THE BÁB JOYFULLY SACRIFICED HIS LIFE AS HE PREPARED THE WAY FOR THE COMING OF BAHÁ’U’LLÁH
Introducing The Principal Theme
The Báb joyfully sacrificed His life, as He prepared the way for the coming of Bahá’u’lláh. This is a profound concept on which we need to reflect often on.
We have seen that news of the appearance of the Báb spread like a fire across the country and that heart after heart was ignited with the love of God. And we also saw that the enemies of the Báb were fierce and powerful. They wanted nothing more than to stop the spread of His Message. Of course, a fire that has been ignited by human hand can be put out. But the fire of God’s love enkindled by the Hand of the Almighty Himself cannot be extinguished, even if all the people of the world unite to do so.
Do you remember how these powerful enemies attempted to undermine the Cause?
Where they successful in their efforts?
They could give orders to kill hundreds of the Bábís, and the ignorant and misguided people would carry them out. They could raise huge armies against small bands of the followers of the Báb and use treachery to overcome them. They could ridicule them, rob them, imprison them and banish them from their homes and their families. All of this they did time and again. But could their cruelty and treachery put out the fire of God’s love burning in the hearts of those early heroes of the Faith?
On the contrary, the persecutions became like oil that feeds the fire; the fire burned even brighter and spread even more.
Do you know what terrible plan the government and clergy finally devised?
They decided that the only solution was to execute the Báb Himself. This, they imagined, would surely put an end to the spread of a Message that threatened to weaken their own power and influence.
But do you think there was anything they could do to stop more and more people from recognizing the Báb and accepting the truth?
Was there anything they could do to prevent the Báb from accomplishing His Mission on earth?
The Báb knew, of course, that His Dispensation would be a short one.
We know that His purpose was to prepare the way for the coming of Bahá’u’lláh. And His love for Bahá’u’lláh was so great that He accepted untold suffering in His path.
The Báb was concerned with the future of humanity
His eyes were fixed on all of humankind, not merely Persia. He was the Herald of a new Era. He wanted to purify hearts so that they would recognize Bahá’u’lláh. He had come to announce the nearness of the Kingdom of God. And for this, He joyfully gave His life. With His own blood, He watered the tree of the Cause which He Himself had planted only a few short years before.
1. Is there any remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding!
2. Say: God sufficeth all things above all things, and nothing in the heavens or in the earth but God sufficeth. Verily, He is in Himself the Knower, the Sustainer, the Omnipotent.
3. O Lord! Thou art the Remover of every anguish and the Dispeller of every affliction. Thou art He who banisheth every sorrow and setteth free every slave, the Redeemer of every soul. O Lord! Grant deliverance through Thy mercy, and reckon me among such servants of Thine as have gained salvation.
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THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT
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O my God! There is no one but Thee to allay the anguish of my soul, and Thou art my highest aspiration, O my God. My heart is wedded to none save Thee and such as Thou dost love. I solemnly declare that my life and death are both for Thee. Verily Thou art incomparable and hast no partner.The Báb
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The historical episode below tells the story of the martyrdom of the Báb. As additional stories leading up to the martyrdom, the events surrounding the Báb’s examination in Tabríz and the extraordinary vision beheld by Anís—the companion with whom the Báb chose to share the Crown of martyrdom—are also related here. Some of you may already be familiar with the details of this important episode from the history of the Faith, and you will all hear it often throughout your lives.
You know that, by order of the king, the Báb was sent under guard to the fortress of Máh- Kú in a far-off corner of the country with the hope that He would be forgotten. On His way, He went through the city of Tabríz, and His arrival created a great deal of excitement and commotion among the inhabitants. Throngs of people came to the gate of the city to witness His entrance. He was taken immediately to one of the main houses, in which He was confined.
The Báb remained in Tabríz for only a short time before being taken to the fortress of Máh-Kú. But we have already seen how the machinations of the government failed, and there, like everywhere else, the people became enraptured by the Báb, and His followers were able to attain His presence. And so, after several months, the government transferred Him to another fortress, much harsher, called Chihríq. Under the authority of a stern and unbending warden, Chihríq would surely prove to be a formidable prison for One Whose power and influence government officials had begun to fear. Can you imagine their alarm, then, at learning that, even in that desolate spot, the Báb continued to win over more and more followers to His Cause? Not even the warden could resist the penetrating influence of His love. So when news reached officials in the capital Ṭihrán that some of the most distinguished clergy from a town near Chihríq had accepted the Báb’s Faith, the government decided to act again.
What happened next will bring both joy and sorrow to your hearts. Once again the Báb was brought to the city of Tabríz. There, the government called a meeting of the religious authorities to examine the Báb and find the most effective way to put an end to His influence. At that meeting, the clergy and government officials tried to humiliate the Báb and treated Him disrespectfully, thinking they could force Him to give up His Mission. But they were overpowered by His majesty and greatness. When asked, “Whom do you claim to be, and what is the message which you have brought?” He declared: “I am, I am, I am, the Promised One! I am the One Whose name you have for a thousand years invoked, at Whose mention you have risen, Whose advent you have longed to witness, and the hour of Whose Revelation you have prayed God to hasten. Verily I say, it is incumbent upon the peoples of both the East and the West to obey My word and to pledge allegiance to My person.” A few days after that meeting, the Báb was taken back to Chihríq. By now, however, it was becoming clear to His enemies that, as long as the Báb remained alive, it would be impossible to stop His growing influence.
There lived in the city of Tabríz a young man whom history will always remember by his title, Anís. He belonged to a family of one of the leading clergy in that city and was well respected and trusted by everyone around him. He had the bounty of attaining the presence of the Báb during His earlier brief confinement in Tabríz and had become one of His ardent followers. So intense was the love of God enkindled in the heart of Anís that he had no other desire but to please his Lord. His stepfather, who did not understand the greatness of the Cause, was alarmed by the behavior of his son and decided to confine him in his house and keep a strict watch over him. For a few weeks, Anís spent all his days praying that God would allow him to reach the presence of the Báb again. One day while lost in prayer, he had an extraordinary vision that filled his heart with limitless joy and assurance. In his vision, he saw the Báb standing before him. Anís threw himself at His feet. In answer to his supplications, the Báb addressed him saying: “Rejoice, the hour is approaching when, in this very city, I will be suspended before the eyes of the multitude and shall fall a victim to the fire of the enemy. I shall choose no one except you to share with Me the cup of martyrdom. Rest assured that this promise which I give you shall be fulfilled.”
So Anís began to wait patiently. With each passing day, he felt closer to attaining the goal of his life and reaching his glorious destiny. Then the day arrived when the Báb was brought again to Tabríz, this time to be martyred. As He was being conducted to His prison cell, Anís threw himself at His feet. He begged the Báb to allow him to follow Him wherever He might go. Anís was immediately arrested and thrown in the same cell as the Báb.
The Báb spent the evening before His martyrdom in the company of Anís and three other of His loyal followers. He was aglow with joy and spoke with cheerfulness. “Tomorrow,” He said to His companions, “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 the eyes of these four sorrow- stricken men who were now asked to take the life of their Beloved with their own hands. They could not imagine committing such a cruel deed, even though it was the wish of the Báb Himself. Then, all of a sudden, Anís rose to his feet and accepted to carry out the Báb’s command. Obedience to his Beloved was his highest duty; he had no choice but to do exactly as the Báb wished. “This same youth who has risen to comply with My wish,” the Báb declared, “will, together with Me, suffer martyrdom. Him will I choose to share with Me its crown.”
The next morning, the Báb was conversing with his secretary when a government official rudely interrupted Him. The Báb warned the man that not until He had said to His secretary all those things that He wished to say could any earthly power silence Him. But His words fell on deaf ears, and He was taken from His cell to the houses of the most prominent clergy of the city of Tabríz who, without hesitation, signed the decree for His execution. He was then taken to a public square and delivered into the hands of Sám Khán, the commander of the regiment of soldiers that had been chosen to execute Him. But Sám Khán was seized with fear that his action would bring the wrath of God upon him. “I profess the Christian Faith,” he explained to the Báb, “and entertain no ill will against you. If your Cause be the Cause of Truth, enable me to free myself from the obligation to shed your blood.” “Follow your instructions,” the Báb replied, “and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you from your perplexity.”
Sám Khán ordered his men to drive a nail into a pillar, and to tie two ropes to that nail. With these ropes they suspended the Báb and Anís in such a way that Anís’ head was resting on the breast of his Master. Seven hundred and fifty soldiers stood in three rows of two hundred and fifty men, each of which was ordered to open fire. The smoke from the shots was such as to turn the light of the noonday sun into darkness. As soon as the clouds of smoke had cleared away the astounded multitude that had crowded the square and the rooftops saw what their eyes could not believe. Anís was standing before them unhurt, and the Báb had disappeared.
The officials began to look for the Báb and found Him in the cell continuing His conversation with His secretary. “I have finished My conversation,” said the Báb, “Now you may proceed to fulfill your intention.” Sám Khán refused to make a second attempt at shedding the blood of the Báb. A new regiment was brought in. The Báb and Anís were once again suspended on the same pillar. The soldiers fired their guns, and this time, as it was now the Will of the Báb, they succeeded in carrying out their shameful intention. The two bodies were torn by numerous bullets, but even so the faces remained almost untouched. “Had you believed in Me, O wayward generation,” were the last words of the Báb to the multitude, “every one of you would have followed the example of this youth, who stood in rank above most of you, and willingly would have sacrificed himself in My path. The day will come when you will have recognized Me; that day I shall have ceased to be with you.”
The remains of the Báb and His companion were transferred to a moat outside the city walls, and guards posted there so that no one could claim them. So many bullets had pieced their bodies that they had been fused into one. Two nights later a devoted follower of the Báb managed to rescue their bodies and safely hide them. Their remains were eventually transferred from Tabríz to Ṭihrán, where they were kept safe, until, many years after, they were brought to the Holy Land and placed in the Shrine that had been raised up in His Name by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the instruction of Bahá’u’lláh. And if you ever have the bounty of visiting that Holy Spot and entering the blessed room in which His earthly remains are buried, your thoughts will turn to the circumstances of His martyrdom and your hearts overflow with love for One Who accepted every suffering to prepare the way for the coming of Bahá’u’lláh.
What are some of the spiritual significance that this episode holds?
The Báb held the reins of His destiny in His hands, choosing to endure suffering so that humanity could attain true joy and happiness,
What other insights can we glean from the episode?
STORIES FROM THE DAWNBREAKERS FOR CHILDREN: Read by Hand of the Cause of God William Sears
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FACTS ABOUT THE BÁB
- The Heroic Age of the Bahá’í Era began in 1844.
- The Heroic Age of the Bahá’í Era lasted seventy-seven years.
- Mullá Ḥusayn and his companions marched from Khurásán to Mázindarán in October 1848.
- Mullá Ḥusayn and his companions marched under the Black Standard, which was the sign that the Promised Qá’im had appeared and a new Revelation had come.
- At the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí, three hundred and thirteen of the followers of the Báb, led by Quddús and Mullá Ḥusayn, were attacked.
- Mullá Ḥusayn was struck in the breast by a bullet and died at dawn in February 1849.
- Mullá Ḥusayn was buried in the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí in Mázindarán.
- The siege at the fort of Shaykh Ṭabarsí lasted about seven months.
- Quddús was martyred in the city of Bárfurúsh.
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SKIT BASED ON STORY 1
- Mullá Ḥusayn
- Travel companions of Mullá Ḥusayn
- Believer carrying a bag gems
NARRATOR: It was the summer of 1848, only four years after the declaration of the Báb, and all of Persia was in a state of commotion. The Conference of Badasht had just concluded. Thousands upon thousands of people were accepting the Message of the Báb, but His enemies were arising in great force to persecute the followers of the new-born Faith. The Báb Himself was, as you know, imprisoned in a far-off corner of Persia. Quddús was confined in the house of a leading clergyman in the province of Mázindarán, and even Bahá’u’lláh, Who belonged to the nobility of Persia, was subjected to sufferings for His support of the Cause of the Báb. Mullá Ḥusayn had spent the preceding months in the province of Khurásán proclaiming the Message of the Báb with extraordinary success.
MESSENGER ( comes in looking tired and agitated): I have just arrived and need to speak with Mullá Ḥusayn immediatly!
Mullá Ḥusayn walks in
Messenger to Mullá Ḥusayn: Here is the Báb’s turban and His instructions to raise the Black Standard, go to Mázindarán and assist Quddús.
NARRATOR: The unfurling of a black flag, according to the Prophet Muḥammad, would signalize the coming of God’s new Revelation.
Mullá Ḥusayn: I will follow the instructions of my beloved Báb immediately! I will gather men to make this journey with me.
Mullá Ḥusayn gathers a people to travel with him and they start the journey
NARRATOR: Mullá Ḥusayn put the green turban on his head, raised the Black Standard and, together with a company of two hundred and two men, began his journey from Khurásán to Mázindarán. During the first part of the journey, every village this company of pious and courageous men entered received them with open arms. In each village, people would listen to the joyful news of the coming of the Promised Qá’im and numerous souls would accept the new Faith. A few even joined the group on their journey towards Mázindarán. But as they approached Mázindarán, Mullá Ḥusayn began to warn them of the sufferings that were in store for them. Pointing in the direction of Mázindarán, he reminded them that this was the way that led to their martyrdom.
Mullá Ḥusayn: Whoever was unprepared for the trials ahead, should leave and go back to his home.
NARRATOR: Several times he repeated this warning. Some twenty of Mullá Ḥusayn’s companions finally chose to leave, but the majority rode on, eager to sacrifice their lives in the path of their Beloved. As they neared the town of Bárfurúsh in Mázindarán, Mullá Ḥusayn once again warned his companions of the fate that awaited them.
Mullá Ḥusayn: throw away your belongings, except for your horses and swords, so that the inhabitants of the villages and towns we pass through would not think we are interested in material possessions.
Believer carrying a bag full of precious jewels: This is a bag full of gems from my father’s mine in Khurásán,
Believer throws away the bag of gems
Other travelers: follow his example and rid themselves of the things of this world.
NARRATOR: The leading clergyman of Bárfurúsh was an arrogant and power-hungry man who was afraid of the influence the Bábís were having on everyone with whom they came into contact. When he heard that Mullá Ḥusayn and his companions were nearing Bárfurúsh, he sent his messengers out to gather the people in the mosque. There, in front of a large crowd, he climbed the pulpit, threw his turban to the ground, tore open the neck of his shirt, and announced that the worst enemies of the religion of God were but a short distance from the town. So persuasive was he in delivering his sermon full of lies that the crowd became angry, obeyed his command, armed itself, and went out to the nearby forest to attack this band of sanctified souls, whose only wish was to proclaim the glad- tidings of the dawn of a new age.
Mullá Ḥusayn: There is a crowd coming our way, please be patient, I will try to reason with these misinformed people who had been deceived by their insincere and ambitious leader.
NARRATOR: The crowd opened fire on them and, one by one, seven of his companions fell to the ground.
Mullá Ḥusayn (raise eyes to the heaven and pray): “Behold, O God, my God, the plight of Thy chosen companions, and witness the welcome which these people have accorded Thy loved ones. Thou knowest that we cherish no other desire than to guide them to the way of Truth and to confer upon them the knowledge of Thy Revelation. Thou hast Thyself commanded us to defend our lives against the assaults of the enemy. Faithful to Thy command, I now arise with my companions to resist the attack which they have launched against us.”
Mullá Ḥusayn and travel companions: draw your swords and charge into the midst of the enemy.
NARRATOR: So great was the courage displayed by this small company of God-fearing men that the hearts of their attackers were filled with fear. Mullá Ḥusayn himself, unmindful of the bullets that rained upon him, forced his way through the ranks of the enemy and headed for Bárfurúsh. He rode straight to the residence of the leading clergyman who was to be blamed for the whole incident,
Mullá Ḥusayn: circle the house three times and cry out: “Let that contemptible coward, who has incited the inhabitants of this town to wage holy warfare against us and has ignominiously concealed himself behind the walls of his house, emerge from his inglorious retreat. . . . Has he forgotten that he who preaches a holy war must needs himself march at the head of his followers, and by his own deeds kindle their devotion and sustain their enthusiasm?
NARRATOR: The people of Bárfurúsh were dumbfounded by these acts of heroism and bravery. “Peace, peace!” they began to cry out as they sent a few of their leaders to ask for mercy and forgiveness from Mullá Ḥusayn. Mullá Ḥusayn knew that they were not sincere and would repeat their cruel acts the moment they had another chance, yet he accepted their plea and peace was established, at least for that day. Mullá Ḥusayn and his companions then rode triumphantly to the large guest house in the town plaza and set down to rest.
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O Son of Light! Forget all save Me and commune with My spirit.This is of the essence of My command, therefore turn unto it
Bahá’u’lláh – The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh