9 July ― THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE MARTYRDOM OF THE BÁB   Leave a comment

9 July ― THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE MARTYRDOM OF THE BÁB

 

MORNING:

Deprived of His turban and sash, the twin emblems of His noble lineage, the Báb, together with Siyyid Husayn, His amanuensis, was driven to yet another confinement which He well knew was but a step further on the way leading Him to the goal He had set Himself to attain. That day witnessed a tremendous commotion in the city of Tabriz. The great convulsion associated in the ideas of its inhabitants with the Day of Judgment seemed at last to have come upon them. Never had that city experienced a turmoil so fierce and so mysterious as the one which seized its inhabitants on the day the Báb was led to that place which was to be the scene of His martyrdom. As He approached the courtyard of the barracks, a youth suddenly leaped forward who, in his eagerness to overtake Him, had forced his way through the crowd, utterly ignoring the risks and perils which such an attempt might involve. His face was haggard, his feet were bare, and his hair dishevelled. Breathless with excitement and exhausted with fatigue, he flung himself at the feet of the Báb and, seizing the hem of His garment, passionately implored Him: “Send me not from Thee, O Master. Wherever Thou goest, suffer me to follow Thee.” “Muhammad-‘Ali,” answered the Báb, “arise, and rest assured that you will be with Me.† To-morrow you shall witness what God has decreed.” Two other companions, unable to contain themselves, rushed forward and assured Him of their unalterable loyalty. These, together with Mirza Muhammad-‘Aliy-i-Zunuzi, were seized and placed in the same cell in which the Báb and Siyyid Husayn were confined.

† “It is no doubt a singular coincidence that both Ali-Muhammad and Jesus Christ are reported to have addressed these words to a disciple: ‘To-day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.'” —Dr. T. K. Cheyne’s The Reconciliation of Races and Religions, p. 185

I have heard Siyyid Husayn bear witness to the following: “That night the face of the Báb was aglow with joy, a joy such as had never shone from His countenance. Indifferent to the storm that raged about Him, He conversed with us with gaiety and cheerfulness. The sorrows that had weighed  508  so heavily upon Him seemed to have completely vanished. Their weight appeared to have dissolved in the consciousness of approaching victory. ‘To-morrow,’ He said to us, ‘will be the day of My martyrdom. Would that one of you might now arise and, with his own hands, end My life. I prefer to be slain by the hand of a friend rather than by that of the enemy.’ Tears rained from our eyes as we heard Him express that wish. We shrank, however, at the thought of taking away with our own hands so precious a life. We refused, and remained silent. Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali suddenly sprang to his feet and announced himself ready to obey whatever the Báb might desire. This same youth who has risen to comply with My wish,’ the Báb declared, as soon as we had intervened and forced him to abandon that thought, ‘will, together with Me, suffer martyrdom. Him will I choose to share with Me its crown.'”

His Holiness The Báb quoted by Shoghi Effendi

The Dawn-Breakers, p. 507

EVENING:

Sam Khan ordered his men to drive a nail into the pillar that lay between the door of the room that Siyyid Husayn occupied and the entrance to the adjoining one, and to make fast two ropes to that nail, from which the Báb and His companion were to be separately suspended.† Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali begged Sam Khan to be placed in such a manner that his own body would shield that of the Báb. He was eventually suspended in such a position that his head reposed on the breast of his Master. As soon as they were fastened, a regiment of soldiers ranged itself in three files, each of two hundred and fifty men, each of which was ordered to open fire in its turn until the whole detachment had discharged the volleys of its bullets. The smoke of the firing of the seven hundred and fifty rifles was such as to turn the light of the noonday sun into darkness. There had crowded onto the roof of the barracks, as well as the tops of the adjoining houses, about ten thousand people, all of whom were witnesses to that sad and moving scene…

† “The Báb remained silent. His pale handsome face framed by a black beard and small mustache, his appearance and his refined manners, his white and delicate hands, his simple but very neat garments — everything about him awakened sympathy and compassion.” (Journal Asiatique, 1866. tome 7, p. 378.

The place of execution, 9 July 1850

…As soon as the cloud of smoke had cleared away, an astounded multitude were looking upon a scene which their eyes could scarcely believe. There, standing before them alive and unhurt, was the companion of the Báb, whilst He Himself had vanished uninjured from their sight. Though the cords with which they were suspended had been rent in pieces by the bullets, yet their bodies had miraculously escaped the volleys.† Even the tunic which Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali was wearing had, despite the thickness of the smoke, remained unsullied. “The Siyyid-i-Báb has gone from our sight!” rang out the voices of the bewildered multitude. They set out in a frenzied search for Him, and found Him, eventually, seated in the same room which He had occupied the night before, engaged in completing His interrupted conversation, with Siyyid Husayn. An expression of unruffled calm was upon His face. His body had emerged unscathed from the shower of bullets which the regiment had directed against Him. “I have finished My conversation with Siyyid Husayn,” the Báb told the farrash-bashi. “Now you may proceed to fulfil your intention.” The man was too much shaken to resume what he had already attempted. Refusing to accomplish his duty, he, that same moment, left that scene and resigned his post. He related all that he had seen to his neighbour, Mirza Siyyid Muhsin, one of the notables of Tabriz, who, as soon as he heard the story, was converted to the Faith.

†”An intense clamor arose from the crowd at this moment as the onlookers saw the Báb freed from his bonds advancing towards them. Amazing to believe, the bullets had not struck the condemned but, on the contrary, had broken his bonds and he was delivered. It was a real miracle and God alone knows what would have happened without the fidelity and calm of the Christian regiment on this occurrence. The soldiers in order to quiet the excitement of the crowd which, being extremely agitated, was ready to believe the claims of a religion which thus demonstrated its truth, showed the cords broken by the bullets, implying that no miracle had really taken place. At the same time, they seized the Báb and tied him again to the fatal post. This time the execution was effective. Muhammadan justice and ecclesiastical law had asserted themselves. But the crowd, vividly impressed by the spectacle they had witnessed, dispersed slowly, hardly convinced that the Báb was a criminal. After all his crime was only a crime for the legalists and the world is indulgent toward crimes which it does not understand.” (M.C. Huart’s “La Religion du Báb,” pp. 3-4.)

“An extraordinary thing happened, unique in the annals of the history of humanity: the bullets cut the cords that held the Báb and he fell on his feet without a scratch.” (A. L. M. Nicolas’ “Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Báb,” p. 375.) “By a strange coincidence, the bullet only touched the cords which bound the Báb, they were broken and he felt himself free. Uproar and shouts arose on all sides, no one understanding at first what it was all about.” (Ibid., p. 379.)

Shoghi Effendi, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 512-514

FROM THE CENTRE OF THE COVENANT ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ:

When this Cause appeared in the Orient, the friends and followers were self-sacrificing to the utmost, forfeiting everything. It is a significant and wonderful fact that, although the most precious thing on earth is life, yet twenty thousand people offered themselves willingly in the pathway of martyrdom. Recently, in Yazd two hundred of the Bahá’í friends were cruelly slain. They went to the place of martyrdom in the utmost ecstasy of attraction, smiling with joy and gratitude upon their persecutors. Some of them offered sweetmeats to their executioners, saying, “Taste of this in order that with sweetness and enjoyment you may bestow upon us the blessed cup of martyrdom.” Among these beloved and glorified ones were a number of women who were subjected to the most cruel manner of execution. Some were cut to pieces; and their executioners, not content with such butchery, set others on fire, and their bodies were consumed. Throughout these terrible ordeals not a single soul among the Bahá’í friends objected or recanted. They offered no resistance, although the Bahá’ís in that city were most courageous and strong. In physical strength and fortitude one of these Bahá’ís could have withstood many of their enemies, but they accepted martyrdom in the spirit of complete resignation and nonresistance. Many of them died, crying out, “O Lord! Forgive them; they know not what they do. If they knew, they would not commit this wrong.” In the throes of martyrdom they willingly offered all they possessed in this life.

The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 38

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