APPENDIX III

Vahíd

Siyyid Yahyáy-i-Dárábí, surnamed Vahíd (Peerless) and referred to by Bahá'u'lláh as 'that unique and peerless figure of his age', was an outstanding divine who embraced the Cause of the Báb and became one of the greatest luminaries of His Dispensation. He was a man of great learning and erudition and was particularly gifted with a remarkable memory. Of him it is authoritatively stated that he knew almost the whole of the Qur'án by heart and had committed to memory no less than thirty thousand traditions of Islám. He was venerated by the public and highly esteemed and trusted in royal circles.

The impact of the Message of the Báb upon the people of Persia was so tremendous that shortly after His return from Mecca the whole country was stirred to its depths. Nabíl-i A'zam in his narratives has recorded the following concerning those days:

A wave of passionate enquiry swayed the minds and hearts of both the leaders and the masses of the people. Amazement and wonder had seized those who had heard from the lips of the immediate messengers of the Báb the tales of those signs and testimonies which had heralded the birth of His Manifestation. The dignitaries of State and Church either attended in person or delegated their ablest representatives to enquire into the truth and character of this remarkable Movement.

Muhammad Sháh himself was moved to ascertain the veracity of these reports and to enquire into their nature. He delegated Siyyid Yahyáy-i-Dárábí, the most learned, the most eloquent, and the most influential of his subjects, to interview the Báb and to report to him the results of his investigations.

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The Dawn-Breakers, ch. 22
The Sháh had implicit confidence in his impartiality, in his competence and profound spiritual insight. He occupied a position of such pre-eminence among the leading figures in Persia that at whatever meeting he happened to be present, no matter how great the number of the ecclesiastical leaders who attended it, he was invariably its chief speaker. None would dare to assert his views in his presence. They all reverently observed silence before him; all testified to his sagacity, his unsurpassed knowledge and mature wisdom.1

Vahíd was staying in Tihrán, as a guest of the monarch himself, when he was delegated to proceed to Shíráz and interview the Báb. It is reported that the Sháh gave him a horse, a sword and the sum of one hundred túmáns for the journey. To comply with his wishes, Vahíd set out immediately for Shíráz, visiting on his way his home* in Yazd where his wife and four sons were living. In that city great numbers came to hear him speak about his mission. A brief account of this meeting is reported in the Táríkh-i-Shuhadáy-i-Yazd (History of the Martyrs of Yazd):

...Vahíd, mounted and carrying his sword, followed by a few dignitaries arrived at Musalláy-i-Safdar-Khán, a well known place where thousands of people had gathered to hear him. There he said: 'O inhabitants of Yazd, a certain distinguished Siyyid in Shíráz has claimed to be the Promised Qá'im. I am intending to go to Shíráz to have an interview with Him. If I find him to be an impostor, I shall deal with him with this sword but if I find His claim to be true I shall be willing to give my life in His path. I will be leaving shortly and anyone who wishes to accompany me on this journey may do so.' The crowd unanimously asserted their confidence in him and announced their feelings in these words: 'All of us here, whether learned or illiterate, high or low, rich or poor ask you to be our representative in this matter. We all testify to your knowledge and wisdom, your piety, faith and discernment. Your acceptance or rejection of this Cause is sufficient
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* His ancestral home was in Dáráb where he was born. He also had a home in Nayríz.


1. Nabíl-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 122-3 (Brit.), pp. 170-1 (U.S.).
testimony for us. Whatever your findings, we all accept your views and obey your wishes.2

In one of his writings Vahíd gives the date of his meeting with the Báb in Shíráz as the month of Jamádíyu'l-Avval in the year 1262 A.H. (April-May 1846). The following is Nabíl's vivid account of Vahíd's interviews with the Báb:

Siyyid Yahyá met the Báb at the home of Hájí Mírzá Siyyid 'Alí, and exercised in his attitude towards Him the courtesy which 'Azím* had counselled him to observe. For about two hours he directed the attention of the Báb to the most abstruse and bewildering themes in the metaphysical teachings of Islám, to the obscurest passages of the Qur'án, and to the mysterious traditions and prophecies of the Imáms of the Faith. The Báb at first listened to his learned references to the law and prophecies of Islám, noted all his questions, and began to give to each a brief but persuasive reply. The conciseness and lucidity of His answers excited the wonder and admiration of Siyyid Yahyá. He was overpowered by a sense of humiliation at his own presumptuousness and pride. His sense of superiority completely vanished. As he arose to depart, he addressed the Báb in these words: '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 enquiry.' As soon as he retired, he joined 'Azím, to whom he related the account of his interview. 'I have in His presence,' he told him, 'expatiated unduly upon my own learning. He was able in a few words to answer my questions and to resolve my perplexities. I felt so abased before Him that I hurriedly begged leave to retire.' 'Azím reminded him of his counsel, and begged him not to forget this time the advice he had given him.

In the course of his second interview, Siyyid Yahyá, to his amazement, discovered that all the questions which he had

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* One of the disciples of the Báb, a learned divine and intimate friend of Vahíd, who had advised the latter to exercise the utmost consideration towards the Báb lest he should come to regret some act of discourtesy towards Him.


2. Hájí Muhammad-Táhir-i-Málmírí, Táríkh-i-Shuhadáy-i-Yazd, p. 5.
intended to submit to the Báb had vanished from his memory. He contented himself with matters that seemed irrelevant to the object of his enquiry. He soon found, to his still greater surprise, that the Báb was answering, with the same lucidity and conciseness that had characterised His previous replies, those same questions which he had momentarily forgotten. 'I seemed to have fallen fast asleep,' he later observed. 'His words, His answers to questions which I had forgotten to ask, reawakened me. A voice still kept whispering in my ear: "Might not this, after all, have been an accidental coincidence?" I was too agitated to collect my thoughts. I again begged leave to retire. 'Azím, whom I subsequently met, received me with cold indifference, and sternly remarked: "Would that schools had been utterly abolished, and that neither of us had entered one! Through our little-mindedness and conceit, we are withholding. from ourselves the redeeming grace of God, and are causing pain to Him who is the Fountain thereof. 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?"

'I resolved that in my third interview with the Báb I would in my inmost heart request Him to reveal for me a commentary on the Súrih of Kawthar.* I determined not to breathe that request in His presence. Should He, unasked by me, reveal this commentary in a manner that would immediately distinguish it in my eyes from the prevailing standards current among the commentators on the Qur'án, I then would be convinced of the Divine character of His Mission, and would readily embrace His Cause. If not, I would refuse to acknowledge Him. As soon as I was ushered into His presence, a sense of fear, for which I could not account, suddenly seized me. My limbs quivered as I beheld His face. I, who on repeated occasions had been introduced into the presence of the Sháh and had never discovered the slightest trace of timidity in myself, was now so awed and shaken that I could not remain standing on my feet. The Báb, beholding

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* Qur'án, cviii.

my plight, arose from His seat, advanced towards me, and, taking hold of my hand, seated me beside Him. "Seek from Me," He said, "whatever is your heart's desire. I will readily reveal it to you." I was speechless with wonder. Like a babe that can neither understand nor speak, I felt powerless to respond. He smiled as He gazed at me and said: "Were I to reveal for you the commentary on the Súrih of Kawthar, would you acknowledge that My words are born of the Spirit of God? Would you recognise that My utterance can in no wise be associated with sorcery or magic?" Tears flowed from my eyes as I heard Him speak these words. All I was able to utter was this verse of the Qur'án: "O our Lord, with ourselves have we dealt unjustly: if Thou forgive us not and have not pity on us, we shall surely be of those who perish."

'It was still early in the afternoon when the Báb requested Hájí Mírzá Siyyid 'Alí to bring His pen-case and some paper. He then started to reveal His commentary on the Súrih of Kawthar. How am I to describe this scene of inexpressible majesty? Verses streamed from His pen* with a rapidity that was truly astounding. The incredible swiftness of His writing,† the soft and gentle murmur of His voice, and the stupendous force of His style, amazed and bewildered me. He continued in this manner until the approach of sunset. He did not pause until the entire commentary of the Súrih was completed. He then laid down His pen and asked for tea. Soon after, He began to read it aloud in my presence. My heart leaped madly as I heard Him pour out, in accents of unutterable sweetness, those treasures enshrined in that sublime commentary. I was so entranced by its beauty that three times over I was on the verge of fainting. He sought to revive my failing strength with a few drops of rose-water which He

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* According to the Báb's testimony, He revealed the Word of God at the rate of one thousand verses in six hours.

† According to the "Kashfu'l-Ghitá" (p. 81), no less than two thousand verses were revealed on that occasion by the Báb. The bewildering rapidity of this revelation was no less remarkable in the eyes of Siyyid Yahyá than the matchless beauty and profound meaning of the verses contained in that commentary. (Ed.)

caused to be sprinkled on my face. This restored my vigour and enabled me to follow His reading to the end.

'When He had completed His recital, the Báb arose to depart. He entrusted me, as He left, to the care of His maternal uncle. "He is to be your guest," He told him, "until the time when he, in collaboration with Mullá 'Abdu'l-Karím, shall have finished transcribing this newly revealed commentary, and shall have verified the correctness of the transcribed copy." Mullá 'Abdu'l-Karím and I devoted three days and three nights to this work. We would in turn read aloud to each other a portion of the commentary until the whole of it had been transcribed. We verified all the traditions in the text and found them to be entirely accurate. Such was the state of certitude to which I had attained that if all the powers of the earth were to be leagued against me they would be powerless to shake my confidence in the greatness of His Cause.' 3

Vahíd wrote a detailed account of his interviews with the Báb to Mírzá Lutf-'Alí, the King's chamberlain, for submission to Muhammad Sháh. When the latter heard of Vahíd's conversion to the Bábí Faith, he is reported to have said to his prime minister: 'We have been lately informed that Siyyid Yahyáy-i-Dárábí has become a Bábí. If this be true, it behoves us to cease belittling the Cause of that siyyid.'* 4 Vahíd also wrote a letter to the people of Yazd informing them of the truth of the Mission of the Báb.

His recognition of the station of the Báb was whole-hearted and complete. From the time that he was dismissed from the presence of the Báb till the end of his eventful life, he dedicated himself to the service of His Faith. The zeal and enthusiasm with which he arose to promote the Cause of the Báb were exemplary and of the highest degree. He travelled throughout the land and taught the Faith publicly among the multitudes.

It was in the course of these journeys that he attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh in Tihrán. From there he travelled towards the south until he reached the city of Yazd. Carrying his

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* The Báb.


3. Nabíl-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 124-6 (Brit.), pp. 173-6 (U.S.).

4. ibid., p. 127 {Brit.), p. 177 (U.S.).

sword and mounted on the steed that had once taken him there on his way to Shíráz, he arrived at the scene of his previous meeting, the Musalláy-i-Safdar-Khán, where thousands heard his eloquent discourse proclaiming the advent of the Promised One of Islám. Great numbers from the crowd readily embraced the Faith of the Báb. Among them were such eminent personalities as Mullá Muhammad-Ridá surnamed Rada'r-Rúh; his three brothers who were later martyred in Manshád; Hájí Mullá Mihdíy-i-'Atrí, the father of Varqá, the distinguished martyr of the Faith; Mírzá Ja'far-i-Yazdí who, as mentioned in a previous chapter, accompanied Bahá'u'lláh from Baghdád to 'Akká; Siyyid Ja'far-i-Yazdí, a noted divine who accompanied Vahíd to Nayríz and whose services have been mentioned previously. These outstanding men, together with many more, became the pillars of the Faith in Yazd and through their teaching endeavours, devotion and self-sacrifice the Cause flourished in that city.

Vahíd was eventually driven out of Yazd by his enemies. He proceeded to Nayríz where he proclaimed the Cause with great courage and fortitude and in the end laid down his life in the path of His Lord.

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