Martyrdom of the Báb
Excerpt from the Súriy-i-Aḥzán
(Súrih of Sorrows)
Would that thou wert standing at this moment before the Throne and couldst hear how the melodies of eternity issue from the Temple of Bahá! By the one true God, should His creatures but cleanse their ears, and should they hear but a single strain of these melodies, they would, one and all, fall thunderstruck upon the dust in the presence of thy Lord, the All-Glorious, the Most Bountiful. Since, however, they have contended with God, He hath denied them the wonders of His grace and hath reckoned them in His sight as discarded lumps of clay. By God! Wert thou to consider their words, thou wouldst hear what was never heard from the Jews when We sent the Spirit unto them with a perspicuous Book, nor from the concourse of the Gospel when We caused the Day-Star of eternity to dawn above the horizon of Mecca with world-illumining splendours, nor yet from the people of the Qur’án when the heavens of divine knowledge were cleft asunder and God manifested Himself, with the power of the truth and in the shadow of His All-Merciful Name, in the beauty of ‘Alí. (1)
At the mention of this blessed, this hallowed, this exalted and unapproachably wondrous Name, a Name in truth most wondrous, there arise within Me two conditions. I see My heart burning with the fire of grief over that which befell the Beauty of the All-Merciful at the hands of the people of the Qur’án. It is as though every limb of My body were being devoured by a consuming flame that, if left unchecked, would set ablaze the entire world. To this, God Himself beareth Me witness. Likewise I behold tears flowing from Mine eyes, and My limbs, and even the hairs of My head, at the calamities that were visited upon Him by the wicked, who slew God and recognized Him not, and who, boasting of allegiance to but one of His Names, suspended Him in the air and riddled His breast with the bullets of hatred.
Would that the universe had never been called into existence! Would that the world had never been brought into being! Would that no Prophet had ever been raised up, no Messenger sent forth, and no Cause established amongst men! Would that the Name of God had never been manifested betwixt earth and heaven, and that no Books, Tablets, or Scriptures had ever been revealed! Would that the Ancient Beauty had never been made to dwell among these workers of iniquity, nor to suffer at the hands of those who openly disbelieved in God and who committed against Him that which none on earth had ever dared commit! By the one true God! Wert thou, O ‘Alí, (2) to examine My limbs and members, My heart and vitals, thou wouldst discover the traces of those same bullets that struck that Temple of God. Alas, alas! Thus was the Revealer of verses prevented from revealing them, and this Ocean from surging, and this Tree from bearing fruit, and this Cloud from pouring down its rain, and this Sun from giving its light, and this Heaven from ascending on high. Yet, so hath it been irrevocably decreed in this Day.
Would that I had never been, and that My mother had never borne Me! Would that I had never heard of that which befell Him at the hands of those who worshipped the Names of God and yet slew Him Who is their Author, their Creator, their Fashioner, and their Revealer! Woe betide them for following the promptings of self and passion, and for committing that which caused the Maids of Heaven to faint away in their celestial chambers and the Spirit to cover its face in the dust by reason of that which these wolves have inflicted upon the Lord of Lords. All things weep at the tears I shed for Him; all things lament at the sighs I uttered over Our separation. Such indeed is My sorrow that the melodies of eternity can no longer flow from My lips, nor can the breezes of the spirit waft from My heart. And had I not sought to protect Myself, My body would have been cleft asunder and My life extinguished.
Behold, My former Manifestation weepeth in turn and addresseth thee, saying, “O ‘Alí! By the righteousness of the one true God! Wert thou to examine My heart, My limbs, and My members, and to observe Mine inner and outer being, thou wouldst find the traces of the darts of rancour that have struck My latter Manifestation Who appeareth in My Name, the All-Glorious! Thus do I lament, and the Concourse on high lament My weeping. Thus do I bewail, and the dwellers of the Tabernacle of names bewail My cries. Thus do I sigh in anguish, and the inhabitants of the cities of eternity shed tears at My sighing for this Wronged One Who findeth Himself among the people of the Bayán. By God, they have inflicted upon Him that which the followers of the Qur’án never inflicted upon Me. Alas for what hath befallen Him at their hands! Whereupon did the denizens of earth and heaven fall distraught upon the dust at that which had afflicted that Beauty Who was seated upon the throne of divine nearness. Woe to them and to what their hands have wrought every morn and eve!”
Behold, the Ancient Beauty crieth out: “O Pen of the Most High! Turn aside from this theme which hath saddened all that wear the garment of existence, and make mention of another out of mercy for the Concourse on high. By the one true God! His Throne hath well-nigh been overwhelmed, notwithstanding its grandeur and loftiness.”
When We heard this call, We ceased Our account of these sorrows and returned to Our previous theme, that thou mayest be fully apprised thereof. O ‘Alí, be not dismayed at that which we have recounted to thee of the calamities that have been visited upon Our former and latter Manifestations. Gird up thy loins to assist the Cause of God, and arise in this path with constancy and unbending resolve.
(1) The Báb; (2) The Súriy-i-Aḥzán was revealed for Mírzá ‘Alíy-i-Sayyáḥ-i-Marághih’í.
The Mission of the Báb
Born in Shiraz, a city in southern Iran, on 20 October 1819, the Báb was the symbolic gate between past ages of prophecy and a new age of fulfilment for humanity. His primary purpose was to awaken the people to the fact that a new period in human history had begun, one which would witness the unification of the entire human race and the emergence of a world civilization of spiritual and material prosperity. This great day would be established through the influence of a divinely inspired Educator, whom the Báb referred to as “He Whom God shall make manifest.” It was His own mission, the Báb declared, to herald the coming of this promised Manifestation of God. The Báb explained that the new Manifestation would usher in an age of peace and justice that was the hope of every longing heart and the promise of every religion. The Báb instructed His followers to spread this message throughout the country and to prepare people for this long-awaited day.
The Báb’s message aroused hope and excitement among people from every walk of life. Although a number of prominent Muslim clerics accepted the Báb, many others felt insecure and threatened by His growing influence and feared their entrenched positions of privilege and authority would be threatened by the empowerment of the people. They denounced the Báb’s teachings as heretical and set out to destroy Him and His followers.
The Execution of the Báb
In 1850, Mirza Taqi Khan (Grand Vizier of Nasiri’d-Din Shah) ordered the Báb’s execution. When the guards came to take Him on the day of His execution, 9 July, the Báb told them that no "earthly power" could silence Him until He had finished all that He had to say. Thousands crowded the rooftops that overlooked the barracks square in Tabríz where the Báb was to be executed by a firing squad. In the intense heat of the noonday sun, He was suspended by ropes against a wall of the barracks, along with a young follower. A regiment of 750 soldiers opened fire in three successive volleys. When the smoke and dust of the gunpowder cleared, the Báb had vanished from sight. Only His companion remained, alive and unscathed, standing beside the wall on which they had been suspended. The ropes by which they had been hung alone were severed. After a search, the Báb was found back in His cell, continuing the conversation with His secretary that had been earlier interrupted.
“Now you may proceed to fulfil your intention,” the Báb told His captors. Again, He was brought out for execution. After the first regiment refused to fire, another was assembled and ordered to shoot. This time the bodies of the Báb and His young follower were shattered. A whirlwind of dust engulfed the city, blotting out the light of the sun until nightfall.
In 1909, after being hidden away for more than half a century, the Báb’s remains were finally interred on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land. Today, entombed in an exquisite golden-domed Shrine, encompassed by spectacular terraced gardens and fountains, the Báb rests in conspicuous glory, a symbol of the triumph of the Cause that He heralded over the fiercest of opposition. Throughout the world, millions recognize the Báb as the divinely inspired Herald of the Bahá’í Faith and turn reverently to His Writings to discover the “resplendent Light of God.”
(Source of information bahai.org “copyright © Bahá'í International Community”)
Featured photo: Close-up view of the Barracks Square in Tabríz where the Báb was martyred. Photos taken in the dead of winter of a later year. Source of photos: Bahá'í Media Bank (copyright © Bahá'í International Community).