August 10, 2012

The marriage of the Báb with Khadijih-Bagum and their short life together – recalled by Munirih Khanum, the wife of ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Munirih Khanum, who later became the wife of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, met Khadijih-Bagum before leaving Persia for Holy Land. She was living at the time in Isfahan, a city about 200 miles north of Shiraz, and was summoned to ‘Akka by Baha’u’llah.

Accompanied by a believer by the name of Shaykh Salman, who was instructed by Baha’u’llah to provide travel assistance, the party left Isfahan for the port city of Bushihr via Shiraz. Arrangements were made for her to stay a short while in Shiraz in the home of Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad, the uncle of the Báb. She arrived sometime between January and February of 1872 and had the privilege of meeting the wife of the Báb several times.

The following is taken from Munirih Khanum's memoirs concerning one of her interviews with Khadijih-Bagum:

...I asked the wife of the Báb to recount for me some reminiscences of her association with the Báb, of attaining His presence and of her marriage with Him. She said, 'I do not remember every detail but will tell you what I can remember...

We were three sisters. [One of the three sisters was a half-sister who married Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali, the uncle of the Báb who was martyred in Tihran.] One night I dreamt that Fatimih [the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, the holiest woman in Islam] came to our house as a suitor to propose marriage. [In those days it was the custom for mothers, sisters or close female relatives of a man who wished to get married to propose to the parents of a girl. Once the agreement was reached, the girl would be informed and later married.] With great joy and ecstasy my sisters and I went to her. She then came forward to me and kissed my forehead. I understood in the dream that she had chosen me. When I woke up in the morning I felt very happy and joyous, but I felt too shy to share my dream with anybody. In the afternoon of the same day, the mother of the Báb came to our house. My sister and I went to her. Exactly as I had dreamt, she came forward, kissed my forehead and embraced me. She then left. My eldest sister said to me, 'The mother of the Báb came to propose and has asked for your hand in marriage [with her son].' I replied, 'This is a great felicity for me.' I recounted my dream and expressed the happiness of my heart because of its implications.

After a few days ... they sent some gifts as a token of engagement, and the Báb went to Bushihr on business in company with His uncle. [Engagement was a family affair. It was improper for a man engaged to a woman to associate with her until married. In any case it was not permitted even to see the face of his fiancée until after marriage. Of course a couple who were close relatives would have seen each other before.] Although the mother of the Báb and I were cousins, yet, because of my dream every time I met her, I showed great courtesy and respect towards her.

I cannot recall the duration of the Báb's journey. When He was in Bushihr, I dreamt one night that I was sitting in the presence of the Báb. It appeared as though it was the evening of our wedding. The Báb was dressed in a green cloak around the borders of which were inscribed the verses of the Qur'án ... and light was emanating from Him. Seeing Him in this way, I was filled with such joy and gladness that I woke up. After this dream I was assured in my heart that the Báb was a distinguished personage. I cherished a love for Him in my heart, but did not disclose my feelings to anybody. Eventually He returned from Bushihr and His uncle arranged the wedding.

After the wedding, I entertained no thought of earthly things in my mind. My heart was entirely attracted to the person of the Báb. From His words and conduct, His magnanimity and solemnity, it became clear to me that He was a distinguished person. But the thought never occurred to me that He could be the Qá'im, the Promised One. Most of the time He was engaged in praying and reading verses...

As was customary among merchants, He would ask in the evenings for His business papers and account books. But I noticed that they were not business papers. Sometimes I used to ask Him what the papers were. He once said 'It is the Book of the accounts of all the peoples of the world.' Should any visitor suddenly arrive, He would spread a handkerchief over the papers. All close relatives such as His uncles and aunts were fully conscious of His exalted personality. They revered Him and showed the utmost respect towards Him, until the fateful night of the 5th of Jamadi'ul-Avval 1260 A.H. (22 May 1844) arrived. It was the night that Jinab-i-Bábu'l-Bab, Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'I [The first believer of the Bábí Dispensation] attained the presence of the Báb and acknowledged the truth of His Cause. That was indeed a memorable evening. The Báb intimated that we were having a guest who was dear to Him. He was as if on fire and in the utmost excitement. I was very eager to hear His blessed words, but He bade me go to bed. Although I was lying awake the whole night, I remained in bed as I did not wish to disobey Him. I could hear His voice until morning as He conversed with Jinab-i-Bábu'l-Bab. He was reading the verses of God and adducing proofs. Later I observed that every day a strange guest would arrive and the Báb would engage in similar talks.

If I attempt to describe the sufferings and persecutions of those days, I will not be able to endure talking about them, neither will you have the fortitude to listen to them...

One night, I woke up about midnight to find that the ... Chief Constable Abdu'l-Hamid had entered the house from the roof with his men and, without giving any reasons, took the Báb with him. I never attained His presence again… (Adapted from ‘The Revelation of Baha’u’llah’, by Adib Taherzadeh, vol. 2)