Taking refuge from the attacks of the people of Barfurúsh and neighbouring villages at the persistent instigation of the vindictive leading divine of that district, Mulla Husayn and his companions arrived at the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi on October 12, 1848. This shrine was situated about fourteen miles S.E. of the town of Barfurúsh in the heart of the forests of Mazindaran. Upon their arrival, Mullá Husayn gave one of the believers who had built the Bábíyyih house in Mashhad preliminary instructions for the design of a fort which was to be constructed for their defense around the shrine. Through Mulla Husayn’s guidance and encouragement his companions began building the fort according that design. Despite continual harassment and fierce attacks by the people of the surrounding villages, who hemmed them in on every side, they valiantly defended themselves. When construction of the fort was completed, Mullá Ḥusayn undertook the necessary preparations for the siege which the fort was destined to sustain, and provided, despite the obstacles which stood in his way, whatever provisions seemed essential for the safety of its occupants.
Meanwhile, news of the situation facing Mulla Husayn and his 300 plus companions reached Baha’u’llah who was staying at his ancestral home of Nur. He learned how, because of the treachery and broken pledges of the authorities in Sari and Barburush, they had been forced to use arms to defend themselves, and had hurriedly thrown up a wall and built a fortress around the mausoleum of Shaykh Tabarsi and were now beleaguered within it. Baha'u'llah decided to visit them and when His preparations were complete, travelled to the village of Afra [located in the vicinity of the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi], which belonged to a certain Nazar-'Ali Khan. When He arrived in Afra, He ordered for a sumptuous dinner to be prepared for the inmates of the fortress and sent one of the believers to inform them of His impending arrival.
This is how Nabil recounts what then happened:
The work had scarcely been completed when Shaykh Abú-Turáb [Baha’u’llah’s messenger] arrived bearing the news of Bahá’u’lláh’s arrival at the village of Nazar Khán [Afra]. He informed Mullá Husayn that he had been specially commanded by Bahá’u’lláh to inform them that they all were to be His guests that night and that He Himself would join them that same afternoon. I have heard Mullá Mírzá Muhammad-i-Furúghí [a survivor of Fort Tabarsi] recount the following:
“The tidings which Shaykh Abú-Turáb [Baha’u’llah’s messenger] brought imparted an indefinable joy to the heart or Mullá Husayn. He hastened immediately to his companions and bade them bestir themselves for the reception of Bahá’u’lláh. He himself joined them in sweeping and sprinkling with water the approaches to the shrine, and attended in person to whatever was necessary for the arrival of the beloved Visitor. As soon as he saw Him approaching with Nazar Khán, he rushed forward, tenderly embraced Him, and conducted Him to the place of honour which he had reserved for His reception. We were too blind in those days to recognise the glory of Him whom our leader had introduced with such reverence and love into our midst. What Mullá Husayn had perceived, our dull vision was as yet unable to recognise. With what solicitude he received Him in his arms! What feelings of rapturous delight filled his heart on seeing Him! He was so lost in admiration that he was utterly oblivious of us all. His soul was so wrapt in contemplation of that countenance that we who were awaiting his permission to be seated were kept standing a long time beside him. It was Bahá’u’lláh Himself who finally bade us be seated. We, too, were soon made to feel, however inadequately, the charm of His utterance, though none of us were even dimly aware of the infinite potency latent in His words.” (Nabil, ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)
Bahá’u’lláh, in the course of that visit, inspected the fort and expressed His satisfaction with the work that had been accomplished. In His conversation with Mullá Husayn, He explained in detail such matters as were vital to the welfare and safety of his companions. ‘The one thing this fort and company require,’ He said, ‘is the presence of Quddús. His association with this company would render it complete and perfect.’ He instructed Mullá Husayn to despatch Mullá Mihdíy-i-Khú’í with six people to Sarí, and to demand Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí that he immediately deliver Quddús into their hands. ‘The fear of God and the dread of His punishment,’ He assured Mullá Husayn, ‘will prompt him to surrender unhesitatingly his captive.’
Ere He departed, Bahá’u’lláh enjoined them to be patient and resigned to the will of the Almighty. ‘If it be His will,’ He added, ‘We shall once again visit you at this same spot, and shall lend you Our assistance. You have been chosen of God to be the vanguard of His host and the establishers of His Faith. His host verily will conquer. Whatever may befall, victory is yours, a victory which is complete and certain.’ With these words, He committed those valiant companions to the care of God, and returned to the village with Nazar Khán and Shaykh Abú-Turáb. From thence He departed by way of Núr to Tihrán. (Nabil, ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)
(Adapted from ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, by Nabil, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi, and from ‘Baha’u’llah the King of Glory’, by Balyuzi)