July 1, 2014

The Martyrdom of the Báb – by Hand of the Cause William Sears

A wave of violence unprecedented in its cruelty, its persistency, and its breadth swept the face of the entire land. From Khurasan on the eastern border of Persia to Tabriz on the west, from the northern cities of Zanjan and Tihran stretching as far south as Nayriz, the country was enveloped in darkness. Many recalled the prophecy of Shaykh Ahmad who spoke so glowingly of the Twin Revelations that were at hand. He had warned his followers to expect these days of suffering. "Pray God," he told them, "that you may not be present in (1) the day of the coming of the Prophet or (2) the day of His return, as there will be many civil wars. If any of you should be living at that time, he shall see strange things between the years 1844 and 1851." [1] Nicolas in his account of those days says: "The anxious priests, feeling their flock quivering with impatience and ready to escape their control, redoubled their slanders . . .; the grossest lies, the most bloody fictions were spread among the bewildered populace, torn between terror and admiration." [2]

When the news of the death of His beloved uncle reached the Báb, and he heard the moving account of the tragic fate of the "seven martyrs of Tihran," His heart was plunged in sorrow. He wrote a special tribute in their honor which testified to the exalted position they occupied in His eyes. The Báb said that these seven heroes were the "Seven Goats" spoken of in the prophecies of Islam who on the Day of Judgement would "walk in front of the Promised Qa’im [He who shall arise]." [3]

It was at this moment that the Prime Minister, Mirza Taqi Khan, issued the command that brought the Báb out of His prison-cell in Chihriq. The Prime Minister had at last decided to strike at the very head of the Faith. The forces of the Shah and the members of the clergy were suffering humiliating defeats all across the land. Remove the Báb, the Prime Minister told himself, and the old order could be restored. He called his counsellors together and unfolded to them his plan. This was a drastic change from the Prime Minister's original plan. Up to now, Mirza Taqi Khan had felt that the most effective way of destroying the Báb's influence would be to ruin him morally "to bring him out of his retreat in Chiriq where a halo of suffering, holiness, science and eloquence made him radiate like a sun; to show him to the people just as he was . . . a vulgar charlatan, a weak dreamer who did not have courage enough to conceive, still less to direct the daring enterprises" of Tabarsi, Nayriz and Zanjan, "or even take part in them." [4]