May 22, 2013

Mulla Husayn’s childhood and youth

Here is a brief story of the early life of Mulla Husayn whose amazing station is summarized below by the beloved Guardian:

“Mulla Husayn, the first Letter of the Living, surnamed the Bábu'l-Báb (the Gate of the Gate); designated as the "Primal Mirror;" on whom eulogies, prayers and visiting Tablets of a number equivalent to thrice the volume of the Qur'án had been lavished by the pen of the Báb; referred to in these eulogies as "beloved of My Heart;" the dust of whose grave, that same Pen had declared, was so potent as to cheer the sorrowful and heal the sick; whom "the creatures, raised in the beginning and in the end" of the Bábí Dispensation, envy, and will continue to envy till the "Day of Judgment;" whom the Kitáb-i-Íqán acclaimed as the one but for whom "God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor ascended the throne of eternal glory;" to whom Siyyid Kazim had paid such tribute that his disciples suspected that the recipient of such praise might well be the promised One Himself …” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By)

Haji Mulla ‘Abdu’llah, the father of Mulla Husayn, was one of the wealthier residents of Bushruyih, a small town not far from Mashhad. Mulla Husayn’s mother was a distinguished lady, a poetess well known in the region for her many achievements, which were all the more remarkable because during that time the women in Iran were socially under very extreme restrictions – they were forbidden to show their faces to anyone outside their immediate families, and even their voices were not to be heard by anyone but close friends or relatives.

Normally, women were given no opportunity to study in schools. There were, however, a few who did learn to read and write and were able to pursue an interest in literature and theology. They did this despite great difficulties, and often against the protests of their families. Such women, who challenged the established customs and traditions to seek learning, were real heroines. One of them was the wife of Haji Mulla ‘Abdu’llah, the mother of Mulla Husayn, who reared five children, three of whom became famous in the Faith. Their eldest one was Muhammad Husayn (later known as Mulla Husayn), Muhammad Hasan, Bibi Kuchik (his sister), Muhammad ‘Ali, and another sister Khadijih – three boys and 2 girls.

Mulla Husayn was born in 1813 in Bushruyih in northern Iran. He attended the primary school which was called “maktab” those days. The pupils were taught reading and writing and enough mathematics to know how to add, subtract, and divide. The students also learned how to memorize passages from the Qur’an, in original Arabic, by repetition – without really understanding their meaning and significance. It was considered meritorious to be able to read the words of the Qur’an, especially at the tombs of the dead.

At the age of twelve, Mulla Husayn finished his studies in his home town of Bushruyih and went to the nearby city of Mashhad, the most prestigious center of religious study in Iran, to pursue his religious studies at a seminary. To be accepted to such religious seminaries one had to show genuine interest and aptitude. These seminaries, known as “madrisih” consisted of some buildings around a courtyard, with pools, wells, and sometimes gardens. Professors and students generally lived at such madrisih’s. There was no fixed course of study. Each professor would teach a subject, while his students would sit on a mat around him. The students would listen, ask questions and discuss their views.

Mulla Husay’s parents, realizing his great spiritual capacities, were happy that their son would follow the path of religion and become a mujtahid,(A Muslim Doctor of Law) thereby honoring the family. But we do not know what was in the mind of the young Mulla Husayn. We do know that, in Mashhad, Mulla Husayn did not bow to the ideas of his professors. Soon he became attracted to the unorthodox ideas of Shaykh Ahmad and became a follower of Shaykh Ahmad’s successor, Siyyid Kazim. He corresponded with the latter, who lived and taught in Iraq, and his desire to meet him grew. Perhaps his heart told him that the Siyyid was more than just a scholar who could teach him the outward laws of religion.

It should be noted that at that time there was much speculation in Iran about the coming of the promised Qa’im – the promised one of the Shi’ih. In towns and villages of Iran, seers and sages called the people to prepare themselves for that great day. There were different expectations as to what things need to happen and how to prepare oneself for that great Advent. Mulla Husayn looked to Siyyid Kazim to unravel this mystery. He decided to journey to Iraq to study with his master.

Since the capital city Tihran is located on the way from Mashhad to Karbala in Iraq, Mulla Husayn stayed there for a while. But while there, he received the news that his father had died in Bushruyih, and he had to return to his native town - now with the responsibility of caring for his four younger sisters and brothers, some of whom were very young. But he would not remain there long as he felt the urge to leave directly for Karbala in Iraq.

While he was preparing to leave, it is reported that Mulla Husayn had a dream. He was in the presence of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, who looked at him gently. Muhammad called him to approach and took him in His arms like a kind father. The Prophet then put His lips over those of Mulla Husayn. Suddenly Mulla Husayn felt his mouth was filled with so much water that it began to flow out, as if a great ocean had burst forth from his mouth, filling the whole world.

When he awoke, he was perplexed by this dream. But his relatives were certain that it was a sign of great knowledge and attainment in life, that he would obtain the highest rank in the religious hierarchy, would become a great mujtahid (a Muslim Doctor of Law), and would fill the world with his wisdom.

As preparation for departure was underway his family observed a new expression on the face of Mulla Husayn and a mood of rapture about him. The entire family decided to accompany him to Karbala. They sold some of their property in the village and left. Only one of his sisters, Khadihih, who had already married remained at home.

Thus began Mulla Husayn’s journey to Iraq to meet his master Siyyid Kazim, one of the two forerunners of the Báb. This was 1831 and Mulla Husayn was only 18 years old! 
(Adapted from ‘Mulla Husayn – Disciple at Dawn’, by R. Mehrabkhani)