May 16, 2014

How the death warrant for the Báb was obtained from three leading priests in Tabriz

Early in the morning of July 9th, 1850, the chief-attendant of prison came to the barracks to conduct the Báb into the presence of the leading religious doctors of law in Tabriz. They were to authorize His execution by signing a death warrant, thus relieving the Prime Minister of the entire responsibility.

The Báb was engaged in a confidential conversation with Siyyid Husayn, one of His closest followers, who had been serving as His secretary. Husayn had been with the Báb throughout His imprisonment. The Báb was giving him last minute instructions.

"Confess not your Faith," the Báb advised Husayn. "Thereby you will be enabled, when the hour comes, to convey to those who are destined to hear you, the things of which you alone are aware."

The Báb was thus engaged when the chief-attendant arrived. He insisted upon the Báb's immediate departure. The Báb turned and rebuked the chief-attendant severely.

"Not until I have said to him all those things I wish to say," the Báb warned, "can any earthly power silence me. Though all the world be armed against Me, yet shall they be powerless to deter Me from fulfilling, to the last word, My intention."

The chief-attendant was amazed at such a bold speech on the part of a prisoner. However, he still insisted that the Báb accompany him with no further delay. The conversation with Husayn was left unfinished. The Báb and the eighteen-year-old boy who was to die with Him were led, one by one, into the presence of each of three doctors of law. The guards made certain that the irons about the neck and wrists were secure. To the iron collar about the Báb's neck they tied a long cord which was held by another attendant. Then, so that everyone could see Him in His humiliation, they walked Him about the town. They led Him through the streets and the bazaars, overwhelming Him with blows and insults. [1] He was paraded publicly, as Christ had been, an object of derision.

To the people of Tabriz the Báb was no longer triumphant. He was to die. He was being humbled and degraded just as the Prime Minister had planned. The crowds packed the streets along which he was led. The people climbed upon each other's shoulders the better to see this Personage Who was so much talked about. What a pity He was so powerless, they said. Quite obviously this could not be a Man of God, and certainly not the Promised One.

The followers of the Báb who were in the crowd scattered in all directions. They were trying to arouse among the onlookers a feeling of pity or sympathy which might help them save their Master.

Jesus had entered Jerusalem hailed on all sides, with palm leaves strewn in His path, only to be mocked and reviled in that same Jerusalem within the week. In like manner the glory that had attended the Báb's first triumphant entry into Tabriz was now forgotten. This time the crowd, restless and excitable, flung insulting words at Him. They wanted to be entertained with miracles and signs of wonder, and the Báb was failing them. They pursued Him as He was led through the streets. They broke through the guards and struck Him in the face. When some missile hurled from the crowd would reach its mark, the guards and the crowd would burst into laughter.

The Báb was then brought before the priest who had previously incited the clergy to scourge Him. As soon as he saw the Báb approaching, he seized the death-warrant and thrust it at the attendant. "No need to bring him into my presence," he cried. 'This death warrant I signed long ago, the very day I saw him at that gathering here in Tabriz. He is the same man I saw then, and has not since surrendered any of his claims. Take him away!"

The other priests in turn also refused to meet the Báb face to face. Their hatred of Him had increased since the day of His previous triumph over them.

“We are satisfied that it is right to pronounce the sentence of death," they said. "Do not bring him into our presence." The chief-attendant, having secured the necessary death-warrants, delivered the Báb into the hands of Sam Khan, the leader of the regiment that was to execute Him.
(Adapted from ‘Release the Sun’, by William Sears)

[1] Comte de Gobineau, Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l’Asie
Centrale, p. 220.