|Tabriz, 19th Century|
As He approached the courtyard of the barracks, a youth [Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alíy-i-Zunúzí, surnamed Anís, meaning “companion”] suddenly leaped forward who, in his eagerness to overtake Him, had forced his way through the crowd, utterly ignoring the risks and perils which such an attempt might involve. His face was haggard, his feet were bare, and his hair dishevelled. Breathless with excitement and exhausted with fatigue, he flung himself at the feet of the Báb and, seizing the hem of His garment, passionately implored Him: “Send me not from Thee, O Master. Wherever Thou goest, suffer me to follow Thee.”
“Muhammad-‘Alí,” answered the Báb, “arise, and rest assured that you will be with Me. To-morrow you shall witness what God has decreed.”
Two other companions, unable to contain themselves, rushed forward and assured Him of their unalterable loyalty. These, together with Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alíy-i-Zunúzí, were seized and placed in the same cell in which the Báb and Siyyid Ḥusayn [His amanuensis] were confined.
[Siyyid Ḥusayn, the Báb’s amanuensis, recalled later to Nabil]:
“That night the face of the Báb was aglow with joy, a joy such as had never shone from His countenance. Indifferent to the storm that raged about Him, He conversed with us with gaiety and cheerfulness. The sorrows that had weighed so heavily upon Him seemed to have completely vanished. Their weight appeared to have dissolved in the consciousness of approaching victory.
‘To-morrow,’ He said to us, ‘will be the day of My martyrdom. Would that one of you might now arise and, with his own hands, end My life. I prefer to be slain by the hand of a friend rather than by that of the enemy.’
Tears rained from our eyes as we heard Him express that wish. We shrank, however, at the thought of taking away with our own hands so precious a life. We refused, and remained silent.
Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí [Anís] suddenly sprang to his feet and announced himself ready to obey whatever the Báb might desire.
This same youth who has risen to comply with My wish,’ the Báb declared, as soon as we had intervened and forced him to abandon that thought, ‘will, together with Me, suffer martyrdom. Him will I choose to share with Me its crown.’”
(Adapted from ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, by Nabil; translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)