April 7, 2017

circa 1848: Baha’u’llah’s first imprisonment

Baha’u’llah’s first imprisonment took place in Tihran when He was informed of the plight of a number of companions and supporters of Táhirih who were brought as prisoners to the Capital from Qazvin. They were falsely charged with the murder of Táhirih’s father-in-law, while Táhirih herself was placed in the strictest confinement in the house of her father in Qazvin. Bahá’u’lláh was at that time residing in Ṭihrán.

Nabil explains:

As He [Baha’u’llah] was already acquainted with the kad-khudá [alderman] in whose home they [the companions and supporters of Táhirih] were incarcerated, He decided to visit them and intervene in their behalf. That avaricious and deceitful official, who was fully aware of the extreme generosity of Bahá’u’lláh, greatly exaggerated in the hope of deriving a substantial pecuniary advantage for himself, the misfortune that had befallen the unhappy captives.”

“They are destitute of the barest necessities of life,” urged the kad-khudá. “They hunger for food, and their clothing is wretchedly scanty.” Bahá’u’lláh extended immediate financial assistance for their relief, and urged the kad-khudá to relax the severity of the rule under which they were confined.

The kad-khudá consented to relieve a few who were unable to support the oppressive weight of their chains, and for the rest did whatever he could to alleviate the rigour of their confinement. Prompted by greed, he informed his superiors of the situation, and emphasised the fact that both food and money were being regularly supplied by Bahá’u’lláh for those who were imprisoned in his house. These officials were in their turn tempted to derive every possible advantage from the liberality of Bahá’u’lláh. They summoned Him to their presence, protested against His action, and accused Him of complicity in the act for which the captives had been condemned.

“The kad-khudá,” replied Bahá’u’lláh, “pleaded their cause before Me and enlarged upon their sufferings and needs. He himself bore witness to their innocence and appealed to Me for help. In return for the aid which, in response to his invitation, I was impelled to extend, you now charge Me with a crime of which I am innocent.”

Hoping to intimidate Bahá’u’lláh by threatening immediate punishment, they refused to allow Him to return to His home. The confinement to which He was subjected was the first affliction that befell Bahá’u’lláh in the path of the Cause of God; the first imprisonment He suffered for the sake of His loved ones.

He remained in captivity for a few days, until Ja’far-Qulí Khán, the brother of Mírzá Áqá Khán-i-Núrí, who at a later time was appointed Grand Vazír [Prime Minister] of the Sháh, and a number of other friends intervened in His behalf and, threatening the kad-khudá in severe a language, were able to effect His release. Those who had been responsible for His confinement had confidently hoped to receive, in return for His deliverance, the sum of one thousand túmans,  but they soon found out that they were forced to comply with the wishes of Ja’far-Qulí Khán without the hope of receiving, either from him or from Bahá’u’lláh, the slightest reward. With profuse apologies and with the utmost regret, they surrendered their Captive into his hands.
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)