January 12, 2017

circa 1848: Baha’u’llah’s first imprisonment

Baha’u’llah’s first imprisonment took place in Tihran when He was informed of the plight of a number of companions and supporters of Táhirih who were brought as prisoners to the Capital from Qazvin. They were falsely charged with the murder of Táhirih’s father-in-law, while Táhirih herself was placed in the strictest confinement in the house of her father in Qazvin. Bahá’u’lláh was at that time residing in Ṭihrán.

Nabil explains:

As He [Baha’u’llah] was already acquainted with the kad-khudá [alderman] in whose home they [the companions and supporters of Táhirih] were incarcerated, He decided to visit them and intervene in their behalf. That avaricious and deceitful official, who was fully aware of the extreme generosity of Bahá’u’lláh, greatly exaggerated in the hope of deriving a substantial pecuniary advantage for himself, the misfortune that had befallen the unhappy captives.”

“They are destitute of the barest necessities of life,” urged the kad-khudá. “They hunger for food, and their clothing is wretchedly scanty.” Bahá’u’lláh extended immediate financial assistance for their relief, and urged the kad-khudá to relax the severity of the rule under which they were confined.

January 4, 2017

circa 1847: The Báb “summoned those twin great lights” [Quddús and Táhirih] to “seek His [Bahá’u’lláh’s] advice, to reinforce His efforts, and to prepare the way for His coming Revelation.”

The decree of the enemy had condemned to perpetual isolation Him [the Báb in Mah-Ku] who was the embodiment of the beauty of God, and sought thereby to quench for all time the flame of His love. The hand of Omnipotence, however, was busily engaged, at a time when the host of evil-doers were darkly plotting against Him, in confounding their schemes and in nullifying their efforts. In the easternmost province of Persia, the Almighty had, through the hand of Quddús, lit a fire that glowed with the hottest flame in the breasts of the people of Khurásán. And in Karbilá, beyond the western confines of that land, He had kindled the light of Táhirih, a light that was destined to shed its radiance upon the whole of Persia. From the east and from the west of that country, the voice of the Unseen summoned those twin great lights to hasten to the land of Tá, [Tihrán]  the day-spring of glory, the home of Bahá’u’lláh. He bade them each seek the presence, and revolve round the person of that Day-Star of Truth, to seek His advice, to reinforce His efforts, and to prepare the way for His coming Revelation. 
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

December 8, 2016

circa 1848: Mulla Husayn was ushered into the presence of Bahá’u’lláh in Tihran

In about 1848 Mulla Husayn left the city of Mashhad, in the province of Khurasan, north-east of Tihran, where he had been since 1844. Desiring to see his Lord Who was imprisoned in the castle of Mah-Ku in the province of Adhirbayjan, north-west of Tihran, he told his friends: “I have vowed to walk the whole distance that separates me from my Beloved. I shall not relax in my resolve until I shall have reached my destination.” – a distance of about 900 miles. His friends, however, offered assistance with a more conventional and comfortable mode of travel for his long and arduous journey, but Mulla Husayn declined their help. Upon the insistence of one of his friends, Mulla Husayn finally allowed him to act as his servant throughout his pilgrimage to Ádhirbayján. On his way to Tihran, Mulla Husayn was enthusiastically greeted by the believers in the different towns through which he passed. They addressed to him the same request and received from him the same reply.

When Mulla Husayn arrived in Tihran he was visited by many believers. Nabil, the great Baha’i historian recorded what he himself heard from Áqáy-i-Kalím, Bahá’u’lláh’s faithful brother, about Mulla Husayn:

“When Mulla Husayn arrived at Tihran, I, together with a large number of believers, went to visit him. He seemed to us the very embodiment of constancy, of piety and virtue. He inspired us with his rectitude of conduct and passionate loyalty. Such were the force of his character and the ardour of his faith that we felt convinced that he, unaided and alone, would be capable of achieving the triumph of the Faith of God.”

Because of Mulla Husayn’s popularity, arrangements were made to usher him secretly into the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. Soon after his interview, Mulla Husayn proceeded to Adhirbayjan.  
(Adapted from the Dawn-Breakers, by Nabil, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

November 18, 2016

1847: While the Báb was in the hamlet of Kulayn, 10 miles south of Tihran, He received “a sealed letter together with certain gifts” from Bahá’u’lláh

Tihran, circa 1808
In the spring of 1847, Gurgin Khan, the nephew and successor of Isfahan’s friendly Governor, Manuchihr Khan, became aware of the secret arrangements that his uncle had made to allow the Báb to stay in Isfahan for the previous four months, instead of sending Him to Tihran.  When he discovered this, he immediately brought the situation to the attention of the Shah in Tihran. The Shah, who was firmly convinced of the loyalty of Manuchir Khan, realized, when he received this message, that the late governor's sincere intention had been to await a favourable occasion when he could arrange a meeting between him and the Báb, and that his sudden death had interfered with the execution of that plan. He issued an imperial mandate summoning the Báb to the capital.

On the afternoon of the eighth day after Naw-Ruz 1847, the Báb and His mounted escort arrived at the fortress of Kinar-Gird, which lies about 30 miles to the south of Tihran. They had decided to spend the night in the neighbourhood of that fortress and proceed to the capital the next day, when a messenger arrived with a written order from Haji Mirza Aqasi, the Prime Minister for the head of the escort, Muhammad Big, instructing him to proceed to the village of Kulayn, and there await further instructions. The village of Kulayn, a hamlet owned by Aqasi was situated some ten miles southwest of the capital. The Báb remained there for a period of twenty days. Nearing the end of that period, He dispatched a letter to the King requesting an audience to set forth the truth of His condition and expecting this to be a means for the attainment of great advantages for the country.

November 11, 2016

Fall 1845: Bahá’u’lláh received Quddus into His presence in Tihran

Returning from his pilgrimage to Mecca with the Báb in the spring of 1845, and his subsequent expulsion from Shiraz by the order of its “villainous” governor, Quddus proceeded towards his native town of Barfurúsh (currently known as Babul) in the province of Mázindarán, in northern Iran. On his way he travelled through various town and cities, such as Kirmán, Yazd, Ardikán, Nayin, Ardistán, Isfáhán, Káshán, Qum, and Tihrán. In each of these cities, notwithstanding the obstacles that beset his path, he succeeded in instilling into the understanding of his hearers the principles which he had so bravely arisen to advocate. Nabil, the great Baha’i historian relates how he heard Bahá’u’lláh’s faithful brother, Áqáy-i-Kalím, describe his meeting with Quddus in Tihran:

“The charm of his person, his extreme affability, combined with a dignity of bearing, appealed to even the most careless observer. Whoever was intimately associated with him was seized with an insatiable admiration for the charm of that youth. We watched him one day perform his ablutions, and were struck by the gracefulness which distinguished him from the rest of the worshippers in the performance of so ordinary a rite. He seemed, in our eyes, to be the very incarnation of purity and grace.”

In Tihrán, Quddús was admitted into the presence of Bahá’u’lláh after which he proceeded to Mázindarán, where, in his native town of Barfurúsh, in the home of his father, he lived for about two years, during which time he was surrounded by the loving devotion of his family and kindred. 
(Adapted from ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, by Nabil, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

November 4, 2016

The news of Bahá’u’lláh’s immediate response to the Divine Message, to the vigorous campaign which He had boldly initiated in Núr, and to the marvellous success which had attended His efforts, cheered and gladdened the Báb.

Mullá Husayn, as soon as he had won to the Cause such able and devoted supporters, decided to address a written report concerning his activities to the Báb. In his communication he referred at length to his sojourn in Isfáhán and Káshán, described the account of his experience with Bahá’u’lláh, referred to the departure of the latter for Mázindarán, related the events of Núr, and informed Him of the success which had attended his own efforts in Khurásán. In it he enclosed a list of the names of those who had responded to his call, and of whose steadfastness and sincerity he was assured. He sent his letter by way of Yazd, through the trustworthy partners of the Báb’s maternal uncle who were at that time residing in Tabas. That letter reached the Báb on the night preceding the twenty-seventh day of Ramadán, [1] a night held in great reverence by all the sects of Islám and regarded by many as rivalling in sacredness the Laylatu’l-Qadr [2] itself, the night which, in the words of the Qur’án, “excelleth a thousand months.”  The only companion of the Báb, when that letter reached Him that night, was Quddús, with whom He shared a number of its passages.

I have heard Mírzá Ahmad relate the following: “The Báb’s maternal uncle himself described to me the circumstances attending the receipt of Mullá Husayn’s letter by the Báb: ‘That night I saw such evidences of joy and gladness on the faces of the Báb and of Quddús as I am unable to describe. I often heard the Báb, in those days, exultingly repeat the words, “How marvellous, how exceedingly marvellous, is that which has occurred between the months of Jamádi and Rajab!” As He was reading the communication addressed to Him by Mullá Husayn, He turned to Quddús and, showing him certain passages of that letter, explained the reason for His joyous expressions of surprise. I, for my part, remained completely unaware of the nature of that explanation.’”

October 27, 2016

Bahá’u’lláh comments on His days in Nur and the receptivity of its people to the New Message…

God knows that at no time did We attempt to conceal Ourself or hide the Cause which We have been bidden to proclaim. Though not wearing the garb of the people of learning, We have again and again faced and reasoned with men of great scholarship in both Núr and Mázindarán, and have succeeded in persuading them of the truth of this Revelation. We never flinched in Our determination; We never hesitated to accept the challenge from whatever direction it came. To whomsoever We spoke in those days, We found him receptive to our Call and ready to identify himself with its precepts. But for the shameful behaviour of the people of Bayán, who sullied by their deeds the work We had accomplished, Núr and Mázindarán would have been entirely won to this Cause and would have been accounted by this time among its leading strongholds. 
- Bahá’u’lláh   (Words of Bahá’u’lláh  to some pilgrims and a few resident believers who were admitted into His presence on January 8, 1889, quoted by Nabil in the ‘Dawn-Breakers, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

October 22, 2016

The province of Mázindarán and the district of Núr in particular become the first to eagerly embrace the Divine Message of the Báb

Bahá’u’lláh’s visit to Núr had produced the most far-reaching results, and had lent a remarkable impetus to the spread of the new-born Revelation. By His magnetic eloquence, by the purity of His life, by the dignity of His bearing, by the unanswerable logic of His argument, and by the many evidences of His loving-kindness, Bahá’u’lláh had won the hearts of the people of Núr, had stirred their souls, and had enrolled them under the standard of the Faith. Such was the effect of words and deeds, as He went about preaching the Cause and revealing its glory to His countrymen in Núr, that the very stones and trees of that district seemed to have been quickened by the waves of spiritual power which emanated from His person. All things seemed to be endowed with a new and more abundant life, all things seemed to be proclaiming aloud: “Behold, the Beauty of God has been made manifest! Arise, for He has come in all His glory.” The people of Núr, when Bahá’u’lláh had departed from out their midst, continued to propagate the Cause and to consolidate its foundations. A number of them endured the severest afflictions for His sake; others quaffed with gladness the cup of martyrdom in His path. Mázindarán in general, and Núr in particular, were thus distinguished from the other provinces and districts of Persia, as being the first to have eagerly embraced the Divine Message. The district of Núr, literally meaning “light,” which lay embedded within the mountains of Mázindarán, was the first to catch the rays of the Sun that had arisen in Shíráz, the first to proclaim to the rest of Persia, which still lay enveloped in the shadow of the vale of heedlessness, that the Day-Star of heavenly guidance had at length arisen to warm and illuminate the whole land. 
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

October 18, 2016

A young dervish recognizes Bahá’u’lláh’s station in 1844

While Bahá’u’lláh was spreading the Divine Message of the Báb in the district of Nur in northern Iran in 1844, an amazing incident took place which Nabil recorded:

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. [1] 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)
[1] Poor one, Religious mendicant, Islamic mystic

October 13, 2016

Bahá’u’lláh paid a visit to the chief divine of Nur “to enlighten… [him] regarding a new and wondrous Message, divinely inspired…”

…Bahá’u’lláh, accompanied by a number of His companions, proceeded immediately to the village of Mullá Muhammad, the chief divine of Nur, whose two trusted envoys had already become followers of Bahá’u’lláh. Mullá Muhammad most ceremoniously received Him. “I have not come to this place,” Bahá’u’lláh observed, “to pay you an official or formal visit. My purpose is to enlighten you regarding a new and wondrous Message, divinely inspired and fulfilling the promise given to Islám. Whosoever has inclined his ear to this Message has felt its irresistible power, and has been transformed by the potency of its grace. Tell Me whatsoever perplexes your mind, or hinders you from recognising the Truth.”

Mullá Muhammad disparagingly remarked: “I undertake no action unless I first consult the Qur’án. I have invariably, on such occasions, followed the practice of invoking the aid of God and His blessings; of opening at random His sacred Book, and of consulting the first verse of the particular page upon which my eyes chance to fall. From the nature of that verse I can judge the wisdom and the advisability of my contemplated course of action.” Finding that Bahá’u’lláh was not inclined to refuse him his request, the mujtahid called for a copy of the Qur’án, opened and closed it again, refusing to reveal the nature of the verse to those who were present. All he said was this: “I have consulted the Book of God, and deem it inadvisable to proceed further with this matter.” A few agreed with him; the rest, for the most part, did not fail to recognise the fear which those words implied. Bahá’u’lláh, disinclined to cause him further embarrassment, arose and, asking to be excused, bade him a cordial farewell. 
(Adapted from ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, by Nabil, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

October 8, 2016

Village of Afchih

Afchih in Lavasan district, an orchard village, property of Baha’u’llah’s father. It is located at the end of the mountain track of Nur Valley and Takur. Riders came down the valley at upper right, passing through the village en route to Tehran 40 miles southwest. (Adapted from ‘Robe of Light’, by David Ruhe)

October 2, 2016

The chief divine of Nur sent two trusted envoys to challenge Bahá’u’lláh

Mulla Muhammad, the chief divine of the district of Nur asked his two trusted sons-in-law, Mulla 'Abbas and Mirza Abu'l-Qasim to meet Baha’u’llah and determine the true character of the Message that He had brought. He pledged his unreserved endorsement of whatever conclusions they might reach.

On being informed, upon their arrival in Tákúr, that Bahá’u’lláh had departed for His winter resort in Darkala, the representatives of Mullá Muhammad decided to leave for that place. Darkala is located north of Takur, closer to the Caspian Sea. It has a milder, rainy weather. Baha’u’llah’s father had a winter house in Darkala for the use of his extended family who didn’t live in Tehran. The two envoys had to travel over the mountains to get to their destination.

September 27, 2016

Mirza Músá – Bahá’u’lláh’s faithful brother

Surnamed Aqay-i-Kalim, he was a younger brother of Bahá’u’lláh who remained devoted and faithful to Baha'u'llah and served Him to the end of his life. After the Martyrdom of the Báb, Mirza Músá, at Bahá’u’lláh's instructions, hid the casket containing the remains of the Báb in the Shrine of Imam-Zadih Hasan in Tihran. Mirza Músá accompanied Bahá’u’lláh into exile and often served as His deputy in meeting with government officials and religious leaders, until 'Abdu'l-Baha took on this function. Shoghi Effendi designated him one of the Nineteen Apostles of Bahá’u’lláh. Mirza Músá died in 'Akka in 1887. 
- Wendy Momen  ('A Basic Baha'i Dicionary') 

September 24, 2016

Bahá’u’lláh’s amazing success in the district of Nur alarmed His uncle

To inquiries from Nuri notables about affairs of the court, Bahá’u’lláh turned disinterested answers, instead converting the questions into opportunities to present the Bábi Message in terms befitting each inquirer, while persuasively pointing to the immeasurable benefits which the new Faith would bestow upon them and upon Iran. That a young nobleman should be deeply concerned with religious matters was startling enough, but how surprising that no mulla was able successfully to challenge His theses, so ably did He expound the ideas of the new Cause. The Nuris were also compelled to reluctant admiration at his zeal but also at his self-effacement despite the depth of the thoughts presented with such verve.

Among the first converts of His salutary expositions of the Cause of the Báb were Mirza Muhammad Hasan, His half-brother, and also Muhammad-Taqi Khan, a close relative. But His uncle Mirza 'Azizu’llah fiercely opposed these heretical new views; traveling to the village of Sa'adat-Abad, he personally appealed for immediate intervention against his Nephew by Mulla Muhammad, the chief divine of the Nur district, saying:

'O vicegerent of the Prophet of God! Behold what has befallen the Faith. A youth, a layman, attired in the garb of nobility, has come to Nur, has invaded the strongholds of orthodoxy, and disrupted the holy Faith of Islam ... Whoever attains his presence falls immediately under his spell, and is enthralled by the power of his utterance. I know not whether he is a sorcerer, or whether he mixes with his tea some mysterious substance that makes every man who drinks the tea fall a victim to its charm.' (The Dawn-Breakers)

September 20, 2016

Some of the places associated with the early years of Bahá’u’lláh's life

Map of northern Iran, showing Mazindaran, Tihran, and some of the places associated with the early years of Bahá’u’lláh's life. 
(Balyuzi, 'Bahá’u’lláh, The King of Glory')

September 18, 2016

Bahá’u’lláh’s first journey for the Báb

The first journey Bahá’u’lláh undertook for the purpose of promoting the Revelation announced by the Báb was to His ancestral home in Núr, in the province of Mázindarán. He set out for the village of Tákúr, the personal estate of His father, where He owned a vast mansion, royally furnished and superbly situated… Bahá’u’lláh had already, prior to the declaration of the Báb, visited the district of Núr, at a time when the celebrated mujtahid Mírzá Muhammad Taqíy-i-Núrí was at the height of his authority and influence. Such was the eminence of his position, that they who sat at his feet regarded themselves each as the authorised exponent of the Faith and Law of Islám…

When, in the year ’60, Bahá’u’lláh arrived in Núr, He discovered that the celebrated mujtahid who on His previous visit had wielded such immense power had passed away. The vast number of his devotees had shrunk into a mere handful of dejected disciples who, under the leadership of his successor, Mullá Muammad, were striving to uphold the traditions of their departed leader. The enthusiasm which greeted Bahá’u’lláh’s arrival sharply contrasted with the gloom that had settled upon the remnants of that once flourishing community. A large number of the officials and notables in that neighbourhood called upon Him and, with every mark of affection and respect, accorded Him a befitting welcome. They were eager, in view of the social position He occupied, to learn from Him all the news regarding the life of the Sháh, the activities of his ministers, and the affairs of his government. To their enquiries Bahá’u’lláh replied with extreme indifference, and seemed to reveal very little interest or concern. With persuasive eloquence He pleaded the cause of the new Revelation, and directed their attention to the immeasurable benefits which it was destined to confer upon their country.  Those who heard Him marvelled at the keen interest which a man of His position and age evinced for truths which primarily concerned the divines and theologians of Islám. They felt powerless to challenge the soundness of His arguments or to belittle the Cause which He so ably expounded. They admired the loftiness of His enthusiasm and the profundity of His thoughts, and were deeply impressed by His detachment and self-effacement. 
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

September 15, 2016

Bahá’u’lláh acknowledges that the Báb is “the Primal Point, through Whom the point of creation hath been made to revolve in both the visible and invisible worlds…”

Do Thou bless, O Lord my God, the Primal Point, through Whom the point of creation hath been made to revolve in both the visible and invisible worlds, Whom Thou hast designated as the One whereunto should return whatsoever must return unto Thee, and as the Revealer of whatsoever may be manifested by Thee. Do Thou also bless such of His Letters as have not turned away from Thee, who have been firmly established in Thy love, and clung steadfastly to Thy good-pleasure. Bless Thou, likewise, as long as Thine own Self endureth and Thine own Essence doth last, them that have suffered martyrdom in Thy path. Thou art, verily, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.

Moreover, I beseech Thee, O my God, by Him Whom Thou hast announced unto us in all Thy Tablets and Thy Books and Thy Scrolls and Thy Scriptures, through Whom the kingdom of names hath been convulsed, and all that lay hid in the breasts of them that have followed their evil and corrupt desires hath been revealed, -- I beseech Thee to strengthen us in our love for Him, to make us steadfast in His Cause, to help us befriend His loved ones and challenge His enemies. Shield us, then, O my God, from the mischief wrought by them that have denied Thy presence, and turned away from Thy face, and resolved to put an end to the life of Him Who is the Manifestation of Thine own Self.
- Bahá’u’lláh  (‘Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh’)

September 10, 2016

Northern Persia: A Summer Interlude Place for Bahá'u'lláh's Family

Murgh-Mahallih, the 'abode of the birds' in Shimran district, place of a summer interlude of the young family of Bahá'u'lláh.

September 5, 2016

Bahá'u'lláh arose to promote the Cause of the Báb

He [Baha’u’llah] was in the heyday of His life when the call from Shiraz reached Him. At the age of twenty-seven, He arose to consecrate His life to its service, fearlessly identified Himself with its teachings, and distinguished Himself by the exemplary part He played in its diffusion. No effort was too great for the energy with which He was endowed, and no sacrifice too woeful for the devotion with which His faith had inspired Him. He flung aside every consideration of fame, of wealth, and position, for the prosecution of the task He had set His heart to achieve. Neither the taunts of His friends nor the threats of His enemies could induce Him to cease championing a Cause which they alike regarded as that of an obscure and proscribed sect. 
(‘The Dawn-Breakers’)