December 2, 2010

The immediate circumstances pertaining to Baha’u’llah’s arrest and imprisonment in Tehran and its impact on the Holy Family –- the Greatest Holy Leaf explains to a western pilgrim

He returned [following His return from abroad] to His own village. Here He rested, and while there, the news was brought of the shooting of the Shah. Immediately, Baha’u’llah was arrested and taken to prison. His family in Tehran knew nothing of this, and they were entertaining friends.

The servant rushed in, and said he had seen the Master [Baha’u’llah] being led through the street with bare head and feet, being taken to prison. The friends, realizing they risked imprisonment, left Baha’u’llah’s wife alone with her children – ages two, six, nine. A cousin urged them to spend the night with her, and she accepted, but soon realized even there she was causing anxiety, and so early in the morning, she returned to her home.

When she and Baha’u’llah were married, they were from the wealthiest families in the community, and it was said their wealth could never end. His wife, being an only child, had a marvelous trousseau, all her dresses were of the finest silk and the buttons and fastening were of rare jewels. At the time of His arrest, all of His property was confiscated as well as hers, and she was left with nothing to care for her children. She suffered most terribly from grief for her husband and because she could get no word as to His condition. For a week, she was without word, and finally through an aunt [whose husband was employed in the Russian legation in Tehran] … she was able to hear from her husband.

It is a custom in Persia when they are about to kill anyone, a guard goes through the city announcing the name of the person, and they lived in constant dread of hearing their dear One’s name. Each day, Baha'u'llah's wife used to leave in the early morning and go to her aunt's to await news of her husband, and to endeavor to get food to Him. Her property gone, she sold her dresses and the jeweled buttons to bribe the prison keepers to allow her to get food to her husband. This she succeeded in doing after about a month. She would return at night, and all day the little children were left alone, fearful to go out because the soldiers might take them.

One day they did take 'Abdu'l-Baha, and He pulled Himself out of His coat and ran to His home, where the door was ajar and found safety behind it. His mother suffered fearfully these days because she had been accustomed to the utmost luxury and now she was obliged to do all her own work, even her washing. (Notes taken by Ruth Randall during her pilgrimage in 1919; ‘William Henry Randall Disciple of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’, pp. 170-172)