March 22, 2010

The Bab’s stay in Isfahan – the amazing initial reception by the clergy and the people

In September of 1846, the Bab, accompanied by one of His followers by the name of Siyyid Kazim-i-Zanjani, left Shiraz and proceeded north towards Isfahan – a distance of about 360 miles. As He approached the outskirts of the city, He wrote a letter to Manuchihr Khan, the governor of the province, in which He requested him to appoint a place where He should dwell with the sanction of the government. The letter was entrusted to His companion, Siyyid Kazim who delivered it to the governor prior to the Bab reaching the gate of the city of Isfahan. When the governor received the letter he became so touched by the expressions of courtesy that the Bab had exhibited and amazed at His exquisite penmanship that he felt moved to instruct the Imam-Jum'ih of Isfahan, the foremost ecclesiastical authority of that province, to receive the Bab in his own home and to accord Him a kindly and generous reception. The Imam-Jumi’h accordingly instructed his own brother to proceed with a number of his favorite companions to meet and escort the expected Visitor to the gate of the city. As the Bab approached, the Imam-Jum'ih went out to welcome Him in person, and conducted Him ceremoniously to his house. It should be noted that this Imam-Jum’ih, whose name was Mir Siyyid Muhammad, was acknowledged in Persia as the principle ecclesiastical dignitary of the entire country. The governor of Isfahan was reported to have been a man of vigor and courage who, about five years prior to the Bab’s coming to Isfahan, had completely crushed a rebellion by the a number of the tribes in the area and had secured peace and justice for the people of Isfahan.

March 11, 2010

Zenobia, Queen of the East

A story related by ‘Abdu’l-Baha to demonstrate the falsity of the notion that women are weaker and less capable than men:

It has been objected by some that woman is not equally capable with man and that she is deficient by creation. This is pure imagination. The difference in capability between man and woman is due entirely to opportunity and education. Heretofore woman has been denied the right and privilege of equal development. If equal opportunity be granted her, there is no doubt she would be the peer of man. History will evidence this. In past ages noted women have arisen in the affairs of nations and surpassed men in their accomplishments. Among them was Zenobia, Queen of the East, whose capital was Palmyra. Even today the site of that city bears witness to her greatness, ability and sovereignty; for there the traveler will find ruins of palaces and fortifications of the utmost strength and solidity built by this remarkable woman in the third century after Christ. She was the wife of the governor-general of Athens. After her husband's death she assumed control of the government in his stead and ruled her province most efficiently. Afterward she conquered Syria, subdued Egypt and founded a most wonderful kingdom with political sagacity and thoroughness.

March 8, 2010

Prisoner in the Siyah-Chal

Having been forced to walk before royal horsemen and at their pace from Niyavaran to Tihran, a distance of about fifteen miles, in the burning heat of a summer day, barefoot, in chains and without His hat, which in those days was the very symbol of a man's dignity, Baha’u’llah was cast together with some eighty Babis into the capital’s infamous Siyah Chal – the Black Pit of Tehran.

The Siyah-Chal (Black Pit) was no ordinary prison, but a huge underground pit which no ray of sunlight ever penetrated. It once had served as a reservoir for one of the public baths of the city and had only one entrance. It was situated in the heart of Tihran close to a palace of the Shah and adjacent to the Sabzih-Maydan, the scene of execution of the Seven Babi Martyrs of Tihran. This dungeon was occupied by many prisoners, some of whom were without clothes or bedding. Its atmosphere was humid and dark, its air fetid and filled with a loathsome smell, its ground damp and littered with filth, and these conditions were matched by the brutality of the guards and officials towards the Bábí victims who were chained together in that dismal place.

Many years later, Baha’u’llah recalled His experience in the Siyah-Chal:

March 3, 2010

Forerunners of the Bab - Shaykh Ahmad & Siyyid Kazim

Before Baha'u'llah was born Shaykh Ahmad, a Muslim scholar known as "the most learned among the most learned,"(1) had made a profound discovery. In his studies of Islamic scripture, he had determined that the time promised by all the Prophets of God was at hand -- a time in which the world would receive not just one, but two new divine Messengers. These two "Promised Ones" would come like two trumpet blasts, said the Koran, one shortly after the other.[a] According to the Shi’ih branch of Islam, [b] the first Messenger would herald and prepare His followers to recognize the Messenger yet to come. The title of the first would be the ‘Qa’im’, meaning in Arabic "He Who Shall Arise." The title of the great Messenger yet to come would be the ‘Qayyum’ meaning "The All-Compelling.” [c]

Human history had seen the appearance of such divine Messengers before. Their ranks had included Moses, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Zoroaster, Krishna, and Buddha. They were the world's great Teachers – each One "a pure and stainless Soul"(2) entrusted by God with a sacred mission! Unlike philosophers and other ordinary teachers, each divine Messenger not only infused the world with new knowledge, but also released a tremendous new spiritual energy that gave rise to the advancement of whole civilizations.