September 23, 2010

The youth who was given the inestimable privilege of sharing “the cup of martyrdom” with the Manifestation of God

While the Bab was confined in the Castle of Chihriq in northwestern Iran, a youth in the nearby city of Tabriz by the name of Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Zunuzi learned about Him from a traveling teacher. The youth became so spiritually inflamed by what he heard, that he wanted to immediately hasten to the castle and attain the presence of the Bab. This youth was later surnamed Anis by the Bab, a title that literally means “close companion”, because he was subsequently martyred with Him in Tabriz in 1850. This was an inestimable privilege that Anis received --never before anything like it had happen in the history of religion.

This is how it happened.

Hearing the circumstances pertaining to the Bab’s incarceration at Chihriq from the traveling teacher, Anis felt so kindled that he felt an irrepressible longing to sacrifice himself in the path of his Beloved. Anis’ stepfather, Siyyid Aliy-i-Zunuzi, was a notable of Tabriz. He strenuously objected to his son leaving the city and going to the Castle of Chihriq, but his words seem to have no effect on him. His stepfather was at last induced to confine him to his house and strictly watch over him.

During those days, the Bab had instructed his secretary, Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, to collect the Tablets that He had revealed during His incarceration in the Castles of Mah-Ku and Chihriq. He was to deliver them into the hands of a certain believer, by the name of Siyyid Ibrahim-i-Khalil, who was then living in Tabriz, and urge him to conceal and preserve them with the utmost care.

Having delivered his special assignment, the Bab’s secretary visited Anis’ stepfather who was related to him. He later recalled how Anis’ stepfather deplored the sad fate of his son. “He seems to have lost his reason,” he bitterly complained. “He has, by his behaviour, brought reproach and shame upon me. Try to calm the agitation of his heart and induce him to conceal his convictions.” The Bab’s secretary noticed that every day he visited Anis he witnessed tears continually raining down from his eyes.

In July of 1848, the Bab was brought to the city of Tabriz for trial, where He proclaimed His station in the presence of the heir to the throne and the leading clerics. After His trial, He was bastinadoed and then returned to the Castle of Chihriq.

After the Bab had departed from Tabriz, His secretary remained in town and went to visit Anis who languished in confinement in his house. “I was surprised to note the joy and gladness which had illumined his countenance. His handsome face was wreathed in smiles as he stepped forward to receive me. 'The eyes of my Beloved,' he said, as he embraced me, 'have beheld this face, and these eyes have gazed upon His countenance.' 'Let me,' he added, 'tell you the secret of my happiness. After the Bab had been taken back to Chihriq, one day, as I lay confined in my cell, I turned my heart to Him and besought Him in these words: ‘Thou beholdest, O my Best-Beloved, my captivity and helplessness, and knowest how eagerly I yearn to look upon Thy face. Dispel the gloom that oppresses my heart, with the light of Thy countenance.’ What tears of agonising pain I shed that hour! I was so overcome with emotion that I seemed to have lost consciousness. Suddenly I heard the voice of the Bab, and, lo! He was calling me. He bade me arise. I beheld the majesty of His countenance as He appeared before me. He smiled as He looked into my eyes. I rushed forward and flung myself at His feet. ‘Rejoice,’ He said; ‘the hour is approaching when, in this very city, I shall be suspended before the eyes of the multitude and shall fall a victim to the fire of the enemy. I shall choose no one except you to share with Me the cup of martyrdom. Rest assured that this promise which I give you shall be fulfilled.’ I was entranced by the beauty of that vision. When I recovered, I found myself immersed in an ocean of joy, a joy the radiance of which all the sorrows of the world could never obscure. That voice keeps ringing in my ears. That vision haunts me both in the daytime and in the night-season. The memory of that ineffable smile has dissipated the loneliness of my confinement. I am firmly convinced that the hour at which His pledge is to be fulfilled can no longer be delayed.'”

Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, the Bab’s secretary, exhorted Anis to be patient and to conceal his emotions. Anis promised him not to divulge that secret, and undertook to exercise the utmost forbearance towards Siyyid Ali [his stepfather]. “I hastened to assure the father of his determination, and succeeded in obtaining his release from his confinement. That youth continued until the day of his martyrdom to associate, in a state of complete serenity and joy, with his parents and kinsmen. Such was his behaviour towards his friends and relatives that, on the day he laid down his life for his Beloved, the people of Tabriz all wept and bewailed him." (Adapted from the Dawn-Breakers, p. 306)