July 10, 2019


“Azim, what do you think of the Siyyid-i-Báb? What kind of man is He? Did your interview with Him bear any ripe fruit?”

“You will see when you meet Him yourself,” answered Mullá Shaykh ’Alí, known as ‘Azim, who was now a disciple of the Báb. “But as your friend, I would advise you to exercise the utmost consideration in His presence so that you will not in the end regret any discourtesy towards Him.” Siyyid-Yahyá-i-Dárábí, Persia’s foremost religious scholar, barely heard his friend’s admonition, for he was already turning in his mind all the questions he would ask and the standards by which he would judge the truth of the Báb’s revelation and claims.

After spending some months in Búshihr with the Báb after his return from pilgrimage, Quddús was entrusted with the mission to deliver a letter to the Báb’s uncle in Shíraz. In the short time Quddús was there, he succeeded in inflaming the soul of the Báb’s uncle to the new revelation. He also delivered a tablet titled The Seven Qualifications, which detailed the requirements of being a Bábí, to a man named Mullá Sadiq-i-Khurasaní, who was so thrilled by the Báb’s message that while reciting the Shahada – the Muslim profession of faith – in the mosque, he added the sentence regarding the station of the Báb. This caused such an uproar that both he and Quddús were arrested by the governor of the province of Fars and tortured.

This brutal governor, seeking to punish the source of these troubles, then sent soldiers to Búshihr to arrest the Báb and return Him to Shíraz, where He was ordered to proclaim His error to the multitude gathered in the Vakhil Mosque during Friday prayers. Although the Báb denied that he was a representative of the Holy Imáms or that He was the Gate of the Imáms, He did confirm that He believed in the unity of God, in the prophethood of Muhammad and in the Imáms who followed Him. Therefore, although the Báb never stated exactly what His station was, He likewise did not deny the nature of His own revelation.

Muhammad Sháh, whose seat of government was in Tehrán, having heard of the fame of the Báb as well as ridiculous stories of miracles and magic spells spread by the people, had decided to send the wisest and most learned man he knew to investigate the matter, Siyyid-Yahyá-i-Dárábí.

The first interview conducted by Siyyid Yahyá was in the home of the Báb’s uncle, and although he was courteous towards Him, he persistently asked the Báb difficult questions on obscure Muslim scripture and beliefs, hoping not only to catch Him in moments of inconsistency and weakness, but also to demonstrate his own vast knowledge. The Báb’s brilliant and logical answers, however, left him feeling shamefaced and somewhat humbled. “Please God, I shall in the course of my next audience with You submit the rest of my questions and with them shall conclude my inquiry”, he told the Báb. Then he fled the man who had so upset what he suddenly understood to be his own small pool of knowledge. “Did I not warn you?” said ‘Azim. “Tomorrow, dear friend, please remember my advice if you value your soul.

The next day, when Siyyid Yahyá entered the presence of the Báb, he realized he couldn’t remember a single question that he was meaning to ask Him. To hide his confusion, he spoke whatever came to mind, but gradually, he began to realize that the Báb was in fact answering the very questions that had slipped his mind. Dumbfounded, he fled in near terror from the Báb’s presence.

“Through our small-mindedness and conceit, we are withholding from ourselves the redeeming grace of God and are causing pain to Him who is the Fountain thereof,” thundered ‘Azim. Will you not this time beseech God to grant that you may be enabled to attain His presence with becoming humility and detachment, that perchance He may graciously relieve you from the oppression of uncertainty and doubt?”

Siyyid Yahyá then decided to ask the Báb to write a commentary on a chapter of the Qu’rán titled the Surih of Kawthar. This time he entered the Báb’s presence on shaky legs and filled with awe. Seeing his agitated state, the Báb arose and, taking him by the hand, led him to a seat and offered to reveal whatever was his heart’s desire. Try as he might, Siyyid Yahyá could not make the words leave his lips.

“Were I to reveal for you a commentary on the Súrih of Kawthar” said the Báb, would you acknowledge that My words are born of the Spirit of God? Would you recognize that My utterance can in no way be associated with sorcery or magic?” Tears flowed from Syyyid Yahyá’s eyes as the Báb spoke these words. The Báb had pen and paper brought and proceeded to write His commentary. Siyyid Yahyá was spellbound by the rapidity of His pen strokes. He wrote without pause from early afternoon until evening. He then read His commentary to a completely humbled Siyyid Yahyá, who was so overwhelmed that three times he almost lost consciousness, prompting the Báb to have rosewater sprinkled on his face to revive him.

Siyyid Yahyá became a Bábí that night and later told the Governor of Fars that “no one but God, who alone can change the hearts of men, is able to capture the heart of Siyyid-Yahyá-i-Dárábí. Whoso can ensnare his heart is of God, and His word is unquestionably the voice of Truth.” He was named Vahíd Akbar (the great peerless one) by the Báb and was among His most illustrious disciples. When Muhammad Sháh heard of his conversion, he is reported to have said to his Prime Minister, Hají Mirzá Áqásí: “We have been lately informed that Siyyid-Yahyá-i-Dárábí has become a Bábí. If this is true, it is our duty to cease belittling the Cause of that Siyyid.”

For a period of five years, Vahíd’s fame only grew as a Bábí teacher who helped many to accept the claims and teachings of the Báb – and won him some implacable enemies as well. When Vahíd returned to his home in Nayríz, the governor there vowed to destroy all Bábís within his jurisdiction by gathering an army of 1,000 men. Some 200 Bábís barricaded themselves in Fort Khájih on the outskirts of the city and defended themselves so bravely that after a month a copy of the Qu’rán was sent to Vahíd with a request for a ceasefire. Despite being treated with great respect, he was not fooled by the Governor’s duplicity, who claimed that he would ensure the safety of the Bábís while secretly planning their imminent destruction. Vahíd was then forced to write a letter asking his companions to leave the fort. He then wrote a second letter asking the Bábís to ignore the first, but the man he entrusted it to treacherously destroyed the second and delivered the first. Although puzzled by this letter, these Bábís nevertheless obeyed and upon leaving the fort were eventually caught, tortured and martyred.

Vahíd had long known the time and manner of his own martyrdom. The human wolves circling him had his turban and sash knotted around his throat – the very symbols of his descendance from the Prophet Muhammad – then tied him to a horse and dragged him through the streets of Nayríz where he was savagely beaten by an angry mob. “Thou knowest, my Beloved” – were some of Vahíd’s last words – “that I have abandoned the world for Thy sake and have placed my trust in Thee alone. I am impatient to hasten to Thee, for the beauty of Thy countenance has been unveiled to my eyes.” So ended the noble and peerless life of Vahíd on June 29, 1850, only 10 days before the Báb’s own martyrdom.

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