January 25, 2010

The Shah sent his special envoy to meet with the Bab and investigate the truth of His claims

Before long, news about the young man Who called Himself the Bab --"the Gate” -- traveled as far as the court of Persia's ruler, Muhammad Shah. The fact that so many of his people were drawn to the Cause of the Bab made the shah both curious and concerned. He decided he must find out more about the Bab and His claims. To investigate on his behalf, he called on the one man acknowledged throughout the land as the most brilliant of religious scholars. At whatever gathering he spoke, no matter how learned the participants, all others would choose to sit in respectful silence and listen to him. Knowledgeable and wise beyond all others, he was also a man of integrity, truthful and trustworthy. His name was Siyyid Yahya, but he would become known as Vahid, meaning "the Peerless One."

The shah commanded Vahid to meet with the Bab in Shiraz and there investigate the truth of His claims, then return to Tehran and report his findings. Vahid was pleased to obey. He, too, had heard of the Bab and His Cause and wished to satisfy his own desire for more information. On the journey from Tehran to Shiraz, he thought of the many questions with which he would test the Bab. Vahid did not plan to make the interview easy, but thorough and demanding. The truth deserved no less. Little did the brilliant Vahid know that nothing in his previous experience had prepared him for what lay ahead.

As it turned out, Vahid did not have one interview with the Bab, but three --each one more remarkable than the one before. At their first meeting Vahid presented each of his questions. He made certain to reveal, as well, something of his own vast range of religious knowledge. The Bab listened patiently to all that he said, then began to address Vahid's questions briefly but persuasively. As Vahid listened to the Bab's answers, each one clear and concise, he felt suddenly embarrassed at his own display of self-importance. Though he had more questions, Vahid asked the Bab if he might continue the interview a little later and resolved to himself to return with a more humble attitude.

Vahid's second interview with the Bab, however, did not go at all as he had intended. As soon as he entered the Bab's presence, Vahid forgot all of the questions he had planned to ask. They were as thoroughly erased from his memory as though written in sand at the water's edge and washed away by the tide. Yet to his surprise, as Vahid conversed with the Bab, the Bab answered every question that Vahid had temporarily forgotten. Still Vahid could not quiet the small, doubting voice that whispered within him, "Might not this, after all, have been an accidental coincidence?"

For his third interview with the Bab, Vahid decided on a different strategy. He would keep his next request a secret and hold it silently in his heart. This request, which Vahid would tell no one, was for the Bab to reveal a commentary on the spiritual truths in the Shrih of Kawthar (Paradise), a chapter of the Koran. IF the Bab could, of His own volition, detect Vahid’s secret request and reveal a commentary unlike any other, then Vahid would be convinced that the Bab was of God. If not, Vahid decided, he would refuse to acknowledge the Bab.

This time, when Vahid came before the Bab, he was overcome suddenly with feelings of fear and awe and began to tremble so that he could barely stand. Why should he be so affected in the presence of the Bab? He wondered. How many times had he been in the presence of the shah, whose power gave reason to fear, yet had never felt timid or afraid in his presence? Why now should he stand trembling, unable to take a step or to utter a word?

When the Bab saw Vahid's predicament, He got up from His seat and took Vahid gently by the hand, leading the scholar to sit next to Him. "Seek from Me whatever is your heart's desire," the Bab told Vahid. "I will readily reveal it to you." But Vahid could say nothing. "Were I to reveal for yon the commentary on the Surih of Kawthar," said the Bab, "would you acknowledge that My words are born of the Spirit of God? Would you recognize that My utterance can in no wise be associated with sorcery or magic?" Vahid could say nothing except to recite averse of the Koran: "O our Lord, with ourselves have we dealt unjustly: if Thou forgive us not and have not pity on us, we shall surely be of those who perish.""

With that, the Bab asked for His pen-case and paper and began at once to reveal His commentary. It was early afternoon when the Bab began to write. He continued to write for the rest of the day, rapidly and without pause, intoning the verses as He wrote them. Vahid listened, enraptured not only by the beauty of what he heard, but also by the inexpressible majesty of the Bab. Not until sunset did the Bab lay down His pen and ask for tea. The commentary – two thousand verses-was complete.

Also complete was Vahid's transformation. Vanished was every trace of his former sense of superiority. In its place was the humble acknowledgement and deep certitude that the Bab was indeed the promised Qa’im. "If all the powers of the earth were to be leagued against me," declared Vahid, "they would be powerless to shake my confidence in the greatness of His Cause." So did Persia's most learned and respected religious scholar declare himself a Babi. It was the Bab Himself who gave to Vahid - known until then as Siyyid Yahya-his new name…

Vahid wrote his report about the Bab and sent it to the shah, telling in detail the truth he had discovered, but he did not return to Tehran. Instead, like Husayn-'Ali [Baha’u’llah] and the Letters of the Living, Vahid set out to share the news of his discovery with people in every town. When the shah received Vahid's letter and learned that he had become a Babi, he commented, "If this be true, it behoves us to cease belittling the Cause of that Siyyid”[meaning the Bab].
(Druzelle Cederquist, 'The Story of Baha’u’llah')