prime Minister gave word that He was to be turned back and sent to imprisonment in Mahku. Thus, within sight of a great victory, within thirty miles of the capital, the Bab was denied the opportunity of meeting the king. In that hour of keen disappointment, a letter was delivered to the Bab at the village of Kulayn. The letter came from Bahá'u'lláh. Nabil, the historian, records that episode as follows: Mulla Muhammad had been commissioned by Bahá'u'lláh to present to the Bab a sealed letter together with certain gifts, which as soon as they were delivered into His hands, provoked in His soul sentiments of unusual delight. His face glowed with joy as He overwhelmed the bearer with marks of His gratitude and favor. "That message," Nabil continues, "received at an hour of uncertainty and suspense, imparted solace and strength to the Bab. It imbued His soul with the certainty of victory. The cry, `Beloved, My Well Beloved!' which in His bitter grief and loneliness the Bab would often utter, gave way to expressions of thanksgiving and praise, of hope and triumph. The exultation which glowed upon His face never forsook Him until the day of the news of the great disaster which befell the heroes of Shaykh Tabarsi."[F12] `Abdu'l-Karim, one of the devoted followers of the Bab, gives the following eye-witness account of an episode which took place one night during the Bab's stay at Kulayn:

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"My companions and I were fast asleep in the vicinity of the tent of the Bab, when the tramping of horsemen suddenly awakened us. We were informed that the tent of the Bab was vacant, and that those who had gone in search of Him had failed to find Him. "We heard Muhammad Big [the Captain of the Bab's escort] calming the soldiers. `Why worry?' he told them. `Are not the Bab's trustworthiness and nobility sufficiently established in your eyes to convince you that He will never embarrass you for the sake of His own safety? No doubt He has retired in the silence of this moonlit night to a place where He can seek undisturbed communion with God. Be confident that He will unquestionably return to His tent. He will never desert us.' "In his eagerness to assure his colleagues, Muhammad Big set out on foot along the road leading to Tihran. I, too, with my companions, followed him. Shortly after, the rest of the guards on horseback were marching behind us. "We had covered about a mile when, by the dim light of the early dawn, we saw in the distance the lonely figure of the Bab. He was coming toward us from the direction of Tihran. "`Did you believe Me to have escaped?' He said to Muhammad Big as He approached him. "`Far be it from me to entertain such thoughts,' Muhammad Big assured Him. "Muhammad Big bowed down at the feet of the Bab. He was so awed by the serene majesty which that radiant face revealed that morning, he could not utter another word. "A look of confidence had settled upon the Bab's countenance. His words were invested with such a transcendent power that a feeling of profound reverence seized our souls. None dared to question Him as to the cause of so remarkable a change in His speech and demeanor. Nor did He Himself choose to allay our curiosity and wonder."[F13] Nabil in his history records yet another time when Bahá'u'lláh wrote to the Bab. The letter was sent from Tihran to the Bab in His prison at Chihriq. "Shortly after," Nabil states, "a reply penned in the Bab's own handwriting was received."[F14] The Bab made specific promises to certain of His followers that they would meet the One Whose coming He had foretold. Some of them He carefully prepared for that meeting.[F15] Mulla Baqir, one of the Letters of the Living, received a letter from the Bab in which

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He prophesied that Mulla Baqir would meet the Promised One face to face. To Sayy h, another disciple, He made the same verbal promise. To Azim the Bab wrote a special tablet in which He gave the name as well as foretold the approaching advent of this One Whom they were all awaiting. All of His promises were fulfilled. Shaykh Sultan was also one of the followers who received such a promise. He journeyed to Shiraz with a friend, Shaykh Hasan. They were both eager to meet the Bab, but Shaykh Sultan fell ill before his wish was fulfilled. One night he received a message saying that the Bab had heard of his illness and would visit him after dark. Shaykh Sultan describes that visit in his own words: "The Bab, Who had bidden me extinguish the lamp in my room ere He arrived, came straight to my bedside. In the midst of the darkness, I held fast to His garment and entreated Him to let me sacrifice myself for His Cause. "He replied: `O Shaykh! it behooves us both to cling to the garment of the Best-Beloved and to seek from Him the joy and glory of martyrdom in His path. Rest assured I will, in your behalf, supplicate the Almighty to enable you to attain His presence. Remember Me on that Day, a Day such as the world has never seen before.' "The allusion of the Bab to His `Best-Beloved' excited my wonder and curiosity. I was perplexed and unable to unravel this mystery. When I reached Karbila and attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, I became firmly convinced that He alone could claim such affection from the Bab; that He, and only He, could be worthy of such adoration."[F16] Shaykh Sultan's companion on that trip to Shiraz, Shaykh Hasan, was given the same promise by the Bab. He has testified to that promise in the following account: "Addressing me one day, the Bab said, `You should proceed to Karbila and should abide in that holy city inasmuch as you are destined to behold, with your own eyes, the beauteous countenance of the Promised [One]. As you gaze upon that radiant face, do also remember Me. Convey to Him the expressions of My loving devotion.' He again emphatically added the words: `Verily, I say, I have entrusted you with a great mission. Beware lest your heart grow faint, lest you forget the glory with which I have invested you.' "Soon after I journeyed to Karbila. I lived as bidden in that holy city. What afflictions befell me at the hands of those followers of

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Shaykh Ahmad who had still not recognized the Bab! Patiently I submitted to their indignities. For two years I lived in that city. "One day while passing the gate of a Shrine, my eyes fell for the first time upon Bahá'u'lláh. What shall I recount regarding the countenance which I beheld? The beauty of that face, those exquisite features which no pen or brush can describe, His penetrating glance, His kindly face, the majesty of His bearing, the sweetness of His smile--all left an indelible impression upon my soul. "How lovingly He advanced towards me! He took me by the hand and addressed me in a tone of great power and beauty. He walked with me all along the market-street, and in the end He said: `Praise be to God that you have remained in Karbila, and have beheld with your own eyes the countenance of the Promised [One].' "I recalled instantly the promise I had been given by the Bab, a secret which I had not shared with anyone. These words of Bahá'u'lláh's moved me to the depths of my being. I felt compelled to proclaim to a heedless people, at that very moment and with all my soul and power, the appearance of the One promised by the Bab. "He [Bahá'u'lláh] bade me, however, repress my feelings and conceal my emotions. `Not yet,' He cautioned. `The appointed Hour is approaching. It has not yet struck. Rest assured and be patient.' "From that moment on my sorrows vanished. My soul was flooded with joy. In those days I was so poor that most of the time I hungered for food. Now I felt so rich that all the treasures of the earth melted away into nothingness when compared with that which I already possessed."[F17] From that day [in August, 1851] Shaykh Hasan became magnetized by the charm of his newly found Master, and but for the restraint of Bahá'u'lláh, would have proclaimed to all that the One promised by the Bab had already appeared, and that they should now shed the agonizing sorrow they felt because of the Bab's departure. In the city of Baghdad, but a short distance away from Karbila, Bahá'u'lláh was soon to make the same declaration to His followers that the Bab had made to His disciples in Shiraz. This was the meaning hidden in that prophesy quoted to Mulla Husayn by the Bab Himself on the roof of the prison-castle of Mahku: "Shiraz

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will be thrown into a tumult; a Youth of sugar-tongue will appear. I fear lest the breath of His mouth should agitate and upset Baghdad."[F18] There was a constant link between the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh through the Bab's disciples, especially those whose tragic story has been told in the preceding chapters. Bahá'u'lláh played a vital and moving part in the tale of Tabarsi, Nayriz, Tihran and Badasht, as well as in the lives of Mulla Husayn, Quddus, Vahid and Tahirih. When the Bab bade Mulla Husayn farewell in Shiraz before leaving for Mecca to announce His Mission, He spoke these words to him: "Follow the course of your journey towards the north, and visit ... Tihran. Beseech almighty Providence that He may graciously enable you to attain, in that capital, the seat of true sovereignty, and to enter the mansion of the Beloved. A secret lies hidden in that city. When made manifest, it shall turn the earth into a paradise. My hope is that you may partake of its grace and recognize its splendor." To soften the blow of disappointment for Mulla Husayn at being left behind, the Bab once again emphasized the importance of Tihran and Mulla Husayn's visit there, thus alluding to the birthplace of both Bahá'u'lláh and Himself. "Grieve not that you have not been chosen to accompany Me ... I shall, instead, direct your steps to that city which enshrines a Mystery of such transcendent holiness ... as Shiraz cannot hope to rival."[F19] Mulla Husayn reached Tihran. He spent the daylight hours teaching the Faith of the Bab, but from sunset to dawn he remained alone in his room in prayer and meditation, beseeching God to disclose to him this holy "Mystery" of which the Bab had spoken, and to lead him to the "mansion" of the Bab's Beloved. Mulla Husayn met Mulla Muhammad of Nur at this time. Mulla Husayn asked him if he knew any person who was distinguished above others, someone renowned for his character. "Yes, there is one," Mulla Muhammad told him. "What is his occupation?" Mulla Husayn asked. "He cheers the disconsolate and feeds the hungry." "What of his rank and position?" "He has none apart from befriending the poor and the stranger." "What is his name?" Mulla Husayn asked.

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"It is Husayn `Ali." "His age?" "Eight and twenty." "The eagerness with which Mulla Husayn questioned me, and the sense of delight with which he welcomed every particular I gave him, greatly surprised me. Turning to me with a face beaming with satisfaction and joy, he once more inquired: `I presume you meet him often?' "`Frequently I visit his home.' "`Will you deliver into his hands a trust from me?'" Mulla Husayn gave Mulla Muhammad a scroll of the Bab's writings. "Should He deign to answer me," Mulla Husayn added, "will you be kind enough to acquaint me with His reply?" Mulla Muhammad took the scroll at once to Bahá'u'lláh. Bahá'u'lláh accepted it and bade Mulla Muhammad to be seated. He unfolded the scroll, glanced at its contents, and began reading it aloud to those who were present. He stopped reading and turned to His friends. "Verily," He said, "I say, whoso believes in the Qur'an --and yet hesitates, though it be for a moment, to admit that these soul-stirring words are endowed with the same regenerating power, has assuredly erred in his judgement and strayed far from the paths of Justice." Bahá'u'lláh gave a gift to Mulla Muhammad to bring to Mulla Husayn. It was a small gift of sugar and tea. He asked that His appreciation and love be conveyed to Mulla Husayn along with the gift. "With what joy and exultation Mulla Husayn received them," Mulla Muhammad reported. "Words fail me to describe the intensity of his emotion He started to his feet, received with bowed head the gift from my hand, and fervently kissed it." Mulla Husayn embraced Mulla Muhammad and kissed his eyes which had so recently gazed upon Bahá'u'lláh. "May God fill your heart with gladness," he told him, "even as you have rejoiced mine." Mulla Muhammad was puzzled. He said to himself: "What can be the nature of the bond that unites these two souls? What could have kindled such a fellowship between strangers? Why should Mulla Husayn, who considers riches and fame as the merest trifles,

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have shown such gladness at the sight of this tiny gift from the hands of Bahá'u'lláh?" A few days later Mulla Husayn left for Khurasan. As he said farewell to Mulla Muhammad, he warned him: "Do not breathe to anyone what you have heard and witnessed. Let this be a secret within your breast. Divulge not His name, for they who envy His position will arise to harm Him. Pray that God may protect Him until such a day as He may exalt the downtrodden, enrich the poor, and redeem the fallen. The secret of this thing is still concealed from our eyes. Ours is now the duty to raise the call of the New Day and prepare men's hearts, and proclaim this Divine Message unto all people. "Many a pure soul," Mulla Husayn concluded, "will shed his blood in this city. That blood will water the Tree of God, and will cause it to flourish until it overshadows all mankind."[F20] With these parting words, Mulla Husayn left Tihran. He wrote a report to the Bab, telling Him of his teaching work, and describing to Him his experience with Bahá'u'lláh in Tihran. Quddus and the Bab's uncle were both with the Bab when that letter from Mulla Husayn arrived. The Bab's uncle has left an account of that moment: "That night," he said, "I saw such evidences of joy and gladness on the faces of the Bab and Quddus as I am unable to recount. I often heard the Bab in those days exultantly repeat the words: `How marvelous, how exceedingly marvelous, is that which occurred between the months of Jamadi and Rajab!' "As He was reading the letter from Mulla Husayn, He turned to Quddus and, showing him certain passages, explained the reason for His joyous expressions." The Bab's uncle told his fellow-companions what he had witnessed that night. He also mentioned the Bab's reference to the wonder of the days between Jamadi and Rajab. This impressed Mirza Ahmad who waited until Mulla Husayn returned to Shiraz, then asked him what had happened at that particular time. Mulla Husayn smiled and said, "Between the months of Jamadi and Rajab, I chanced to be in Tihran." He would give no further explanation. "This was sufficient to convince me that in the city of Tihran there lay hidden a Mystery which, when revealed to the world, would bring unspeakable joy to the heart of the Bab."[F21]

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Mulla Husayn met Bahá'u'lláh a second time just before he began his journey on foot to the Bab's prison in Mahku. He was ushered with secrecy into the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, and shortly after this interview, Mulla Husayn set out for his last visit with the Bab. From Mahku, he returned yet another time to the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. Their last meeting was inside the fort of Tabarsi. Quddus also knew the joy of meeting Bahá'u'lláh. When the Bab and Quddus returned from Medina to Bushihr, the Bab sent Quddus to Shiraz. He said to him in parting: "In the streets of Shiraz indignities will be heaped upon you ... you will survive, ... and will attain the presence of Him Who is the object of our adoration and love. In His presence you will forget all the harm and disgrace that shall have befallen you." Quddus suffered greatly in Shiraz, from there he went to Tihran where he was admitted into the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, and all of the Bab's promises came true. Quddus and Bahá'u'lláh met again at the conference of Badasht. When Bahá'u'lláh was informed of the arrival of Quddus at a town near Badasht, He set out on horseback to meet him. They returned to Badasht together the next morning at sunrise.[F22] Shortly after this conference when Quddus and a party of the followers of the Bab were being ruthlessly attacked, Bahá'u'lláh came to their rescue. He immediately gave His protection to Quddus. He clothed Quddus in His own garments to disguise him so that he would not be recognized, and then He escorted him to a place of safety. When Quddus was imprisoned in Sari by Muhammad Taqi, it was Bahá'u'lláh Who secured his release so that Quddus might join Mulla Husayn at the fort of Tabarsi. Bahá'u'lláh, Himself, then visited them there.[F23] The night preceding the arrival of Mulla Husayn and his party at Tabarsi, the guardian of the shrine dreamed that a holy man and a large company of his friends came and fought valiantly and triumphantly. He dreamed that the Prophet of God, Himself, came one night and visited that blessed company. Soon after this Bahá'u'lláh arrived at a nearby village. He sent word to Mulla Husayn that he and all his companions were to be His guests that night, and that He would join them at Tabarsi that very afternoon. The following is an eye-witness account of that meeting:

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"The tidings imparted an indefinable joy to the heart of Mulla Husayn. He bade his companions bestir themselves for the reception of Bahá'u'lláh. He himself joined them in sweeping, cleaning, and sprinkling with water the dusty entrances for the arrival of the beloved Visitor. As soon as he saw Him approaching, he rushed forward and embraced Him tenderly, and conducted Him to the place of honor. We were too blind in those days to recognize the glory of Him Whom our leader had introduced with such reverence and love into our midst. What Mulla Husayn had perceived, our dull vision was yet unable to recognize. We, too, were soon made to feel the charm of His utterance. Mulla Husayn was so filled with delight, so lost in admiration that he was totally oblivious of us all. It was Bahá'u'lláh, Himself, Who finally bade us be seated." Bahá'u'lláh examined the fort, then assisted the companions with suggestions on how to strengthen their defenses to help protect their lives. He dispelled their fears and raised their determination to sacrifice all for God. Bahá'u'lláh said, "The one thing this fort and company require to render it complete is the presence of Quddus." He instructed Mulla Husayn to send six friends to Sari to demand that Muhammad Taqi deliver Quddus into their hands. Mulla Husayn and his companions were surprised, knowing that Quddus was being held prisoner. Bahá'u'lláh assured them, "The fear of God and the dread of His punishment will prompt him to surrender unhesitatingly his captive." Before Bahá'u'lláh left Tabarsi, He told the friends to be patient and resigned to the Will of God. "If it be His will, We shall once again visit you at this same spot and shall lend you Our assistance." Mulla Husayn set six of his companions to Sari with Bahá'u'lláh's message. Muhammad Taqi released Quddus at once, to the astonishment of all. Mulla Husayn's companions were deeply moved by the effect of Bahá'u'lláh's presence upon them all. One of them has left this memory of Mulla Husayn's reaction to that visit: "I can still remember him [Mulla Husayn] as he advanced towards me in the stillness of those dark and lonely hours which I devoted to prayer and meditation. `Banish from your mind,' he told me, `these perplexities. Arise, and seek with me to drink of the cup of martyrdom. Then you will be able to comprehend, as the

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year [1863] [the year of Bahá'u'lláh's Declaration] dawns upon the world the secret of the things which now lie hidden from you.'" Bahá'u'lláh was also the moving Figure behind the conference of Badasht at which so many of the outstanding followers of the Bab were present.[F24] Nabil, the historian, relates, "It was the beginning of summer. Upon His arrival at Badasht, Bahá'u'lláh rented three gardens, one of which he assigned to Quddus, another to Tahirih, and a third for Himself. All of those who were gathered at Badasht were the guests of Bahá'u'lláh from the time of their arrival until the day of their departure. Upon each of the followers of the Bab, Bahá'u'lláh bestowed a new name. It was He Who gave the name `Quddus' to the last of the Bab's chosen disciples. He also gave the name `Tahirih' to that great woman." He Himself was henceforth designated by the name "Baha." The close relationship of spirit between the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh is nowhere better demonstrated than at Badasht. None of those companions knew the Source of the bold, defiant and far-reaching changes in the old laws and traditions which took place there, and no one suspected that it was Bahá'u'lláh's hand which steadily and unerringly steered the course of that conference. "To each of those who had convened at Badasht," Nabil continues, "a special letter was written by the Bab. He addressed each one by the name which Bahá'u'lláh had conferred upon him." From that time on, they were known only by those names. When some of the followers complained about the boldness of Tahirih, saying that she had been indiscrete to cast aside the veil, the Bab replied in these stirring words: "What am I to say regarding her whom the Tongue of Power and Glory [Bahá'u'lláh], has named Tahirih, [the Pure One]?" At that same conference, Tahirih concluded one of her eloquent addresses by glancing toward Bahá'u'lláh and quoting a prophetic verse: "Verily, amid gardens and rivers shall the pious dwell in the Seat of Truth, in the presence of the Potent King." Then Tahirih declared that she was the blast of the bugle that annulled the past ages. Dr. T. K. Cheyne writes of this, stating, "It is said, too, that this short speech of the brave woman was followed by a recitation by Bahá'u'lláh of the Surih [Chapter] of Resurrection ... the inner meaning of this was that mankind was about

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to pass into a new cosmic cycle, for which a new set of laws and customs would be indispensable."[F25] Bahá'u'lláh arranged for the departure of the friends from Badasht, just as He had arranged for their arrival. On their way home, Tahirih composed an ode each day which she shared with her companions. These verses told of the obsolete conventions, rituals and traditions which had chained the consciences of men and women in the past, and how these fetters had at last been boldly challenged and fearlessly swept away by the meeting held at Badasht. The companions memorized the odes and chanted them in unison as they walked along together. Mountain and valley echoed with the shouts of that enthusiastic band as they hailed the extinction of the old and the birth of the new Day.[F26] Bahá'u'lláh's guiding hand constantly reached out to assist the companions of the Bab. Tahirih, more than any other disciple, was indebted to Him for His protection and kindness.[F27] When she was imprisoned in Qazvin and threatened with hot irons, she boldly declared to her captor: "If my Cause be the Cause of Truth, if the Lord Whom I worship be none other than the One True God, He will, ere nine days have elapsed, deliver me from the yoke of your tyranny." It was Bahá'u'lláh Who rescued Tahirih from her prison in Qazvin. When He heard of her captivity, He dispatched a woman, disguised as a beggar, to the home where Tahirih was confined. He instructed that she deliver a letter to Tahirih who would then of her own will, unmolested by her captors, walk out free from that prison-house. The beggar-woman was instructed to await Tahirih's appearance at the entrance. "As soon as Tahirih has joined you," Bahá'u'lláh informed this messenger, "Start immediately for Tihran." This very night, I shall dispatch to the neighborhood of the gate of Qazvin an attendant with three horses that you will take with you and station at a place outside the walls. ... You will conduct Tahirih to that spot, will mount the horses, and will, by an unfrequented route, endeavor to reach at daybreak the outskirts of the capital. As soon as the gates of the city are opened, you must enter the city and proceed immediately to My house. You should exercise the utmost caution lest her identity be disclosed." Bahá'u'lláh reassured the worried messenger, who felt that such a delivery would require a miracle. "The Almighty will assuredly

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guide your steps." He said, "and will surround you with His unfailing protection." Nabil writes, "The hour which Tahirih had fixed for her deliverance found her already securely established under the sheltering shadow of Bahá'u'lláh. She knew full well into Whose presence she had been admitted; she was profoundly aware of the sacredness of the hospitality she had been so graciously accorded. She [perceived] through her own intuitive knowledge the future glory of Bahá'u'lláh." "I have myself been shown," Nabil affirms, "the verses which she, in her own handwriting, had penned, every letter of which bore eloquent testimony to her faith in the exalted Missions of both the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh." Bahá'u'lláh rescued Tahirih another time immediately following the conference of Badasht. On the way to their homes, the party had assembled in the village of Niyal . They were all resting at the foot of a mountain, when suddenly at the hour of dawn, they were awakened by a shower of stones. The people of the village were hurling rocks at them from the top of the mountain. The attack was unexpected and fierce. The cries of the mob, the sound of the rolling rocks and showering stones, alarmed the friends and they fled for safety. Bahá'u'lláh found Tahirih in grave danger. She and one believer from Shiraz had been unable to escape. The enemy had demolished the camp and was plundering the property. The follower from Shiraz was defending what remained of the companion's possessions. He was already badly wounded. Bahá'u'lláh walked into the crowd of attackers armed only with the sword of His tongue. He convinced them of the cruelty and shamefulness of their behavior. He induced them to restore the property which they had not yet carried off. He rescued Tahirih from their hands and escorted her to a place of safety. Nabil writes of these frequent victories which Bahá'u'lláh won by His word alone. "All classes of men marveled at His miraculous success in emerging unscathed from the most perilous encounters. Nothing short of Divine protection, they thought, could have assured His safety on such occasions."[F28] Bahá'u'lláh also lent His strength and assistance to Vahid. The following is an historical account of their friendship: "[Vahid] hastened to the capital where he undertook the necessary

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preparations for his journey to the fort of Tabarsi. He was preparing to leave, when Bahá'u'lláh arrived from Mazindaran and informed him of the impossibility of joining his brethren. He was greatly saddened at the news, and his only consolation in those days was to visit Bahá'u'lláh frequently, and to obtain the benefit of His wise and priceless counsel."[F29] It was following these visits with Bahá'u'lláh that Mirza Jani, Vahid's friend, wrote: "I observed on his [Vahid's] august countenance the signs of a glory and power which I had not noticed during my first journey with him to the capital, nor on other occasions of meeting."[F30] The messenger, Sayy h, whom the Bab commissioned to go to Tabarsi and Barfurush on His behalf, and bring back some of the holy earth that covered the remains of Mulla Husayn and Quddus, visited Bahá'u'lláh before returning to the Bab's prison of Chihriq. Vahid was an honored guest of Bahá'u'lláh at the time of Sayy h's coming. Sayy h appeared at Bahá'u'lláh's door in the bitter cold of winter. He was barefooted, poorly clad, and dishevelled. Vahid was told of Sayy h's arrival from Tabarsi. Completely oblivious of the dignity and honor to which a man of his position and fame was accustomed, Vahid rushed forward to meet him and threw himself at Sayy h's feet. He embraced those legs which were covered to the knees with mud from the earth of Tabarsi. It was to this same Sayy h that Bahá'u'lláh gave a letter to take to the Bab at Chihriq. Shortly afterward a reply came from the prison in the Bab's own handwriting. Bahá'u'lláh overwhelmed Sayy h with His kindness during this visit, and showered the same love upon Vahid. The brother of Bahá'u'lláh has said: "I was amazed at the many instances of loving solicitude which Bahá'u'lláh evinced toward Vahid. He showered him with such favors as I had never seen Him extend to anyone. The manner of His conversation left no doubt in me that this same Vahid would, ere long, distinguish himself by deeds no less remarkable than those which had immortalized the defenders of Tabarsi."[F31] Following this final visit to Bahá'u'lláh's home, Vahid set out on his last journey to Yazd and Nayriz where he laid down his life for his Faith. The same love and encouragement which Bahá'u'lláh gave to

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Vahid was bestowed upon Hujjat of Zanjan as well. Hujjat was the hero of the most violent upheaval of all. In the village of Zanjan, nearly two thousand followers of the Bab, including Hujjat, gave up their lives. When the Bab had passed through Zanjan on His way to prison, He foretold this disaster: "This town will be thrown into a great tumult, and its streets will run with blood."[F32] His prediction came true, and His much loved Hujjat, along with many of his companions, was besieged by a host of soldiers in Zanjan. The governor of Zanjan sent a crier through the streets saying, "All who throw in their lot with Hujjat will be destroyed, and their wives and children exposed to misery and shame!" This warning divided the city into two camps. There were pathetic sights of families being separated by their belief or disbelief in the Bab. Fathers turned away from their sons, women from their husbands, children from their mothers. Every tie of worldly affection seemed to be dissolved on that day. Zanjan became a city of panic. Men ran frantically to and fro trying to collect their wives and children and to persuade them to stand with them. Families divided their belongings and their children. Many wept over what they had to abandon. Whole houses were deserted. When a man, a woman, or a child would tear itself from its family or friends and rush to the support of Hujjat, a cry of joy would go up from one camp, and a moan of despair from the other. It was such a day as foretold by Christ for the days of the end when "brother shall deliver up brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents and cause them to be put to death."[F33] This was the day prophesied also by Muhammad, the day on which man shall fly from his brother, and his mother and his father, and his wife and his children."[F34] One night during the struggle, the followers of the Bab carried out His instructions to repeat the following praises of the Almighty: "God the Great!" "God the Most Great!" "God the Most Beauteous!" "God the Most Glorious!" "God the Most Pure!" In unison they repeated the phrases over and over. "So loud and compelling was the reply," historical account states, "that the enemy was rudely awakened from sleep, abandoned the camp in horror,

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and, hurrying to the environs of the governor's residence, sought shelter. A few were so shocked they dropped dead." Part of the soldier's camp was in the midst of noisy revelry. Their boisterous party was suddenly interrupted by the shouts of those voices raised in praise of God. Officers who were holding their wine glasses in their hands, dropped them instantly. Men and women rushed headlong from the building as if stunned by the outcry. Gambling tables were overturned in the disorder that followed. Half dressed, a number ran out into the wilderness. Others fled to the homes of the religious leaders. As soon as the camp discovered that it was not a dreadful attack being launched against them, but words of praise raised to the glory of God, they returned to their posts and pleasures, reassured, though greatly humiliated by this experience.[F35] Hujjat had boldly testified in the presence of the king and the Prime Minister and the assembled priests and other religious leaders that the Bab was the Promised One. "It is my firm and unalterable conviction," he told them, "That the Bab is the very One Whose coming you yourself, with all the peoples of the world, are eagerly awaiting. He is our Lord, our Promised Deliverer. If He were to entrust me with the meanest service in His household, I would deem it an honor such as the highest favors of my King could never hope to surpass."[F36] Hujjat returned to his home and urged everyone to accept the Bab. "The goal for which the world has been striving is now here," he told them. "The Sun of Truth has arisen. Fix your eyes upon the Bab, not upon me, the least of His slaves. My wisdom compared to His is as an unlighted candle compared to the sun at midday."[F37] Shortly before his death, Hujjat was grievously wounded. His wife and child were slain before his eyes. Though filled with the greatest grief, he refused to yield to complete sorrow. He would not permit himself to become one who begs for this world's favors. He cried out in his pain: "O my God, on the day when I found Thy Beloved One, I foresaw the woes I should suffer for Thee. Great as have been my sufferings, they cannot compare to the agonies I would willingly suffer in Thy name. "How can this miserable life of mine, and even the loss of my dear wife and child, and the sacrifices of my kindred and companions, compare to the blessings which the recognition of Thy

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Messenger can bestow both in this world and in the next. I only wish that a multitude of lives were mine, and that I possessed the riches of the whole earth, so that I might freely and joyously resign them all in Thy path!"[F38] Gobineau in his account says, "I have seen at Zanjan the ruins of that fierce encounter; whole sections of the city have not yet been rebuilt and probably never will be."[F39] Nicolas testifies that the entire affair was settled by the same treachery resorted to at Tabarsi and Nayriz. He portrays the attitude of the enemies of Hujjat as follows: "Why not resort to deceit? Why not make the most sacred promises, even though it might later become necessary to massacre those gullible who had put their trust in them?"[F40] No wonder that the Bab was to give Zanjan the title: "That exalted spot."[F41] When, at Chihriq in the summer of 1848, the Bab finished His letter "The Sermon of Wrath," in which He foretold the downfall of the Prime Minister, Haji Mirza Aqasi, it was given to Hujjat to deliver. He instructed Hujjat to place it personally in the hands of that official. Immediately after delivering that letter to Haji Mirza Aqasi, Hujjat went to the home of Bahá'u'lláh. He revealed the contents of that "Sermon of Wrath" and recited for Him and a few other believers the entire letter which he had memorized. Hujjat's sole comfort in those days was his close association with Bahá'u'lláh, from Whom he received the sustaining power that enabled him to distinguish himself by remarkable deeds in the days to come.[F44] From Bahá'u'lláh's home, Hujjat went to Zanjan where he, like his illustrious companions Vahid, Tahirih, Mulla Husayn, and Quddus, laid down his life for his Beloved. From the very first moment when the Bab had revealed the commentary for Mulla Husayn on the eve of May 23, 1844, He linked His own Mission with that of Bahá'u'lláh. Nabil states in his history: "Did not the Bab, in the earliest days of His Mission allude, in the opening passages of His commentary on the Surih of Joseph, to the glory and significance of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh? Was it not His purpose, by dwelling upon the ingratitude and malice which characterized the treatment of Joseph by his brethren, to predict what Bahá'u'lláh was destined to suffer at the hands of His brother and kindred?"[F43]

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In His farewell address to His chosen disciples, the Bab stated clearly that He was but the forerunner of a greater One yet to come. "I am preparing you for the advent of a mighty Day," He told them in that parting message. "Scatter throughout the length and breadth of this land, and, with steadfast feet and sanctified hearts, prepare the way for His coming."[F44] The Bab also instructed His disciples to record the names of all the believers who accepted the Faith. "Of all these believers I shall make mention in the Tablet of God," He told them, so that upon each one of them the Beloved of our hearts may, in the Day when He shall have ascended the throne of glory, confer His inestimable blessing."[F45] It was from the names of these believers that the first followers of Bahá'u'lláh came, and upon whom He conferred His special blessing and love. The Bab did everything in His power to assist His followers so that they would know where to turn after His own martyrdom. He clearly announced that He was the Promised One, but that He stood in relation to a succeeding and greater (Messenger) as did John the Baptist to the Christ. He was the Forerunner of One more mighty than Himself. He (the Bab) was to decrease; that Mighty One was to increase. And as John the Baptist had been the Herald or Gate of the Christ, so was (He) the Bab the Herald or Gate of Bahá'u'lláh."[F46] "Consecrate thou, O my God, the whole of this Tree unto Him ...," He wrote of Bahá'u'lláh. "I have not wished that this Tree should ever bear any branch, leaf, or fruit that would fail to bow down before Him on the day of His Revelation ... And, shouldst Thou behold, O my God, any branch, leaf or fruit upon Me that hath failed to bow down before Him on the day of His Revelation, cut it off, O my God from that Tree, for it is not of Me. ..."[F47] "Ere nine [years] will have elapsed from the inception of this Cause," the Bab wrote in another place, pointing out even the exact hour of Bahá'u'lláh's coming, the realities of the created things will not be made manifest. ... Be patient until thou beholdest a new creation." "In the year nine ye will attain unto all good." "In the year nine ye will attain unto the presence of God."[F48] Before nine years had elapsed, in fact during the ninth year

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[1853], Bahá'u'lláh's Mission began, thus fulfilling not only the promise of the Bab and that of Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim, but also the prophecy from the sacred writings of that land which said: "In the year [1844] the earth shall be illumined by His light. ... If thou livest until the year [1853] thou shalt witness how the nations, the rulers, the peoples, and the Faith of God shall have been renewed."[F49] The Bab's challenging words written at Mahku seal forever the bond that unites Him with Bahá'u'lláh. "Well is it with him who fixeth his gaze upon the Order of Bahá'u'lláh and rendereth thanks unto his Lord! For He will assuredly be made manifest."[F50] "I verily am a believer in Him," the Bab declares to the world, "and in His Faith, and in His Book. ..."[F51] Bahá'u'lláh on His part had such a love for the Bab that He would not let Him suffer any pain, indignity, or humiliation in which He, Bahá'u'lláh, did not share. The Bab was first confined in the house of the Chief Constable of Shiraz. Shortly after this Bahá'u'lláh was confined in the house of one of the religious leaders in Tihran. The Bab's second imprisonment was in the castle of Mahku; that of Bahá'u'lláh followed when He was imprisoned in the residence of the governor of `Amul. The Bab was scourged in the prayer-house in Tabriz. The very same punishment was inflicted shortly after this upon Bahá'u'lláh in the prayer-house at `Amul. The Bab's third imprisonment was in the castle of Chihriq; that of Bahá'u'lláh followed in the "Black Pit" prison of Tihran. The Bab was struck in the face with missiles in the streets of Tabriz. Bahá'u'lláh was pelted with stones on the streets of `Amul, and struck in the face with a rock on His way to prison in Tihran. The Bab was slain in the public square of Tabriz. Bahá'u'lláh underwent nearly half a century of living martyrdom. He was exiled and imprisoned for forty years. He was poisoned in the "Black Pit." He was set upon by assassins in Baghdad. He was poisoned again in Adrianople. He was approached by yet another assassin in the prison of `Akka. To His grave Bahá'u'lláh carried the scars of great prison-chains which had torn the flesh from His shoulders. Nabil recounts in his history: "The Bab, Whose trials and sufferings had preceded, in almost every case, those of Bahá'u'lláh, had offered Himself to ransom His Beloved from the perils that beset

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that precious life; whilst Bahá'u'lláh, on His part, unwilling that He Who so greatly loved Him should be the sole sufferer, shared at every turn the cup that had touched His [the Bab's] lips. "Such love no eye has ever beheld, nor has mortal heart ever conceived such mutual devotion. If the branches of every tree were turned into pens, and all the seas into ink, and earth and heaven rolled into one parchment, the immensity of that love would still remain unexplored, and the depth of that devotion unfathomed."[F52] * Their Missions were bound together for eternity. * Thus it was that the Bab was able to leave the prison of Chihriq in peace and with eagerness, and begin what He knew would be His last journey on this earth. He had fulfilled His task. He was the Dawn, and He had faithfully prepared His followers for the coming of the Sun itself. "I, verily, have not fallen short of My duty to admonish that people, and devise means whereby they may turn towards God ...," He said. "If on the day of 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, and will have been brought face to face with their Beloved ... I truly have nurtured all things for this purpose. How then can anyone be veiled from Him?"[F53] "I have educated all men, that they may recognize this Revelation." The Bab's heart was turned toward Tihran and Bahá'u'lláh when He wrote those moving words that foreshadowed the hours that were fast sweeping down upon Him: "I have sacrificed Myself wholly for Thee; I have accepted curses for Thy sake, and have yearned for naught but martyrdom in the path of Thy love."[F54] The soldiers bearing that fatal edict from the Prime Minister that called for His execution were already at the gates of the prison-castle of Chihriq. The Bab, confident that He had expended every effort in the path of God, had already sent His writings, His pen-case, His seals, and His ring to Bahá'u'lláh, along with a beautiful scroll filled with the praises and glory of His name. Now He calmly awaited His escort of death.

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