October 27, 2019


The Báb’s arrival at the mountain fortress of Chihríq in April 1848 set in motion the very same conditions that had occurred at Máh-Kú. The custodian of Chihríq, Yahyá Khán, soon fell under the spell of the Báb’s love and divine power and the region’s Kurds turned to Him in utter devotion, hoping for a glimpse of Him to bless their day.

In July 1848, on the orders of Muhammad Sháh’s foolish prime minister, Hájí Mírzá Áqásí, the Báb was sent to Tabríz for an examination by a chosen group of ‘ulamá, high-level clerics, attended by the Valí-‘Ahd, who was the crown prince and future Sháh, Násiri’d-Dín Mírzá. On His way to Tabríz, a stop was made in the town of Urúmíyyih where the prince, Malik Qásim Mírzá, treated him with courtesy. However, wanting to test the Báb, on a certain Friday he sent his groom to bring out his wildest horse for his guest to ride. Worried that this horse would harm the Báb given that it had already overthrown the bravest and most skilled of men, he secretly warned Him of the prince’s intention. “Do as you have been bidden, and commit us to the care of the Almighty,” was His reply.

When the horse was brought to Him, he quietly approached it and, taking hold of the bridle, gently caressed it, put His foot in the stirrup and lifted Himself onto the horse’s back. The horse, almost as though it was conscious of the Báb’s power, never flinched and then gently carried Him to the baths. This was viewed as a miracle by the townspeople, who then rushed to take away every drop of water the Báb had used that day. He was subsequently informed that an overwhelming majority of people had declared themselves as Bábís, but calmly responded, quoting the Qu’rán: Think men that when they say ‘We believe,’ they shall be let alone and not be put to the proof? He spoke true, for when He was martyred, most of them turned their backs on the Bábí Faith.

As the Báb approached Tabríz, people crowded the gate hoping to catch a glimpse of the famous Siyyid-i-Báb, which angered the ‘ulamá and determined them to interrogate Him in the governor’s palace. When the Báb entered the room, He quickly noted that every seat had been taken with the exception of the one intended for the Crown Prince, who was soon to become Násiri’d Dín Sháh. These ‘ulamá had every intention of humiliating Him by forcing Him to stand during the interrogation. However, without any hesitation, the Báb strode over and sat in the chair intended for the prince. The Báb had done this with such decisiveness and authority that no one, not even the prince, dared object. A profound silence overtook the assembly of men gathered there. The Báb’s whole being seemed to radiate an eerie otherworldly power. Finally, the Nízamu’l-‘Ulamá, the prince’s tutor, broke the silence. “Whom do you claim to be, and what is the message you have brought?” he asked.

I am, I am, I am the Promised One! exclaimed the Báb. I am the One whose Name you have for a thousand years invoked, at Whose mention you have risen, Whose advent you have longed to witness, and the hour of Whose Revelation you have prayed God to hasten! Verily, I say, it is incumbent upon the peoples of both the East and the West to obey My word and to pledge allegiance to My person.

No one dared speak except the ill-advised Mullá Muhammad-Mamáqaní, who had once been a Shaykhí disciple. “You wretched and immature lad of Shíraz! You have already inflamed ‘Iráq, do you now wish to arouse a similar toil in Azerbaiján?” “Your honour,” answered the Báb, “I have not come hither of My own accord, I have been summoned to this place. “Hold your peace,” cut in the furious Mullá Muhammad, “you perverse and contemptible follower of Satan!” ‘Your honour, I maintain what I have already declared,” responded the Báb.

The Nízamu’l-‘Ulamá sought to regain control of the interrogation. “The claim which you have advanced is a stupendous one. It must be supported by solid evidence.” “The mightiest, the most convincing evidence of the truth, is admittedly His own Word,” replied the Báb. He Himself testifies to this truth: ‘Is it not enough for them that We have sent down to Thee the Book?”, quoting from the Qu’rán.’ “The power to produce such evidence has been given to Me by God. Within the space of two days and two nights, I declare Myself able to reveal verses of such number as will equal the whole of the Qu’rán.” “Describe orally, if you speak the truth, said the Nizamu’l-‘Ulamá, and in the style and language of the Qu’rán, so that the Valí-‘Ahd and these assembled divines bear witness to the truth of your claim.”

The Báb readily agreed to do this, but no sooner had He uttered the words – In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, praise be to Him Who has created the heavens and the earth – that Mullá Muhammad once again cut Him short. “This self-appointed Qá’im of ours has at the very start of his address betrayed His ignorance of the most rudimentary rules of grammar. ‘The Qu’rán itself,” answered the Báb, does in no wise accord with the rules and conventions of language current among men. The Word of God can never be subject to the limitations of His creatures.” The Báb further explained that the rules of grammar in Arabic were created from the text of the Qu’rán itself and that, although some 300 grammatical errors were found in that holy book, it is still revered as the Book of God. When He repeated His opening address, Mullá Muhammad raised the same issue again. Still another participant asked Him in what tense a certain verb belonged. The meeting was rapidly disintegrating and it was evident to the Báb that no true and open discussion was ever intended.

Far be the glory of thy Lord, the Lord of all greatness, from what they impute to Him, and peace be upon His Apostles! And Praise be to God, the Lord of the Worlds, answered the Báb, quoting again from the Qu’rán. Then He arose and left the meeting without asking permission of either the Crown Prince or the gathered ‘ulamá.

The Nízamu’l-‘Ulamá was greatly displeased by the outcome of the interrogation and deeply ashamed of his colleagues. Nevertheless, it was decided that the Báb would suffer the bastinado for taking the Crown Prince’s seat and for leaving the interrogation without permission. The governor’s bodyguard refused to inflict the punishment, however, leaving the cruel and perfidious Shaykhu’l-Islám of Tabríz to do the task himself. He savagely lashed the Báb on the soles of His feet eleven times and once, quite possibly on purpose, struck His face, causing a great, swelling wound.

At the Báb’s personal request, He was treated for a few days by a British doctor, Dr. Cormick. The Báb would not answer Dr. Cormick’s questions except when he told Him that he was not a Muslim and was willing to know something about his religion as he might perhaps be inclined to adopt it. He regarded Dr. Cormick very intently and replied that He had no doubt of all Europeans coming over to his religion.

Dr. Cormick said of him: "He was very thankful for my attentions to him. He was a very mild and delicate-looking man, rather small in stature and very fair for a Persian, with a melodious soft voice which struck me much. Being a siyyid, he was dressed in the habits of that sect, as were also his two companions. In fact, his whole look and deportment went far to dispose one in his favour. Of his doctrine I heard nothing from his own lips, although the idea was that there existed in his religion a certain approach to Christianity. He was seen by some Armenian carpenters reading the Bible, and he took no pains to conceal it, but on the contrary told them of it.”

No sooner was the Báb returned to Chihríq that He sent a tablet to Hájí Mírzá Áqásí denouncing his character and actions, which began: O thou who hast disbelieved in God and turned thy face away from His signs. Not long after, Muhammad Sháh passed away and his prime minister fled in disgrace.

The fort of Chihríq was later named the Grievous Mountain by the Báb, because in the two years that He was a prisoner there He learned of all those who had given their lives for His Cause. The deaths of Mullá Husayn and Quddús and the brave defenders of the Fort of the Shrine of Shaykh Tabarsí in May 1849 caused him such pain that He barely spoke for five months. His heart was inundated with such grief and sorrow, not only at their loss, but also for the cruel and inhumane creatures who inflicted such horrors and tortures upon those who had been created simply to manifest, once again in this world, the great spiritual reality of humankind. Plunged into an ocean of sorrow, the Báb wept and wept the loss of all these stars of His firmament, telling His secretary to throw away all that he had managed to capture between His tears during that time of deep mourning.

Then came the deaths of the Seven Martyrs of Tehrán in March 1850, who represented the flower of Persian culture, which included the Báb’s dear maternal uncle and guardian, Hájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí. They were among 50 Bábís whose names were given to the mayor of Tehrán by a man pretending to be a Bábí, fourteen of whom were arrested. Only seven Bábís remained steadfast despite torture and impending death, and yet they were joyful and thankful. When the time came, they sang and recited poetry and loudly proclaimed their faith as they approached the execution site, bringing tears to some of the people who had gathered to watch them die in March 1850.

The Báb’s uncle spoke words that so moved his executioner that, pretending his sword needed sharpening, walked away and never returned, neither to the site nor to that profession. His job, he was purported to have said, “was to execute criminals, not men as holy as the Imám Musá himself.” Indeed, the Báb’s uncle and the six other men were not criminals. They were respected members of society intoxicated with the love of God and of the Báb. Following their execution, their bodies were then subjected to desecration and horrible indignities and their remains dumped into a common grave outside the city gates.

Násiri’d Dín Sháh’s new prime minister, Mírzá Taqí Khán, frustrated by his predecessor’s incompetence, resolved to nip the Bábí Faith in the bud by cutting off its source. The Báb was condemned to death by firing squad on July 9, 1850. The year before the Báb announced His mission in 1844, following the death of His only child, Ahmad, He touchingly wrote:

The sacrifice of this Ahmad whom Thy servant ‘Alí-Muhammad hath offered up on the altar of Thy love can never suffice to quench the flame of longing in His heart. Not until He immolates His own heart at Thy feet, not until His whole body falls a victim to the cruelest tyranny in Thy path, not until His breast is made a target for countless darts for Thy sake, will the tumult of His soul be stilled. Endue with Thy grace My lifeblood which I yearn to shed in Thy path. Answer Thou my prayer, O God, and fulfil my most cherished desire. Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful.

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