This is the story of a modern search for the Holy Grail, the cup of everlasting life. It began in the land from which the three Kings came to Bethlehem guided by a bright star. It was now the nineteenth century, and there was another sign in the heavens, a great fiery comet. Many were awed, many were frightened, many were cheered, for both the East and the West were caught up in a millennial zeal. In Persia, home of the "three wise men," the excitement over the coming of a Messiah was greater than in any other land. In America and Europe, scholars wrote and spoke of the expected appearance of the promised Christ, but in Persia many people were actively searching for Him. They believed the Promised One to be already in their midst. Among these devout searchers was Shaykh Ahmad, a kindly, gentle man. At the age of forty, he left his home and kindred in one of the islands to the south of the Persian Gulf, and set out to unravel the mystery of the coming Messenger. An inner voice kept urging him on. Eagerly, he devoured everything written on the subject. He questioned the great religious and scientific authorities until he felt that at last he knew the truth.
He was now filled with an eagerness to unburden his soul. He began to search for someone with whom he could share his great secret: his certainty of the time and place for the appearance of God's new Messenger, Who would fulfill all the promises given in the sacred Books. Shaykh Ahmad made his way on foot to the city of Shiraz in southern Persia. Often and passionately in his public talks he extolled that city. Such was the praise he lavished upon Shiraz that his hearers, who were only too familiar with its mediocrity, were astonished at the tone of his language. "Wonder not," Shaykh Ahmad told them. "Before long the secret of my words will be made clear to you. A number of you will live to behold the glory of a day which all the prophets of old have foretold and have yearned to witness. There was no one to whom Shaykh Ahmad was able to pour out his knowledge in its entirety. He feared what the people might do to the One whose coming had set his heart on fire. He knew he must wait patiently until a kindred soul appeared with whom he could share his secret. During those days, a young man named Siyyid Kazim was already on his way to visit Shaykh Ahmad. He had heard of this great man, and thought perhaps Shaykh Ahmad himself might be the Promised One. Siyyid Kazim lived near a famous tomb near Ardabil. One night in a dream he was told to arise and put himself under the spiritual guidance of Shaykh Ahmad whom he would find residing at Yazd. Siyyid Kazim began his journey to Yazd at once. When he reached his destination, Shaykh Ahmad greeted him affectionately. "I welcome you, O my friend! How long and how eagerly I have awaited your coming." To him, Shaykh Ahmad confided all that he knew. He urged Siyyid Kazim to kindle in every receptive heart the fire that burned so brightly in his own. "You have no time to lose," Shaykh Ahmad warned him. "Every fleeting hour should be fully and wisely used. Strive night and day to remove the veils of prejudice and orthodoxy that have blinded the eyes of men. For verily I say, the hour is drawing nigh." By devoting his special attention to his followers, Shaykh Ahmad hoped to enable them to become active supporters of the Cause of the Promised One when he appeared.
Shaykh Ahmad knew that the hour of his own death was approaching, so he called his followers together. "After me," he said, seek for the truth through Siyyid Kazim. He alone understands my objective." Shaykh Ahmad died soon after, and Siyyid Kazim became the leader of his followers. Siyyid Kazim also found that there was no one sincere enough or worthy enough to hear all that Shaykh Ahmad had taught him. His followers were still tied to their homes, their families, their money, their businesses, their former beliefs. "If the coming Promised One will exalt us and preserve all we hold dear," they told Siyyid Kazim, "then we are ready, nay eager, to accept. But, if His coming means forsaking all we cherish and perhaps even facing death, then our ears are deaf to the sweet music." At long last Siyyid Kazim found one young man in whom he could place the greatest trust. The youth's name was Mulla Husayn. Such was the love and honor that Siyyid Kazim bestowed upon Mulla Husayn that some among his companions suspected that Mulla Husayn might be the Promised One to whom their master was unceasingly referring, the One whom he so often declared to be even now living in their midst unrecognized by them all. "You behold Him with your own eyes," Siyyid Kazim told them, "and yet recognize him not!" Mulla Husayn returned Siyyid Kazim's great love and respect. At times he himself secretly wondered whether or not Siyyid Kazim might be the One they awaited. Mulla Husayn, however, had a standard by which he planned to test whoever made such a stupendous claim. He would ask that a commentary be written upon the story of Joseph, a certain chapter in the sacred scripture, and written in a style and language entirely different from the prevailing standards. One day Mulla Husayn, in private, asked Siyyid Kazim to write such a commentary. Siyyid Kazim refused. "This verily is beyond me," he said. "However, He that great One who comes after me will, unasked, reveal it for you. That commentary will constitute one of the clearest evidences of His truth." Mulla Husayn asked Siyyid Kazim why this chapter was called the "best of stories" in their holy Book. Siyyid Kazim replied, "It is not the proper occasion for explaining the reason." His words hinted that the future would unveil this truth.
- Hand of the Cause William Sears (Release the Sun)