October 27, 2019
THE INTERVIEW OF SHAME
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.