August 17, 2018

What happened to the regiment that executed the Báb

Aqa Jan Khan-i-Khamsih who carried out
the order for the execution of the Báb 
The circumstances pertaining to the execution of the Báb provide us with many lessons to reflect on.

As we recall, the Armenian regiment that was ordered to perform that heinous task of executing the Báb and His companion Anis by firing squad on July 9th, 1950 didn’t succeed at their mission. This was because before carrying out their order their Christian commander Sam Khan had some doubts about that assignment. To him, the Prisoner looked kind and compassionate. He wondered for what crime was He to be put to death? Unable to still the voice of his conscience, Sam Khan had approached the Báb and confessed that as a Christian he entertained no ill against Him, but that he had to carry out his assignment. He told the Báb: ‘If your Cause be the Cause of truth, enable me to free myself from the obligation to shed your blood.' To this request the Báb had told him: 'Follow your instructions, and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you from your perplexity.'

Having received this assurance from the Báb, Sam Khan ordered his regiment of seven-hundred and fifty soldiers to carry out their duty. They positioned themselves in three rows and fired seven-hundred and fifty bullets. When the smoke of the gunpowder settled they discovered to their amazement that the two captives were completely unharmed. Their commander, Sam Khan, witnessing this miracle refused to order his soldiers to make a second attempt. Another regiment was therefore brought in. Their commander was Aqa Jan Khan-i-Khamsih. Whereas the first regiment was composed of Armenian Christians, the soldiers belonging to the second regiment were Muslims. They were known as the Nasiri regiment.

The Nasiri regiment fired. The bodies of the Báb and His disciple were shattered, and their flesh was united. But the face of the Báb was untouched. Then a storm descended upon Tabriz. Tempestuous winds blew and dust darkened the skies, and the skies remained dark, until the darkness of the day merged into the darkness of the night – a condition very similar to what happened after the crucifixion of Jesus.

Nabil describes what happened to the Nasiri regiment afterwards:

As to the regiment… two hundred and fifty of its members met their death in that same year, together with their officers, in a terrible earthquake. While they were resting on a hot summer day under the shadow of a wall on their way between Ardibíl and Tabríz, absorbed in their games and pleasures, the whole structure suddenly collapsed and fell upon them, leaving not one survivor.

The remaining five hundred suffered the same fate as that which their own hands had inflicted upon the Báb. Three years after His martyrdom, that regiment mutinied, and its members were thereupon mercilessly shot by command of Mírzá Sádiq Khán-i-Núrí. Not content with a first volley, he ordered that a second one be fired in order to ensure that none of the mutineers had survived. Their bodies were afterwards pierced with spears and lances, and left exposed to the gaze of the people of Tabríz.

That day many of the inhabitants of the city, recalling the circumstances of the Báb’s martyrdom, wondered at that same fate which had overtaken those who had slain Him.

“Could it be, by any chance, the vengeance of God,” a few were heard to whisper to one another, “that has brought the whole regiment to so dishonourable and tragic an end? If that youth had been a lying impostor, why should his persecutors have been so severely punished?”

These expressed misgivings reached the ears of the leading mujtahids of the city, who were seized with great fear and ordered that all those who entertained such doubts should be severely punished. Some were beaten, others were fined, all were warned to cease such whisperings, which could only revive the memory of a terrible adversary and rekindle enthusiasm for His Cause. 
(Adapted from ‘The Báb, The Herald of the Day of Days’, by H.M. Balyuzi; and from ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, by Nabil, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)