Mulla Husayn was still in Mashhad during the conference of Badasht as a guest of the Governor-General of the province of Khurasan - where he was treated with courtesy and consideration. After leaving the camp of the Governor-General, he was preparing his anticipated trip to Karbila when a messenger arrived bearing to him the Báb’s turban and conveying the news that a new name, that of Siyyid ‘Alí, had been conferred upon him by his Master.
“Adorn your head,” was the message, “with My green turban, the emblem of My lineage, and, with the Black Standard unfurled before you, hasten to the Jazíriy-i-Khadrá, [literally: ‘Verdant Isle’] and lend your assistance to My beloved Quddús.”
As soon as that message reached him, Mullá Husayn arose to execute the wishes of his Master. Leaving Mashhad for a place situated at a farsang’s distance [about 3 miles] from the city, he hoisted the Black Standard, placed the turban of the Báb upon his head, assembled his companions, mounted his steed, and gave the signal for their march to the Jazíriy-i-Khadrá. His companions, who were two hundred and two in number, enthusiastically followed him. That memorable day was July 21st, 1848.
Wherever they tarried, at every village and hamlet through which they passed, Mullá Husayn and his fellow-disciples would fearlessly proclaim the message of the New Day, would invite the people to embrace its truth, and would select from among those who responded to their call a few whom they would ask to join them on their journey.
The news of the approach of Mulla Husayn along with now more than three hundred Bábís to the town of Barfurush, the hometown of Quddus, alarmed the leading cleric. The widespread and growing popularity of Mulla Husayn, the circumstances attending his departure from Mashhad, the Black Standard which waved before him -- above all, the number, the discipline, and the enthusiasm of his companions, combined to arouse the implacable hatred of that cruel and overbearing mujtahid. He incited the residents of Barfurush by saying that Mulla Husayn and his companions were “enemies [that] stand at our very doors, ready to wipe out all that we cherish as pure and holy in Islam! Should we fail to resist them, none will be left to survive their onslaught.” He induced the inhabitants of that town to make every possible preparation for the coming encounter by arming themselves with whatever weapon they could find or devise, and to set out at day break from Barfurush, fully determined to face and slay the enemies of their Faith and to plunder their property.
About three miles from Barfurush, Mulla Husayn and his companions encountered their enemies. A multitude of people, fully equipped with arms and ammunition, had gathered, and blocked their way. A fierce expression of savagery rested upon their countenances, and the foulest imprecations fell unceasingly from their lips. The companions, in the face of the uproar of this angry populace, made as if to unsheathe their swords. "Not yet," commanded their leader; "not until the aggressor forces us to protect ourselves must our swords leave their scabbards." He had scarcely uttered these words when the fire of the enemy was directed against them. Six of the companions were immediately hurled to the ground.
"Beloved leader," exclaimed one of them, "we have risen and followed you with no desire except to sacrifice ourselves in the path of the Cause we have embraced. Allow us, we pray you, to defend ourselves, and suffer us not to fall so disgracefully a victim to the fire of the enemy." "The time is not yet come," replied Mulla Husayn; "the number is as yet incomplete." A bullet immediately after pierced the breast of one of his companions, a siyyid from Yazd who had walked all the way from Mashhad to that place, and who ranked among his staunchest supporters.
At the sight of that devoted companion fallen dead at his feet, Mulla Husayn raised his eyes to heaven and prayed:
"Behold, O God, my God, the plight of Thy chosen companions, and witness the welcome which these people have accorded Thy loved ones. Thou knowest that we cherish no other desire than to guide them to the way of Truth and to confer upon them the knowledge of Thy Revelation. Thou hast Thyself commanded us to defend our lives against the assaults of the enemy. Faithful to Thy command, I now arise with my companions to resist the attack which they have launched against us."
Unsheathing his sword and spurring on his charger into the midst of the enemy, Mulla Husayn pursued, with marvellous intrepidity, the assailant of his fallen companion. His opponent, who was afraid to face him, took refuge behind a tree and, holding aloft his musket, sought to shield himself. Mulla Husayn immediately recognized him, rushed forward, and with a single stroke of his sword cut across the trunk of the tree, the barrel of the musket, and the body of his adversary. One historian recorded that Mulla Husayn used his left hand on this occasion. The astounding force of that stroke confounded the enemy and paralysed their efforts. All fled panic-stricken in the face of so extraordinary a manifestation of skill, of strength, and of courage.
This feat was the first of its kind to attest to the prowess and heroism of Mulla Husayn, a feat which earned him the commendation of the Báb. Quddus likewise paid his tribute to the cool fearlessness which Mulla Husayn displayed on that occasion. He is reported to have quoted, when informed of the news, the following verse of the Qur'án: "So it was not ye who slew them, but God who slew them; and those shafts were God's, not thine! He would make trial of the faithful by a gracious trial from Himself: verily, God heareth, knoweth. This befell, that God might also bring to naught the craft of the infidels."
Notwithstanding his slender and fragile frame and trembling hand, an eye witness recorded, such were his valour and prowess on that day that whosoever had eyes to discern the truth could clearly see that such strength and courage could only be from God, being beyond human capacity.... Then I saw Mulla Husayn unsheathe his sword and raise his face towards heaven, and heard him exclaim: 'O God I have completed the proof to this host, but it availeth not.' Then he began to attack us on the right and on the left. I swear by God that on that day he wielded the sword in such wise as transcends the power of man.
(Adapted from ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, by Nabil, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi; ‘Baha’u’llah – The King of Glory’, by Baluzi, and Foot-Notes of 'The Dawn-Breakers')