December 14, 2013

Bahá’u’lláh’s marriage to Ásíyih Khánúm and their early lives together up until His recognition of the Báb

When Bahá’u’lláh was nearly eighteen years old, His older sister requested their father's permission for her Brother to marry her husband's sister, Ásíyih Khánúm. Ásíyih Khánúm, who was then fifteen years old, was exceedingly beautiful, lively and winsome. Their marriage, which took place in the fall of 1835, opened a new level of responsibility and fulfillment for the young nobleman. He was to share a lifetime of love and extreme difficulties with this great noblewoman who later was known by the title Navváb (her Highness, her Excellency).

The young married couple devoted themselves to charitable activities during the early years of their married life. Their daughter Bahíyyih Khánúm recounted many years later how her parents "took part as little as possible in State functions, social ceremonies, and the luxurious habits of ordinary highly-placed and wealthy families in the land of Persia. [They] … counted these worldly pleasures meaningless, and preferred rather to occupy themselves in caring for the poor, and for all who were unhappy, or in trouble.'" Their Son, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, also recalled His Father's role during those early years of His marriage:

"He was most generous, giving abundantly to the poor. None who came to Him were turned away. The doors of His house were open to all. He always had many guests. This unbounded generosity was conducive to greater astonishment from the fact that He sought neither position nor prominence. In commenting upon this His friends said He would become impoverished, for His expenses were many and His wealth becoming more and more limited. 'Why is He not thinking of His own affairs?' they inquired of each other; but some who were wise declared, 'This Personage is connected with another world; He has something sublime within Him that is not evident now; the day is coming when it will be manifested.'  In truth, the Blessed Perfection [Bahá’u’lláh] was a refuge for every weak one, a shelter for every fearing one, kind to every indigent one, lenient and loving to all creatures."

Due to such acts of charity and service Bahá’u’lláh and His wife earned widespread reputation as "The Father of Poor" and "The Mother of Consolation".

Bahá'u'lláh and Ásíyih Khánúm initially lived in one of the many mansions that His father Mirzá Búzúrg owned in the capital city, Tehrán. This was the same mansion in which Bahá’u’lláh was born. Shortly after this, however, the entire family was forced to move out as a result of the extremely unfair scheming against Bahá’u’lláh's father by the new Prime Minister Hájí Mirzá Áqásí. This is how it happened:

A year before Bahá’u’lláh's marriage, Fath-'Ali Sháh who had reigned the country for thirty-five years died and his grandson Muhammad Sháh was crowned king. In June of 1835 the new king executed the Prime Minister, the able and noble Mirzá Abdu'l-Qásim who was an esteemed friend of Bahá’u’lláh's father. Then, in that same month, the Sháh appointed his former elderly tutor Hájí Mirzá Áqásí as the new Prime Minister. Hájí Mirzá Áqásí was a vain, cruel and ruthless plotter whose treacherous, intolerant, and bigoted personality brought the country to the edge of ruin.

When Hájí Mirzá Áqásí learned that Bahá’u’lláh's father was horrified at the Hájí's role in murdering his predecessor, he retaliated. He removed Mirzá Búzúrg from the governorship of Búrújird and Lúristán provinces, cut off his annual income, and engineered a divorce from a daughter of the former Sháh whom he had married as his fourth wife a few years earlier. As a result of this very unfair and evil plotting, Mirzá Búzúrg faced a very costly divorce settlement at a time when all of his legitimate sources of income were cut off by the Prime Minister's machinations.  He was forced to quickly sell his magnificent interconnected mansions in the capital city with all their very valuable furnishings at a very low price in order to stop daily beatings by thugs that were sent to him by his ex-wife to extract money for the divorce settlement.

Following this conspiracy and fraud, Bahá’u’lláh, accompanied by His wife Ásíyih Khánúm, His mother Khadíjih Khánúm, His other stepmothers and a number of brothers and sisters, moved to a rented house not far from the mansion of His youth.

Added Responsibilities
In 1839, when Bahá’u’lláh was about twenty-two years old, His father passed away. It was the year 1839. Although He had an older half-brother, Bahá’u’lláh's recognized and proven leadership abilities made Him the only candidate to assume responsibility for His father's large family. This huge and demanding family complex included His own brother and sisters and their families, His half-brothers, half-sisters, step-brothers, and step-sisters, all with their own families. Probably to some degree Bahá’u’lláh also had influence upon His aunts and uncles and their numerous dependents. As one can imagine in such an extended family environment there was potential for every manner of personal conflict and differences arising that would require intervention and guidance.

Bahá’u’lláh took on this added responsibility with courage and determination. His genuine desire to solve family problems in the best way possible, His innate wisdom and insight combined with His gentle and kind disposition reinforced His leadership abilities. Furthermore, His sunny disposition and humor made those difficult and testing days more bearable for everyone involved. Bahá’u’lláh also received great assistance and comfort from His devoted companion and wife, Ásíyih Khánúm, whose charm and warmth pervaded the new household.

Bahá’u’lláh's Children
Almost all of Bahá’u’lláh's children from His marriage with Ásíyih Khánúm were born in this rented house which was located in the northern section of Tehran near the Gate of Shimirán. They had a total of seven children, six boys and one girl. Their first two sons Kázim and Sádiq died in infancy. Their third son named 'Abbás was born on May 23, 1844. He was later known as 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Two years later they had their only daughter named Fátimih, later to be known as Bahíyyih Khánúm. Their fourth son named 'Ali-Múhammad also died in childhood. Their last surviving child, while they were at this house, was born in 1848. He was named Mihdí, after Bahá’u’lláh's brother who had died in their father's lifetime. Bahá’u’lláh and Ásíyih Khánúm had one last child, a son who died in infancy in 1854 when the family was exiled in Baghdad, Iraq.

During the summer months when the weather was often exceptionally hot in the capital city Tehran, Bahá’u’lláh and His family would repair to Tákúr, an ancestral village located about 60 miles north of Tehrán. On occasion the family would go to places closer to the capital city. The beautiful natural setting of these environs provided some temporary relief for Bahá’u’lláh to enjoy the company of His family. 
(Adapted from ‘Stories of Baha’u’llah’; ‘The Dawn-Breakers; ‘Baha’u’llah and the New Era’; ‘The Chosen Highway’; ‘Promulgation of Universal Peace’; and  ‘Baha’u’llah, The King of Glory’)