Notable Teachers of the Faith

The revelation of so many Tablets by the Most Exalted Pen, progressively unveiling the glory of the Day of God during this latter part of Bahá'u'lláh's Ministry, infused such a spirit of devotion and self-sacrifice into the hearts of the faithful that as a result the community of the Most Great Name was endowed as never before with enormous potentialities sufficient to guarantee its expansion in future centuries to a point where it could encompass the whole of mankind. That community was now far more consolidated than in the days of Baghdád and Adrianople. The laws and teachings of the Faith had been clearly enunciated, its universality proclaimed, the many misrepresentations made by Mírzá Yahyá, which in former days had confused a number of believers, had been dispelled and the pre-eminent station of the Author of the Faith had been recognized. The believers throughout the length and breadth of Persia were now teaching the Cause with great wisdom and enabling the pure in heart to embrace it. In every locality could be found certain individuals who were on fire with the love of Bahá'u'lláh and endowed with the gift of understanding, who acted in the capacity of Bahá'í teachers and were entitled Muballigh (Teacher-proclaimer). They were the focal points for teaching on the local level. There were also a host of teachers of outstanding calibre who, by virtue of their knowledge and spirituality, were highly respected in the community. Under Bahá'u'lláh's constant guidance these souls travelled throughout all the regions of Persia and some of its neighbouring countries, diffusing the divine fragrances, enthus-


ing, deepening and stimulating the believers. Notable among them were the four Hands of the Cause of God* appointed by Bahá'u'lláh in the latter part of His Ministry, together with Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl, Hájí Mírzá Haydar-'Alí, Nabíl-i-Akbar, Hájí Abu'l-Hasan-i-Amín and a few others.†

The outstanding feature of their successful teaching exploits was their detachment from the things of this world. Most of them earned their living by engaging in casual and modest work. For example, some time after being dismissed from his post as head of a theological college because he had embraced the Faith, and subsequent to his release from a long imprisonment, Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl, the great Bahá'í scholar, used to earn his living as a scribe for illiterate people who wished to have letters written for them. Satisfied with very small earnings, enough to appease his hunger and pay for the expenses of a donkey to carry him around, Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl travelled to all parts of Persia, to Turkistán, Syria and Egypt teaching the Cause of God, converting many seekers of Truth to the Faith, confirming and deepening souls in the verities of the Cause.

Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl

When Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl embarked on his travel-teaching activities, he was truly detached from all things. He had become like a shining mirror which had turned wholly towards Bahá'u'lláh and therefore he radiated the light of the Faith with such brilliance as to dazzle the eyes of those who came in contact with him. There are many stories about his teaching exploits and his attitude of utter dependence on God in his personal life. A few wealthy Bahá'ís wanted to deputize Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl to teach the Cause on their behalf. Many wanted him to be free of the struggle to earn his daily pittance. But he declined their offer, while lovingly thanking them for it, pointing out that he always relied on God for his needs. In those days many poor people used to live on a


* For details see below, chs. 19-21.

† Brief accounts of the lives of these individuals are given in vols. 1, 2 and 3.

piece of crisp bread at each meal. To make it a tastier dish they would indulge in the luxury of dipping each piece in a bowl of water before putting it in their mouths. This dish was known as 'crisp bread and water' and Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl was well accustomed to it.

One of the devoted believers in Tihrán offered to pay all his travel expenses. This is a summary of the reply he wrote to him.

...After my release from custody in Tihrán, I became assured that in this day, which is the Day of God, one's daily bread is provided through the power of the Almighty. So how can one accept the offer of deputization? In any case, up until now, God, the All-Possessing, the Most High, has not abandoned this servant. It is hoped that He will not do so during the remaining few days of his life. This servant does not consider himself to be worthy of serving this Most Great Cause. It is the Lord of Mankind who through His bounty has vouchsafed His assistance to this undeserving servant and enabled him to arise and serve His Cause. Of course, Jináb-i-Náyib and yourself, who have succeeded in assisting the teachers of the Cause, will be richly rewarded by God. However, this servant declines to accept your offer of funds...

I have made it clear to all the friends that under no circumstances will I expect assistance from anybody except assistance in teaching work which necessitates that someone provide a place for meetings. While staying in these two cities [Hamadán and Kirmánsháhán] I never approached any soul to give me, or even lend me, some money. And there have been times when the need has been so great that I had no choice but to sell some of my clothes, but I never mentioned this to anyone. If this servant could be spared from having to write replies to the many letters that he receives, he could earn a living by transcribing the Holy Writings...1*

In another letter to the same person he writes:


* In the early days of the Faith the Bahá'í Writings were not available in printed form. It was the common practice of literate persons to produce a compilation of the Tablets or of certain Bahá'í books in handwriting for sale to the believers.

1. Quoted by R. Mehrábkhání, Sharh-i-Ahvál-i-Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl-i-Gulpáygání, pp. 88-9.
...Concerning the sum of money which Jináb-i-Náyib, upon him be the Glory of God, has offered for this servant, I am at a loss to know how to apologize to him. God, the Knower of all things, is my witness that in refusing to accept this I am in no way ill-disposed toward him. As long as I live, I am grateful for his kindness and that of others like him. In this day, the reward which the exalted Pen of God has inscribed upon the tablet of this world for those who have arisen to promote the Cause through the generous outpouring of their substance and the sacrifice of their lives, is such that the passage of time and the succession of centuries and ages shall never be able to erase it...Thanks be to God that this servant...has no attachments and is fully content to subsist on a piece of bread in any town or country. God knows that souls like unto this servant are taking their lives in their own hands. They are engaged in teaching the Cause of the Lord of Creation. Not a day passes that the enemies in various parts do not plot to take our lives or expel us from their midst. They demonstrate their animosity toward us by various means. There is not a safe haven anywhere for these servants, and no place can be found in any city where they can repose in peace without becoming a target for strife and sedition, unless we stop teaching and refrain from speaking about the Cause, and this is unthinkable...

In a Tablet these exalted words have been revealed: 'O Abu'l-Fadl, the All-Bountiful has been and will be with thee.' The revealer of these utterances is my witness that since these words were revealed I have never been found helpless. The bounties of the All-Glorious have, at all times, encompassed me, and the glances of His loving-kindness watched over me. At no time has He left me on my own. Sufficient witness is God unto me.2

On his teaching trips Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl seldom stayed with any of the friends. He used to stay at a caravanserai and eat very simple food. But all his thoughts and deeds were concentrated towards teaching the Cause to the seekers of truth and deepening the believers in the knowledge of the Faith.

'Abdu'l-Bahá sent Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl to the United States of America to teach the Faith and help the Bahá'ís to deepen their


2. Quoted by R. Mehrábkhání, Sharh-i-Ahvál-i-Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl-i-Gulpáygání, pp. 89-91.
understanding of the teachings. He went there in 1901. Ali-Kuli Khán,* who translated for him, has written these words about his degree of reliance on God:

Mírzá was almost continually in a state of prayer. His mornings, noons and evenings were taken up with devotions. Once I went to his door and found it locked. I rapped, there was no answer. We forced the door, and found that Mírzá had fainted away as he prayed, and that his jaws were locked together. The reason he prayed with such fervor, and such weeping, was his concept of the greatness of God and his own nothingness; his belief that his very existence, bestowed on him by Divine mercy, was a sin in this Day 'whereon naught can be seen except the splendors of the Light that shineth from the face of Thy Lord...' I would say to him, 'You, a holy being, weeping like this. If you are a sinner, then what hope is there for the rest of us?' He would answer: 'The day will come when you, too, will know the degree of devotion worthy to serve as a language by which we can praise Bahá'u'lláh.' 3
Prayer exerted the most potent influence upon his life. The remarkable qualities he displayed and the outstanding successes he achieved in the field of teaching were due to his complete attachment to God. A certain believer asked Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl to outline for him the duties of a Bahá'í teacher and the conditions for success in teaching. He wrote these few lines in reply:

...Teachers of the Faith have varying methods when they travel-teach. This servant is of the opinion that a Bahá'í teacher ought to be freed from any encumbrance in his travels, be easy-going, patient, long-suffering, and detached in spirit. He should avoid becoming a cause of inconvenience for others, and never neglect to observe divine ordinances, the obligatory prayers and other chosen prayers; as He has revealed, 'The most exalted titles belong to God, so call on Him through them.'†

* A well-known Persian Bahá'í who served the Cause for many years in the United States; noted for his erudition and translations of the Bahá'í Writings into English.

Qur'án 7: 180. (A.T.)

3. Bahá'í World, vol. IX, pp. 857-8.
The Bahá'í teacher should believe that the greatest means for the influence of his word and the exaltation of his soul is to tread the path of piety and the fear of God. Also, he should observe wisdom, which is like unto armour for the teacher and a stronghold and a protection for the Cause of God. It is in this way that through the assistance of the Almighty God his words may exert their influence upon his hearers, his deeds become victorious and his own end auspicious.4
The teaching exploits of Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl are truly prodigious. He travelled throughout Persia, continually going from place to place for a period of three years. Then he continued this meritorious service outside Persia in 'Ishqábád, as well as Samarkand and Bukhárá, both cities in Uzbikistán. During the Ministry of 'Abdu'l-Bahá he travelled to Syria, Egypt and the United States of America. In every place Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl succeeded in bringing several souls under the shadow of the Cause of God,confirming them in their faith and deepening them in the understanding of the teachings. Many of them became true and renowned servants of the Faith.

Generally, when Bahá'í teachers in the early days of the Faith conversed with people about the Cause, they would employ three main methods of proving the authenticity of the claims of Bahá'u'lláh. One was based on rational and intellectual proofs, another on the contents and prophecies of the Holy Books of past dispensations, and the third, which was employed only in certain cases, used the arguments of the other party to prove the case. This last method, which is not generally familiar to Westerners, is very interesting indeed. It was used only in cases when the individual had no intention of finding the truth but was intent upon conducting and winning an argument. Examples of this method, in the form of a dialogue, have been given in previous volumes.*

Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl was a master of all three. There is no scope in this book to recount some of his fascinating discourses in which he lays bare the hidden mysteries of divine Revelation and brings


* see vol. 3, pp. 40-44, and vol. 2, pp. 21-3.

4. Quoted by Mehrábkhání, op. cit. p. 94. The quotation from the Qur'án is from Súrih 7, v. 180.
forward irrefutable proofs of the coming of the Lord in the person of Bahá'u'lláh. His main teaching work was, of course, carried out among Muslims, but he also taught the Faith to the adherents of the Christian, the Jewish and Zoroastrian Faiths. The following dialogues are gleaned from the vast treasure-house of his teaching exploits, some related by himself in his own writings and some recounted by others.

In order to appreciate the first of these, which took place between himself and the Revd Dr Robert Bruce,* a British missionary in Isfahán, it is helpful to know that Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl chose an unconventional method of countering this missionary, who was using his political influence and proudly boasting of his superior upbringing and education. It should be noted that Prince Zillu's-Sultán, the Governor of Isfahán, was under the influence of the British government whose support was vital in his ambitious plans. Under these circumstances it is natural that any British subject, and especially a high-ranking figure such as the Revd Bruce, should be a highly influential figure in Isfahán.

A certain believer arranged the meeting between Revd Bruce and Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl at a time when the people of Isfahán were ravaged by a famine, and poverty loomed over the city. The following is a summary of the unusual dialogue between the two, related by the late 'Ináyatu'lláh Suhráb, a devoted believer and a noteworthy Bahá'í teacher himself. The chronicler does not claim to have recorded the exact words that were exchanged, as his source of information was a verbal account. Nevertheless, it helps to portray what transpired at this unconventional encounter between one who wielded political and financial influence and one who was without either. After some preliminary discussions the following exchange took place:

Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl: Would it be possible for you please to tell me the extent of the funds involved in your work.

Revd Bruce: So far I have donated about half a million túmáns for famine relief, and if it was necessary I could provide several times this amount.


* He was born in Ireland and graduated at Trinity College, Dublin.

Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl: What sort of political influence do you command?

Revd Bruce: Well, my political power is such that should the fanatical Muslims close my church, I could direct the Governor of Isfahán, who is a son of the monarch, to open it with his own hands.

Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl: What are your educational qualifications?

Revd Bruce: I am a graduate of a university and have grown up and lived in Britain which is foremost among the civilized countries of the world. From this you may guess the extent of my education and knowledge.

Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl: Having been richly endowed with such influence and knowledge, how many souls have you been able to convert to Christianity* since you have been in Isfahán?

Revd Bruce: About thirty.

Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl: of these how many, do you think, are steadfast in their Christian faith and sincerely believe in it?

Revd Bruce (after a brief pause, thinking): I am certain about ten to fifteen of them are sincere in their faith.

Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl: of these ten to fifteen, how many will remain steadfast to the end and are willing to give their lives in the face of persecution and martyrdom?

Revd Bruce (after some pause): Perhaps two or three of them will remain steadfast till the end.

Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl: If you permit me, I will now recount my position for you. Financially, I have no assets whatsoever. At times I even have nothing to subsist on. Sometimes my friends, who are also poor, insist on offering me a meal. My position with regard to political influence is as follows. Should people suspect that I am a Bahá'í they would undoubtedly put me to death in public, and those committing this crime would become the recipients of honours from the government. As to my knowledge, it is true that I have learnt religious subjects as are currently taught in Islámic schools. I am, nevertheless,


* In spite of many enticements and the offer of some very attractive benefits, an insignificant number of people were converted from Islám to Christianity. Muslims would not take a step backwards to become Christians, in the same way that a Christian would not revert to becoming a Jew. (A. T.)

born in and a product of a society steeped in ignorance and enveloped in darkness.

In spite of all these shortcomings, I have spoken to about one hundred people since my arrival in this city a month ago. Twenty-four souls among them have recognized the truth of this Faith and embraced it with such devotion and fervour that every one of them is ready to lay down his life in the path of God, as many other Bahá'ís have already done. Now, I want you to be fair in your judgement. Who, in this day, is assisted by the Holy Spirit, you or I?

The Reverend Dr Bruce had never expected that the dialogue conducted by Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl would come so swiftly to an end and that he would find himself in such disarray. Discomfited, he asked for the meeting to be adjourned, and promised to continue the discussion at a later date.

The same Ali-Kuli Khán has recounted the following story about his conversation with another clergyman in the United States of America:

Mírzá was a master of reasoning--he built a wall around people and trapped them so that they had either to accept his statements or acknowledge their ignorance. All kinds of scholars matched their minds with him here, but I never saw him defeated. He was deeply read in Church history, European theology and metaphysics, works on which he had studied in Arabic at Al-Azhar. I remember once a churchman came to him and violently attacked the Prophet Muhammad. Mírzá said to him: 'Your leading authorities state that none of the Jewish or Roman historians of the First Century even mention Jesus, and many do not believe in the historicity of Christ. Certain Christians inserted a reference to Christ in the writings of Josephus, but the forgery was exposed. Others buried a tablet in China, which said that Christianity had been brought to that country in the First Century. This, too, was exposed. But as for the Prophet Muhammad, He not only proclaimed the existence of a historical Christ, but He caused three hundred million people to believe in Him; to accept Him not only as a historical figure but also as the Spirit of God

(Rúhu'lláh). Was not Muhammad, whom you condemn, a more successful Christian missionary than your own?'

Mírzá never encouraged any talk which might lead to inharmony. Once, a friend came to him and said that another believer was doing harm to the Faith. Mírzá listened carefully. Then he told me to translate his answer word for word:

'Do you believe that Bahá'u'lláh is the promised Lord of Hosts?'


'Well, if He is that Lord, these are the Hosts. What right have we to speak ill of the Hosts?' 5

Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl had another interview with Revd Bruce, this time in Tabríz. Unlike the account of the last dialogue, this one is recounted by Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl himself:
Early in the spring of this year (1887) I was staying in Tabríz when Mr Bruce, a learned divine of the honoured Christian community, who for years had been living in India and Persia and in latter years in Isfahán, arrived in Tabríz on his way to London. As he was known to me, I went to visit him in company with Jináb-i-Varqá and Áqá Khalíl-i-Tabrízí. After greeting each other, an American youth who was a Christian minister arrived and soon we were joined by Mustasháru'd-Dawlih, Mírzá Yúsuf Khán, who was a high-ranking government official. He was a man of good character and wisdom. As we sat around, a social atmosphere was created.

Mr Bruce, referring to our meeting last year in Isfahán, said that he had been eager to find an opportunity to meet again and discuss three subjects which he considered to be the only things about which we disagreed. I said to him...that this was a good opportunity to discuss these matters as there was a meeting here in which men of culture and knowledge were present. I asked him to tell us what the three subjects were, so that I might explain them if I could.

Mr Bruce said, 'The first question is this: You consider the Heavenly Father to be manifested in the form of a human temple, whereas we consider Him to be an Essence hidden from our eyes and unknowable by our intellect. He is exalted above any form or attribute.


5. Bahá'í World, vol. IX, p. 859.
'The second question: You consider the Old and the New Testament, as well as the Qur'án, to be Holy Books revealed by God. Whereas we believe that only the first two are the Words of God, the texts of which are free of interpolation and protected from change. Since the contents of the Qur'án differ from the former two, we consider it to be fallacious.

'The third question: We consider Christ to be a single person, that is, Jesus. Whereas you consider Christ to be manifested in the form of many other persons.'

I said, 'I consider the criterion for considering these three questions ought to be the text of the Old and the New Testaments. Whatever these two Books testify will be acceptable to me and the basis for my argument. And now through the assistance of God, I would like to set forth the truth of our beliefs in the presence of these distinguished personages.'

He said, 'You are right, because in religious matters we do not consider anything authoritative and acceptable unless it conforms with the testimony of the Holy Books. We do not use intellectual and rational proofs in matters connected with faith and heavenly teachings.' He then asked for copies of the Old and the New Testament, which were brought in.

I said, 'Concerning the first question: It is clear and evident that the term "Heavenly Father" has been in use only among the Christian and Jewish peoples. Other nations, such as the Zoroastrians, Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists, do not use this phrase, and a great many of them have never heard of it. The origin of this term is in the Old Testament. From it, this term has entered into the New Testament which is born of the former Book. Therefore we must look at the testimony of the Old Testament concerning the "Heavenly Father", and be prepared to accept its description as authentic and not to follow the imaginations of the learned.' Mr. Bruce agreed with me on this point.

Then I asked him to read Chapter 9, verse 6 of Isaiah, which is as follows: 'For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.'


(Verse 7): 'of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgement and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.'

After these blessed verses were read out, I stated that these words testified that a son would be born who would save the Children of Israel from abasement and misery, and would be described by the following attributes: first, a 'Counsellor' who counsels the people; second, 'the mighty God' which means the Supreme Manifestation of God and the greatest Primal Word; third, 'the everlasting Father', through whom all human beings from the beginning till the end have been created and born of His sovereignty and omnipotence; fourth, 'the Prince of Peace', through whose Revelation the foundation of the oneness and unity of the human race would be laid, and the ills of discord and war which cause the destruction of the world and the degradation of the human race would be eliminated.

From this clear and explicit verse it is clear that the 'Heavenly Father' will appear in the form of the human temple, will be born of a mother and be known by the Greatest Name. It appears that in other passages of the Holy Books one may not be able to find a statement about the 'Heavenly Father' as explicit and evident as this one.

Mr Bruce, who was deeply immersed in thought, said, 'I have never heard such an exposition before.' Then he turned his attention to Edward, the American, minister, and spoke a few words to him in English. Jináb-i-Áqá Khalíl, who knew English, conveyed to Jináb-i-Varqá the main points of the conversation between the two. Mr Bruce said, 'For a long time we have been giving the Old and the New Testament to the people of Islám. They do not grasp anything by studying them. But these people [the Bahá'ís} understand the meanings of heavenly Books so well. To be fair, they are right in the interpretation of the above verses in the Old Testament.'

Then this servant turned to Mr Bruce and said, 'Praise be to God, we have solved the first question and removed the


differences between us. And now concerning the second question…6
Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl sets out to prove the authenticity of the Qur'án, and begins to elucidate the subject. After one or two minutes of talking, the Revd Bruce interrupts him and brings the conversation to an abrupt end. Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl writes about this:

Mr Bruce, in a mood at once serious and light-hearted, hiding his inner disturbance with a smile characteristic of him, addressed me in these words:

'Truthfully and with sincerity I wish to make it clear that we know all that we ought to know about Muhammad and the Qur'án. We can never submit to Him. Therefore, it is useless for you to speak to us on this question.'

In reply, I said, 'Our purpose in coming here was not to enter into discussion with you, but rather to renew our acquaintance and fulfil our obligation to establish a loving relationship with you. The people of Bahá consider confict and dispute to be reprehensible behaviour. They regard love and amity as the most important feature in the life of man. It was because of your wish that we entered into discussion. We only responded to your questions.'

Then Jináb-i-Varqá said to him, 'You were pleased with the answer to the first question. Surely there is no harm if you discuss the other questions too. Perchance you may find the answers to be to your satisfaction again.'

But Mr Bruce said, 'As I have already stated, there is no point in continuing the discussion.' Thus our dialogue came to an end. We indulged in friendly conversation. He expressed an eagerness to take this servant with him to London. But I declined the offer so that I might serve this Most Great Cause.7

The travels of Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl, both inside and outside Persia, undertaken for the promotion of the Faith, acted as a musk-laden breeze which wafted for almost three decades upon the newly-born community, refreshing its members and invigorating its growth. That he was a distinguished and exemplary

6. Quoted by Mehrábkhání, op. cit. pp. 119-24.

7. ibid.

instrument created by God to promote His Cause there can be no doubt. The example of his noble life is bound to inspire countless generations in future centuries and ages.

Hájí Mírzá Haydar-'Alí

Another outstanding teacher of the Faith who travelled extensively throughout Persia during the Ministry of Bahá'u'lláh was the renowned Hájí Mírzá Haydar-'Alí. He visited practically every locality in which a Bahá'í was living, and in many places where there were no Bahá'ís he succeeded in converting some souls to the Faith. One of his great achievements was that he had so thoroughly consecrated his life to the teaching work that no earthly power could ever distract him from his exalted goal of guiding the receptive souls to the Cause of God. No preoccupation, no material benefits, no pain or suffering or persecution could withhold him from serving His Lord. When he entered a town or village people who were endowed with spiritual vision sensed his presence and were drawn to him. Because he was detached from earthly things his heart was the well-spring of divine attributes. As a result of this, he radiated the power of the Faith to people, and his words sank deeply into their hearts. Some individuals who had been ill-disposed towards the Cause of God for years were favourably impressed by meeting him, and subdued at hearing a few of his words.

For example, when Hájí Mírzá Haydar-'Alí was returning from the Holy Land to Persia, he stayed a few days in a small Kurdish town near the Persian border. There he came across a man named Karbilá'í Áqá Ján, who had been an enemy of the Faith for many years. Within a few days of associating with Hájí he recognized the truth of the Faith and became a new creation. His love for Bahá'u'lláh grew steadily and his enthusiasm knew no bounds. He surpassed many a veteran teacher of the Cause in his devotion to the Faith. Some time later, as a result of an armed rebellion by a certain religious leader, Karbilá'í Áqá Ján, who was a wealthy man, lost all his possessions and was forced to flee the town on foot. Destitution on the one hand and utter exhaustion on the


other provoked in him a feeling of bitterness and despair. In this state of mind he raised his hands in supplication and addressed the Almighty in these simple words: 'Suppose we change places for a moment. I become God and you become Karbilá'í Áqá Ján. How would you have liked it if, as God, I had treated you in the same way you have treated Áqá Ján?'

No sooner were these words uttered than He who is the Knower of all things and the Hearer of our supplications responded to his plea. A short while later Karbilá'í Áqá Jan unexpectedly received a short Tablet from Bahá'u'lláh saying that He had heard His complaint in his prayer, and that God admitted that Áqá Jan was right! He assures him in this Tablet that God's assistance will be forthcoming. Soon he became prosperous and continued to serve the Cause of God till the end of his life.

In his teaching exploits Hájí Mírzá Haydar-'Alí occasionally employed unusual tactics in order to open people's eyes and enable them to see the truth of the Cause of God. Here is the summary of a story told by Hájí himself, it happened in the city of Qum, which is a centre of the ecclesiastical hierarchy in Persia:

They {two brothers who were Bahá'ís residing in Qum} informed me that there was a person who was a true believer in the Faith of Islám, who was God-fearing, honest and simple-minded, but very much attached to the clergy. They thought there was a chance that he might embrace the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh if I were to meet with him somewhere with a view to teaching him the Cause. We made the following arrangements:

I was to retire to a scenic place in the countryside outside the city where I would be seen making tea and socializing with a friend. Then the two Bahá'í brothers* accompanied by their


* It was not possible under the circumstances prevailing at the time for Bahá'ís in general and these two brothers in particular to identify themselves as Bahá'ís, as it could have endangered their lives. It was, however, much easier for a person who was passing through a town, like Hájí Mírzá Haydar-'Alí, be presented as a Bahá'í and teach the Faith. For this reason the two brothers had to pretend to their friend that they were not Bahá'ís. (A.T.)

non-Bahá'í friend were to pass through the gardens in the area, and I was to greet and invite them to join me for a cup of tea. In the course of our conversation I could then bring up the subject of the Faith.

We carried out this plan; they came and I spoke to him about the Faith. He was happy to converse with me, but when he realized who I was and what was my aim, he excused himself very politely and, with the utmost humility, said that the clergy had forbidden people to converse with the Bahá'ís...He demanded that we did not speak about religious subjects, otherwise he would have to leave us, and he suggested we might talk about other subjects.8

It is clear from the way that Hájí Mírzá Haydar-'Alí conducted this discussion that he had recognized in this person a pure and simple soul who was capable of recognizing the truth of the Faith but who was deeply attached to the clergy and held them in high esteem. He therefore seems to have decided to do something to shake this person's confidence in the Persian clergy and show him their ugly side and true nature. He knew well that if this person were to take some searching questions about religion to the clergy, they would probably suspect him of being in contact with Bahá'ís and for this they could severely punish him, an act which could shatter his faith in the clergy.

This is how Hájí Mírzá Haydar-'Alí continues the story:

I said to him, 'I can appreciate that you consider it a sin to enter into conversation with me, but if I wanted to ask a question from the clergy could you take it to them and bring back the answer?' He said, 'It depends on the nature of the question.' I said, 'The question is as follows: "What constitutes the proof of the authenticity of the glorious Qur'án and how can we be assured that the Book is a miracle?"' He said to me that if I wrote down the question he would be glad to take the letter and bring back the answer...And so this simple-minded and truthful person took my notes to the clergy.

No sooner did these divines see the note than they beat the poor man very severely, cursed and denounced him as a Bahá'í


8. Bihjatu's-Sudúr, pp. 219-20.
and wanted to put him into prison. This cruel and inhuman treatment which was meted out to him, coupled with the inability of the divines to answer the question, opened the eyes of the person and caused him to embrace the Faith.9
In his vast travels in Persia, Hájí Mírzá Haydar-'Alí taught the Faith to many souls. In the course of these journeys he encountered great opposition from the enemies, and many a time he was attacked physically. Some of the harrowing afflictions he endured in prison in the Súdán for several years is reflected in the story of his illustrious life recounted in a previous volume.* From the early days of the Ministry of Bahá'u'lláh until His ascension, and during the years of the Ministry of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, this man of God served the Cause with exemplary devotion and self-sacrifice and shed an imperishable lustre upon the annals of the Faith.

* see vol. 2.

9. Bihjatu's-Sudúr, p. 220.