May 18, 2020

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s surprising response to two believers trying to identify the most acceptable form of martyrdom – recalled by one of His secretaries

Some thirty years ago when 'Abdu'l-Baha was surrounded by His bitter enemies; when they were instigating the Turkish Government to illtreat Him; when in His confined place of 'Akka He had a very small group of true and faithful Baha'is, 'Abdu'l-Baha always expressed great joy and happiness at the thought of being martyred like unto Jesus Christ and His disciples, and like unto thousands of faithful followers of the blessed Báb and Baha'u'llah.

In those days the doors were opened wide for the Oriental friends to enter heaven.[1] All the true believers prayed to God and yearned to be accepted for martyrdom. One day one of the pilgrims and I were discussing the best way of being admitted to sacrifice. My friend, M. Fazlullah, said that he preferred to be killed by Shamajeen like Suleiman Khan, who danced with joy during that terrible torture. (Shamajeen means decorated, grafted with candles.)

This is the way that Suleiman Khan was martyred. His body was cut through in several places and burning candles were planted in the wounds. In such a horrible state he was driven for several hours throughout the city to show the people the fate of a distinguished and honorable man converted to the new Faith. This was the way that the government, instigated by the clergy, punished the believers, in order to terrify those who desired to know about the new religion.

Now my friend, M. Fazlullah, preferred this way of being sacrificed in the Path of Baha'u'llah. But I did not choose this way. I preferred to be put to death by cannon shot, for that was the best way of propagating throughout the world the call to steadfastness. Several prominent people have been martyred in that way. This was the way that I had chosen, and I implored God to help me to attain to it. But I could not convince my friend that mine was the best way. He stuck obstinately to his own way. The discussion lasted a long time without being able to convince each other.