Indeed the wondrous story of her life propagated itself as far and as fast as that of the Báb Himself, the direct Source of her inspiration. "Prodige de science, mais aussi prodige de beauté" is the tribute paid her by a noted commentator on the life of the Báb and His disciples. "The Persian Joan of Arc, the leader of emancipation for women of the Orient ... who bore resemblance both to the mediaeval Heloise and the neo-platonic Hypatia," thus was she acclaimed by a noted playwright whom Sarah Bernhardt had specifically requested to write a dramatized version of her life. "The heroism of the lovely but ill-fated poetess of Qazvín, Zarrín-Táj (Crown of Gold) ..." testifies Lord Curzon of Kedleston, "is one of the most affecting episodes in modern history." "The appearance of such a woman as Qurratu'l-`Ayn," wrote the well-known British Orientalist, Prof. E. G. Browne, "is, in any country and any age, a rare phenomenon, but in such a country as Persia it is a prodigy--nay, almost a miracle. ...Had the Bábí religion no other claim to greatness, this were sufficient ... that it produced a heroine like Qurratu'l-`Ayn." "The harvest sown in Islámic lands by Qurratu'l-`Ayn," significantly affirms the renowned English divine, Dr. T. K. Cheyne, in one of his books, "is now beginning to appear ... this noble woman ... has the credit of opening the catalogue of social reforms in Persia..." "Assuredly one of the most striking and interesting manifestations of this religion" is the reference to her by the noted French diplomat and brilliant writer, Comte de Gobineau. "In Qazvín," he adds, "she was held, with every justification, to be a prodigy." "Many people," he, moreover has written, "who knew her and heard her at different periods of her life have invariably told me ... that when she spoke one felt stirred to the depths of one's soul, was filled with admiration, and was moved to tears." "No memory," writes Sir Valentine Chirol, "is more deeply venerated or kindles greater enthusiasm than hers, and the influence which she wielded in her lifetime still inures to her sex." "O Táhirih!" exclaims in his book on the Bábís the great author and poet of Turkey, Sulaymán Nazím Bey, "you are worth a thousand Násiri'd-Dín Sháhs!" "The greatest ideal of womanhood has been Táhirih" is the tribute paid her by the mother of one of the Presidents of Austria, Mrs. Marianna Hainisch, "... I shall try to do for the women of Austria what Táhirih gave her life to do for the women of Persia."
Many and divers are her ardent admirers who, throughout the five continents, are eager to know more about her. Many are those whose conduct has been ennobled by her inspiring example, who have
committed to memory her matchless odes, or set to music her poems, before whose eyes glows the vision of her indomitable spirit, in whose hearts is enshrined a love and admiration that time can never dim, and in whose souls burns the determination to tread as dauntlessly, and with that same fidelity, the path she chose for herself, and from which she never swerved from the moment of her conversion to the hour of her death.
The fierce gale of persecution that had swept Bahá'u'lláh into a subterranean dungeon and snuffed out the light of Táhirih also sealed the fate of the Báb's distinguished amanuensis, Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdí, surnamed Azíz, who had shared His confinement in both Máh-Ku and Chihríq. A man of rich experience and high merit, deeply versed in the teachings of his Master, and enjoying His unqualified confidence, he, refusing every offer of deliverance from the leading officials of Tihrán, yearned unceasingly for the martyrdom which had been denied him on the day the Báb had laid down His life in the barrack-square of Tabríz. A fellow-prisoner of Bahá'u'lláh in the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán, from Whom he derived inspiration and solace as he recalled those precious days spent in the company of his Master in Ádhirbayján, he was finally struck down, in circumstances of shameful cruelty, by that same Azíz Khán-i-Sardár who had dealt the fatal blow to Táhirih.
Another victim of the frightful tortures inflicted by an unyielding enemy was the high-minded, the influential and courageous Hájí Sulaymán Khán. So greatly was he esteemed that the Amír-Nizám had felt, on a previous occasion, constrained to ignore his connection with the Faith he had embraced and to spare his life. The turmoil that convulsed Tihrán as a result of the attempt on the life of the sovereign, however, precipitated his arrest and brought about his martyrdom. The Sháh, having failed to induce him through the Hajíbu'd-Dawlih to recant, commanded that he be put to death in any way he himself might choose. Nine holes, at his express wish, were made in his flesh, in each of which a lighted candle was placed. As the executioner shrank from performing this gruesome task, he attempted to snatch the knife from his hand that he might himself plunge it into his own body. Fearing lest he should attack him the executioner refused, and bade his men tie the victim's hands behind his back, whereupon the intrepid sufferer pleaded with them to pierce two holes in his breast, two in his shoulders, one in the nape of his neck, and four others in his back--a wish they complied with. Standing erect as an arrow, his eyes glowing with stoic fortitude, unperturbed
by the howling multitude or the sight of his own blood streaming from his wounds, and preceded by minstrels and drummers, he led the concourse that pressed round him to the final place of his martyrdom. Every few steps he would interrupt his march to address the bewildered bystanders in words in which he glorified the Báb and magnified the significance of his own death. As his eyes beheld the candles flickering in their bloody sockets, he would burst forth in exclamations of unrestrained delight. Whenever one of them fell from his body he would with his own hand pick it up, light it from the others, and replace it. "Why dost thou not dance?" asked the executioner mockingly, "since thou findest death so pleasant?" "Dance?" cried the sufferer, "In one hand the wine-cup, in one hand the tresses of the Friend. Such a dance in the midst of the market-place is my desire!" He was still in the bazaar when the flowing of a breeze, fanning the flames of the candles now burning deep in his flesh, caused it to sizzle, whereupon he burst forth addressing the flames that ate into his wounds: "You have long lost your sting, O flames, and have been robbed of your power to pain me. Make haste, for from your very tongues of fire I can hear the voice that calls me to my Beloved." In a blaze of light he walked as a conqueror might have marched to the scene of his victory. At the foot of the gallows he once again raised his voice in a final appeal to the multitude of onlookers. He then prostrated himself in the direction of the shrine of the Imám-Zádih Hasan, murmuring some words in Arabic. "My work is now finished," he cried to the executioner, "come and do yours." Life still lingered in him as his body was sawn into two halves, with the praise of his Beloved still fluttering from his dying lips. The scorched and bloody remnants of his corpse were, as he himself had requested, suspended on either side of the Gate of Naw, mute witnesses to the unquenchable love which the Báb had kindled in the breasts of His disciples.
The violent conflagration kindled as a result of the attempted assassination of the sovereign could not be confined to the capital. It overran the adjoining provinces, ravaged Mazindarán, the native province of Bahá'u'lláh, and brought about in its wake, the confiscation, the plunder and the destruction of all His possessions. In the village of Tákúr, in the district of Núr, His sumptuously furnished home, inherited from His father, was, by order of Mírzá Abú-Talíb Khán, nephew of the Grand Vizir, completely despoiled, and whatever could not be carried away was ordered to be destroyed, while its rooms, more stately than those of the palaces of Tihrán, were disfigured
beyond repair. Even the houses of the people were leveled with the ground, after which the entire village was set on fire.
The commotion that had seized Tihrán and had given rise to the campaign of outrage and spoliation in Mazindarán spread even as far as Yazd, Nayríz and Shíráz, rocking the remotest hamlets, and rekindling the flames of persecution. Once again greedy governors and perfidious subordinates vied with each other in despoiling the innocent, in massacring the guiltless, and in dishonoring the noblest of their race. A carnage ensued which repeated the atrocities already perpetrated in Nayríz and Zanján. "My pen," writes the chronicler of the bloody episodes associated with the birth and rise of our Faith, "shrinks in horror in attempting to describe what befell those valiant men and women.... What I have attempted to recount of the horrors of the siege of Zanján ... pales before the glaring ferocity of the atrocities perpetrated a few years later in Nayríz and Shíráz." The heads of no less than two hundred victims of these outbursts of ferocious fanaticism were impaled on bayonets, and carried triumphantly from Shíráz to Ábádih. Forty women and children were charred to a cinder by being placed in a cave, in which a vast quantity of firewood had been heaped up, soaked with naphtha and set alight. Three hundred women were forced to ride two by two on bare-backed horses all the way to Shíráz. Stripped almost naked they were led between rows of heads hewn from the lifeless bodies of their husbands, sons, fathers and brothers. Untold insults were heaped upon them, and the hardships they suffered were such that many among them perished.
Thus drew to a close a chapter which records for all time the bloodiest, the most tragic, the most heroic period of the first Bahá'í century. The torrents of blood that poured out during those crowded and calamitous years may be regarded as constituting the fertile seeds of that World Order which a swiftly succeeding and still greater Revelation was to proclaim and establish. The tributes paid the noble army of the heroes, saints and martyrs of that Primitive Age, by friend and foe alike, from Bahá'u'lláh Himself down to the most disinterested observers in distant lands, and from the moment of its birth until the present day, bear imperishable witness to the glory of the deeds that immortalize that Age.
"The whole world," is Bahá'u'lláh's matchless testimony in the Kitáb-i-Iqán, "marveled at the manner of their sacrifice.... The mind is bewildered at their deeds, and the soul marveleth at their fortitude and bodily endurance.... Hath any age witnessed such momentous happenings?" And again: "Hath the world, since the
days of Adam, witnessed such tumult, such violent commotion?... Methinks, patience was revealed only by virtue of their fortitude, and faithfulness itself was begotten only by their deeds." "Through the blood which they shed," He, in a prayer, referring more specifically to the martyrs of the Faith, has significantly affirmed, "the earth hath been impregnated with the wondrous revelations of Thy might and the gem-like signs of Thy glorious sovereignty. Ere-long shall she tell out her tidings, when the set time is come."
To whom else could these significant words of Muhammad, the Apostle of God, quoted by Quddús while addressing his companions in the Fort of Shaykh Tabarsí, apply if not to those heroes of God who, with their life-blood, ushered in the Promised Day? "O how I long to behold the countenance of My brethren, my brethren who will appear at the end of the world! Blessed are We, blessed are they; greater is their blessedness than ours." Who else could be meant by this tradition, called Hadíth-i-Jabír, recorded in the Káfí, and authenticated by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Iqán, which, in indubitable language, sets forth the signs of the appearance of the promised Qá'im? "His saints shall be abased in His time, and their heads shall be exchanged as presents, even as the heads of the Turk and the Daylamite are exchanged as presents; they shall be slain and burned, and shall be afraid, fearful and dismayed; the earth shall be dyed with their blood, and lamentation and wailing shall prevail amongst their women; these are My saints indeed."
"Tales of magnificent heroism," is the written testimony of Lord Curzon of Kedleston, "illumine the blood-stained pages of Bábí history.... The fires of Smithfield did not kindle a nobler courage than has met and defied the more refined torture-mongers of Tihrán. Of no small account, then, must be the tenets of a creed that can awaken in its followers so rare and beautiful a spirit of self-sacrifice. The heroism and martyrdom of His (the Báb) followers will appeal to many others who can find no similar phenomena in the contemporaneous records of Islám." "Bábism," wrote Prof. J. Darmesteter, "which diffused itself in less than five years from one end of Persia to another, which was bathed in 1852 in the blood of its martyrs, has been silently progressing and propagating itself. If Persia is to be at all regenerate it will be through this new Faith." "Des milliers de martyrs," attests Renan in his "Les Apôtres," "sont accourus pour lui (the Báb) avec allegressé au devant de la mort. Un jour sans pareil peut-être dans l'histoire du monde fut celui de la grande boucherie qui se fit des Bábís a Teheran." "One of those
unframe page frame page