December 20, 2019

1844: A lonely youth’s encounter with Bahá’u’lláh by a roadside in Mazindaran and his amazing recognition of His station

One day, in the course of one of His riding excursions into the country, Bahá’u’lláh, accompanied by His companions, saw, seated by the roadside, a lonely youth. His hair was dishevelled, and he wore the dress of a dervish. By the side of a brook he had kindled a fire, and was cooking his food and eating it. Approaching him, Bahá’u’lláh most lovingly enquired: “Tell Me, dervish, what is it that you are doing?” “I am engaged in eating God,” he bluntly replied. “I am cooking God and am burning Him.” The unaffected simplicity of his manners and the candour of his reply pleased Bahá’u’lláh extremely. He smiled at his remark and began to converse with him with unrestrained tenderness and freedom. Within a short space of time, Bahá’u’lláh had changed him completely. Enlightened as to the true nature of God, and with a mind purged from the idle fancy of his own people, he immediately recognised the Light which that loving Stranger had so unexpectedly brought him. That dervish, whose name was Mustafá, became so enamoured with the teachings which had been instilled into his mind that, leaving his cooking utensils behind, he straightway arose and followed Bahá’u’lláh. On foot, behind His horse, and inflamed with the fire of His love, he chanted merrily verses of a love-song which he had composed on the spur of the moment and had dedicated to his Beloved. “Thou art the Day-Star of guidance,” ran its glad refrain. “Thou art the Light of Truth. Unveil Thyself to men, O Revealer of the Truth.” Although, in later years, that poem obtained wide circulation among his people, and it became known that a certain dervish, surnamed Majdhúb, and whose name was Mustafá Big-i-Sanandají, had, without premeditation, composed it in praise of his Beloved, none seemed to be aware to whom it actually referred, nor did anyone suspect, at a time when Bahá’u’lláh was still veiled from the eyes of men, that this dervish alone had recognised His station and discovered His glory. 
- Nabil  ('The Dawn-Breakers, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

November 10, 2019

The story of how Mullá Husayn was able to discover Baha’u’llah in Tihran and have delivered to Him a scroll containing passages from the Writings of the Báb

Tehran circa 1930s
Mírzá Músá, Áqáy-i-Kalím, the brother of Bahá’u’lláh, recounted to me [Nabil] the following:

“I have heard Mullá Muhammad-i-Mu’allim, a native of Núr, in the province of Mázindarán, who was a fervent admirer of both Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kázim, relate this story:

‘I was in those days recognised as one of the favoured disciples of Hájí Mírzá Muhammad, and lived in the same school in which he taught. My room adjoined his room, and we were closely associated together. On the day that he was engaged in discussion with Mullá Husayn, I overheard their conversation from beginning to end, and was deeply affected by the ardour, the fluency, and learning of that youthful stranger. I was surprised at the evasive answers, the arrogance, and contemptuous behaviour of Hájí Mírzá Muhammad.

That day I felt strongly attracted by the charm of that youth, and deeply resented the unseemly conduct of my teacher towards him. I concealed my feelings, however, and pretended to ignore his discussions with Mullá Husayn. I was seized with a passionate desire to meet the latter, and ventured, at the hour of midnight, to visit him. He did not expect me, but I knocked at his door, and found him awake seated beside his lamp. He received me affectionately, and spoke to me with extreme courtesy and tenderness. I unburdened my heart to him, and as I was addressing him, tears, which I could not repress, flowed from my eyes.

October 17, 2019

How Mullá Sádiq-i-Muqaddas recognized the Báb through Mullá Husayn in Isfahán

Mulla Sadiq-i-Muqaddas, was an outstanding believer who was entitled Ismu'llahu'l-Asdaq (The name of God, the Most Truthful) by Baha’u’llah. He was appointed posthumously a Hand of the Cause by ‘Abdu’l-Baha. (Adapted from ‘Ministry of the Custodians’, and ‘The Revelation of Baha'u'llah, vol. 4, by Adib Taherzadeh) Here is the sweet story of how he recognized the Báb:

As soon as he [Mullá Sádiq-i-Muqaddas] learned of the arrival of Mullá Husayn in Isfáhán, he hastened to meet him. He gives the following account of his first interview, which took place at night in the home of Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alíy-i-Nahrí:

“I asked Mullá Husayn to divulge the name of Him who claimed to be the promised Manifestation. He replied: ‘To enquire about that name and to divulge it are alike forbidden.’ ‘Would it, then, be possible,’ I asked, ‘for me, even as the Letters of the Living, to seek independently the grace of the All-Merciful and, through prayer, to discover His identity?’ ‘The door of His grace,’ he replied, ‘is never closed before the face of him who seeks to find Him.’

I immediately retired from his presence, and requested his host to allow me the privacy of a room in his house where, alone and undisturbed, I could commune with God. In the midst of my contemplation, I suddenly remembered the face of a Youth whom I had often observed while in Karbilá, standing in an attitude of prayer, with His face bathed in tears at the entrance of the shrine of the Imám Husayn. That same countenance now reappeared before my eyes. In my vision I seemed to behold that same face, those same features, expressive of such joy as I could never describe. He smiled as He gazed at me. I went towards Him, ready to throw myself at His feet. I was bending towards the ground, when, lo! that radiant figure vanished from before me.

Overpowered with joy and gladness, I ran out to meet Mullá Husayn, who with transport received me and assured me that I had, at last, attained the object of my desire. He bade me, however, repress my feelings. ‘Declare not your vision to anyone,’ he urged me; ‘the time for it has not yet arrived. You have reaped the fruit of your patient waiting in Isfáhán. You should now proceed to Kirmán, and there acquaint Hájí Mírzá Karím Khán with this Message. From that place you should travel to Shíráz and endeavour to rouse the people of that city from their heedlessness. I hope to join you in Shíráz and share with you the blessings of a joyous reunion with our Beloved.’”
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’; translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

August 14, 2019

Being in love with the Blessed Beauty: “from the beginning of his life till the end”

This honored man, Mírzá Mihdí, was from Káshán. In early youth, under his father’s tutelage, he had studied sciences and arts, and had become skilled in composing both prose and verse, as well as in producing calligraphy in the style known as shikastih.1 He was singled out from his fellows, head and shoulders above the rest. When still a child, he learned of the Lord’s Advent, caught fire with love, and became one of those who “gave their all to purchase Joseph.” He was chief of the yearning seekers, lord of lovers; eloquently, he began to teach the Faith, and to prove the validity of the Manifestation.

He made converts; and because he yearned after God, he became a laughingstock in Káshán, disparaged by friend and stranger alike, exposed to the taunts of his faithless companions. One of them said: “He has lost his mind.” And another: “He is a public disgrace. Fortune has turned against him. He is done for.” The bullies mocked him, and spared him nothing. When life became untenable, and open war broke out, he left his homeland and journeyed to Iraq, the focal center of the new Light, where he gained the presence of all mankind’s Beloved.

He spent some time here, in the friends’ company, composing verses that sang the praises of Bahá’u’lláh. Later he was given leave to return home, and went back to live for a while in Káshán. But again, he was plagued by yearning love, and could bear the separation no more. He returned, therefore, to Baghdad, bringing with him his respected sister, the third consort.

Here he remained, under the bountiful protection of Bahá’u’lláh, until the convoy left Iraq for Constantinople, at which time Mírzá Mihdí was directed to remain behind and guard the Holy House. Restless, consumed with longing, he stayed on. When the friends were banished from Baghdad to Mosul, he was among the prisoners, a victim along with the others. With the greatest hardship, he got to Mosul, and here fresh calamities awaited him; he was ill almost all the time, he was an outcast, and destitute. Still he endured it for a considerable period, was patient, retained his dignity, and continually offered thanks. Finally he could bear the absence of Bahá’u’lláh no longer. He sought permission, was granted leave to come, and set out for the Most Great Prison.

July 8, 2019

Being present when ‘Abdu’l-Baha revealed a Tablet

One night we were in the presence of 'Abdu'l-Baha along with the rest of the pilgrims. While busy writing, the Centre of the Covenant was also attending to all the incoming guests, both Baha'is and non-Baha'is. A few hours after sunset, the non-Baha'is were granted permission to take their leave, after which 'Abdu'l-Baha addressed the friends. Gradually, signs of weariness began to appear in His blessed face; He dismissed everyone with the words, "Go in God's care." When all stood up, the Muslim Shaykh humbly put forward a request: "I beg that a Tablet may be revealed in the honour of Shaykh Hadi so that I may carry it to him." (The late Aqa Shaykh Hadi was the most erudite and highest-ranking Muslim divine in Iran. He had a peculiar creed. Some suspected that he was secretly a Baha'i and some believed him to be a Babi; in any case, he had a large and devoted following.)

'Abdu'l-Baha replied, "I have written to him recently; that should suffice."

But the Shaykh insisted, "I wish to be granted the honour of carrying to him such a gift."  

‘Abdu'l-Baha then consented, "Very well, I shall write it."

As we all began to leave the room, the Master said to Aqa Mirza Nuru'd-Din, "I am very busy, but I do not want to put this off. I may as well write it now, or I won't have another opportunity to do so. So come and sit down and I will dictate a few words." Pen in hand, Aqa Mirza Nuru'd-Din complied immediately.

The melodious chant of the Master filled the air, as divine verses in the Arabic tongue, indescribably eloquent and sublime, and with the rapidity of copious rain, flowed from His lips. God be praised, the atmosphere that dominated the hearts and the minds of those present is beyond description. The awesome power of that long, eloquent Tablet so overwhelmed every faculty of my being that neither pen nor tongue can describe it. As the poet says:

As in a dream, yet indescribable,
Nor is the world ready to hear it.

May 13, 2019

circa 1841, Karbilá: a disciple of Siyyid Kázim describes what happened when the Báb made a quiet appearance at one of Siyyid Kázim’s gatherings

Karbila, 1932
(Wikipedia)
Three days later, I saw that same Youth [the Báb] arrive and take His seat in the midst of the company of the assembled disciples of Siyyid Kázim. He sat close to the threshold, and with the same modesty and dignity of bearing listened to the discourse of the Siyyid. As soon as his eyes fell upon that Youth, the Siyyid discontinued his address and held his peace. Whereupon one of his disciples begged him to resume the argument which he had left unfinished. ‘What more shall I say?’ replied Siyyid Kázim, as he turned his face toward the Báb. ‘Lo, the Truth is more manifest than the ray of light that has fallen upon that lap!’ I immediately observed that the ray to which the Siyyid referred had fallen upon the lap of that same Youth whom we had recently visited.

‘Why is it,’ that questioner enquired, ‘that you neither reveal His name nor identify His person?’ To this the Siyyid replied by pointing with his finger to his own throat, implying that were he to divulge His name, they both would be put to death instantly. This added still further to my perplexity. I had already heard my teacher observe that so great is the perversity of this generation, that were he to point with his finger to the promised One and say: ‘He indeed is the Beloved, the Desire of your hearts and mine,’ they would still fail to recognise and acknowledge Him. I saw the Siyyid actually point out with his finger the ray of light that had fallen on that lap, and yet none among those who were present seemed to apprehend its meaning.

I, for my part, was convinced that the Siyyid himself could never be the promised One, but that a mystery inscrutable to us all, lay concealed in that strange and attractive Youth. Several times I ventured to approach Siyyid Kázim and seek from him an elucidation of this mystery. Every time I approached him, I was overcome by a sense of awe which his personality so powerfully inspired. Many a time I heard him remark: ‘O Shaykh Hasan, rejoice that your name is Ḥasan [praiseworthy]; Ḥasan your beginning, and Hasan your end. You have been privileged to attain to the day of Shaykh Ahmad, you have been closely associated with me, and in the days to come yours shall be the inestimable joy of beholding “what eye hath seen not, ear heard not, nor any heart conceived.”’
- Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunúzí  ([A disciple of Siyyid Kázim], quoted by Nabil; ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

February 13, 2019

1851 Karbilá, Iraq: A disciple of the Báb becomes the first person to whom Baha'u'llah confided His Divine Mission – as was prophesied by the Báb in 1848

It was during Bahá’u’lláh’s nine-month exile to Karbilá in 1851, on the order of the Persian Prime Minister, that He “encountered, as He was walking through the streets, Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunúzí, to whom He confided the secret He was destined to reveal at a later time in Baghdád. He found him eagerly searching after the promised Husayn, to whom the Báb had so lovingly referred and whom He had promised he would meet in Karbilá. (Nabil, ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunúzí was an elderly Babi, quietly went about his life as a scribe and quite unknown to the community of Babis in Karbila. He had been an early disciple of Siyyid Kazim and one who during his days among the Shaykhis in Karbila had fleetingly encountered the Báb, not yet known to be the One awaited, visiting Him with Siyyid Kazim when first He had arrived from Shiraz. During Shaykh Hasan’s first months of conversion as a Bábi he had journeyed to Chihriq to join the Báb in that distant prison, there to act as transcriber of His works. It was then 1848 and Shaykh Hasan was moved to join the valiant defenders of Fort Shaykh Tabarsi, for the mustering summons had gone forth to the faithful. He expressed his wish to the Báb, only to be startled by His countermanding the intention.

The Báb told him: “Participation in that struggle is not enjoined upon you. You should proceed to Karbila and should abide in that holy city, inasmuch as you are destined to behold, with your own eyes, the beauteous countenance of the  promised Husayn. As you gaze upon that radiant face, do also remember Me. Convey to Him the expression of My loving devotion!” And then He added, “Verily I say, I have entrusted you with a great mission! Beware lest your heart grow faint, lest you forget the glory with which I have invested you.” (Nabil, ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

Soon thereafter Shaykh Hasan departed from the fortress-prison of Chihriq, journeyed to Karbila in Iraq as instructed and settled into life in that city. Fearing that a prolonged stay m that center of pilgrimage might arouse suspicion, he decided to marry and to earn his livelihood as a scribe. He lived thus for two years untill he heard of the martyrdom of his Master in Tabriz, and then waited through another year of anticipation.