January 5, 2010

The story of how the Bab’s wife, Khadijih Bagum, became a believer

About a year after Ahmad's [the Bab’s son] birth and death, on the night of 22 May 1844, Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad declared to Mulla Husayn in the upper chamber of His house in Shiraz that He was the promised Qa’im. Khadijih Bagum's response to the Bab's claim is recorded in The Dawn-Breakers:

"The wife of the Bab . . . perceived at the earliest dawn of His Revelation the glory and uniqueness of His Mission and felt from the very beginning the intensity of its force." (The Dawn-Breakers, p. 191)

Through her close association with the Bab and her observation of every aspect of His life, Khadijih Bagum, long before His declaration to Mulla Husayn, had discovered her husband's extraordinary spiritual endowments. However she was unaware of the claim He was to make and the nature of His mission until she experienced something unique which confirmed her belief in Him. (Leaves of the Twin Divine Trees, p. 33)

In His historical manuscript, her great nephew, Haji Mirza Habibu’llah Afnan has recorded the following account which was related by the wife of the Bab, Khadijih Bagum:

“The sun was setting . . . when the Countenance of the Peerless Beloved illumined His home with the light of His effulgent Face. According to the usual custom, tea was served in the chamber of His mother and the dinner table was set. That night His blessed Person was not hungry but accompanied others and had a little food, then He went to bed.

Around midnight His wife noticed His absence. She became worried and searched the courtyard of the House and the room of His mother, but did not find Him anywhere. As she was not yet aware of His inner heart's secret her anxiety heightened with the passing of every second. She involuntarily climed up the staircase [leading to the second floor] and, lo and behold, she saw the upper chamber of the House immersed in light. What was the source of all this light, and where had the lamps come from she asked herself. But this was not tangible light; it was divine light, and she did not see it with her outward eyes but with her inner sight. She proceeded towards the guest room. There she saw that world-illuminating Sun and light-shedding Moon standing in the middle of the room with His hands raised heavenward. While her eyes were fixed upon the dazzling light emanating from His Being, a feeling of awe and fright came over her. She wanted to return but was unable to move. Her awe grew to such intensity that she felt stupefied. At this point His Blessed Person relieved her of her bewilderment. By uttering the words 'go back' He gave her new life and revived her faculties. She returned to bed but could not sleep. She communed with the Almighty saying ‘O my God, what power and grandeur! What greatness and glory! What is the wisdom in your revealing to me that effulgent Sun? Is He my Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad? Will I henceforth be able to live with that luminous Sun? Nay, nay, the rays of this Resplendent Sun will consume me, and will reduce me to ashes. I possess not the power to withstand it.'

Her thoughts were all night revolving around this episode until she heard the voice of the mu’adhdhin [A Muslim crier who calls the hour of daily prayers.] from the adjacent mosque. At that time the Immaculate Being descended the steps. His esteemed wife, who had beheld the majesty and greatness of her glorious husband, was trembling as she thought of meeting Him face to face, and tried to conceal herself. When the breakfast table was spread and she went, according to the usual practice to the room of His mother, she was still trembling, and would not lift her head. The Exalted Being poured tee and offered it to her. He enquired, 'What is the matter with you?' She replied, 'What was the condition I saw you in?' The Tongue of Grandeur uttered such words that caused her anxiety to vanish, and confirmed her in what she had seen. He spoke words such as these: 'Know thou that the Almighty God is manifested in Me. I am the One whose advent the people of Islam have expected for over a thousand years. God has created Me for a great Cause, and you witnessed the divine revelation. Although 1had not wished that you see Me in that state, yet God had so willed that there may not he any place in your heart for doubt and hesitation.'?'” (Leaves of the Twin Divine Trees, pp. 34-35)

Just as Khadijih, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad witnessed the first emanations of the Spirit of Truth manifesting in her exalted husband and became the first to perceive the divinity of the mission with which He had been entrusted, so it was nearly 13 centuries later when a descendant of hers, also named Khadijih, became the first to recognize the Sun of Reality shining through the person of Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad, a lineal descendant of Prophet Muhammad and His wife Khadijih. Khadijih Bagum was the recipient of this tremendous bounty without preparation and expectation, for despite her awareness that her husband was above other men in stature and spiritual endowments, she never imagined that her intimate and loving companion would be the promised Qa'im.[*] The discovery was no doubt an overwhelming and awe-inspiring experience. (Leaves of the Twin Divine Trees, p. 35)
[*]Literally ‘He Who Arises’: in Shia Islam, a reference to the Twelfth Imam, the Mihdi, who was to return in the fullness of time and bring a reign of righteousness to the world. The Bab declared Himself to be the Qa’im and the Gate to a greater Messenger, "Him Whom God shall make manifest"- Baha’u’llah.