My Memories of Baha'u'llah
MY MEMORIES OF BAHÁ'U'LLÁH
by Ustád Muhammad-`Alíy-i Salmání
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I come from Isfahan. My father's name was Muhammad-Ibráhím
Isfahání. He was a weaver: an illiterate man, but a God-fearing
and upright Shí`í who believed in the Twelve Imams. My
mother's name was Maryam and she was from Isfahan, too. I was born the year
Muhammad Sháh came to the throne .
When I was about eight, my mother died. She was close to thirty years old when
she had a stroke and bade this world farewell. After my mother died my father
chose another wife. My mother had left four children, three boys and a girl. I
was the oldest of the four.
There was no barber in our family, and when I was around nine my father sent
me as an apprentice to a barber's shop. The master barber was named
Ustád Ismá`íl: he was a very pure and righteous man.
Mornings I would accompany him to the public bath, and the rest of the day I
would work around the shop. I left his shop when I was about ten, and I spent
my days barbering and wandering about in the bazaar of printed cotton cloth,
which at that time was one of Isfahan's best. I did not work in any particular
It was not long after I left my master's shop that my father died of cholera.
He had one son by his second wife, but one of my brothers had died too. My
father left no worldly goods and so taking care of these children, as well as
the second wife, was up to me.
There were a number of the Bábís in Isfahan, and I was friends
with some of them. Among these, in our own part of the town, there were several
Bábís who were extremely pure and devout--such as Ustád
Áqá Buzurg of Isfahan with his four sons, all of whom were
Bábís; and then there was a miller, also a Bábí,
who is famous as the Sifter of Wheat.(1) Besides them, there were several
others, friends of Áqá Buzurg. Some of these Bábís
equipped themselves, made their preparations, and went along to the Fort of
Shaykh Tabarsí. I knew eight persons from among those who
went to the fort.
I was about eleven when His Holiness the Primal Point [The Báb] came to
Isfahan. I only heard rumours about it. All I know is that the Imám
Jum`ih+F1was a highly esteemed man, and that the Supreme Lord arrived at this
person's house. In the beginning, there was not much of an uproar about it: the
word went out that there was a siyyid named Mírzá
`Alí-Muhammad who could handle his pen with amazing speed--to such a
degree that when he would take hold of a corner of the paper he would cover it
so rapidly with script that when he got to the end of the page the first part
of it was not yet dry.
Anyway, I had just quit the shop of Ustád Ismá`íl when my
father died. His death affected me more than I can say. Sick with cholera, he
died with his head against my breast, and left this swiftly passing world.
Later on, my relatives decided to find me a wife. One of my kin, named
Hájí `Abdu'l-Husayn `Alláf, had a pretty daughter. One
night he invited a company of people to his
+F1 The chief mullá of the town; the leader of the Friday prayers.
house. At the close of the evening he said: "O my guests! My purpose in giving
this party was to share with you a certain matter, and it is this: a number of
people have sought my daughter's hand and asked most insistently to have her.
But I have never said yes." He mentioned several of her suitors by name, who
were there among the guests, and they themselves admitted that such was the
case, and that he had refused them. Then Hájí `Abdu'l-Husayn
said, "At this time, wholeheartedly and with great pleasure, I bestow my
daughter upon Muhammad-`Alí."
I was very much embarrassed, and I got up and left. Later, the others present
said they would help out, but I told them, "I am not worthy now. I have no
Still and all, like it or not, they gave her to me for my bride. I was then
seventeen years old. A while later a child was born to this young woman and me.
And while all this was going on, I declared my faith and became a
The manner of my conversion was this: at the beginning of my life and youth, I
kept my eyes and ears open, and I spent a good deal of time thinking about the
ulama--their words and their deeds. I absolutely hated them; for I could see
that their sons were lewd and debauched, and that they themselves had no
justice in them and did not practice what they made so much noise about.
Among these ulama was Hájí Mullá Muhammad-Ja`far of
Ábádih, one of the common sort, and I knew of an abominable thing
he had done. There was a young and beautiful woman whose husband had died. She
had been victimized in some way, and had applied to this mullá to undo
the wrong that that been done her and settle her case. She came in, bowed to
him, and asked his help.
The mullá said to her, "You must make me your guardian."
The woman meekly replied, "Sir, I appoint you my guardian with full power to
At this, the gentleman told her, "Now that you are in my charge, betake
yourself to the women's quarters in my house."
This unfortunate woman was extremely intelligent, however. She referred to her
good reputation and then added: "I am ready. But first you must come to an
evening's entertainment at my home. Afterwards, I can be your wedded wife." The
mullá--stupid fool--went as invited, and the lady took the occasion to
give him a sound thrashing and drove him out of the house. Next morning, the
mullá sent word around that he was sick. But I knew the true story of
Well, I began to keep company with the learned, and also with poets like
Mírzá Humáy-i Shá`ir and others. There was a
Bábi, Mullá `Alí, a good man, who had returned from Fort
Tabarsí. That is, he had reached there when everything was over. He had
been much persecuted on account of his Bábí Faith. For example,
he had a house, and his relatives took it away from him. Since we had been
friends for some time, Mullá `Alí came and lamented to me,
saying, "I have no home."
I said, "Come to my house," and he accepted.
Every day, along in the afternoon, he would meet me in the bazaar and we would
go home together. One day, when we were on our way, he said to me,
"Áqá Muhammad-`Alí, I see you as a person who has no
wickedness in him. There is something I would like to tell you."
"Go ahead," I told him.
He said, "I am a Bábí."
I said, "So be it. I have nothing to do with a person's religion. I am your
friend. Be whatever you like." Nothing more was said.
Some time later, I thought to myself that it might be good to find out from
Mullá `Alí what the aims of the Bábís are, and what
they say and do. One day as we went along I said to him, "Mullá
`Alí, a while back you told me you were a Bábí. Do you
stand by that or not?"
He said, "I do."
I said, "I'll ask you just one question, and I want you to answer me with just
"Ask," he told me.
"This siyyid who claims to be the Báb--what does he teach about the
question of the oneness of God?"
Mullá `Alí thought for a while, and then replied, "He says that
no one can find a way into the realm of God: God is God, the creation is the
As soon as I heard this I was deeply moved. Right there, I fell, and bowed my
forehead to the ground, and I said, "This Being is the True One."
Well, little by little I investigated, until I truly become a
Bábí and began to associate with the others. Most of them,
however, were not virtuous people, and they would do unacceptable things. One
day--it was the twenty-first day of the Ramadán fast--I went to the home
of Áqá Muhammad-Javád of Najafábád, a good
Bábí, loyal and true, a man on fire, but addicted to wine. That
day Áqá Muhammad was filtering wine, and the smell was all over
the place. The neighbors could smell it and that is how
they found out what was going on. They broke into the house, arrested us, and
took us off to the Government House to be jailed.
At that time in Isfahan, bread had become very expensive. The governor then
was a prince of the blood, Khánlár Mírzá
Ihtishámu's-Sultanih. There were five of us in jail: (1)
Muhammad-Javád, a good man, an old man who spent much of his time riding
about the Ishfahan area--he being a traveling teacher, (2) `Abdu'l-Karím
of Isfahan, who today is the basest of Covenant-breakers, (3)
Muhammad-Sádiq, brother of `Abdu'l-Karím, a Bábí
who was lukewarm in his faith, and weak, (4) Mullá `Alí, my
teacher, a man pure in heart, righteous in nature, and (5) I myself,
Muhammad-`Alíy-i Salmání, the Barber.
They kept us in prison about two months. Every day, when the citizens would
come in to protest to the governor about the bread situation, they would also
scream about us, shouting: "...and, kill these Bábís! How long
are you going to let them live?"
As for us in the prison, we consulted together and finally made this plan:
first off, we would put Muhammad-Sádiq out from our midst, because he
was not firm in the Faith. That is, we told the jailers: "You arrested this man
by mistake." And after a while they let him go. Now there were four of us.
Since, we thought, it would not be right for us to deny the charges, the best
thing would be for us all to keep to one single statement. Áqá
Muhammad-Javád said, "The rest of you can put all the blame on me. In
this way, I--an old man--will be killed, and you will go free."
We all refused. We told him, "No matter what happens, we are partners, and so
we must remain." And so
we agreed that all of us would abide by a single statement of our case.
A day came when the prince-governor summoned the four of us, together with a
number of thieves. After he had sentenced each of these, he asked
Áqá Muhammad-Javád, "Are you a Bábí?"
He answered, "Yes."
Then he asked Mullá `Alí, "Are you a Bábí, too?"
"Certainly," replied Mullá `Alí.
He put the same question to `Abdu'l-Karím and myself. Then he ordered:
"Take them out to the Maydán-i Sháh [the great public
square]. Kill Mullá `Alí and Muhammad-Javád. Then slit the
ears and noses of `Abdu'l-Karím and Muhammad-`Alí and lead them
around through the four bazaars."
When we reached the great square, the chief of police arrived there at the
same time. He was truly a great person. His name was Muhammad-Sádiq, and
he knew me. As soon as I laid eyes on him I said to him, "My lord, you are a
young man too." That was all I said. He recognized me. And after hearing this,
he started to follow us.
As we went along, Mullá `Alí danced before the onlookers, and
Drunken am I, O bliss! with lovers' wine,
And freed am I, O bliss! from separation's veil.
Found have I the treasure of "but God"--
Released am I, O bliss! from "no God's" spell.+F1
+F1 A reference to the declaration: "There is no God but God," which is part of
the Muslim confession of faith.
Áqá Muhammad-Javád said to Mullá `Alí, "We
could recite many such words as these, but we must have some consideration for
the two others, lest their blood be needlessly spilled."
Mullá `Alí fell silent and determined to say but little more.
Briefly, when we got to the place of execution the first thing they did was
cut off the hands and feet of the thieves. During this time, Áqá
Muhammad-Javád and Mullá `Alí were speaking out and
saying: "O people! We have done nothing wrong. Our only crime is that we
believe in a certain Being. A Siyyid has declared Himself to be the
Qá'im, and we believe Him."
Then Muhammad-Javád lay down on the ground. Having first removed his
hat, he placed it under his head, and he said, "Come, headsman, do what you
wish." Mullá `Alí did the same. The executioner first cut off the
head of Áqá Muhammad-Javád, then of Mullá
When my turn came, the chief of police approached and said, "Executioner, cut
only a little--only enough to justify the word." He did as bidden, but he slit
the nose and ears of `Abdu'l Karím deeply and severely. Then he walked
the two of us around the city, and back to prison. That same night our kinfolk
came and got us out of prison. I set about healing my ears and nose and
I saw, however, that Isfahan was no place for me to live in. Whenever they
would feel like arresting a Bábí they would think of me first.
So, I said to `Abdu'l-Karím, "I am leaving Isfahan." I stuck to
business, saved my money, and made preparations. Meanwhile, the people (most of
them) showed their hostility--until finally I left.
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MY DEPARTURE FROM ISFAHAN
During the days when I was still in Isfahan, one of my friends--who
incidentally was not a Bábí--returned from Baghdad and Karbala
and brought me the poem that begins:
O Thou Who me this cup dost bear
From an eternal, secret place--
Draw back the veil from off Thy face.
He did not tell me the author of it, but I said, "The intent of the one who
wrote this poem was not merely to compose a poem. He has some other aim in
mind." At a later time I learned that the author was Bahá'u'lláh.
In Isfahan there was a Mírzá Sulaymán-Qulí of
Tihrán. He had come from the capital and had taught many. He was a man
full of spirit and zeal, but I did not come in contact with him.
A certain siyyid also appeared on the scene--an Indian.(2) He was blind. I did
not meet him either, but everyone praised his mental faculties very highly; and
he, likewise, taught the people. All this was in the time of the Blessed
Beauty, Bahá'u'lláh. This siyyid went to Tihrán, then to
Burújird--to Prince Uldurim Mírzá, who made a martyr of
him. Once when I was in the presence of the Blessed Beauty, He said: "That
siyyid had recognized us." He was widely known for his many skills and for his
Also in Isfahan there was a Siyyid Ismá`íl of Ardistán,
and he too eventually attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh in
Baghdad. When Bahá'u'lláh asked them to bring tea for the guest,
he said, "Lord, do Thou bid them bring me the wine of the spirit." When he came
forth from the holy presence, his condition had undergone a great change.
Finally, on the road to Kázimayn, that is, outside Baghdad, in a place
known as Qambar-`Alí, he seized a razor and virtually cut off his own
head. After he was thus killed, Bahá'u'lláh said, "It was fitting
that the siyyid should find himself in such a state." Then He added: "Until
now, no blood so pure as this hath been spilled into the earth."(3)
I set out from Isfahan with `Abdu'l-Karím and a convoy of pilgrims to
Karbala. With us were five Isfahanis that I had converted, and a certain Siyyid
Hasan of Ardistán, who was an early Bábí--and these came
along as far as Baghdad and then we parted ways.
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The year of my arrival in Baghdad was one year before the Blessed Beauty
departed from the city [in 1863], and He had not yet made an explicit
declaration of His Mission. He would say whatever the Manifestation of God
would say, but in all He uttered there was no: "I am He!"
Well, they went into His presence and announced that our group of travelers
had arrived. With us there was also a man by the name of Mírzá
Sádiq,+F1who was a member of the Freemasons' Lodge of Malkam
Khán, and he claimed quite falsely to be a Bábí. He
too entered the holy presence when we did. We went in. Mírzá
Áqá Ján was there; Mírzá
Muhammad-Qulí was there too.
At that very first sight, I lost my heart. I saw that in everything,
Bahá'u'lláh was different from the others. But at the time, we
believed only this much: that this Personage was the leader of the community.
However, the majesty and power that I found in His sacred countenance convinced
me that He was everything.
Mírzá Sádiq, named "Truth-Teller" but a liar, was in His
presence as a lifeless thing and was soon permitted to leave. For us, they
arranged a place where we could stay, in a caravanserai, and I stayed there
with Áqá Dá'í of
+F1 Sádiq means "truthful."
Isfahan. There were three of us: myself, `Abdu'l-Karím, and
Mírzá Sadiq entered the holy presence only that one time. After
two or three days, he left Baghdad, and I don't know what became of him. His
purpose in coming to Baghdad was that, by infiltrating the Bahá'í
community, he might provide for his own livelihood. This plan of his led
nowhere, and so he left.
It was the custom of the Blessed Beauty when He lived in Baghdad to partake
of His morning tea in the andarún.+F1He would then leave for the
bírúní.+F1This bírúní which
He had was a single clean and tidy room, which had been put up by a builder,
Ustád Ismá`íl Banná of Kashan. Ustád passed
away in `Akká.
And so, Bahá'u'lláh would come to this room. He would walk about
and pace up and down and the friends would visit Him. Here in the
bírúní He would remain about half an hour or an hour.
After that, He would proceed to a coffeehouse. There was in Baghdad a Siyyid
Habíb the Arab, who was the kad-khudá
[borough-head] of Old Baghdad. This man had a coffeehouse which
Bahá'u'lláh would frequent, and as a general thing this is where
the people would come to be with Him. Áqá Najaf-`Alí and
Áqá Muhammad-Ibráhím, who were permanent servitors
of Bahá'u'lláh, would also be present. Sometimes, I too would go
+F1 The domestic, or ladies' apartments; the living quarters, as opposed to the
men's reception area, or bírúní. See Appendix 4,
"Andarún and Bírúní."
Here Bahá'u'lláh would partake of coffee every day, and the
water pipe would be prepared for Him. This was His own pipe--from
Bihbihán--and He would smoke a very little, and would converse with the
people.(4) His purpose in going to this coffeehouse was to spread the Faith. It
was an excellent establishment. Siyyid Habíb was not a believer, but he
was a fine man--and very unassuming. After an hour or an hour and a half,
Bahá'u'lláh would leave here and return to His living quarters
until afternoon. Then He would again set out for another visit to the
coffeehouse and stay until sundown. After that, He would go back to His
andarún, or sometimes to the bírúní. There the
friends would usually remain together until two hours after sunset, and then go
their separate ways. And, sometimes Bahá'u'lláh would be present.
All the great of Baghdad, and the ulama, and the magistrates, would present
themselves here at this coffeehouse with extreme deference.
Bahá'u'lláh, however, would never go to their homes. The
inhabitants of Baghdad (that is, the Sunnís) would speak, one and all,
of the utter perfection of Bahá'u'lláh. Many a time they would
refer difficult questions to Him and request Him to solve them. With
Námiq Páshá+F1He did not associate.
One day, there in the presence of Bahá'u'lláh--some of the
believers from the village of Sultánábád were there-- the
mullá-báshí said, "You being God, Uncle, why do You
give us such a hard row to hoe?"...+F2
+F1 The governor of Baghdad.
+F2 "Uncle" is used by villagers as a term of
respect. The question here is a plea to understand the meaning of suffering.
Next, I decided to find some way of serving Bahá'u'lláh, and
with one or two other believers I went to the public bath, the one known as
Hammám-i Latíf.+F1It was this bath that was frequented by the
Blessed Beauty. Here was a Hájí Bashír who on
occasion would eat far too much opium. He was the barber, and he would attend
to Bahá'u'lláh. There was a also a certain `Abdu'r-Rahmán
of Baghdad, who would shave heads. When I arrived at the bathhouse, friends
told the Hájí that I was a colleague of his and was an excellent
bath attendant as well.
Hájí Bashír asked me to work with him, and I
accepted, on condition Bahá'u'lláh would permit this. He told me
that he himself would go and obtain the permission, which he did. He said, "I
would like to keep your attendant with me."
Bahá'u'lláh answered, "Very well," and Bashír
returned with the news. But Hájí Bashír was a
On the second day after that, the Blessed Beauty came to the bath alone.
Before His arrival, Áqá Najaf-`Alí-- who was killed later
in Tihrán--and Muhammad-Ibráhím of Nayríz, a good
man, had brought soap, and dye for the hair, and then left. I prepared the
Blessed Beauty's place, and awaited His arrival. There was a platform at the
center of the bath, and He seated Himself there.
Then `Abdu'r-Rahmán, the head-shaver, came in and proceeded to shave
the back of Bahá'u'lláh's neck, and about the temples, in a style
favored by the nobles of an earlier day, and then shaved under His chin. I
stood there watching to see how he did the work, and I noted that
+F1 See Appendix 1, "The Bath."
Bahá'u'lláh was very particular. For example, He would repeatedly
lift His hand to a place and say, "Shave here, and shave here." And so, I
watched to see how the shaving was done.
Water was then brought, and I soaped Bahá'u'lláh's hair two or
three times--the various soaps were from Aleppo--and then He withdrew to the
place where henna would be applied and the body rubbed with a rough bath mitt.
I then brought Him His own bath towel, and once He was dry He stretched out so
that I could apply henna to His beard, after which He seated Himself and I used
the henna on His hair. He then lay down again (and I placed a pillow under His
head) so that I could rub Him with the mitt--and two or three times I kissed
His feet. He rose again and seated Himself, and I took the mitt to the backs of
His hands and arms. Very soon, He directed me to fetch the rinse water. I
rinsed off the henna, added the dark dye, and finally soaped and rinsed Him off
and He departed. I was in a state of utter bliss. The Master and the Branches
and Áqáy-i Kalím+F1used to frequent the same bathhouse. I
worked there two or three months and every ten days or less they would come in.
One day at the bath, Bahá'u'lláh said to me, "Tomorrow you are
to be my guest at Vashshásh.
+F2 I went there as bidden,
and that very day a Tablet was revealed called the Tablet of the Holy
+F1"The Master" refers to `Abdu'l-Bahá, the Most Great
Branch. "The Branches" is a reference to the other sons of
Bahá'u'lláh: The Purest Branch (Mírzá
Mihdí), the Greater Branch (Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí),
and others. Áqáy-i Kalím (also known as
Mírzá Músá) was one of the faithful brothers of
+F2 A field on the outskirts of Baghdad known as the
One day word came from the bath that someone had treated an Isfahani by the
name of Mullá Husayn (a servant of Áqáy-i Kalím)
badly. When Bahá'u'lláh arrived at the bath, the servant of
Mírzá Yahyá,+F1who was the aggressor, was just putting on
his clothes. Bahá'u'lláh spoke severely to him, asking why he had
mistreated the man. The servant fell at Bahá'u'lláh's feet, and
asked and received forgiveness. The next morning I was summoned to the House
and was told to go out and find the victim and bring him back. I looked all
over Baghdad for him, and prevailed on him to return with me, whereupon
Bahá'u'lláh counseled and admonished him.
Another time, when I was about to make use of the rubbing mitt,
Bahá'u'lláh said, "Ustád Muhammad-`Alí, we have in
mind to take a long journey. What do you say to that?"
I bowed. And that day went by.
Two days later, He said He was about to go to Government House. This terrified
me. I went and fastened on a dagger, concealed a couple of pistols about me,
and left for the seat of government to see what was happening. I went over the
bridge and walked past the confectionary shop to Siyyid Husayn of Isfahan--and
there I saw
+F1 Mírzá Yahyá (also known as Subh-i Azal, the Morning of
Eternity) was the half brother of Bahá'u'lláh who eventually
rebelled against His authority. Azal, who became the Arch-Breaker of the
Covenant of the Báb, had been nominated by the Báb as His
successor, to "act solely as a figure-head pending the manifestation of the
Promised One." (See God Passes By, pp. 28-29, 233.)
Áqáy-i Kalím. He called to me, and I asked him what was
going on. He replied that Bahá'u'lláh had been summoned. Not much
time passed before the Blessed Beauty returned, and we learned that orders had
come from Istanbul to Baghdad, that Bahá'u'lláh should proceed to
wherever He might desire, away from Baghdad; the choice was to be His, that is,
within the Ottoman territory.
It became widely known that Hájí Mírzá Husayn
Khán+F1was behind this proposal. He had said, "Because of the
proximity of Baghdad to Persian soil, the Cause of Bahá is constantly
Námiq Páshá had sent the following message to
Bahá'u'lláh: "This decree has already been received here ten or
twelve times, but I did not tell you of it, and my reply to it was:
`Bahá'u'lláh has lived in Baghdad twelve years,(6) and up to now
no fault has ever been found in Him.'"
Bahá'u'lláh had said to the messenger, "Tell Námiq
Páshá that I will not come to the Government House, but I
will come to the mosque in its vicinity. I will meet there with whoever wishes
to address me."
Bahá'u'lláh went to the mosque, and the deputy of Námiq
Páshá appeared and said, "Námiq had desired to come
to You himself, but he was ashamed to, and sent me in his place." He then
recited the particulars of the decree.
The Beloved said, "I will go to Istanbul." And they approved.
Afterward, thinking of journey, Bahá'u'lláh said, "I will go
alone." But the Household wept and insisted and begged. He finally agreed that
they should accompany
+F1 The Persian ambassador to Istanbul.
Him, and He named those who were to stay behind. One night Mírzá
Muhammad Qulí came in and told me: "He says that you must be among the
ones who go with Him."
After some days, Bahá'u'lláh proceeded to a garden outside the
city, and there His tent was pitched. This was the garden of Najíb
Páshá [later known as the Garden of Ridván] and it
was here in this garden that He openly declared His Mission. That is, He spoke
of the manifestation of the Exalted One, the Báb, saying that He was the
Qá'im, that the Cause was His Cause--and at the same time, with certain
intimations, He also declared His own Mission. During the twelve days of His
sojourn in that garden, every morning and every afternoon He would speak of the
Báb's Cause and declare His own.(7)
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THE JOURNEY TO ISTANBUL
Then came the last day. There was a Turk, a Sunní, who owned pack
mules, and he took charge of our baggage. Some eight or nine howdahs+F1were
closed up.... The Master was on horseback, and it was he who undertook to watch
over the animals. Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí was also on
horseback, as well as a number of other believers, besides several who came
along on foot.
I was the one in charge of supplies. That is, when anyone needed some article,
I would give it to him and see to it that it was returned. A number of the
friends accompanied us to the first few stopping places and then went back, for
Bahá'u'lláh had said that anyone following along on this journey
without permission would come to no good.
Some of us who were members of His retinue were these: myself,
Muhammad-`Alí Khayyátbáshí, the
Tailor, of Kashan; Mírzá Áqá (who had no permission
and came to a bad end); Najaf-`Alí, who came through my interceding for
him; Áqá Muhammad-`Alí, the Tobacconist, from Isfahan;
`Abdu'l-Ghaffár; Áqá Muhammad-Sádiq of
Isfahan; Mírzá Áqá Ján. And
Áqáy-i Kalím; Mírzá Muhammad-Qulí;
His Holiness the Master; Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí; Siyyid
Muhammad of Isfahan; Hájí Mírzá Ahmad of Kashan,
who was the brother of Hájí Mírzá
+F1 See appendix 2, "The Howdah."
Jání and who, because of the quarrel which he had carried on in
Baghdad with the kinfolk of Mírzá Buzurg Khán-i
Ílíchí was in mortal danger, and if left behind
would have perished. Also, there was Áqá Muhammad-`Alí
Sabbágh, the Dyer, of Yazd; Áqá Muhammad-Hasan
Musáfir-Khánihí of Qum; and Áqá
Husayn Áshchí, the Porridge Cook, who was a child and was
accepted as an attendant around the house. And there was Ahmad, the son of
On the point of departure, Bahá'u'lláh had said, "Whoever
accompanies us on this journey without permission shall come to no good."
Nevertheless some of these individuals left with Him anyhow.
At every stopping place, for security along the road, we were given a mounted
escort, five or six guards, who would come along with us. One night when we
made camp, a package was missing from the tent of Bahá'u'lláh.
Someone had stolen it and run off. We looked everywhere, but couldn't find it.
Most of the stopping places were along the Tigris, and most days the Master
would go bathing in the river. At each encampment the crowds would come out to
meet us and watch, for it was widely known that "the leader of the
Bábís" was on His way to Istanbul. And as a rule, when we neared
the campsite, the guards would ride on ahead and beat the drums so that the
populace would congregate for their visit. As soon as they had gathered,
Bahá'u'lláh would teach them the Faith.
In Baghdad, Mírzá Yahyá [Azal] would always stay in the
house, and on the rare occasions when he came out,
he would arrange things so that no one was aware of it. When
Bahá'u'lláh was about to leave the city, He told Azal: "Say where
you would want to go. I will provide a servant for you, so you will be safe."
Azal had answered, "My Lord, wherever You go, I will go too." And he thought
it prudent to add; "But send me on ahead. Let me go first, so that I will not
be seen in Your company."
An Arab, a person named Zá'í,+F1a shrewd man and a believer,
was appointed to accompany Azal. And Zá'í, along with Azal, left
Baghdad ahead of the others, in such a way that nobody found out about it. All
the way to Mosul, which is approximately ten stopping places from Baghdad,
there was not a trace of Azal to be seen.
In Mosul, we pitched the Blessed Beauty's tent along the Tigris. Here we noted
that, hidden off in a corner to one side, there was a little tent with a raised
flap, and that a minuscule individual with a long beard was living in it.
Zá'í was with this person. Purely by guessing, some realized that
the tent-dweller had to be Azal.
Most of the people of Mosul flocked to Bahá'u'lláh, and He was
loving and kind to them. In Mosul He attended the public bath, and I served
Him. He remained three days in this city. As for Azal, not one of the believers
really knew him. In Mosul, he came to Bahá'u'lláh to complain
about Zá'í. "He doesn't show me any respect," Azal said. "He's
too independent. Too free and easy."
Zá'í replied to the charge by saying to
Bahá'u'lláh in Arabic: "Lord, I beg You, keep this little fellow
+F1 Or named Záhir, according to God Passes By, p. 164.
off somewhere, and don't let him out. People might see him and lose their
Well, Bahá'u'lláh gave Zá'í some money, and he
returned to Baghdad. There was a Káshí by the name of
Báqir, and Bahá'u'lláh requested him to serve
Mírzá Yahyá. Accordingly, Báqir went with
Yahyá, who never at any time traveled as one of our caravan.
To make a long story short, we left Mosul and after a number of days arrived
at Kirkúk. (There were ten stopping places between Mosul and
Kirkúk.) Along the way, we came to Mardin, a place on the slope of a
high mountain where we were to stay overnight. That night, two mules were
stolen from another caravan which was coming along with ours. The owner of the
mules complained to Bahá'u'lláh, who told him: "I will stay on
here until your animals are found." He then went into the town of Mardin and
told them: "This man's animals must be found. I will remain in this place until
they are." The mules turned up. Bahá'u'lláh remained three days
In Kirkúk, at an earlier date, there had been a dervish in honor of
whom the Tablet called The Seven Valleys was revealed.(9) By the time we
reached Kirkúk that dervish was dead, but he had a son named
Shaykh-`Alí who presented himself to
Bahá'u'lláh with many expressions of devotion. In most places the
people would come and would ask questions and receive answers. Some days later
we arrived at Diyarbakir. (There were ten stopping places between Diyarbakir
and Kirkúk.) At Diyarbakir, on the banks of the Tigris, we made camp in
a garden, and here (as was usual) Bahá'u'lláh would not go into
Everywhere, Mírzá Yahyá was shadowing us, and little by
little some the believers recognized him, but I still did not. In Diyarbakir,
it was arranged that the party should go by way of Samsun. Of the remaining
stops along the way, there was Irbíl, where He stayed one day, and
following this, we reached Sivas and stopped on the bank of the Tigris. At this
place we had to carry all our possessions over the river.
I went to the Master and said, "There's a lot of noise and bustle on that side
of the river, and no one over there to take delivery of our things. If I may be
permitted, I will cross over ahead of time and be there to receive our
baggage." And the Master approved.
When I got into the boat, there was one other passenger sitting there. It was
Azal, but I failed to recognize him. He said, "Where are you from?" (He would
speak very roughly, and it was hateful to hear him.)
I said, "From Isfahan."
He said, "Why did you get in this boat? Who gave you permission?"
I said, "I am here by permission of a great Personage."
He said, "Now that you have come here without anyone's leave, what would you
do if I gave you two or three blows with my club?" (He had a cudgel in his
I said, "If I were a mild-mannered person I would forgive you. But if I come
to any harm from that club, I will take it away from you and give you such a
thrashing that you will forget all about how brave you were."
This infuriated him. Anyhow, he said nothing more, and the boat reached the
other side. I took delivery of our
belongings and determined where to pitch the tent of Bahá'u'lláh,
and He arrived. Bahá'u'lláh stayed here two days.
There was a Mír Muhammad of Kázirún who had two or three
pack animals, and this Mír Muhammad came along, too. He was a man in
poor health, short in stature, and short on patience.
As I said, at most of the stopping places the Master would go bathing in the
river. For example, at this particular place He told me that I, too, should get
out of my clothes. I excused myself, saying, "I have a cold."
He said, "Very well, then..."
Mírzá Áqá Ján ... would also strip, on
occasion, and sit off in a corner somewhere and bathe.... For this journey Azal
had changed his name to Mírzá `Alí.
It was extremely cold in Sivas. There was scarcity here also, and one could
find neither hay nor oats. The Master bought a wheat field and divided up the
crop among the animals. Bahá'u'lláh attended the public bath and
I served Him. After the bathing and the application of hair coloring and henna,
we returned to camp.
On occasion, Mírzá Yahyá might enter the family quarters
of Bahá'u'lláh, but in such a way as to be seen by no one. His
dinner would be brought to him from the andarún. I was told that once
when he had eaten tás-kabáb [a meat dish] with onions, he
said to those around him, "This is an excellent tás-kabáb. I like
the lemons in it." What he was doing was, he was ... saying to the
others, "I ate those onions by accident: I took them for lemons."+F1Anyway,
his evening meal was prepared in the andarún of
Bahá'u'lláh, and they would always set aside an extra plate of it
and give this to his wife to serve to him the next morning. Really, he ate more
than enough for two. I had only recently learned who he was, and I knew him
Azal's wife quarreled with her traveling companion, who rode on the other side
of her howdah, so they transferred her to the howdah of Mírzá
Muhammad-Qulí's wife, who changed places with her. I was in charge of
the howdah of Azal's wife. Every morning I would observe that Báqir,
Azal's servant, would come up, take that container of extra food from Azal's
wife, and carry it to Azal, who would eat as he rode along on his horse. One
day I was famished, and it so happened that when Báqir came by for
Azal's food, I wrested it away from him and began eating it myself. Azal saw
all this from a distance. He rushed at me, attacking me from his horse, and I
threw away the container of food and ran off. He was in a towering rage. And he
lost face with everybody, most of all with me. I could see that he was of no
account: greatness did not set well on him at all.
He was harsh too, and foul mouthed; very much of a miser, too. In Harput
[Khárpút], the Blessed Beauty sent for a little Isfahan
gaz--a sort of nougat--which had been brought along, and divided it
among all the travelers, sending three fine pieces to Azal. It happened that
+F1 The Báb forbade onions; Bahá'u'lláh permitted them.
+P32 [Photo on this page]
had just eaten (this was in the afternoon), and he had decided to adopt a
regimen for his health. There was an Ustád Muhammad-Báqir of
Kashan--brother of the champion, Pahlaván Rida, who died in the
storehouse--the jail--of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh. He was
a good man, and he had another brother, Muhammad-Ismá`íl.
Báqir and his brother were both tailors, but on this journey they were
in charge of serving tea. Azal called out to Áqá
Muhammad-Báqir and ordered him to "Take care of those nougats."
This man ... wrapped the nougats in paper and put the package under his arm. I
knew what he was doing, but I said nothing. Anyhow, because of the heat, the
three large pieces of nougat stuck together and melted into a single lump. An
hour later Ustád Báqir came to me and said, "Those nougats of His
Holiness Azal are all stuck together. What shall I do?"
I told him, "His Eminence doesn't care about such things. Let's you and me and
your brother divide this among us, and eat it up."
Another hour or so went by and then Azal sent for his nougats. Ustád
Baqir presented himself, quaking in his shoes, and said, "Sir, the nougats all
melted together and I was ashamed to offer them to you in that condition, so I
and my brother and Ustád Muhammad-`Alí divided them up, and we
Azal was enraged and berated the man very harshly. "You are nothing but a
traitor," he shouted. "You are all thieves! And you don't really believe in the
Báb!" He kept on that way for quite a while, in one stopping place after
another, muttering and grumbling, still mourning his nougats.
In Harput the Blessed Beauty proceeded to the public bath, and Azal went
along, too. Bahá'u'lláh said to me, "Apply the henna for me, and
then go and take care of Azal." I made use of the henna as bidden, and went
over to Azal.
He told me, "Shave my boy's head." At this time his son was twelve or thirteen
I answered, "No. I will return to Bahá'u'lláh, and if He says to
shave the boy's head, then I will shave it."
Azal was furious. I went and asked Bahá'u'lláh, and He said,
"No. Do not shave the child's head." To make a long story short, I didn't. I
finished attending to Azal, and left him.
Then the Purest Branch, Bahá'u'lláh's son, who was then fourteen
or fifteen, came and I forgot everything else. He was truly the brother of
`Abdu'l-Bahá, extremely modest and self-effacing. Mírzá
Muhammad-`Alí was there too, and Áqáy-i Kalím, and
Mírzá Muhammad-Qulí, and that Majdu'd-Dín. The
Purest Branch said to me, "This journey has taught us many things. For example,
Azal believed that everyone would be subservient to him, and yet he now sees
that such is not the case."
Finally, we got to Samsun. As we went along, two or three persons had charge
of the animals and served as grooms--that is, to the animals of the Holy
Household. One was Darvísh Sidq-`Alí, known as Gul-i
Mawlá [the Master's Rose] and he is so named in a Tablet; one was
Áqá Siyyid Husayn of Kashan; and the third was Hájí
Ibráhím, likewise of Kashan. At this place we reached the Black
+F1 It was the custom at the time for adult men to shave their heads bald.
There was a chief inspector who had come to Samsun on other business, and with
great ceremony he entertained Bahá'u'lláh. Also, a Tablet was
revealed here, called the Tablet of the Howdah.(10) Bahá'u'lláh
remained two or three days in Samsun, until the ship arrived. Those in charge
of the pack animals were dismissed here, with generous gifts of money, but the
horses belonging to the Household were brought along. There was also a horse
from the pasha of Baghdad, which he was sending to Istanbul, and this animal
too was loaded on the ship.
+P36 [Photo on this page]
We sailed along till we reached Istanbul, where our baggage was taken off,
and I remained with the horses. Meanwhile, Bahá'u'lláh proceeded
to the government guest house, which was in the charge of Shamsí
Bey, and He settled in the upstairs apartments with the Household, while we had
rooms below. On this lower floor there was one great room, an agreeable place,
and every day the Master would come to this room. Siyyid Muhammad of Isfahan
would also frequent this place, as would Hájí Mírzá
Ahmad of Kashan, and Mírzá Áqáy-i Munír of
the same city.
Azal was upstairs, in a separate apartment. He would come downstairs in the
morning, however, return at lunchtime to have something to eat, and then come
back down. Part of the time he was a downstairs person, and part of the time an
upstairs person. He did this so that people would not guess that he was Azal,
and would take him for a servant of the Blessed Beauty.
In the course of our journey, at a stop called Ma`dan-Nuqrih [the Silver
Mine], Nabíl-i Zarandí+F1had come into the presence of
Bahá'u'lláh, along with a man named Ahmad and another named
Husayn, both of whom were
+F1 Nabíl-i Zarandí later became the author of the famous
Bahá'í chronicle, The Dawn-Breakers.
Káshís. Nabíl had gone on ahead, from Baghdad.
Bahá'u'lláh had sent Muhammad-`Askar to bring him back, and in
Baghdad had counseled him at great length, telling him that no one should
accompany Bahá'u'lláh without leave. Nevertheless, this
individual caught up with us at Ma`dan-Nuqrih. Here again,
Bahá'u'lláh gave him the same advice. Well, Nabíl came
along with us anyhow, and on to Istanbul. As for the two who were with him,
Ahmad was dismissed and Husayn came to Istanbul with us, and then on to Edirne
One day, in the downstairs apartments, Siyyid Muhammad, the evil one of
Isfahan,+F1set Hájí Mírzá Ahmad and
Mírzá Áqá against each other. They quarreled, and
even boxed each other's ears. Mírzá Áqá Ján
went and informed Bahá'u'lláh, returned, and admonished
Mírzá Áqá at length. The latter remained
intractable, and a few days afterward he was dismissed. Later on he repented,
and ultimately he died in Smyrna.
We remained about fifteen days at the inn in Istanbul, and then rented another
place and moved there. It was a stately house. In Istanbul
Bahá'u'lláh* called on no one, and He told Áqáy-i
Kalím: "I will go nowhere. You go wherever you think best." And so,
Áqáy-i Kalím would visit the houses of such leaders of
state as he felt advisable. The Ottoman Government furnished our expenses in
whatever amounts were suggested to them by Shamsí Bey.
In Istanbul, every day at noon Bahá'u'lláh would go to the
Mosque of Sultán Muhammad and there recite the
+F1 Siyyid Muhammad of Isfahan is the "Antichrist of the Bahá'í
Revelation," who tempted and manipulated Mírzá Yahyá to
rebellion against Bahá'u'lláh.
prayer in the manner of Islam, and He would chant communes as well. During this
period, every seven or eight days, He would frequent the bathhouse, and on
occasion I would be with Him. There was another mosque known as
Khirqiy-i Sharíf [the Mosque of the Prophets's Cloak], and
He would visit there, too.
There in Istanbul people would come to visit, and Bahá'u'lláh
would converse with them. Finally, word was brought that by government order He
must leave for Edirne.
Azal was his usual self: to Shamsí Bey he had not made himself known as
Bahá'u'lláh's brother, but had presented himself as a servant of
the Darvísh Mírzá `Alí Khán of
Khurasan. Most days he would come to see Bahá'u'llah, and one day,
contrary to his custom, he brought in some news, saying: "There is talk that
You will be obliged to leave for Edirne."
Then Shamsí Bey paid an official call and declared on behalf of
the government: "You are ordered to Edirne."
Bahá'u'lláh categorically stated: "We refuse."
After Shamsí Bey had gone, Bahá'u'lláh came out
and said to the friends, "Be confident. Nothing bad will happen." Smiling, He
added: "And anyway, what could be the harm of it if I should give them two or
three of you no-goods to put to death?" And then He left.
Later, into the bírúní came Azal and Siyyid Muhammad and
Hájí Mírzá Ahmad of Kashan. They sat together, and
Azal said, "If you want to cross a stream, which is better, that half your
satchel should get wet, or all of it?"
"Obviously, half of it," was their answer.
Afterward we reported to Bahá'u'lláh what Azal had said. He
replied: "I stand by my statement."
Mírzá Safá of Khurasan came in, and said among other
things: "By the government's edict, you must go to Edirne. None can refuse to
obey the government's edict."
Bahá'u'lláh replied, "Mírzá Safá, are you
trying to frighten me with this government? Even if all the inhabitants of the
world should come against me with drawn swords, I will still fear no man."(11)
Azal sent in word: "They will trample down our wives and children! They will
put us all to death! We will go."
And Bahá'u'lláh answered: "It makes no difference if they kill
us. As for our families, we can arrange things in such a way that they will not
be held. What could be better for us than to be slain by them in the path of
God!" Then very firmly He said, "We will not go."
However, Azal and Siyyid Muhammad and Hájí Mírzá
Ahmad and his wife and children kept at it, constantly repeating: "We will go."
And people from the government came again, and still they received the
identical reply from Bahá'u'lláh: "I stand by what I have already
said. No matter that some others are saying we will go, no matter that they are
consenting to depart, my answer is the same as before."
At a later time He commented: "That fellow [Azal] thwarted us. Otherwise the
Faith would have been widely proclaimed--and now this will not come to pass."
And another time he said, "If, in Istanbul, Azal had allowed it to happen,
there would have been a wonderful proclamation of the Cause of God. Had they
killed us, this
would have spread the Faith far and wide, and had they not killed us--and they
would not have--this too would have widely proclaimed it." He said this with
Finally, what with the others' insistence, entreaties, supplications, and
tears, He bade them prepare for the departure to Edirne. Mírzá
Músá went wherever he thought best to bid people good-bye. They
rented a number of ox-drawn carts. The Master rode on a horse.
Mírzá Yahyá was on a donkey. Nothing new happened along
the way, except that Bahá'u'lláh would say: "Why did we
At last we reached Edirne,+F1and Bahá'u'lláh chose to stop at
a caravanserai. With Him from Constantinople had come a Turkish captain--a
yúz-báshí--with a number of
soldiers, and this captain made a request of Bahá'u'lláh. He
said, "I wish to be promoted to
major--bín-báshí." He went back
to Istanbul, and he was. An excellent man, and a grateful one too.(13)
He rented a house for Bahá'u'lláh, another for the friends, and
third for Mírzá Músá. The house assigned to the
friends had a stable room, and the horses were brought there. The house of
Mírzá Músá had a bathhouse and fired it up--for we
had reached Edirne at that beginning of winter and it was bitterly cold. None
of us, not even Bahá'u'lláh, had proper clothing, since we had
come from an Arab country. It was so cold that all the town's springs were
frozen over. The house of Bahá'u'lláh was near the takyih
[lodge house] of the Mawlavís.+F2
As for the bathhouse: Azal would usually be sent there first. One day I went
to the bath at Mírzá Músá's. Now Azal was very
hairy--so much so that from the back of his head to his feet, he seemed to be
one sweep of hair. After he was bathed I was attending to him when, at that
moment, Bahá'u'lláh came in. Azal moved, and, out of
+F1 On December 12, 1863.
+F2 A sufi order of dervishes founded by
Jalálu'd-Dín Rúmí in the thirteenth century--the
so-called dancing dervishes.
respect, he placed his hands one upon the other and stood up.
Bahá'u'lláh said, "His shoulders are bushy. You shave them." I
came forward to shave them.
Azal covered his shoulders with both hands and said "Don't!"
Bahá'u'lláh said, "Let him have his way. It doesn't matter."
Bahá'u'lláh stayed in this house all winter. When the weather
turned beautiful and we were on the threshold of spring, He came to the
believers' lodging one day to express His consideration of us, and His loving
care. That day, a bird was singing in our tree, and He commented: "Better get
him something for his throat--he isn't doing too well."
Well, in this house Siyyid Muhammad and Hájí Ahmad of Kashan and
I and the other friends were all living together, though we had our separate
rooms. The upstairs was reserved for Siyyid Muhammad and Hájí
Ahmad, and I too lived upstairs with them. Every day the Master would come to
us at noontime and leave around that time. One day he told us that the Blessed
Beauty had directed us to find another lodging so that we could all be
together. The friends searched high and low until they located a house opposite
the Mosque of Sultán Salím. It was very spacious, and in all,
outside and inside, it required forty keys. The name of this residence was
+F1 The name can be translated as "House of God's Command" or "House of the
Cause of God."
+P44 [Photo on this page]
In this house a Tablet was revealed and was sent to Mírzá
Yahyá through Mírzá Áqá Ján. This
Tablet is known as the Tablet of the Summons to Azal, and it calls upon Azal to
believe in Bahá'u'lláh. Seeing it, Azal repudiated the Tablet at
once, and remarked to Mírzá Áqá Ján, "He has
even written it in Arabic."(14)
The house of Azal was a few steps away from that of Bahá'u'lláh,
and Mírzá Músá had a separate residence opposite.
The other friends, the Branches+F1and Mírzá
Muhammad-Qulí, the Consort,+F2 and Bahá'u'lláh Himself,
and the rest of us, were all in the House of God's Command.
Siyyid Muhammad and Hájí Mírzá Ahmad had a room to
themselves. The Master would go to the andarún only to sleep. Usually he
would have lunch and dinner with Siyyid Muhammad. Most of the time,
Hájí Mírzá Ahmad would be present as well.
+F1 That is, the sons of Bahá'u'lláh.
Bahá'u'lláh's wife, Ásíyih Khánum,
PLOTTINGS OF COVENANT-BREAKERS
Azal would come to the bath every week, that is, to the bathhouse in the
House of God's Command. At this time no one had even an inkling of his being a
violator, a breaker of the Covenant, but he had become somewhat lukewarm. When
he visited the bath, he would carry on a conversation with me about this and
that (this period was during the third year after our arrival in Edirne
), and, in his own way, he was trying to convert me, but I pretended not
to understand what he was after.
Siyyid Muhammad and Hájí Ahmad had only recently become
acquainted with Azal and they took to one another. Every day Siyyid Muhammad
would go to the Mosque of Sultán Salím where he was working on a
book he called "A Summary of the Bayán." Hájí Ahmad,
Áqá Ridáy-i Qannád, the confectioner, and
Áqá Mírzá Mahmúd would also copy out Tablets
and send them about. The Master, too, would be writing most of the time.
In Istanbul was revealed the Tablet that begins:
All praise be to Thee,
O Thou Who art He that is He.
After a time, Siyyid Muhammad had taken himself to the takyih of the
Mawlavís and told the leader: "I will come to you and instruct you in
the Mathnaví of Rúmí."+F1
+F1 A six-volume classical epic of mystic poems by Jalálu'd-Dín
Thus he had struck up an acquaintance with him, and little by little he had
begun to converse with him in an unseemly way. He would read the
Mathnaví all the time. Once he said to me, "What are these
verses?" I quoted him back a few lines from Rúmí, and he
commented on them. Then he went to Mírzá Músá and
praised my intelligence. At this time Siyyid Muhammad was about sixty years
Once when the Master was present, I said: "That Nabíl certainly has
strange things to say. One night in Istanbul, when you, Siyyid Muhammad, were
speaking, Nabíl commented: `That Siyyid Muhammad talks like an
The siyyid was very angry at this, but from fear of the Master, he could say
nothing. Well, that night passed by, and in the morning when he was going to
the Mawlavís to give his lesson, he said to me: "Ustád
Muhammad-`Alí, you and I come from the same city, and wherever I go I
sing your praises ... (and so on and so on). Now what, what did you mean at the
meeting last night? How was it that you said to me that I, according to
Nabíl, had said thus and so?"
"How should I know?" I shrugged.
He went on: "You should have whispered all that in my ear."
I answered: "This place is not the thieves' court of Husayn the Kurd, where
everybody does as he pleases."+F1
Anyway, Siyyid Muhammad would go to that place and give lessons, and most days
Mírzá Músá would come to the apartment of Siyyid
Muhammad and the Master. Here he would smoke his water pipe and then take his
+F1 Husayn the Kurd was a legendary outlaw who become so powerful and brazen
that he would hold court at night in the bazaar of Isfahan.
One day when the Master was present, Siyyid Muhammad was carrying on a
conversation with Hájí Ahmad, and I was standing there. At that
moment, in the street below, a cart went by. Siyyid Muhammad said, "His
Holiness the Báb, the Remembrance of God, was like that cart: even as
the next man, He came, He went."
Mírzá Músá was indignant. "You shameless fellow!"
he said. "Remember that this place is directly behind the house of
Bahá'u'lláh." Angrily, he rose and left the room.
Siyyid Muhammad was in a rage. Later he betook himself to Mírzá
Músá, to plead his case with him, and said, "You made me lose
Mírzá Músá became angry all over again.
Siyyid Muhammad complained to him: "Ustád Muhammad-`Alí has said
thus and so about me."
Mírzá Músá said, "This Muhammad-`Alí is the
same man you used to praise so highly. How is it that you are against him now?"
The matter was also reported to Bahá'u'lláh.
And so, after an interval of three or four days, Siyyid Muhammad went back to
the same takyih of the Mawlavís, and he stayed there. As the saying
goes, he was sulking. Two or three nights went by. There was a certain
Ibráhím, a former steward of Bahá'u'lláh who later
became a Covenant-breaker, and still lives and now claims to be a firm
believer. This Ibráhím was summoned by Mírzá
Áqá Ján and given money and a parcel of clothing to take
to Siyyid Muhammad. Two days or so afterward, Siyyid Muhammad wrote a letter to
the mother of the Greater Branch [Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí]
saying that he was in the takyih of the Mawlavís and so hungry that he
was reduced to eating the leaves off the trees. This, although only three days
before, money and clothing had been sent to him, in addition to which the
Mawlavís paid his expenses.
The following day was the day when Bahá'u'lláh was accustomed
to frequent the bath. I went there, and Azal came in first. Up to now, for
quite a while, he had secretly, stealthily, been trying to make me his
disciple. I applied his henna and he began talking to me. "Last night," he
said, "I had a dream. I saw a person with a broom in his hand, and he was
sweeping up all around me." He managed to convey the idea that it was
Bahá'u'lláh who was plying the broom around him in the dream. And
so, I understood that this worthless fellow wanted me to do something for him.
But he said nothing more, and went away.
Then the Blessed Beauty entered the bath. There was a mirror fastened to the
wall and I could see Him in the mirror. He said to me, "You are great and your
image will not fit in a little mirror."+F1
I pondered what Azal had said. I kept asking myself what his purpose was,
telling me by indirection and in code that "Bahá'u'lláh was
sweeping up all around me." It was clear, however, that he had some special
plan with regard to me.
Furthermore, Hájí Mírzá Ahmad kept trying to
+F1 Azal was known as one of the "Mirrors" of the Bábí
Revelation. See God Passes By, p. 114.
me to Azal. I noticed in particular that over a period of several days he
repeatedly tried most urgently to pull me his way. One day I told him:
"Hájí, you have been teaching people about the invisible Lord. Do
you yourself believe in that Lord?"
He said, "Yes."
I said, "Down your throat with the Lord that you imagine!" And so we
Hájí Mírzá Ahmad took the matter to
Bahá'u'lláh and complained. "Ustád Muhammad," he said,
"has denied the Invisible of the Invisibles."
On the following day, Mírzá Áqá Ján came
and sat down; we all gathered around and he read the Tablet of the Sermon on
the Unity of God. He also read the Persian Tablet of Ahmad,+F1revealed for
Hájí Mírzá Ahmad. In Edirne, the Blessed Beauty was
continually revealing Tablets.
When the bath day arrived, Azal came in first. He washed his head and body and
used the henna. I sat beside him to help. He began to talk, and to give me
advice. He said: "There was at one time a Mírzá Na`ím who
was the governor of Nayríz. He persecuted the believers, and killed
them, and greatly harmed the Cause." Next, he began to extol the virtues of
boldness and courage. He said that some are courageous by nature, and that when
the moment came, they would prove themselves brave. Then he went back to the
story of Mírzá Na`ím: he said that of all the
Nayríz believers' children, one had survived --a boy of eleven or
twelve. One day Mírzá Na`ím went into the bath, and this
boy went there as well, and had
+F1 This is not the Arabic Tablet of the same name so widely known in the West.
brought along a knife with a handle made of horn. When the governor started to
come up out of the water tank, the boy plunged the knife into his stomach and
ripped it open. Mírzá Na`ím cried aloud. His servants ran
in from outside and saw the knife in the boy's hand. They beat the boy within
an inch of his life, and then went to see how their master was faring. Wounded
as he was, the child got to his feet and once again drove his knife into
Having said this, Azal started in again, praising the virtue of courage. "How
fine a thing it is," he said, "for a man to be brave. Now see what they are
doing to the Cause of God! Every one harming the Faith. Every one risen up
against me! Even my own brother! And I, never allowed a moment's peace! Never a
He managed his tones in such a way as to say: "I, the appointee; I, the
helpless victim--and my brother (God forgive me for repeating this!) a tyrant,
"How wonderful is courage," he went on. "How much needed now, to save the
Cause of God!"
Taken all together--the tone of his voice, the story of Mírzá
Na`ím, the praise of courage, the urging me onward --all this meant only
one thing: "Kill my brother!" That is, kill the Blessed Beauty.
When these words were uttered I was overcome by nausea, and sicker than I had
ever been in my whole life. I felt as if the walls of he bath were falling in
on me. I was unhinged. Not able to speak, I went away outside the bath, and sat
down on a bench. And in my awful inward turmoil, I thought to myself, I will go
back into the bath, and I will cut off his head. Then let whatever happens,
happen. Then I thought: It would be easy enough to kill
him. But suppose when I stood before the Blessed Beauty I should be condemned?
Coming before Him in that condition? I went on, thinking it out: After
murdering this fellow, if I should go and stand in the presence of
Bahá'u'lláh, and if He should say to me, "Why did you kill him?"
what answer could I give? It was this thought that stopped me.
Well, I reentered the bath, and violently angry, raging, I said to him, "Get
up and get out. God send you to hell!"
"Pour water over me," he wailed as he approached me. I poured one container of
water on him and, washed or not washed, in a panic, he went; and I have never
laid eyes on him since, from that day to this.
I was in a terrible state and nothing could calm me down. It happened that the
Blessed Beauty did not come to the bath that day, but Mírzá
Músá did and I told him: "Today Azal made a bonfire of me," and I
repeated what he had said.
Mírzá Músá replied, "He has had such a plan for
many years. Pay no attention to him. The fellow has always had this in mind."
He counseled me, and left.
Well, I finished with the bath, and I closed it up, and went to see the
Master, and said, "Today Azal said thus and so. I was in a fury and wanted to
kill him. But in the end, I did nothing."
The Master replied, "You discovered this matter for yourself. Do not make any
mention of it. Best that it should remain hidden."
Then I went and told the story to Mírzá Áqá
Ján, and asked him to report it to Bahá'u'lláh. He soon
came back. Bahá'u'lláh had said to him: "Go, and advise my
devoted Ustád Muhammad-`Alí to say nothing of this anywhere."
I went and gathered up all of Azal's letters and other writings, and that
night I took them to the coffee room in Bahá'u'lláh's house and
burned them all in the charcoal brazier. But first I showed them around to
everyone, so they could see that they were the writings of Azal. There were
seven or eight of the friends present, and they all strongly objected and said,
"What have you done? Why this?"
I told them, "Until today, I have always worshipped the house of this Azal.
Today, so far as I am concerned, he is less than a dog!"(15)
Azal had three wives: one from Mázandarán, one from
Tafrish, and one from Shiraz.+F1Ahmad was born of this last.
Mírzá Nasru'lláh, and Rida-Qulí of Tafrish,
the brothers-in-law of Azal, along with the son of Mírzá
Nasru'lláh, thinking that there might be some material benefit to them
here in this establishment, had come to Edirne; and they had managed, by
prompting Azal's wife,+F2 to have him stop speaking with her and keep to
himself. Their plan was that, after an interval of separation, they would marry
off their sister to the Master. Meanwhile, Mírzá
Nasru'lláh died. The sister remained-- and the son of Nasru'lláh,
and Mírzá Ridá-Qulí. But the Master did not wish to
+F1 Azal married at least six wives, three of whom were left in Iran after he
fled to Baghdad. The wives referred to here appear to be Ruqáiyyih,
Badrí-Ján (Badr-i Jihán), and Mulk-i Jihán
respectively. See Bahá'u'lláh: The King of Glory
pp. 278, 336-37; Traveller's Narrative, p. 384.
+F2 That is, their own
THE BEGINNING OF TROUBLES
During this period Iran had been filling up with Tablets. The Tablets would
reach Tihrán through Mírzá Haydar-`Alí,+F1and they
would then be sent on to Tabriz, to Javád-i Qazvíní. From
another direction, when Bahá'u'lláh was on the point of leaving
Istanbul, He sent Nabíl-i Zarandí to Khurasan, and Nabíl
did wonders there and raised an uproar.
In Tabriz, through Javád-i Qazvíní, a certain Siyyid
Ismá`íl, who was much respected by the people of that city (this,
as a consequence of a religious debate which he had with Javád which
ended in hostility) was assassinated by two believers. One was Mustafá
of Kashan, the other a man from Khurasan+F2--they being urged on by
Javád. Those two, and Javád, were then arrested in Tabriz.
Javád, using the funds of the Huqúqu'lláh+F3 which had
been collected and placed in his charge, and which belonged to
Bahá'u'lláh, took out a thousand tumáns+F4 and bought
himself free. The other two were killed.
When Javád lived in Tabriz, there was a certain Hájí
`Alí-`Askar of Tabriz, a good man. He had a daughter, and he told
Javád, "Please, you tell Bahá'u'lláh that I
+F1 Haydar-`Alí later became the author of Bihjatu's Sudúr
[The Delight of Hearts].
+F2 Shaykh Ahmad of Khurasan. Cf.
Memorials of the Faithful, p. 149; The Bábí and
Bahá'í Religions, pp. 251-52; Bahá'u'lláh:
The King of Glory, pp. 237-38. +F3 The Right of God: the money
offered to Bahá'u'lláh by the believers. +F4 The gold
tumán was equivalent to two U.S. dollars of that day.
+P55 [Photo on this page]
+P56 [Photo on this page]
wish to send this daughter to Him as a wife for the Master." When Javád
complied, the answer came that Javád himself should wed the girl. But it
was just at this time that Javád fled from Tabriz. He arranged for an
elderly lady from Qazvin to bring the daughter of Hájí
`Alí-`Askar to him later on. `Alí-`Askar arrived in Edirne before
Javád and came into the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. Finally,
the daughter was brought to Edirne and married to Javád.
`Alí-`Askar had two daughters--the one he gave to Javád, the
other served in the holy Household and finally died in `Akká. The Master
still did not wish to marry. Nabíl-i Zarandí now arrived in
Edirne after traveling in Iran with Mishkín-Qalam and
Mírzá `Alíy-i Sayyáh (who, in Máh-Kú,
had entered the presence of the Báb and became a believer, and would, by
any means possible, see to it that the Lord's Tablets reached their addresses).
They came with two Káshís and a certain
Jamshíd of Bukhara who had declared his faith in Kashan.
In several places Mírzá `Alíy-i Sayyáh had
announced: "I am on my way to Edirne to bring about a reconciliation between
his Eminence Azal and the Blessed Beauty." Once he arrived and had paid his
respects to Bahá'u'lláh, he understood what was going on and saw
that Azal did not figure in the reckoning at all.
After a time [it was 1866] the Blessed Beauty moved with His Household to
another house,+F1and no one was permitted to visit Him there. He dismissed
Hájí Mírzá Ahmad, who went to Baghdad, and He sent
Muhammad-Sádiq away, and also Áqá Muhammad-Hasan and
`Abdu'l-Karím. At that time Shaykh Salmán was
+F1 The house of Ridá Bey.
and he was dismissed likewise. Bahá'u'lláh also decided to send
the attendants--myself, and Sidq-`Alí Darvísh, who was the
groom--to Istanbul, to sell the horses.
Mírzá `Alíy-i Sayyáh and
Mishkín-Qalam had become friends, and since they thought that
Mishkín-Qalam wrote a beautiful hand and could thus earn his
daily bread, the two went to Istanbul to be scribes. Bahá'u'lláh,
however, did not want them to go to Istanbul--at least, such was my
understanding of it.
Anyhow, the two journeyed there, and in that city went to Hájí
Mírzá Husayn Khán, the
Mushíru'd-Dawlih,+F1who showed them great respect. For
Mishkín-Qalam, he even purchased a handsome
kashkúl,+F2 since Mishkín-Qalam
followed the dervish path.
The ambassador made much of both of them, and he said to
Mishkín, "You come, and in the presence of the other Persians,
read an address praising the shah of Iran." And Mishkín did so.
In short, Mushíru'd-Dawlih wished to promote the two of them. He
arranged for Mishkín-Qalam to do the calligraphy on a book by
Sa`dí, and to be paid three hundred liras. Mishkín did
write a small portion of this book. On occasion, when he called on the
ambassador, Mishkín would speak of the Faith. Eventually, he
began to exaggerate, saying how many of us there were, asking if the ambassador
guessed that right in Istanbul there were thousands of us.
"You be careful," the ambassador told him. "I am trying to promote you." Well,
in the end they arrested both of them and shut them up in jail.(16)
+F1 The ambassador to Istanbul.
+F2 The traditional begging bowl of a dervish.
See Appendix 5, "Persian Names."
MY ARREST AND EXILE
As for me, with Sidq-`Alí Darvísh and Áqá
Muhammad-Báqir Mahallátí, we brought along the horses to
Istanbul. They stopped us at the city gate, and asked: "Who are you? Where do
you come from?"
I asked them, "Why have you held us up?" They were going to let us go. But
then, I inquired for Mishkín-Qalam.
The police said, "Come along. We will take you to him." We didn't know where
they were taking us. Well, they led our animals away and conducted us to the
sultan's prison and jailed us.
The next morning they came for us and took us before the governor of Istanbul,
Husayn Husní Páshá. He asked, "Where are you coming
We said, "From Edirne."
"What are you here for?"
"To deliver some horses for Mishkín-Qalam to sell." (I didn't
know that Mishkín-Qalam was in jail himself.) That was all the
questioning; they contented themselves with that, led us back down, and kept us
there. Three or four days went by. We began to talk with our friendly jailers.
"Brothers," I said, "we have done nothing wrong. We are not thieves. What is
your reason for arresting us?"
I thought to myself: Bahá'u'lláh must be under severe pressure
in Edirne, and there must be disturbances in that
city. It is certain that these people here are going to question us. We shall
have to come up with a plan. (I had carried with me three packets of Writings
and one travel notebook, and they had taken all of these away.)
"When being interrogated," I told the others, "we must do nothing which could
bring harm to the Household of Bahá'u'lláh. For ourselves, no
matter. Whatever will happen, will happen. But we must in no way harm the ones
in Edirne." We all agreed to this.
The next morning--the third and fourth of our imprisonment --they led us again
to the house of the governor. He sent for us to come in. They took us three
upstairs to a large room and put each of us in a different corner of it.
Áqá Muhammad-Báqir was the cleverest of us, and he was an
old man. The governor summoned him to another room. I listened carefully to
find out what they were saying.
"Where do you come from?"
"What is the reason for your visit?"
"There are three of us. These horses belong to Bahá'u'lláh, and
He directed us to deliver them to Mishkín-Qalam, for him to
The voice asked, "Do you know anything about these writings?"
"Then read something."
He started in, reading an Arabic prayer of some ten verses.
"Who owns these writings?"
"Ustád Muhammad-`Alí." (For I had told him, should they ask this
question, to say they were mine.)
He was then asked, "Have you any kinship with Bahá'u'lláh?"
"No. I am one of His servants."
Then the voice said, "Bahá'u'lláh has claimed to be the Mahdi.
What do you say to that?"
"No! He has made no such claim!"+F1
The voice said, "You do not understand. He certainly has."
"No, He has not."
Asked, "Should he make such a claim, what would you say?"
"Whatever He says is as He says. We hold Him for a speaker of truth. But He
has made no such claim." They put him out and he came over to me.
Then they took Darvísh. (Darvísh was older than
I.) They asked the same questions as before. They said, "He has claimed to be
He said, "No! He has not."
And then they go to, "What will you say if he does?"
Darvísh answered, "Because of love, whatsoever the Master doeth
is true and right." They brought him out and summoned me.
When I went in, I saw that there was a group of Sunní preachers, and
that the governor himself was the one asking the questions. He asked me, "Are
these writings yours?"
I said, "Yes."
He said, "Can you read and write?"
+F1 Bahá'ís believe that the Báb was the Mahdi, the
Promised One awaited by the Sunní Muslims (in addition to being the
return of the Shí'ih Twelfth Imam). Bahá'u'lláh
fulfills the Sunní prophecies concerning the Return of Christ.
I said, "No."
He said, "Then what do you want them for?"
I said, "I had a friend who would copy these Writings. I paid him and he wrote
this much for me."
Then he said, "Who composed these? Are they by him? (He meant
Bahá'u'lláh.) Or are they by the Báb?"
"I don't know."
Then came, "He has claimed to be the Mahdi. What do you say to that?"
I said, "I have been there for a very long time, and I have never once heard
such a claim."
"Nevertheless, he has made this claim."
" No," I said, "He has not."
He said, "Should he make the claim, what will you say?"
I answered--for I wanted to put an end to it: "This hand of yours, can it or
can it not become an instrument of death?"
He said, "It certainly can."
"Up to now," I went on, "it has caused no death. Can a sentence be passed upon
Then I said, "He too, up to now, has made no such claim. Can a sentence be
passed upon Him?"
This angered him, and he cried in Turkish, "Take him out! Take him out!"
I told him, "Sir, why did you bring us in, only to send us out? We answered
your questions. No need to be angry with us."
Well, they took us downstairs, and right away to a bad prison where there were
swindlers and thieves. Here were jailed seventeen or eighteen of us. I had a
and they took it. It was a horrible place. And we had to sleep right on the
spot where we....+F1And the space was so narrow that there was only just room
for each one to lie down.
They sent Muhammad-Báqir to a different prison, Darvísh
to still another, and none of us knew where the others were. They had taken
Muhammad-Báqir to the police officer's house, and he fell dangerously
ill with dysentery. He was ordered to the prison for the sick, so they put him
in there, in the infirmary. It happened that Mírzá `Alí
and Mishkín-Qalam were in this very prison. When they saw
Muhammad-Báqir, Mishkín-Qalam told the authorities: "You
must transfer the others of our group to this prison." So they brought
Darvísh and me here, and we all got together with
Mishkín-Qalam. He kept carrying on and complaining to them that
unless he could do his calligraphy his head would never quiet down. "Bring me a
pen case," he would say, "and let me write!" Finally, they brought him writing
materials and he set to work.
They fed us lunch and supper in this prison, but the bedbugs were so active
that sleep was impossible. Well, there we all were, in jail, with no news from
anywhere. The head of the prison was not a bad individual, and he had an
officer--I believe his brother's son--whom he brought to
Mishkín-Qalam and Sayyáh to take lessons. The boy would
come every day and study for several hours.
After some days Áqá Bey, who was a police officer, came in and
said, "Which one is Mishkín-Qalam? How much do you want for your
+F1 That is, there were no sanitary facilities.
Mishkín-Qalam replied, "Those are thoroughbred horses, not nags.
Each one of them is worth a hundred liras." When this fellow had gone, there
was a Jewish visitor come to see an Englishman sentenced for making counterfeit
banknotes. Mishkín-Qalam said to the visitor (who was free to
come and go), "We have a number of horses, and we want someone to take them to
the sultan as a gift on the Muslim Holy Day. And whatever gratuity the sultan
shall offer will then be divided: we to take out the price of the horses, the
remainder to be that person's."
The visitor left, and returned with a man whom he told to groom and decorate
the horses. The man left, retrieved the animals from the government
authorities, and named a suitable sum as their price, planning to offer them to
the sultan on the Holy Day. He did forget one little detail, however; he
neglected to see the Master of the Horses beforehand, to have him declare the
horses acceptable. The day came, and the horses were led before the sultan. He
looked them over and said to his Master of the Horses, "How are they?"
The latter replied, "They are no good." And the sultan refused them.
Well, the fellow came back and said, "They were not approved." He wanted to
collect the sum he had spent on the horses, but Mishkín-Qalam
told him, "Go now. I will pay later."
In all, we spent two months in the prison. Jamshíd, the servant
of Mishkín-Qalam, was also a prisoner; and except for me and
Muhammad-Báqir and Jamshíd, they planned to send the other
believers to Cyprus. That day
the steamer did not leave, however, and they brought the prisoners back. The
next day, they sent for them and also took along Muhammad-Báqir.
`Abdu'l-Ghaffár, who had been imprisoned with
Mishkín-Qalam, they took away to Gallipoli, to send him on from
there to `Akká or Cyprus.
The following day they led Jamshíd and me to Husayn Husni
Páshá, the governor. Jamshíd was a big tough
man with enormous moutachios. The governor said, "These two you shall exile to
Iran." So they conducted us to a ship along with a decree stating that we were
Persian Bábís, and at every stopping place along the way they
read out this document. They took us to Trebizond, and here too, put us in
jail. Later, they sent us off with two police guards toward Iran. From the next
stopping place, there was a two-wheeled cart going to Erzurum, and in that city
we were jailed sixteen days. Once off the ship, we always had to walk.
Being a prisoner under these conditions was such a torment that once, on a
mountainside where he kept falling down, my companion Jamshíd
took a stick and beat his head with it. He was coming behind, I walking ahead,
with the police ahead of me.
"Brother," I said to him, "what are you up to? Why this?"
He answered, "What did I ever do for God to treat me like this? Look at my
fate! Look at what He has allotted me!"
I answered, "He has allotted you a pair of moustachios that are second to none
He burst out laughing: I had put some spirit into him.
After Erzurum, they led us to Iran. My companion had a heavy quilt--it must
have weighed ten or fifteen pounds,
and I was carrying it. There were several other prisoners chained to us as
well. The weather was bitterly cold, and all of us were chained together, going
along single file. We all had to start out at the same moment, and sometimes we
would all be plunged at the same moment into a stream. We were truly wretched
on that journey.
After Erzurum, they took us to a place called Quzil-Dayzí. Here the
Persian consul came and looked us over. Ottoman troops had been sent to this
point, and it was said they wanted to go to war with Iran. Anyway, they led us
up a mountain where there was a castle, all of white marble and marvelously
carved. Here they took us to the governor of the place--the castle was the seat
of government, and it was something to see. They kept us in jail there for
three or four days, then moved us on toward Iran.
The Persian consul saw us, and they brought us into Iran. The consul was a
good-for-nothing individual, too.
Well, there we were at the frontier of Azerbaijan, at a place called
Avájih. All the way from Erzurum, they had sent a Persian thief along
with us, and he entered the country with us. At this spot, they transferred us
to the charge of the son of `Alí Khán of
Máh-Kú. He too had drawn up troops and the Persian government had
stationed him at the frontier so that he could defend it from the Ottoman Turks
should war break out. Night came and they wanted to put me in jail. Finally,
they put me down a dry well, though I kept shouting, "You are not going to
throw me in a well! I am not the Prophet Joseph!"+F1They pulled me up the next
+F1 See Gen. 37:22-24.
+P67 [Photo on this page]
+P68 [Photo on this page]
The only money I had in the world was one lira, which I had concealed. I now
sold my hat and my shoes and bought a few Azerbaijani camel hair garments. They
led us on, taking us toward Iran.
Briefly, we got to Avájih, and there was no caravanserai to be found,
so they took us to the country seat of Khán Husayn
Khán, where he lived with great pomp and circumstance. They
presented him with the documents and the decree.
He let out a string of oaths, damning the soldiers of Mír `Alí
Khán, and--See the hand of God!--he took the papers and without
so much as glancing at them, he tore them up and threw them away. I was happy
to see those papers go, and myself not recognized. There was that thief with
`Aqá Jamshíd was a pious man, frank and straightforward.
But he could not control his tongue: he talked too much. I said to him,
"Áqá Jamshíd, I have something to tell you. Please
accept it. I beg of you, by the soul of the Báb, don't speak out. Let me
do the talking."
"Very well," he said, "since you adjure me in this way, I will not open my
That fellow, the Khán, said to me, "Where do you come from?"
I said, "From Istanbul."
He said, "Why did you go there?"
I said, "I had heard that there was a lot of money to be made in Istanbul, and
I went there to get a couple of coins to rub together. But when I got there,
the son of the sultan of Russia arrived, and they had lit up all the avenues.
We didn't know the ways of the country, having just arrived. After we had seen
the sights and were on the
way back to our lodgings, the police arrested us because we were going along
without a lamp. They put us on a steamer and banished us to Iran.
Husayn Khán said, "He speaks the truth." He did not care for the
thief who was with us, but said, "I'll let you go too, for the sake of your
friends. So go. But you fellows, do not try Istanbul again."
"Sir," I said, "why would I go there again? What good did I see there, to draw
He said, "You may now be dismissed."
I said, "Sir, I will not leave."
"Why won't you?" he asked.
"Because I am your guest. And I have nothing."
He told them, "Give him lunch."
Well, they gave us something to eat, and they also gave us a donkey for the
trip. When we started off he said: "Wait. If you take that road, they will
strip you naked. It is not safe." He then put us in the charge of two persons
who would take us in safety to the next stopping place, and sent his own
servant, mounted on horseback, along with us. And he said, "From here to
Khúy, if you lose so much as a tittle of your belongings, you
tell them I'll make them pay for it ten times over."
I asked him: "Sir, pardon this thief as well."
He replied, "Very well. Let him go too."
And so it came about that they conducted us to Khúy with all
honor and respect, and in Khúy we were free. We went to the
public bath; we ate bread and drank water; we said farewell to our companions.
I told them: "I will not remain in Iran." My companion [Áqá
Jamshíd] went to Salmás and later on to the Holy Land,
where he lived a long time, and died before the ascension of
I went on to Tabriz and remained there one day. From there I went to
Zanján. When I reached Zanján I heard that eighteen days before,
they had martyred Siyyid Ashraf and Abá-Basír. I had many
trials along the way and was in a miserable condition. Hájí
Áqáy-i Isfáhání was with me, on his way back
form Baytu'lláh [`Akká?], and showed me great consideration. I
was traveling on foot, wretchedly enough, and the caravan would not take me in,
thinking I was a robber.
In Zanján, through Hájí Imán-i
Zanjání, I went to the home of Siyyid Ashraf and paid my
respects to his mother. The mother of Ashraf was weeping her heart out.
But not for her son: she was weeping for Abá-Basír. He used to
come out of his house every day and teach the Faith until they killed him. It
seemed to me that up to now, in all the earth, there had never been a woman so
excellent as Ashraf's mother.
The way of Ashraf's martyrdom was this: He was working in his garden,
when they came and took him away to the Government House, to the prison.
Ashraf was an honourable man, and of good reputation, and the people
were against having him put to death. The governor told them to take him before
the Shaykhu'l-Islam.+F1They did so, and the shaykh
saw that Ashraf was openly declaring himself to be a follower of the
Báb. He would have preferred to have him conceal it, so that his life
could be spared. He summoned Ashraf's mother to the
+F1 The chief cleric of the religious court appointed to each large city by the
prison, and told her to counsel her son. She came to the prison, and spoke with
him, and told him: "If you are killed in the pathway of
Bahá'u'lláh, then you are my son. And if not, you are no son of
They led him back to the Shaykhu'l-Islám, and the
shaykh put his cloak around the young man to hide him and cried,
"O people! Siyyid Ashraf denies that he is a Bábí. He
says, `Let me be, and go about your business.'"
But Ashraf thrust his head out from the folds of the cloak, and he
shouted, "No! I am a Bahá'í! Do what you wish with me!"
Meanwhile, they had arrested Abá-Basír as well, and by the
governor's order they decapitated both of them in the public square.
I stayed about twelve days in the house of Ashraf's mother. I was
running a fever. On the last day, at her urging, I enjoyed the hospitality of
her bathhouse, and at midnight I said good-bye to her and went along with the
caravan, sick and feverish as I was.
I reached Sultániyyih, and I went from there to Qazvin. Here I called
on Samandar, and my plan was to go on to Isfahan and from there to the Holy
Land. Samandar had a brother named Shaykh Muhammad-`Alí,
who would later die a tragic death from poison in Istanbul,(17) and he too was
in Qazvin at this time. I never saw such solicitous manners as he had, in all
my life. I stayed here several days, and they gave me medicines and I was
Meanwhile, Hájí Abú'l-Hasan Amín arrived as I was
about to leave. They said, "Wait. Go with Hájí Amín." The
Hájí was just back from `Akká, and we traveled together to
Qum, from Qum to Kashan, and from Kashan to Ardistán. Here
Hájí Amín journeyed on toward Yazd,
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+P74 [Photo on this page]
and I went to meet Mírzá Fath-`Alí of Ardistán, an
exceptional man, and one addressed by Bahá'u'lláh as Fath-i
A`zam, Supreme Victory. On the march to Isatanbul, He also referred to him by
this name, saying, "Fath-i A`zam is here with me on this journey," although he
was then in Aridstán. Bahá'u'lláh meant, with Him in the
world of the heart.
I went to him now and he offered me many courtesies. He took me to his home,
although this was not his custom, and conversed with me at length. Then
Hájí Muhammad-Ismá`íl Dhabíh arrived,
and Fath-i A`zam said, "I shall not keep him at my house. You two, go tonight
to the home of Mírzá Haydar-`Alí, one of the believers."
And there I went.
When Muhammad-Ismá`íl questioned me about his brother,+F1I
replied, "He is in a ruinous condition," which did not please him at all. The
next morning, I was to leave for Isfahan. In Qazvin I had become a grandee: I
rode now. And so I left.
I went on to Isfahan and found that they had married my wife to another man by
force, on the grounds of my being a follower of the Báb. And I could
learn nothing about what had become of my children.
I asked myself: Where shall I go? Finally, I went to the home of
`Abdu's-Sálih, one of the friends. He was in the Holy Land. He had a
mother who, truly, was a second Umm-i Ashraf [Ashraf's mother] of
Zanján. I went there and my things were brought later. It was early in
the morning, still dark. The husband of `Abdu's-Sálih's sister
+F1 Mírzá Ahmad of Kashan, who was at this time a
was a man named Muhammad-Kázim, who made clothing. By mistake, I tried
the house next to theirs, and rapped on the door. When someone came, I said,
"Tell Muhammad-Kázim to bring me my `abá--I am on my way
back to the village."
The person said, "It's that house over there."
Over at the right house, I found Siyyid Takhtih-Kanahsí fast
asleep. (Siyyid Mihdí has recently been given this nickname by the
Master. His name prior to this was Ismu'lláhu'l-Mihdí.+F1) He got
up and asked how I was. I gave him particulars, but had no news from Edirne.
The King of Martyrs+F2 found out about me. Two nights later, he invited me to
his house, and Siyyid Mihdí also. I saw the King of Martyrs as he was
going to the house of the Imám-Jum`ih. He acted as the imam's agent and
advisor, and every morning and evening he would go there. He himself was a
merchant, affluent and highly esteemed, but the business affairs of the imam
were also in his hands.
I met him on his way to the Imám-Jum`ih's house. There were ten or
fifteen people with him. I greeted him, saying, "Salaam," and he returned by
greeting. He wished to speak to me, but I bade him farewell and went on by.
+F1 This Siyyid Mihdíy-i Dahijí broke the Covenant after the
passing of Bahá'u'lláh and became known as
Takhtih-Kanah-sí [Bedbug] because of his stubborn personality.
Ismu'lláhu'l-Mihdí [The Name of God, the Guide] is a title which
was conferred on the siyyid by Bahá'u'lláh. See The Revelation
of Bahá'u'lláh, Vol. 2, pp. 272-75.
Muhammad-Hasan of Isfahan. He and his brother, the Beloved of Martyrs,
Mírzá Muhammad-Husayn of Isfahan, were honored with these titles
by Bahá'u'lláh after they were killed for the Faith in 1879, at
the instigation of the Imám-Jum`ih of Isfahan. See Memorials
of the Faithful, pp. 173-74, 181-82; God Passes By, pp. 200-1;
The Bábí and Bahá'í Religions, pp. 274-77.
The people saw that he knew me, and so they showed me great respect.
I went to the house of the King of Martyrs. Several of the friends were there.
They greeted me with courtesies and I sat down. It was not long before the King
of Martyrs returned, and his brother, the Beloved of Martyrs, was with him, for
they lived in the same house. I stayed there that night and they again received
me in the morning, and I stayed through the day as well. Then I went to the
home of `Abdu's-Sálih and there learned that he had left for
`Akká. I wished to be off at once, but they said, "Wait a little."
Two days later, the King of Martyrs told me, "You must go to Ardistán,"
and I complied. His reason for sending me there was this: in Ardistán
some money would be given to me.
So I went there, stopped over three or four days, delivered a letter to
Fath-`Alí, and transacted business for the King of Martyrs. As I
understand it, they had arranged for the money involved to be given to me.
Well, I returned to Isfahan, and went to the house of `Abdu's-Sálih.
Again, the King of Martyrs asked for me, and he arranged for my journey, and
bought some goods for me.
FROM ISFAHAN TO `AKKÁ
These goods were small items which I could trade with everywhere. With these,
and the money he gave me (some three or four tumáns), I left. A group
came along to escort me out of the city and get me past the gate. In all I had
spent fifteen days in Isfahan. My wife was very anxious to see me, but I was
afraid to see her, lest some evil might come of our meeting, and her husband
would find out. I went to Kashan, then to Qum.
In Kashan, I saw the father of Ali-Kuli Khan who is now in America.+F1(They
are kinfolk of the late Amínu'd-Dawlih.(18)) He was an excellent man. I
stayed a few nights in Kashan, went to Qum, and stayed with the Isfahanis who
had traveled with me from Isfahan to Kashan. They were first-rate scoundrels,
but I became friendly with them.
I was travelling on foot, but in Qum I saw a fellow whose pack animals were
carrying no loads, and I rented his animals and traveled with him. I did not
get to Qazvin. This driver came from near Sultáníyyih. When I
reached the outskirts, people said, "They are bringing Bábís from
Baghdad and conducting them to Tihrán." These Bábís proved
to be Mullá Hasan and Qánitih, with her son by
+F1 Ali-Kuli Khan was sent to the United States by `Abdu'l-Bahá in 1901,
as interpreter for the Bahá'í philosopher, Mírzá
Azal, Núru'lláh. (Qánitih was Azal's wife...+F1) One of
the believers from Khurasan, `Askar Sáhib, was with them as well.
I stayed at the house of the muleteer, and I did not see Qánitih. I
went on to Hamadán and I suffered a lot along the way. In Hamadan, I
stopped at a caravanserai and went about looking for a muleteer. I found one,
rented a pack animal, and left for Sávij-Buláq. In all, I did not
stay in Hamadan longer than four hours. In Sávij-Buláq there was
a believer, but I did not get to see him. They had a merchants' caravanserai,
and I went there to do a little business.
A servant came up and wanted to buy some of my wares; then he asked me to go
along with him to the customs officer. There were some Isfahanis here who knew
me, and they had reported to the customs officer that I had dutiable goods. I
went to the officer and he asked me, "Where do you come from?"
I said, "Isfahan."
"Where are you headed for?"
"I'm going to Rawándúz, Turkish territory," I said.
He asked if I had anything to declare.
I said, "No, but I am ready to do whatever you wish." So I played along with
him. He set out a chair for me and I sat down. After expressions of courtesy,
he told his servant to bring my wares, and he returned them to me. I refused
them, but he insisted I take them back.
+F1 Qánitih (also know as Maryam) was one of the wives Azal left in Iran
after his flight to Baghdad.
After more courtesies, he said to me, "I am a customs officer, but I can turn
my hand to anything. Tell me what you have in mind."
I said, "Truly, I have nothing in mind." I went to where my goods were spread
out, and sat. The customs officer stood up and came over. He saw that I had
nothing special. He sat down, talked to me, and left.
When the head of the caravanserai saw that the customs officer had treated me
with respect, he did the same. Every day while I was in
Sávij-Buláq, the customs officer would come to see me. Finally,
one day I told him, "I want to leave for Rawándúz."
"Don't go," he said. "The road is not secure. They will strip you bare. I will
send you there in such a way that you will be safe."
At this time, two or three mullás came up to buy some small items like
scissors and pen cases. I treated them well, we got acquainted, and once in a
while they would stop by. Then the muleteer came up and the customs man called
him over and said, "When do you leave?"
"In two or three days," he answered.
"Very well," said the customs officer, "when you leave, you must take this man
with you. I entrust him to you." The head of the caravanserai also recommended
me to him.
I went and bought a good pack animal for eight tumáns, got my affairs
in order, and the muleteer wanted to take off. The customs officer put my hand
in the muleteer's hand and took an oath: "If one hair of his head is missing,
never show your face in this province again." And, as mentioned, the
caravanserai man also commended me to the muleteer's care. I procured a
passport, too. I
+P81 [Photo on this page]
bought a mat--more like a good carpet--and left with the muleteer.
There were several fellow travelers along with me. When we were setting out,
the mullás who were my friends came and told me, "We are making the
journey with you, but there is a problem. We have two or three rolls of cotton
canvas and we would like to load them on your pack animal."
I said, "Fine. Bring them over." They were traveling on foot. They were all
disciples of Shaykh `Ubaydu'lláh, who later rebelled
against Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, and they were treated
with great respect along the way.
Well, we got to Rawándúz and I gave the preachers their rolls of
canvas, and they went their way. Then an individual came to me with a message:
Shaykh `Ubaydu'lláh was asking for me. So I called on him
and found that one of the mullás had sung my praises, with the result
that the shaykh offered me many courtesies. He sent and had my
things and my pack animal brought, and told me that I must be his guest.
I said, "Your honor, it wouldn't work out. I have this mule--I must stay
somewhere by myself."
"Very good," he told me. He sent and found me a house and I stayed there. He
sent for me several times and treated me with great courtesy.
Shaykh `Ubaydu'lláh was a man so honored among the Kurds
that they swore by the hem of his robe, and by his shoes.
After a while I said to him, "My honorable shaykh, I must go on
He said, "Bide your time. I have a muleteer who is now on the road between
here and Mosul. He will be coming along, and you can travel to Mosul with
road is not safe." I waited several days and the muleteer arrived. The
shaykh sent for me and entrusted me to the driver's care, telling
him, "I want you to get this man to Mosul. And you will have to bring me back a
letter from him, approving of what you did." Repeatedly, he commended me to the
I procured a little tobacco and some raisins to give to the muleteer. Wherever
we went, the drivers would take me into the merchandise shelter and would get
me whatever I wanted; and he showed me great respect.
Well, we reached Mosul, and before we arrived there, when we were on the bank
of a river, they brought word from the city that they were commandeering
everybody's animals for the army. The muleteers came to me for my letter of
commendation. I said, "Let whoever can write, write the letter." But none of
them could read or write, either. I went down to the river, took a boat and
crossed over to Mosul, and the muleteers went back home.
I betook myself to the house of Zaynu'l-Muqarrabín, who lived in that
city. I stayed a few days and questioned him about events in `Akká. He
told me, "It is forbidden to travel back and forth to `Akká."
I said, "I am going anyhow, come what may."
I also learned of a certain Muhammad from Baghdad, one of the friends, who had
been in Mosul, arriving before me, and had gone on ahead toward `Akká.
They told me to hurry, and I would catch up with him. Since he was an Arab,
they would not make trouble for him when he entered `Akká.
I left for Kirkúk, went from there to Diyarbakir, and from there to
Aleppo, where I took a house. Here there was a believer, an old man who
polished gems, and I
+P84 [Photo on this page]
visited him. I also found Muhammad [the Arab] in Aleppo. His father was a man
of substance, but had disinherited him on account of his religion, so that he
traveled on foot.
When I told the Aleppo believer that I wished to sell my pack animal, he
offered to sell it for me. I agreed. He sold it for exactly the same eight
tumáns I had paid for it, although it was worth more.
From there, I rented a pack animal as far as the Mediterranean Sea, where I
took a ship. By this time I had sold all my goods. In Beirut I stopped at a
caravanserai that was known as "The Judge's Court."
That Muhammad was so quick tempered that there is no describing it. I had
known a few quick-tempered people in my time--such as Nabíl-i
Zarandí and Muhammad Mustafá of Baghdad, who were both
thunderbolts-- and Muhammad was the same. In Beirut, I went out and bought
something to eat, and brought it back. Muhammad the Hot-Tempered took one look
at the food and started calling me names, crying, "You are nothing but a dog!"
I listened to him, and then I said, "Áqá Muhammad, you come here
now and you eat this food. A person can be angry anytime. No hurry about that."
When I said, "You come here now and you eat," he burst out laughing. He came
over and kissed me and said, "Very well, now tell me: what's up?"
I saw that he had imagined I had something against him, or that I wanted him
to pay for my food. He apologized.
I had with me two or three parcels that I was to deliver
to the Blessed Beauty; while in Beirut I got the idea of buying something or
other to trade with as an excuse for going to `Akká. So I bought a case
full of things, various items, and got a boat ticket. When they held me up at
the customs, I told Muhammad, "Don't wait. Take the steamer." I finally got
myself through customs and just at that moment a freighter was about to leave
MY ARRIVAL AT `AKKÁ
I left on the freighter, so my steamer ticket was wasted. Meanwhile, the
steamer had accidentally carried Muhammad off to Jaffa. That night we were
still out to sea when a steamer arrived at `Akká from another direction,
and I landed by means of a rowboat from that steamer. From the beginning of my
exile until my arrival at `Akká, one year had gone by. [It was 1869.]
I reached `Akká by night, and went to the hospice, where I found
Hájí `Abbás. He was an Arab from Baghdad, and became a
Covenant-breaker in the end. Hájí `Abbás had been in
Beirut, heading for `Akká, and I had said to him, "Don't tell anyone in
`Akká that Ustád Muhammad-`Alí is coming."
I had with me about sixty letters from believers in Iran which they had,
despite my protests, insisted on giving me to deliver. I had fastened them to
my leg, because the authorities would search you.
Contrary to my request, Hájí `Abbás told the Master that
I was coming, and the Master announced to the friends: "Ustád
Muhammad-`Alí will arrive today." It so happened that I had on the very
same clothes that I had worn in the old days at Edirne. I had taken my case out
of the boat, and disembarked at the city gate, when I saw that a number of the
friends had gathered there. I joined them, and my clothes looked like theirs,
so that the police
+P88 [Photo on this page]
did not take me for a new arrival--otherwise, they would not have let me in.
A guard came up and said to the believers, "Get back into the city."
I said, "What about my things?"
"Take them and get back in," he said.
I went straight to the prison of the Blessed Beauty. He sent for me and I left
my things in the barracks, climbed to the upper story, entered His presence,
and fell at His feet. (This happened in the room that they called the room of
Mírzá Áqá Ján.)
Then He addressed me, saying: "Ustád Muhammad-`Alí, you have not
missed anything--you were spared having to see them bring us to `Akká.
Badí`+F1has been here and gone. We gave permission, and they brought
him here. I saw him, and I put him in the room of Mírzá
Áqá Ján. We were together, he and I. We turned him into an
orb of flame, and let him go.
"We told him not to strike up a friendship with anyone, not to go to anyone's
house, not to get to know anyone at all: only to deliver the Tablet to the
"He went to the shah and sat on a rock in the hunting field and held the
letter up high. He refused to give the letter up. He told them, `I must put it
in the shah's hand myself.' The shah summoned him; he went; he delivered the
letter. The shah saw it was a letter of the Bábís and told them
to arrest him. The shah was in a fury. And no matter what they asked
Badí`, he only declared his Faith
+F1 Áqá Buzurg of Khurasan, the young believer who delivered
Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet to the shah of Iran and was martyred. See
God Passes By, p. 199; Bahá'u'lláh: The King of
Glory, pp. 293-310.
and said not a word about the friends. Finally, they killed him."
Bahá'u'lláh added: "Truly this thing is to me like wine to the
drinker." (After the martyrdom of Hájí Muhammad-Ridá+F1
He also said--not once, but several times, "He shed his blood in the way that
we desired." Again, He would say: "The blood of Badí`, the blood of
Hájí Muhammad-Ridá, was shed in accord with our good
pleasure.") After telling me the story of Badí` in great detail, He then
dismissed me. I went below and stayed in the barracks, and I wrapped up my
money and gave it to Mírzá Muhammad-Qulí to present to
Bahá'u'lláh. (I had also bought merchandise in Beirut in the
amount of eight liras.)
Mírzá Mihdí of Kashan had a sister whom he wished to
marry to Bahá'u'lláh, saying that she could live in the
andarún and serve. The sister was in Baghdad when
Bahá'u'lláh left that city, and He placed the girl in the
household of her brother, and did not take her as His wife. Mírzá
Mihdí then wrote that he wished to come to `Akká. He begged and
begged to come, and finally he and his sister arrived in area....
Bahá'u'lláh then summoned me and said, "Ustád
Muhammad-`Alí, you must go to the pasha, the governor of `Akká,
and tell him exactly what I am about to say."
Accordingly, I went to the pasha and told him, "I have come on ahead of a
member of Bahá'u'lláh's Household, and for some days I have been
a guest in the barracks. I
+F1 A prominent believer who was martyred in the bazaar of
`Ishqábád, Turkestan (Russian territory), by Muslim
fanatics in 1889. See God Passes By, pp. 202-3; The
Bábí and Bahá'í Religions, pp. 296-99.
+P91 [Photo on this page]
am here without funds. My hope is that you will grant me permission to engage
The pasha replied, "That is good. Go and do business." I was overjoyed and
reported back to Bahá'u'lláh that the pasha had granted me
"Go rent a shop," Bahá'u'lláh then told me. "The reason for this
is not that you should make money; the reason is that here, for the sake of
God, a shop should be opened in His name." Finding a shop in `Akká was
never easy. However, it happened that just at that moment there was one to be
had. I rented it, took my merchandise there, and set up business.
Bahá'u'lláh told me to sell small, necessary items, for good
merchandise of that kind was not to be found in that prison city.
Since good water was not available either, He also directed that on whatever
day there were jars to be had, I should take them and bring in water from
outside the city. In Edirne this matter of bringing water had also been
entrusted to me. Every day thereafter, I would fetch water for the Household.
Today, that water comes flowing into the city of `Akká.+F1
+F1 For when the governor asked to do Him a service, Bahá'u'lláh
suggested that he restore a long disused aqueduct. See God Passes By, p.
Going back to the time in Edirne: After those words Azal had spoken to me, he
was to some degree unmasked and was cut off. Bahá'u'lláh had all
the household goods, including candles, copper utensils, and rugs, gathered
together and He sent Azal his share. Darvísh Báqir was, in
Edirne, dismissed, and Darvísh Sidq-`Alí was directed to
go to Azal's house every day and fetch whatever he asked. However, as soon as
Azal was separated from the rest of us, and his "brotherhood" was ended,
Darvísh refused to go to his house. "After a thing like that," he
said, "I cannot go there anymore."
A little time passed, and then Tablets were revealed by
Bahá'u'lláh for all His companions. Among them was one for
Mír Muhammad of Kázirún, who had come to Edirne from
Samsun. In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh dismissed Siyyid Muhammad. He
gave the siyyid money for his expenses, and he went his way.
Mír Muhammad, when he read what was revealed in this Tablet, said: "He
[Bahá'u'lláh] has shed his poison upon me." (There was a madness
in Mír Muhammad.) This he said, and he went to Azal at the time of the
separation and told him, "Our master, Bahá'u'lláh, now claims to
be the embodiment of `Mine is My dominion,' and announces that all must be
subject to his command. Here is his tablet revealed for me. What have you to
Azal replied, "His Holiness the Exalted One, the Báb, appointed me as
His successor. The successor is myself."
"Don't confuse us," Mír Muhammad said. "You speak thus--he makes a
claim that is absolute. Go and sit down; settle the question between you."
"I am willing," Azal said. "I can vindicate my claim in any way he chooses."
Mír Muhammad went to the house of Bahá'u'lláh and told
Mírzá Áqá Ján, who went to
Bahá'u'lláh and brought back this word: "I am willing. Let him
designate a place and I will be present there. Let him appoint whomever he
wishes for the arbiter, so that all will be made clear."
The friends had, at this time, rented the property of a grocer, and it was in
his house that Bahá'u'lláh was staying. This was a long way away
from the house of Azal. Mír Muhammad went back and reported to Azal:
"You are to designate a meeting place. He will come to that place, and there
you will speak together."
Azal thought for a while and said, "The Mosque of Sultán Salím
would be a good place. I will go there and we will say what we have to say."
Mír Muhammad returned with the message.
Bahá'u'lláh said, "Well and good. At what time will he come?"
Mír Muhammad went back again, asked Azal when he wished to be present,
and was told: "Tomorrow, at high noon."
And Mír Muhammad brought back the word: "Tomorrow, at high noon."
Before noon the next day, Bahá'u'lláh stepped out of the
andarún, and the revelation was upon Him. "No one shall accompany me."
He said, and none did, except for Mír Muhammad. It was a long way to the
Sultán Salím. Bahá'u'lláh went to that mosque, and
there was no Azal to be seen. (Taking precautions, Azal was now being referred
to by the name of Mírzá `Alí.) Bahá'u'lláh
waited there about one hour. No Azal. Mír Muhammad went and told him,
"Look here, fellow, you come!
And Azal said, "Go on back. I will be there." Back and forth went Mír
Muhammad, two or three times. Still no Azal. And his falsity was exposed for
all to see.
After two hours or more, Bahá'u'lláh returned by way of the
bazaar, revealing verses as He went. When He reached home His comment was: "The
fellow said he would appear. But there was no sign of him."
Mír Muhammad let it be known among the friends: "That man is nothing
but a liar. He never showed his face." Permitted to leave, Mír Muhammad
then departed for Istanbul.(19)
About two months after the event of the mosque, Azal's wife, who was from
Shiraz and was the mother of Ahmad, went to the government authorities in
Istanbul and complained, telling them: "Bahá'u'lláh abandoned us
some time ago. He gives us no money for our expenses-- nothing. We have no food
to eat. We are penniless."
"Go back," they told her. "We will see to it." After this an inspector came
from the seat of government, said his say, and investigated. (Following the
separation, Bahá'u'lláh would divide the funds that were allotted
by the government, giving an adequate sum to Mírzá
Músá and Mírzá Muhammad-Qulí, giving a share
to the friends. For example, He paid me five majídís every month.
after all the others were provided for, He and Azal would be left. He would
keep a small amount for Himself, which would be in the hands of
Mírzá Áqá Ján, and the remainder --a share
larger than anyone's--He would give to Azal.) The inspector examined the books
and saw that the complaint was demonstrably a calumny and nothing more.(20)
After the separation Azal engaged a servant, and no one else was with him,
except for Siyyid Muhammad, who, after sulking at the Mawlavís', had
come over to Azal (and all those villainous doings were his doings). Not a soul
would go to see him anymore--except a certain Hájí
Ibráhím of Kashan, worked here as a groom, and who had
accompanied us from Baghdad without permission. This Hájí
Ibráhím lived in the house of the believers.
Our expenses in that house were separate--that is, we received our wages but
made our own arrangements among ourselves. And this Ibráhím would
come and go secretly to Azal and Siyyid Muhammad in such a way that we did not
find out about it. These two had made an arrangement with Ibráhím
to this effect: "We will send you to Iran," Siyyid Muhammad told him. "You will
take them the letters written by His Holiness Azal, and I will append a
statement as to all that has happened. Carry these to each and every province
of Iran." And the stupid fellow was talked into going.
In the days when Sidq-`Alí Darvísh would come and go to
Azal and serve as his attendant, Azal had ordered a fur cloak from Iran and
they had sent it to him. It was a handsome garment, and they brought it first
to Bahá'u'lláh. "This is a good one," He said, and told
"Give it to Azal." And Darvísh did so. Meanwhile, the two had
provided this Hájí Ibrahim with some small amount of money and
readied their plans: prepared the letters, given him the necessary
instructions, and were on the point of sending him to Iran.
After His departure from the House of God's Command, the Blessed Beauty had
given these fellows up, and left them to themselves. Following the separation,
He had even shut his doors and clearly stated that none was to call on Him--and
no one was admitted. We were all abandoned, put out to pasture.
Before leaving the House of God's Command, Bahá'u'lláh, had
permitted His servant Najaf-`Alí to go, and he went to Iran. So there
now remained as attendants in the Blessed Beauty's house only
Muhammad-Ibráhím of Zanján and Mírzá
Áqá Ján--no one else.
Once Siyyid Muhammad and Azal resumed speaking to each other, Siyyid Muhammad
would, day after day, keep on with his diabolical suggestions, and would spend
time in the shops of the Persians. The weeks passed, and
Bahá'u'lláh directed that His doors be opened again, saying that
whoever wished could come to Him and whoever did not could stay away.
Outside the city of Edirne there is a great grove of trees, and here was once
raised the palace of former kings: a vast and spacious area. I used to go there
every day, close by the cemetery, and enjoy the beauty of it. It was a fine
place to be, and a river ran through it. I would go and walk there, and I would
not meet any of the friends.
One day, deeply despondent, I went to the grove and
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stood at the foot of a tree--a plane tree. Suddenly, I saw the Master, all
alone on the other bank of the river, and crossing over to my side. The moment
I caught sight of him I hid myself in a fold of the tree trunk, thinking that
he might not wish to speak with me, now that I was not to be received at the
House. (With Mírzá Áqá Ján as well, whenever
he saw us in the bazaar, he would turn his face away.)
After a little time, the Master came up to my hiding place in the tree trunk.
He said, "Ustád?"
I said, "Yes."
He said, "Come out. Let me see you."
I came out and began to shed tears. He consoled me, spoke to me in loving
terms. I complained about being excluded.
"No," he told me. "Not so. You were reared in the sheltering shade of
Bahá'u'lláh. Do not grieve." The frogs in the water were calling
out. "Go," He said, "and above all things be true, be loyal. What people say is
only like these sounds in the water."
He walked about a little, and then he left, and I went home by another way. To
a degree I was comforted.
For about two months the Blessed Beauty shut His doors, and His purpose was
that all those who were loyal should stand by Him, and all who wished to leave
Him should go their way. Not one wavered, except only Hájí
Ibráhím--upon him be whatever came upon him.
Then the doors of the House were flung open. The Blessed Beauty sent for us to
come there in the afternoon. And that afternoon we gathered in a body at the
He was there, in the bírúní, and its door was open, and He
Himself was seated by the samovar and poured out the tea. Such a thing never
happened before or since, that He Himself would pour the tea. As for us, as
soon as we laid eyes on that blessed Form, we cried.
He comforted us, saying, "Why do you weep? Here I am, beside you. Why these
tears?" He told us to be seated. We sat. The samovar was there on the floor.
With His own hands He made the tea, and one after the other, served by
Mírzá Áqá Ján, we drank. Later,
Bahá'u'lláh rose and left for the andarún. And afterward
He Himself rented a house for us, near to His own, and we believers settled
there, and all was bliss.
This house had an upstairs and a downstairs to it, and a kitchen as well--and
large grounds. Little by little we planted things, and there was a well so that
we could draw up water for our plants. The water was pure and sweet to the
taste. The day after we settled in the house, we started our garden. We made
some fine flower beds; they were something to see. Every day we drew up water
for the garden, and we took great care of it.
`Abdu'l-Bahá would associate continually with the local people. At one
time He would bring the deputy governor here, or again the pasha of the city.
We had a mat that was made of straw, and we would lay this on the ground and
the Master would come and drink his tea, visit with us, and go.
There was a man named Husayn, whom Nabíl-i Zarandí had brought
with him, and in this house Husayn fell ill of anthrax. His entire body was
ulcerated, and he died. In the house at this time there was only myself and
The day that Husayn worsened he said, "Ustád Muhammad-`Alí, I
want to see our Masters (He meant `Abdu'l-Bahá, Mírzá
Muhammad-`Alí, the Purest Branch, Mírzá
Badí'u'lláh, and Mírzá
Diyá'u'lláh--born in Edirne.+F1)-- to see them, and then I will
"Mother," we told him--joking with him, we used to call him mother--"you old
scoundrel, you are lying. You won't die at all." But he swore that if he could
only set eyes on them, he would die. He was a good man, and nothing wrong was
ever known of him.
I went to the House and reported to the Master: "Husayn is in poor condition.
He is very ill, and this is what he says...." So they all went over to his
bedside and visited with him.
After they had taken their leave, I said to him, "Well, mother, you gave us
your word that you would die. Now, why don't you?"
He said, "There is just one more favor I want to ask of you. And then come,
say your say, I will listen."
"Tell me," I said.
He said, "Go to Áqá Muhammad-Báqir at his coffee-house
and bring me some tobacco, about one-sixth of a pound, the aromatic kind. I
want to smoke my water pipe." I went, procured the tobacco, and brought it
back. (Sometimes, in Edirne, they would smoke the water pipe, and the Master
too would briefly take it in his hand. Later, in `Akká, its use was
discontinued.) I prepared his pipe, and he smoked it.
Then he announced: "I am not going to die. I have taken a new lease on life."
+F1 The sons of Bahá'u'lláh.
Well, we kept telling him, "You must die. You promised," and he kept saying
that he would not. But, by now his entire body was nothing but perforations,
and finally, after being sick thirty or forty days, he passed away.
"Darvísh," I said, "we can hardly take him to the body-washer's
in this condition. Go and draw up water, and I will clean him up a little; and
then we will hand him over." And so we did. The body-washer bathed him some
too, and buried him.
At this time, after the door of the Blessed Beauty was opened wide,
Hájí Ibráhím would come to the house of
Bahá'u'lláh. One day he appeared in the
bírúní and he was carrying a satchel and dressed for
traveling. He said that he had come to take his leave. He then told
Mírzá Áqá Ján that for some time he had been
going to Azal and Siyyid Muhammad to find out what they were saying, and that
the believers were not aware of it. "Now they have appointed me," he went on,
"to go to Iran and spread their teachings, and they have given me documents and
letters to deliver--but I have no wish to go. My only aim was to find out what
they are up to."
Bahá'u'lláh directed Mírzá Áqá
Ján, "Go to Hájí Ibráhím and say: `Whatever
they gave you, without opening it, take it and deliver it in Iran according to
the terms of your mission.'" So they told him he must obey.
But he said, "I will go nowhere." And this poor fool, whose being one of us
and being a Bahá'í could not be determined, and who was one of
those odd Káshís, disappeared for a time. Siyyid Muhammad
and Azal thought he had gone on to his mission.
Little by little, the companions opened up Azal's writings (but not at
Bahá'u'lláh's bidding) and learned that all the evil things done
by Azal himself, he had attributed to Bahá'u'lláh. "They plan to
kill me," he had written. "I am in hiding. Only Siyyid Muhammad comes by
sometimes to ask about me. They did not even give me that fur cloak you sent
Darvísh, who had delivered the cloak himself, went around
saying, "Woe is me! And I personally carried that fur cloak to him!"
In Edirne, after some time had passed the Blessed Beauty left this house, the
house of Ridá Bey, and moved to the grocer's house. It had no reception
area, no bírúní, but the domestic apartments were
excellent. The house was, indeed, perfect except for lacking a
bírúní, and the Master had one built.
As before, I was there in the Household, and I served in the room where the
beverages were prepared. Wherever the Master would go at night, I would
Hájí Ibráhím was there, too. He was directed to go
to Iran [as bidden by Azal] and was given money for the journey, and he left,
but stayed on in the area around Edirne, until he finally came to `Akká.
He lived in the house where Mishkín-Qalam and Sayyáh and
their companions stayed. Afterward, as has been related, they insisted on
leaving, and Bahá'u'lláh finally said, "Very well. You may go."
They left and were arrested [in Istanbul].
It was also from this very house that we left with the horses and suffered all
those misfortunes. And it was to this very house that I carried in the water
every day, from outside.
One day when I was bringing water into the reception area, someone told me:
"Áqá Jamál of Burújird+F1is here." I went into the
room and saw Jamál sitting in a corner, all twisted into his
`abá, wearing a gigantic turban, and with one hand poked out to indicate
that, should someone wish to kiss it, this could be accomplished. He had not
yet been received by Bahá'u'lláh. He was certainly one rascally
I went and opened the door--I thought I was very smart in those days--and I
entered and said, "Alláh-u Abhá!" Then I took a seat greatly
above his, completely disregarding him. I stretched out. Then I stood up, then
sat down again: all this to take him down a peg or two, because he was sitting
there being so important in the reception room of Bahá'u'lláh.
Assuming superiority, I paid him great inattention. I sat down again, glanced
over his way, and then I said, "And you are you?" He nodded his head. I
rose and went about my business.
When it was afternoon, and he was due to enter the presence of
Bahá'u'lláh, they came and said, "Let Áqá
Jamál come in."
I went and told him, "Áqá Jamál,
bismi'lláh. Enter in the name of God."
He rose and came, with me escorting him, his eyes glued
+F1 This man was an important Bahá'í teacher during
Bahá'u'lláh's lifetime. But, afterward, he rebelled against
`Abdu'l-Bahá's authority and became one of the most implacable of
Covenant-breakers. See God Passes By, pp. 247-8; Stories from
The Delight of Hearts, pp.128-29, 135-43 passim; The Revelation of
Bahá'u'lláh, Vol. 2, p. 119-19, 264-67.
to the innermost corners of the andarún. He climbed up the stairs, and I
went along with him. I stood by the entrance, and the fellow went in, making
himself quiver all over a little--for show--and fell to the floor.
The Blessed Beauty was seated. The Purest Branch came forward to lift up the
visitor, but Bahá'u'lláh said, "Let him be. He will arise by
himself." Little by little, he rose, took a seat, and rose again.
Bahá'u'lláh did not address him, beyond giving him leave to go.
Áqá Jamál came downstairs, remained several days, and
then was excused. He was a man corrupt from the beginning, and his single aim
was to rule over others. He went away to Iran, where he proclaimed, not the
Faith, but himself.
Well, afterwards we took those horses to Istanbul, and then came our terrible
ordeal. Meanwhile, the Blessed Beauty had written the government authorities in
Istanbul that He had debts, money owing the butcher and the baker, that He
could not leave until all these were paid-- and for them to send Him money for
the horses so that He could settle the debts and go.
At the time when we were in prison with Mishkín-Qalam, they
would secretly pass letters to us. One letter arrived from Mírzá
Áqá Ján, most of the wording being
Bahá'u'lláh's. It contained a personal, loving message to each
one of us. The message He sent me was this: "Every day since you left, my head
has been in a different pair of hands."
It brought me joy. TAMÁM
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