October 23, 2019

July 1950: Pilgrimage to the Scenes of the Báb’s Captivity and Martyrdom – by Hand of the Cause Dhikru’llah Khadem, translated by Marzieh Gail

A hundred years have now gone by since the meek and holy Báb, the Gate of God, was put to death at noon on July 9, 1850, and even to the present day the world and its peoples ("except for those into whose eyes God hath shed the radiance of His Face") are fast in a deathlike sleep, unconscious of a mighty Faith, a transcendent Dispensation, which made prophets and seers of past ages cry out and weep with longing for it. At this time the Baha'is of the world, from the northernmost point of the globe to the southernmost, and from Far East to Far West, following the example of Shoghi Effendi turned their hearts toward the Country of Sorrows, to commemorate at the Guardian's bidding the first Centenary of the Bab's martyrdom. In recognition of this event the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Persia went on a nine days' pilgrimage into Adbirbayjan. This is an account of their journey and what it meant to one of them.

Journey to Tabríz
It is Thursday, the 6th of July, 1950. It is the day of Istijlál, the day of Qudrat, the month of Rahmat, of the year Javáb, of the sixth Váhid of the first Kull-i-Sbay'. The group of travelers has set out as pilgrims, in a spirit of humility and penitence and great love, going to the place of the Báb's last agony. They are traveling to that spot whose very name, some thousand years ago, set fire to the heart of Muhammad's descendent the Imám Muhammad-Báqir, so that he spoke these words of it: "Inevitable for us is Adhirbáyján. Nothing can equal it ... "

They are traveling to see the place with their physical eyes, but also to weep over the anguish of that Lord of men in the Country of Sorrows itself, where earth and air, mountains and lakes, streams, trees, and stones bear witness to the wrong that was done Him. They will pour out for Him as a libation something of the sorrow of their hearts.

The bus goes fast. Again it slows. It fulfills the promise as to the Day of the Lord and the coming of the Kingdom when, Scripture says, the earth will be rolled up. All along our talk is of the passion of the Báb.

We pass through Zanján and remember how lightly Hujjat and his companions tossed away their lives there. Wherever the new road replaces the old, we turn like compass needles to the abandoned thoroughfare, because it was there that the Báb passed by.

At Míyánaj we see Him again - in that house with the upper room. One of the friends calls our attention to the fact that the Báb loved high places; that even when they were leading Him away to prison, wherever they would stop, in whatever town or village, and even if there were only one upper room in the place, it was there He chose to stay. His prisons, too, whether in Tabriz or Mah-Ku or Chihriq, were always in high places. In His Tablet to Muhammad Shah, revealed at Mah-Ku, He speaks, however, of His abode as being still higher than the prison, for He says, "It is as if I were dwelling in the loftiest Paradise, delighting Myself with the remembrance of God, the Most Great."

Tabriz, circa 1935
(The Dawn-Breakers)
As we talk of all this, mountains and deserts and pasture lands pass by us, and about midnight we come to Tabriz. Waiting for us here are the believers. They welcome us, and carrying out the efficient arrangements of the Tabriz Assembly, they guide us away singly or by twos, to the different houses where we are to stay.

Here are people who have never laid eyes on us before, approaching us with such pleasure. And afterward, when we went away, although we had been with them only a few days, they wept and so did we. It is this that is stirring all over the Baha'i world today, because the love of God has transfigured human nature.

It is two days before the Commemoration. Early on the day itself, all are to gather at the Haziratu'I-Quds, where a general meeting will be held; communes will be chanted, the Guardian's letter will be read, and then, one by one or two by two, the visitors, guided by local believers, are to circle around the Barracks Square where the Bab was offered up as a sacrifice, the holy place of which it is written: "The souls of the Prophets and Messengers do pace about it."

The meetings arranged throughout Tabriz are brilliant. Absent friends are remembered and missed. We feel that the hearts of all believers throughout East and West are focused on this city, and this gives rise to emotions that are best communicated not in words but from heart to heart.

The Commemoration
Now it is the eve of the Martyrdom. The Bahá'ís are in their houses; they are gathered in small groups, or quite alone. They are communing with their Lord. I cannot tell how it is. We recall the aspect of that other night one hundred years ago:

How Mirzá Muhammad-'Ali surnamed Anís and Siyyid Husayn the amanuensis remained in the presence of the Báb; the conversation that took place that night between disciple and Beloved; all this came to mind again. To emulate the kind of obedience that Anís offered his Lord that night - this is the ultimate wish of every Bahá’í.

In a commentary the Báb had referred to the circumstances of His approaching martyrdom in this wise:

"Had I not been gazing upon this secret fact, I swear by Him in Whose hand is My soul, should all the kings of the earth be banded together they could not take from Me so much as a single letter of a word."

And again, in the Tablet to Muhammad Shah:

"All the keys of heaven God hath chosen to place on My right hand, and all the keys of hell on My left ... "

It was His own unconditioned will to cast down His holy life in the pathway of the "Remnant of God" -He Whom the Splendor of God has named "My previous Manifestation, the Precursor of My Beauty." Of Whom, again, He has said, "I am He, He is I; I am His Beloved; He is My Beloved."

Could we sleep on a night like this?

Day finally breaks. The appointed time approaches. It is as if from all the streets and passageways of Tabriz souls are gathering for Judgment. Yes, it is the Resurrection Day, the rise of the Qá'im and the Qayyúm. The squares of Tabriz are black with crowds.

"Deliver us, most exalted Beloved . . . forgive us then our sin and hide away from us our evil deeds." (Qur'an 3: 191.)

The Ark (Citadel) of Tabriz
where the Báb was confined

(The Dawn-Breakers)
Some are hurrying, reverently, prayerfully, up to the "Ark," the Citadel where the Báb was imprisoned, to that high place which even today dominates the whole city and which, once seen, is impressed on the heart forever. They go here, that they may, prior to commemorating the hour of the Martyrdom, witness yet another stage in the long passion of the Báb. Some wait till a later hour to make this pilgrimage. These stay in the vicinity of the Bab's upper chamber, and bowing their foreheads to the earth in that exalted place, are repeating excerpts from His writings, such as the Commentary on the Surih of Joseph. Not one has a thought except for the Beloved; they are in another world now, and they cannot easily return from it.

At the base of the terrifying "Ark," at the entrance to the courtyard, the Báb has once again demonstrated His power; for on a structure they have raised here in memory of the dead, we find inscribed this verse from the Qur'an: "Think not of those who are slain in the path of God as dead; nay, alive with their Lord, are they richly sustained." (Surih 3: 163.) It stands as a secret allusion to the Báb's agony and death. The pilgrims, reading this holy verse, seek leave to enter here, and thus they pass into the prison with their hearts free from everything except God.

The time has come to attend the meeting in Tabriz. The program goes forward; it is well arranged and deeply moving. Although the friends in other areas have been advised not to attend in large numbers, nevertheless some are here from other parts of Adhirbáyján for this historic day, and the great auditorium of the Hiratu'I-Quds is jammed; those who cannot find seats stand in the doorways and in the embrasures of the windows.

Prayers are chanted. Then we listen to the Báb's Tablet to Muhammad Shah. Today the holy blood of the Bab is coursing through the world, it is flowering everywhere, and where is Muhammad Shah? We search, but find no trace of him. That foolish Minister of his has also sunk into his tomb, and that other Prime Minister, Taqi the Bloodshedder, the Brazen, who condemned the Lord of the world to death, has vanished in eternal night.

In the Turkish language, the Assembly secretary then speaks. He tells impressively of the spread of the Faith across the world, and of the building of the Báb's Shrine on Mt. Carmel. The account of the Martyrdom is read. A strange spiritual atmosphere prevails; you would say a glimmer from the world beyond is hovering here. With complete humility, the Visitation Tablet of the Bab is chanted.

Distance view of the Barracks Square in Tabríz
where the Báb was martyred. Photos taken in
the dead of winter of a later year

(Baha'i Media Bank)
It is almost noon. The pilgrims, led by some of the local friends, have come in utter lowliness, imploring the help of God, to circumambulate that place which is worshiped by the people of Paradise. Unobtrusively they pass around the Barracks Square. They see the very spot where the Martyrdom took place. They visualize the Barracks as they were that day, and the roof tops black with people. They see the Báb there, bound to Anís, and suspended from the ropes. They hear again the words that passed between the Báb and the farráshbáshí; between the Báb and Sam Khán. Then Anís, making himself a living shield for the Báb. Then the first volley, by the will of the Báb, setting forth His proof to the stupefied people, taking no effect. Anís stands there before them in his immaculate white robe; not even the smoke from the seven hundred and fifty rifles has settled on it. The Báb concludes His interrupted conversation with His amanuensis. Other soldiers are drawn up. The Báb utters His last words, and His blessed voice still seems to ring across the Barracks Square:

Close-up view of the Barracks Square in
Tabríz where the Báb was martyred

(Baha'i Media Bank)
"O wayward generation! Had you believed in Me, everyone of you would have followed the example of this youth, who stood in rank above most of you, and would have willingly sacrificed himself in My path. The day will come when you will have recognized Me; that day I shall have ceased to be with you." [1]

In the words of 'Abdu'l-Baha, "The groaning of the Supreme Concourse is lifted up .... The people of Paradise wail and cry out, their eyes shedding tears, their hearts afire."

At this moment we are conscious of the loving attention of the Guardian, the beloved Shoghi Effendi, who labors at all times to exalt the Báb, who spreads His utterances abroad, who is now devoting his nights and days to constructing the Shrine of the Martyr-Prophet on Mt. Carmel.

The circumambulation is complete. A feast is ready. But it is as if our bodies had sustained a death wound, and the pain does not lessen ...

During the remainder of our stay a great number of gatherings are held, each one generating a vivid, never-to-be-forgotten quality of the spirit.

Visit to Urúmíyyih
The following day we leave for Saysán. Some of the friends have come out along the way to welcome us while others have repaired and leveled the road ahead. What is this joy, this feeling of exhilaration? In the spacious auditorium - I think it measures nine by nineteen meters - of the new Hazirá a morning and an afternoon meeting are held. The auditorium is packed, there is no room even to walk through, many are crowding the embrasures of the windows and the doorways, and others stand outside the building. Prayers are being chanted.

As the Assembly welcomes us in the accents of Adhirbáyján, we recall the well-known verse, "When they speak Persian, Turks are life-bestowers." Two of us, Varqa and Furutan, reply with addresses in Turkish, telling of victories already won by the Faith, and victories to come. Labib, famed Baha'i photographer, takes pictures. He has made photographs of all these places that relate to the Báb in Adhirbáyján, the way-stations on His journey, the historic sites . . . Food is prepared for us.

The next day we visit the holy sites at Urúmiyyih. We are to meet the friends of this area on our return. The lake of Urúmiyyih rises before us, and we recall the Báb's arrival at the city here, Ridá’íyyih.

As one of the friends has said, it is not saddening to visit these holy places, because outwardly at least the Báb suffered no afflictions here. He was the guest of Malik Qasim Mirza, who received Him with ceremony and forbade that any disrespect be shown Him. The room of the Báb, in the upper story of the prince's house, is like His upper chamber in Shiraz; it lifts the spirit.

The entrance door and wall of the public bath attended by the Bab have been preserved; they are just as they were then. Dumbly they address the pilgrim. The pool of the bath is empty now. The people had carried away, to the last drop, the water used by the Báb for His ablutions, to bless themselves with it and keep it as medicine for their ills…

circa 1935,Urumiyyih: House occupied by the Bab
(The Dawn-Breakers)
We know that even an animal had a care for Him here. The prince's unmanageable horse became quiet under His hand, and let Him mount - a strange thing to witness, and the memory of it will endure forever. [2] At the same time, a warning to mankind; for how is it that man in his unawareness has sunk even below the animal and has shut himself away from grace?

We cannot forget the meeting with our friends of Ridá’íyyih, in a house blessed by the Báb with His presence. Here too the invisible hand of the Báb has been at work - across from the Bath we read the inscription: "God is the Light of the heavens and of the earth." (Qur'an 24:35) This verse appears in delicate calligraphy on sky-blue tile, and serves as a guide post to "the Countenance of God Whose splendor can never be obscured, the light of God whose radiance can never fade"- words uttered by the Primal Point Himself concerning His own Essence.

The Mountain of Suffering
It is morning. Our bus leaves for Tabriz. The driver has agreed to stop alI along the way so that we can meet with local friends, and some of these have been alerted ahead of time.

The first place where we stop is Sháhpur (Salmás), and a meeting is held. The pioneers here are solidly established; like their spiritual brothers and sisters across Persia, they have left their homes and it is their great joy to have taken part in the extensive teaching campaign; to have earned the approval of the beloved Guardian who wrote of the Plan: "It is a vital undertaking of the followers of the All-Merciful, conceived and established in the opening years of the second century of the Baha'i Dispensation, and without peer or precedent throughout all the brilliant history of the first century of this wondrous Cause in that holy land"; and to have assisted in the Plan's successful completion by the Centenary of the Martyrdom.

They are rendering enviable services and their faces are nothing but light. Unforgettably now, a woman believer chants; her voice rises, all lowliness and supplication, so that our hearts are drawn toward God. And out of that place, Salmas, which lies near Chihriq - and which the poet Háfiz has named "the abode of Salma," greeting it six hundred years ago and calling down blessings upon it, saying, "Hail, a thousand times hail, to thee, O abode of Salma! How dear is the voice of thy camel-drivers, how sweet the jingling of thy bells!" - out of Salmas, which lies between the "Open Mountain" (Mah-Ku) and the "Grievous Mountain" (Chihriq), our unspoken prayers ring out from one mountain to the other.

Surely they are heard as well in the holy worlds of the Beloved. Suddenly we decide to follow the road taken by Mullá Husayn when, in Mashhad , he vowed to walk the whole distance that separated him from the Báb, and come to Him on the mountain of Mah-Ku. We long to visit the spot on the mountain where the Lord shone forth , as promised by God in the Qur'anic verse : "When God manifested Himself to the mountain." (Surih 7: 139.)

It so happened that the Guardian's message, sent by telegraph in commemoration of the Martyrdom and addressed to the long-afflicted Baha'is of Persia, was dated at this very day and hour.

Mah-Ku, circa 1935
(The Dawn-Breakers)
The words of the Imam who said, "I have known God by His disposal of man's resolves," were now demonstrated. Everyone felt a longing to go on pilgrimage to "the Open Mountain." The plan to tum back to Tabriz was changed; we determined to remain in Khuy and prepare for the pilgrimage to Mah-Ku.

Some feel that although they are unable to walk the entire distance that separated Mullá Husayn from the Báb, [3] they will at least go on foot from Khuy to Mah-Ku, following in the footsteps of Mullá Husayn's faithful attendant, Qambar-'Ali. Unfortunately, this cannot be done. It is now almost half past three in the afternoon, and the bus is leaving for Mah-Ku. Some of the friends of Khuy are with us. We find ourselves looking up and down the road, searching for Mullá Husayn and Qambar-'AIi, and we think of those two holy souls; we consider their humility, their spiritual quality, their evanescence. Mountains and valleys pass by. The goal nears. Over a wide area around Mah-Ku the plains are black; the world mourns at Mah-Ku; for mile on mile the land is studded with outcroppings of glistening black rock. Like ebony planets, these rocks rise out of the land; they flood it like waves of an ebony sea. Posted haphazardly at the mountain pass are other, monstrous shapes, terrifying rock formations that guard the entry. All nature is a prison here, on guard over the Beloved of mankind, over that Captive of Whom Baha'u'llah has written: "The purpose in creating the world and making it to flourish was His Manifestation."

We come to a river that boils and clamors through the rocks; it has cut its way through solid rock and is maybe fifteen feet deep.

We remember how Nabil tells us that the night before Mullá Husayn and his servitor arrived - it was on the eve of the Feast of the New Year - 'Ali Khan, the frontier officer in charge of the castle of Mah-Ku, had a dream. He saw the Prophet Muhammad, followed by a companion, advancing to meet him from beside the bridge. In the dream, Muhammad was on His way to visit the castle, to greet the Báb on the occasion of the New Year.

'All khan awoke with a sense of exhilaration. He performed his ablutions and prayed, dressed himself in his best garments, sprinkled rosewater on his hands, and went out on foot to receive the Visitor. He further instructed a servant to saddle and bridle his three best horses and hold them in readiness at the bridge. But when he met Mullá Husayn there, 'Ali Khan was told: "I have vowed to accomplish the whole of my journey on foot, to visit an illustrious Personage who is being held prisoner on top of the mountain. For this reason I will not ride."

We strain our eyes, but we cannot see 'Ali Khan now, and his honored visitors. But the memory of this event has, even till our day, made the hearts of hundreds of thousands of Baha'is all across the world beat faster; and God alone in His wisdom knows how many billions of other hearts, throughout the length of the Baha'i Cycle which in the words of 'Abdu'l-Baha is to last "at least five hundred thousand years," will turn their attention toward this place.

We are still in the defile. We cannot see Mah-Ku. And then suddenly, around the bend, there is "the Open Mountain" and the town of Mah-Ku on its slopes.

You who may read this, believe me: I would swear by Him Who is the Lord of the mountain that in all the world there is no such terrifying sight as this. Those who have traveled to the ends of the earth will bear me out: There is no other mountain like this. It has no like, just as the anguish of the Báb had no like, so that the Blessed Beauty wrote in the Visitation Tablet: "I bear witness that the eye of creation hath never gazed upon one wronged like Thee."

If, as scientists believe, our globe of dust detached itself one way or another from the sun, and down through the endless ages came at last to be as we know it, it is certain that wind and cloud, sun, moon, and sky worked from the beginning that had no beginning to bring about this mountain of Mah-Ku, in just this wise, to serve as the prison of the Báb. It is not a place that writers and painters can describe, this spot that was the destined setting against which the meekness of the Báb shone out. The reader must see the mountain for himself, and the prison house and the place where the Lord made Himself manifest, and he must then observe what the sight has done to his own heart, and meditate on these things through long, wakeful nights and at many a dawn, and then, if he can, let him write of it.

Mah-Ku circa 1950s
(Baha'i media Bank)
We are speaking of this when, after a brief detour from the road in the frightening pass that leads through the mountain, we see on our right a view of "the Open Mountain" and on its slopes the town of Mah-Ku. At this point the pass, lying between Mah-Ku and another high mountain that pushes into the sky across from it, widens out. And again we come face to face with the heights of Mah-Ku. Then the pass narrows again as if it were the mouth of the Fathomless Pit.

The mountain stretches like a bow, between the entrance and exit of the pass. It rises, awesome, overpowering, into the sky. It rivals the moon's heights, and shuts the moon away. At either end of the bow, nature has piled two massive towers, lifting out of the mountain, up and up into the Milky Way. From a distance you would say these two are jailers, adding to the cruelty of the Báb's imprisonment. Or again, that they are minarets from which was raised the cry, "Hasten ye to salvation! Hasten ye to salvation! I bear witness that He Who is 'Ali before Nabil [4] (‘Ali-Muhammad, the Báb) is the Gate of the Remnant of God!"

The city of Mah-Ku lies within the curve of the bow, the opening of which is several hundred meters across; it clings to the steep slopes, an almost perpendicular street rises jaggedly from house to house, leading finally up to the mountain top.

Panting and sweating we climb toward the summit. Not all of us, however. One or two of the band who set out from Khuy to make this pilgrimage cannot keep on; the road is too rough, too steep. They cannot reach that last point of all, the prison of the Báb. They complete their pilgrimage by the roadside, and who knows, perhaps they show a special reverence in this.

As the Báb writes in the Tablet to Muhammad Shah, the castle lies in the center of the mountain and there is no higher point. The slope ends abruptly at the castle and above it there is not a span of earth where anything could be built or find a foothold. Not jutting straight up in fortress-like walls, but inverted here in a wide arc, the mountain becomes a great parasol or cupola sheltering the prison place. Rain and snow cannot fall here; stars and moon cannot cast down their light; only the cruel cold, the scorching heat can enter here. For all day long in the heat of summer, the fortress and the mountain, like a concave mirror, gather in the heat, and all night long, while in other places people are restfully asleep, they radiate it back. And winter times the cold is so intense that the water which the Báb used for His ablutions froze on His face.

It is here that the Monarch of love was beset by the legions of tyranny, and the Dove of holiness prisoned by owls.     

The two towers which nature has planted on the slopes of the mountain seem from here more vigilant than ever, holding their Captive in full view. A deep cleft runs crookedly from the summit all the way down the mountain and across from the prison, like a knotted black cord hanging; thousands of feet it swings down, a symbol of the anger of God. Perhaps it means that God desires to pull down the mountain, to crush out nature and man as well. Yet again, we believe that Mah-Ku, the prison of His Holiness, should exist forever, that, as the ages unroll, the peoples of the earth may come at last to understand some hint of the Báb's agony. So it is that the pull of the earth has not been able to draw down this curving roof-like peak, raised up "without pillars that can be seen" (Qur'an 31 :9) and that castle and mountain stand in their place.

This is Mah-Ku . . .

Mah-Ku, more recent
The pilgrims, with two of the Baha'is who are pioneers at Mah-Ku, reach only the base of the mountain at sunset. They must climb the mountain before night shuts down, for at the summit is their long-desired goal.

At this time we bring to mind what Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi said to the historian Nabil: That as the Báb dictated His Teachings at Mah-Ku, the rhythmic flow of His chant could be heard by those who lived at the foot of the mountain, and mountain and valley re-echoed His voice. What a melody that must have been; how it must have shaken the spirit! Our ears strain now in the effort to hear it again, or to catch the song of the Kingdom that reverberates from slope to slope.

After long twisting and turning up the mountain we draw near to the abode of the Well Beloved. Here is another "oratory" [5] at the base of the walls; from the heart of the mountain, gushing beneath the castle, a stream of pity and anguish jets out with a noise like sighs and sobs and plunges down the mountain, scattering over the surface of a massive rock. Here is clear delicate water, well-suited to this holy place, for our ablutions. The friends are very careful not to muddy it.

We come to the castle steps. Step after step, our yearning mounts. Here then is the prison of the Lord of the Age. Here is the place where they brought as a captive the Sovereign and Possessor of the earth, of Whom it is written: "My Lord hath ordained that all which is and all which is not should belong to the Adored One that liveth forever."

Now we can make out His cell and that of His guards. The sorrowing voice of the Báb, which could move a heart to its depths, seems to be ringing against the mountain-side, and the sacred verses He addressed to Muhammad Shah from this very place speak to our souls:

"I swear by the Most Great Lord! Wert thou to be told in what place I dwell, the first person to have mercy on Me would be thyself. In the heart of a mountain is a fortress . . . the inmates of which are confined to two guards and four dogs. Picture, then, My plight ..."

All of us, in complete humility, praying and supplicating God, visit the cells and rooms. We take up the dust of the holy place for a blessing. We chant verses of the Báb:

"O Thou the Consolation of Mine eyes! Verily Thou art the Great Announcement!" "O Thou Remnant of God! I have sacrificed Myself wholly for Thee; I have accepted curses for Thy sake, and have yearned for naught but martyrdom in the path of Thy love."

We call to mind His Manifestation and His longing to offer Himself up in death. The Visitation Tablet is chanted. As we stand there in the dark of the night, we remember that the Holy Being spent His nights on the mountain in total darkness; there was not even a candle for Him here.

Our hearts are heavy; grief bows us down. But suddenly we are comforted by the words of the Primal Point to His own Essence: "Be patient, O Consolation of Mine eyes, for verily God hath vowed to establish Thy glory in every land, amongst all that dwell on earth." Our minds are now flooded with joy. It is as if from one end of the sky to the other a blinding light shines down. We see that the Báb - Who in this place out of the very depths of His captivity and His anguish revealed unnumbered utterances - completely disregarded the prison, and continued to exercise that all-powerful, all-pervasive Will, against which no worldly might prevails.

In His Book, the Persian Bayan, written on this mountain top, from this dark and narrow cell, He alludes to His own glory; and with His promise of World Order bestows new life on all mankind, and relates the exaltation of His own eternal rank and station to the spreading awareness of this Order.

In the heart of this mountain the wrongs inflicted on Him Whom the world has wronged stand before us. But in the heart of another mountain, which seems now to rise face to face with this one and in sharp contrast with this, the sovereignty, dominion and might of the Lord are made manifest. The Guardian of Baha'u'llah's followers, the "primal branch" that hath grown out "from the Twin Holy Trees," watches us here, watches the two mountains. Here is Mah-Ku; and there is the holy mountain where the Báb's body is laid to rest - named by Prophets thousands of years back in time, the Mountain of God (Mt. Carmel). The King of Glory has related that mountain to His own Self. The Heavenly Father has chosen that spot to hold the dust of the Báb, and has set it apart as the center of His new World Order.

The Mountain of Victory
Now that we speak of these things here at Mah-Ku in the Báb's prison, and Mt. Carmel rises suddenly before us, it is not inappropriate to turn our thoughts toward His everlasting resting place, so that we may note how the long cruelties, the prison, and at last the bullets - intended, in the words of the Almighty, to free mankind from the chains of self and passion - were changed into abiding glory. How Baha'u'llah, in the pathway of Whose love the Báb sought and found death, fulfilled the promises voiced by the Prophets of God back through the endless ages, when He named Mt. Carmel as the Shrine of the Báb. How at His command the blessed hands of 'Abdu'l-Baha reared the divine edifice; how redemption of the promises set down in the Tablet of Carmel [6] was entrusted to the mighty arm of Shoghi Effendi, the wondrous, unique and priceless Guardian.

What is the best way to go on pilgrimage to the City that has come down from heaven, as the Shrine of the Báb is called in the Tablet of Carmel; the Shrine which, Baha'u'llah tells us, Mt. Zion circumambulates? Shall we take the path that leads from the Pilgrims' House all the way to the Tomb -the house that after its builder is named Ja'far-Ábád? 'Abdu'l-Baha said that Háfiz referred to this house when he wrote:

Between Ja'far-Abad and Musallá
Laden with ambergris the north wind blows.

Or, as in the case of Mah-Ku, when we looked first at the mountain itself, shall we contemplate the Shrine from a distance and set these two mountains against each other and compare them each to each? I think this last is best. . . .

We follow the Guardian over the flowering slopes of Haifa. They seem to glitter with colored gems and pearls, like a bride at her wedding, and we repeat to ourselves the lines, "From every branch within the blossoming grove, a thousand petals are cast before the king." We observe the Guardian's gait, and we think that if men's eyes were seeing eyes, this in itself would be proof enough.

We have watched the sea in the sunset and now we are returning. We look upon Carmel, heart of the world, and at its center the Báb's Shrine, heart of Carmel. We see its terraces from far away, burning like lighted torches before the eyes of its builder. The Guardian smilingly contemplates all this. His voice, strong and clear, rings down the mountain; he is saying, "Terraces of light; light upon light." 

His words echo back from the slopes and the sea. We think of the contrast between those long nights on Mah-Ku, when the Báb was denied even a candle, and now, when the terraces of His Shrine are light upon light, the face of the building is a solid sheet of light, the whole mountain is to blaze with light.

We remember two lines that were chanted by 'Abdu'l-Baha: "Glad tidings, glad tidings! Zion is dancing! Glad tidings, glad tidings! The Kingdom of God whirls in delight!"

Instead of panting and struggling up the narrow-twisted road at Mah-Ku, stopping at times because we can climb no more, here we can rest on every terrace in the midst of gardens and trees, in lovely settings of mountainside and sea. Pools and fountains are to be built here that will reflect the sky and heaven. Each terrace is dedicated to one of the Letters of the Living, and we are received as it were by him.

We forget our sorrows, as we take deep breaths of the delicate air. No longer is the Báb a captive on Mah-Ku. He rests in the divine gardens on the Mountain of God. He lies across the Bay of Haifa from His Well-Beloved, Baha'u'llah, the Point of Adoration, Him Whom God made manifest.

'Abdu'l-Baha, Who had cast aside His turban and wept and sobbed aloud as, with His own hands, He laid the Báb's body in the heart of Carmel, Himself rests now beside the Báb. The companion who died with the Báb has never been separated from Him. Near them are built the tombs of the Most Exalted Leaf, and of the brother, the mother, and consort of 'Abdu'l-Baha.

From the foot of the mountain all the way to the Shrine, the nine terraces rise in memory of nine Letters of the Living, and, in accord with the Guardian's design, from the Shrine to the summit of Mt. Carmel nine more shall complete the number.

The beloved Guardian, called by the Master "My Shoghi," was from his early childhood enamored of the Báb. He dreamed of the Báb, and he was named Rabbani in memory of the Báb's title Rabb-i-A'lá. It is he who, standing on the heights of the Shrine, drew the geometric designs of the terraces. He laid out the gardens, and established the International Baha'i Endowments about the Shrine. He has placed here the International Archives, of whose treasures Baha'u'llah had promised, "Ere long souls will be raised up who will preserve every holy relic in the most perfect manner." The portrait of the Báb, drawn in Urumiyyih and gazed upon by Baha'u'lIah Himself, is here. Here too are His outer garments and His shirt, soaked in His blood. A copy of the portrait and locks of the Bab's hair have been sent as a historic gift to the Baha'i House of Worship in the United States, which has been completed under the Guardianship of Shoghi Effendi; and the Guardian has promised a copy to Persia, cradle of the Faith, as soon as the first Persian Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is built.

The Guardian has added to the Shrine on Mt. Carmel three rooms built according to the same plan as those already constructed by the Master. He has extended the length, width and height of the Shrine, and is now protecting the Edifice like a pearl of great price within the shell of an arcade and crowning it with a balustrade set with panels, the central one to the north bearing a great green and gold mosaic of the Greatest Name.

It is the Guardian who has widely spread the works of the Báb. In "The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah" he has set forth the exalted station of the Báb. By translating the narrative of Nabil he has published the days of the Báb across the earth. He has seen to it that in every area the Centenaries of the Báb's Declaration and of His Martyrdom were befittingly celebrated. Across over a hundred countries he has added thousands upon thousands of souls to the company of those who love the Báb, and he is looking for yet more countries to come.

At this time the Guardian is concentrating his labors on completion of the Edifice, importing marbles and granite and other priceless rock materials that had lain in the earth down endless ages until at last they should serve for the building of just such a Shrine -rock materials in jade and rose, that are symbols of the Báb's lineage and the way He died. Following the architect's design (you can see it in color, in the pages of that mirror of Baha'i activities around the globe, The Baha'i World) , [7] the arcade and balustrade have been completed, and the Guardian is now working day and night to direct completion of the superstructure and rear the great golden dome. Then the light will pour out of this source of light and envelop all mankind, and the "people of Baha" referred to in the Tablet of Carmel will be made manifest, and God will sail His ark upon His holy mountain, and the laws of God will be made known to all men, and the Tabernacle of the Lord of Hosts will be pitched on the heights of Carmel, and the divine World Order be unveiled; and there near the resting place of the Most Exalted Leaf (the sister of 'Abdu'l-Baha) and the other blessed ones, and in the neighborhood of the Holy Shrine, the Universal House of Justice will be established, and the promise "Then shalt thou see the Abha paradise on earth" will be redeemed.

Let us go into the gardens around the Shrine-Tomb. Let us walk there on the Mountain of God, and "unravel the mysteries of love from its windflowers," for "solaced are the eyes of them that enter and abide therein!" Let us see with our own eyes how "the rose-gardens that grow around His Holy Tomb have become the pleasure-spot of all kinds and conditions of men," how the flower beds and fruit-bearing trees cluster so thick around the Shrine. Visitors, not Baha'is, will tell you these fresh and green and delicate gardens have no equal anywhere else.

When the famed Orientalist A. L. M. Nicolas, who had longed to see the Báb's Shrine exalted, received as a gift from Shoghi Effendi a copy of its design, together with a copy of The Dawn-Breakers of Nabil, he was so moved that he kissed the bearer's hand. Strangers love this place, how much more do the friends.

Within the holy precincts we put on slippers and anoint ourselves with rose water poured out by the Guardian himself, this wonderful personage who has arisen "with the most perfect form, most great gift, most complete perfection." His handsome face is so phenomenally bright that the Master wrote, "His face shineth with a brightness whereby the horizons are illumined."

Within the Shrine his voice, resonant, haunting, lifts in the Visitation prayer:

"The praise which hath dawned from Thy most august Self, and the glory which hath shone forth from Thy most effulgent Beauty, rest upon Thee ... "

I wonder if I am awake or in a dream. "Bless Thou, O Lord my God, the Divine Lote-Tree and its leaves, and its boughs, and its branches . . . as long Thy most excellent titles will endure and Thy most august attributes will last."

If we observe the Guardian when he places flower petals on the threshold of the Báb's sepulcher, we shall see as he strews the roses and violets there how intense are the stirrings of His love.

Today from the mountain of Mah-Ku the anguished cry of the Báb is raised no more:

"In this mountain I have remained alone, and have come to such a pass that none of those gone before Me have suffered what I have suffered, nor any transgressor endured what I have endured!"

With these great victories, these new and mighty institutions, surely the sorrow of His heart is stilled at last, and out of the verses of the Bayán He is calling: "Well is it with him who fixeth his gaze upon the Order of Baha'u'llah and rendereth thanks unto His Lord!"

Today the Báb is not alone on the mountain any more: "The people of the Supreme Horizon and the presences who dwell in the eternal paradise circle around His Shrine." The love of the Baha'is around the globe, from Anchorage to Magallanes, from farthest East to farthest West, gathered within the shelter of the Branch of the Sinaitic Tree, centers on this place and is offered up continuously to Him; while the Guardian labors by day and by night to bring to pass the prophecy of the Master when He said:

"I see the ships of all the kings of the world berthed at the docks of Haifa. I see the sovereigns disembark. Bareheaded and barefooted, and carrying on their shoulders vases studded with jewels, they advance toward the Shrine."

And to fulfill these written words set down by the Pen of Glory:

"After that which is inevitable shall have come to pass, these very kings and presidents will follow in the footsteps of the champions of the Cause of God. They will enter the field of service. They will fling in the dust the crowns of their perishable sovereignty and place on their heads the diadems of utter servitude, and in the front ranks of the pioneers they will labor with all their heart, with all their possessions, with all that God in His bounty hath bestowed  upon them, to spread this Faith. And when their labors are completed they will hasten to this sacred place, and in complete humility, supplicating God, bowing down before Him, in utter lowliness, they will circle round the Holy Shrines, and lifting their voices will cry out to heaven, extolling and magnifying and glorifying the Lord, and they will unveil and establish before all the peoples of the earth the incalculable greatness of this almighty Faith."

In this unfaithful world, this house of grief, where all things die except the Face of the Beloved, where in a little while there will be no sign of us left, let us bequeath to those who will come after us an enduring proof of what we feel. So that they will remember us, who lived in the days of the first Guardian; so that they will tell one another, for five thousand centuries to come, how we loved the Primal Point. 

[1] Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, page 53 
[2] The Dawn-Breakers, pages 309-310.
[3] Mashhad is in the northeast corner of Persia; Mah-Ku in the extreme northwest comer.
[4] According to the abjad reckoning, "Nabil" and "Muhammad" are numerical equivalents, the letters of each word totaling 92.
[5] Musallá, "The Oratory," a favorite resort of the poet Háfiz near Shiraz, watered by the stream of Ruknábad.
[6] In Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pages 14-17.

(The Baha'i World 1950-1954)