ATTENDED by His escort, the Báb proceeded in the direction of Qum. 1 His alluring charm, combined with a compelling dignity and unfailing benevolence, had, by this time, completely disarmed and transformed His guards. They seemed to have abdicated all their rights and duties and to have resigned themselves to His will and pleasure. In their eagerness to serve and please Him, they, one day, remarked: "We are strictly forbidden by the government to allow You to enter the city of Qum, and have been ordered to proceed by an unfrequented route directly to Tihrán. We have been particularly directed to keep away from the Haram-i-Ma'súmih, 2 that inviolable sanctuary under whose shelter the most notorious criminals are immune from arrest. We are ready, however, to ignore utterly for Your sake whatever instructions we have received. If it be Your wish, we shall unhesitatingly conduct You through the streets of Qum and enable You to visit its holy shrine." "'The heart of the true believer is the throne of God,'" observed the Báb. "He who is the ark of salvation and the Almighty's impregnable stronghold is now journeying with you through this wilderness. I prefer the way of the country rather than to enter this unholy city. The immaculate one whose remains are interred within this shrine, her brother, and her illustrious ancestors no doubt bewail the plight of this wicked people. With their lips they pay homage to her; by their acts they heap dishonour upon her name. Outwardly they serve and reverence her shrine; inwardly they disgrace her dignity."

1. The site of the second most sacred shrine in Persia, and the burial-place of many of her kings, among them Fath-'Alí and Muhammad Sháh.

2. "At Qum are deposited the remains of his [Imám Ridá's] sister, Fátimiy-i-Ma'súmih, i.e. the Immaculate, who, according to one account, lived and died here, having fled from Baghdád to escape the persecution of the Khalífs; according to another, sickened and died at Qum, on her way to see her brother at Tus. He, for his part, is believed by the pious Shí'ahs to return the compliment by paying her a visit every Friday from his shrine at Mashhad." Lord Curzon's "Persia and the Persian Question," vol. 2, p. 8.)

Such lofty sentiments had instilled such confidence in the hearts of those who accompanied the Báb that had He at any time chosen to turn away suddenly and leave them, no one among His guards would have felt in the least perturbed or would have attempted to pursue Him. Proceeding by a route that skirted the northern end of the city of Qum, they halted at the village of Qumrud, which was owned by a relative of Muhammad Big, and the inhabitants of which all belonged to the sect of the 'Alíyu'lláhí. At the invitation of the headman of the village, the Báb tarried one night in that place and was touched by the warmth and spontaneity of the reception which those simple folk had accorded Him. Ere He resumed His journey, He invoked the blessings of the Almighty in their behalf and cheered their hearts with assurances of His appreciation and love.


After a march of two days from that village, they arrived, on the afternoon of the eighth day after Naw-Rúz, at the fortress of Kinár-Gird, 3 which lies six farsangs to the south of Tihrán.


They were planning to reach the capital on the ensuing day, and had decided to spend the night in the neighbourhood of that fortress, when a messenger unexpectedly arrived from Tihrán, bearing a written order from Hájí Mírzá Aqásí to Muhammad Big.


That message instructed him to proceed immediately with the Báb to the village of Kulayn, 4 where Shaykh-i-Kulayní, Muhammad-ibn-i-Ya'qub, the author of the Usul-i-Káfí, who was born in that place, had been laid to rest with his father, and whose shrines are greatly honoured by the people of that neighbourhood. 5 Muhammad Big was commanded, in view of the unsuitability of the houses in that village, to pitch a special tent for the Báb and keep the escort in its neighbourhood pending the receipt of further instructions. On the morning of the ninth day after Naw-Rúz, the eleventh day of the month of Rabí'u'th-Thání, in the year 1263 A.H., 6 in the immediate vicinity of that village, which belonged to Hájí Mírzá Aqásí, a tent which had served for his own use whenever he visited that place was erected for the Báb, on the slopes of a hill pleasantly situated amid wide stretches of orchards and smiling meadows. The peacefulness of that spot, the luxuriance of its vegetation, and the unceasing murmur of its streams greatly pleased the Báb. He was joined two days after by Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdí, Siyyid Hasan, his brother; Mullá 'Abdu'l-Karím, and Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunúzí, all of whom were invited to lodge in the immediate surroundings of His tent. On the fourteenth day of the month of Rabí'u'th-Thání, 7 the twelfth day after Naw-Rúz, Mullá Mihdíy-i-Khú'í and Mullá Muhammad-Mihdíy-i-Kandí arrived from Tihrán. The latter, who had been closely associated with Bahá'u'lláh in Tihrán, had been commissioned by Him to present to the Báb a sealed letter together with certain gifts which, as soon as they were delivered into His hands, provoked in His soul sentiments of unusual delight. His face glowed with joy as He overwhelmed the bearer with marks of His gratitude and favour.

3. A station on the old Tsfáhán road, distant about 28 miles from Tihrán. ("A Traveller's Narrative," p. 14, note 2.)

4. See "A Traveller's Narrative," p. 14, note 3.

5. "As the order of the prime minister Hájí Mírzá Aqásí became generally known, it was impossible to carry it out. From Isfahán to Tihrán, everyone spoke of the iniquity of the clergy and of the government towards the Báb; everywhere the people muttered and exclaimed against such an injustice." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 355.)

6. March 29, 1847 A.D.

7. April 1, 1847 A.D.

That message, received at an hour of uncertainty and suspense, imparted solace and strength to the Báb. It dispelled the gloom that had settled upon His heart, and imbued His soul with the certainty of victory. The sadness which had long lingered upon His face, and which the perils of His captivity had served to aggravate, visibly diminished. He no longer shed those tears of anguish which had streamed so profusely from His eyes ever since the days of His arrest and departure from Shíráz. The cry "Beloved, My Well-Beloved," which in His bitter grief and loneliness He was wont to utter, gave way to expressions of thanksgiving and praise, of hope and triumph. The exultation which glowed upon His face never forsook Him until the day when the news of the great disaster which befell the heroes of Shaykh Tabarsí again beclouded the radiance of His countenance and dimmed the joy of His heart.  
I have heard Mullá 'Abdu'l-Karím recount the following incident: "My companions and I were fast asleep in the vicinity of the tent of the Báb when the trampling of horsemen suddenly awakened us. We were soon informed that the tent of the Báb was vacant and that those who had gone out in search of Him had failed to find Him. We heard Muhammad Big remonstrate with the guards. 'Why feel disturbed?' he pleaded. 'Are not His magnanimity and nobleness of soul sufficiently established in your eyes to convince you that He will never, for the sake of His own safety, consent to involve others in embarrassment? He, no doubt, must have retired, in the silence of this moonlit night, to a place where He can seek undisturbed communion with God. He will unquestionably return to His tent. He will never desert us.' In his eagerness to reassure his colleagues, Muhammad Big set out on foot along the road leading to Tihrán. I, too, with my companions, followed him. Shortly after, the rest of the guards were seen, each on horseback, marching behind us. We had covered about a maydán 8 when, by the dim light of the early dawn, we discerned in the distance the lonely figure of the Báb. He was coming towards us from the direction of Tihrán. 'Did you believe Me to have escaped?' were His words to Muhammad Big as He approached him. 'Far be it from me,' was the instant reply as he flung himself at the feet of the Báb, 'to entertain such thoughts.' Muhammad Big was too much awed by the serene majesty which that radiant face revealed that morning to venture any further remark. A look of confidence had settled upon His countenance, His words were invested with such transcendent power, that a feeling of profound reverence wrapped our very souls. No one dared to question Him as to the cause of so remarkable a change in His speech and demeanour. Nor did He Himself choose to allay our curiosity and wonder."


8. A subdivision of a farsakh/farsang. A square or open place.
For a fortnight 9 the Báb tarried in that spot. The tranquillity which He enjoyed amidst those lovely surroundings was rudely disturbed by the receipt of a letter which Muhammad Sháh 10 himself addressed to the Báb and which was composed in these terms: 11 "Much as we desire to meet you, we find ourself unable, in view of our immediate departure from our capital, to receive you befittingly in Tihrán. We have signified our desire that you be conducted to Máh-Kú, and have issued the necessary instructions to 'Alí Khán, the warden of the castle, to treat you with respect and consideration. It is our hope and intention to summon you to this place upon our return to the seat of our government, at which time we shall definitely pronounce our judgment. We trust that we have caused you no disappointment, and that you will at no time hesitate to inform us in case any grievances befall you. We fain would hope that you will continue to pray for our well-being and for the prosperity of our realm." (Dated Rabí'u'th-Thání, 1263 A.H.) 12
9. According to "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 14), the Báb remained in the village of Kulayn for a period of twenty days.

10. "Muhammad Sháh," writes Gobineau, "was a prince of peculiar temperament, a type often seen in Asia but not often discovered or understood by Europeans. Although he reigned during a period when political practices were rather harsh, he was kind and patient and his tolerance extended even to the discords of his harem which were of such a nature as normally to cause grave annoyance; for, even in the days of Fath-'Alí Sháh, the laisser-aller, the whims and fancies were never carried to such an extreme. The following words which our 18th century might recognize as its own are attributed to him: 'Why are you not more discreet, Madam? I do not wish to hinder you from enjoying yourself.' "But, in his case, it was not affected indifference, but fatigue and boredom. His health had always been wretched; seriously ill with gout, he was hardly ever free from pain. His disposition naturally weak, had become very melancholy and, as he craved love and could not find it in his family either with his wives or children, he had centered all his affection upon the aged Mullá, his tutor. He had made of him his only friend, his confidant, then his first and all-powerful minister, even his god! Brought up by this idol with very irreverent sentiments toward Islám, he was equally as indifferent toward the dogmas of the Prophet as toward the Prophet himself. He cared little for the Imáms and, if he had any regard for 'Alí, it is because the Persian mind is wont to identify this venerable personage with the nation itself. "But in brief, Muhammad Sháh was no better Muhammadan than he was Christian or Jew. He believed that the Divine Essence incarnates Itself in the Sages with all Its power, and, as he considered Hájí Mírzá Aqásí a Sage par excellence, he felt certain that he was God and he would piously ask him to perform miracles. Often he said to his officers with earnestness and conviction, 'The Hájí has promised me a miracle for tonight, you shall see!' As long as the character of the Hájí was not involved, Muhammad Sháh was completely indifferent regarding the success or failure of this or that religious doctrine; he was rather pleased to witness the conflict of opinions which were proof to him of the universal blindness." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale,' pp. 131–2.)

11. According to "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 14), the Báb "forwarded a letter to the Royal Presence craving audience to set forth the truth of His condition, expecting this to be a means for the attainment of great advantages." Regarding this letter, Gobineau writes as follows: "'Alí-Muhammad wrote personally to the Court and his letter and the accusations of his adversaries all arrived at the same time. Without assuming an aggressive attitude toward the king, but trusting on the contrary to his authority and justice, he represented to them that the depravity of the clergy in Persia had been well known for many years; that not only morals were thereby corrupted and the well-being of the nation affected, but that religion itself, poisoned by the sins of so many, was in great danger and was about to disappear leaving the people in perilous darkness. "As for himself, called by God, in virtue of a special mission, to prevent such an evil, he had already begun to apprise the people of Fárs that the true doctrine had made evident and rapid progress; that all its adversaries had been confounded and were now powerless and universally despised; but that this was only a beginning. "The Báb, confident of the magnanimity of the king, requested the permission to come to the capital with his principal disciples and there hold conferences with all the Mullás of the Empire, in the presence of the Sovereign, the nobles and the people, convinced that he would shame them by exposing their faithlessness. He would accept beforehand the judgment of the king and, in case of failure, was ready to sacrifice his head and that of each one of his followers." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 124.)

12. March 19-April 17, 1847 A.D.

Hájí Mírzá Aqásí 13 was no doubt responsible for having induced Muhammad Sháh to address such a communication to the Báb. He was actuated solely by a sense of fear 14 lest the contemplated interview should rob him of his position of unquestioned pre-eminence in the affairs of the State and should lead eventually to his overthrow from power. He entertained no feelings of malice or resentment toward the Báb. He finally succeeded 15 in persuading his sovereign to transfer so dreaded an opponent to a remote and sequestered corner of his realm, and was thus able to relieve his mind of a thought that continually obsessed him. 16 How stupendous was his mistake, how grievous his blunder! Little did he realise, at that moment, that by his incessant intrigues he was withholding from his king and country the incomparable benefits of a Divine Revelation which alone had the power to deliver the land from the appalling state of degradation into which it had fallen. By his act that short-sighted minister did not only withhold from Muhammad Sháh the supreme instrument with which he could have rehabilitated a fast-declining empire, but also deprived him of that spiritual Agency which could have enabled him to establish his undisputed ascendancy over the peoples and nations of the earth. By his folly, his extravagance and perfidious counsels, he undermined the foundations of the State, lowered its prestige, sapped the loyalty of his subjects, and plunged them into an abyss of misery. 17


Incapable of being admonished by the example of his predecessors, he contemptuously ignored the demands and interests of the people, pursued, with unremitting zeal, his designs for personal aggrandisement, and by his profligacy and extravagance involved his country in ruinous wars with its neighbours. Sa'd-i-Ma'adh, who was neither of royal blood nor invested with authority, attained, through the uprightness of his conduct and his unsparing devotion to the Cause of Muhammad, so exalted a station that to the present day the chiefs and rulers of Islám have continued to reverence his memory and to praise his virtues; whereas Buzurg-Mihr, the ablest, the wisest and most experienced administrator among the vazírs of Nushiravan-i-'Adil, in spite of his commanding position, eventually was publicly disgraced, was thrown into a pit, and became the object of the contempt and the ridicule of the people. He bewailed his plight and wept so bitterly that he finally lost his sight. Neither the example of the former nor the fate of the latter seemed to have awakened that self-confident minister to the perils of his own position. He persisted in his thoughts until he too forfeited his rank, lost his riches, 18 and sank into abasement and shame. The numerous properties which he forcibly seized from the humble and law-abiding subjects of the Sháh, the costly furnitures with which he embellished them, the vast expenditures of labour and treasure which he ordered for their improvement—all were irretrievably lost two years after he had issued his decree condemning the Báb to a cruel incarceration in the inhospitable mountains of Ádhirbayján. All his possessions were confiscated by the State. He himself was disgraced by his sovereign, was ignominiously expelled from Tihrán, and fell a prey to disease and poverty. Bereft of hope and sunk in misery, he languished in Karbilá until the hour of his death. 19

13. According to Hidáyat in the "Majma'u'l-Fusaha'," the name of Hájí Mírzá Aqásí was Abbás-'Alí. He was the son of Mírzá Muslim, one of the well-known divines of Íraván. His son, Abbás-'Alí, was a pupil, while in Karbilá, of Fahkru'd-Dín 'Abdu's-Samad-i-Hamadání. From Karbilá he proceeded to Hamadán, visited Ádhirbayján, and from there undertook a pilgrimage to Mecca. Returning, in circumstances of extreme poverty, to Ádhirbayján, he succeeded in gradually improving his position, and was made the tutor of the children of Mírzá Músá Khán, the brother of the late Mírzá Abu'l-Qásim, the Qá'im-Maqám. Muhammad Mírzá, to whom he had announced his eventual accession to the throne of Persia, was greatly devoted to him. He eventually was appointed his prime minister, and retired after the death of the monarch to Karbilá, where he died in Ramadán, 1265 A.H. (Notes of Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl.) According to Hájí Mu'inu's-Saltanih's narrative (p. 220), Hájí Mírzá Aqásí was born in Máh-Kú, where his parents had been residing after their departure from Íraván, in the Caucasus. "Hájí Mírzá Aqásí, native of Íraván, attained unlimited influence over his weak-minded master, formerly his tutor, and professed Súfí doctrine. A quizzical old gentleman, with a long nose, whose countenance betokened the oddity and self-sufficiency of his character." (C. R. Markham's "A General Sketch of the History of Persia" p. 473.) "As for the Hájí, he was a very special kind of god. It was not absolutely certain that he did himself believe that of which the Sháh was convinced. In any case, he preferred the same general principles as the King and he had taught them to him in good faith. He could nevertheless be a buffoon; jesting was the policy, the rule of his conduct and of his life. He pretended to take nothing seriously, not even himself. "'I am not a prime minister,' he often said, especially to those whom he mistreated; 'I am an old Mullá of humble birth and without merit and, if I find myself in this high office, it is because it is the wish of the King.' "He never referred to his sons without calling them 'sons of hussies and sons of dogs.' It is in these terms that he enquired of them or sent them orders by his officers, when they were away. His greatest delight was to pass in review units of cavalry in which he would assemble, in their most gorgeous trappings, all the nomad Kháns of Persia. When these warlike tribes were gathered in the valley, the Hájí would appear, dressed like a beggar, with a threadbare and shapeless cap, a sword dangling awkwardly at his side and riding a small donkey. Then he would draw up the horsemen about him, call them fools, make fun of their attire, show their worthlessness, and then send them home with presents; for his sarcasm was always tempered with generosity." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 132–3.)

14. "An anecdote shows the real motive of the prime minister in the suggestions he made to the Sháh concerning the Báb. The Prince Farhád Mírzá, still young, was the pupil of Hájí Mírzá Aqásí. The latter related the following story: "When His Majesty, after consulting the prime minister, had written to the Báb to betake himself to Máh-Kú, we went with Hájí Mírzá Aqásí to spend a few days at Yáft-Ábád, in the neighborhood of Tihrán, in the park which he had created there. I was very desirous of questioning my master regarding the recent happenings but I feared to do so publicly. One day, while I was walking with him in the garden and he was in a good humor, I made bold to ask him: "Hájí, why have you sent the Báb to Máh-Kú?" He replied,—"You are still too young to understand certain things, but know that had he come to Tihrán. you and I would not be, at this moment, walking free from care in this cool shade."'" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Alí-Muhammad dit le Báb," pp. 243–244) According to Hájí Mu'inu's-Saltanih's narrative (p. 129), the chief motive which actuated Hájí Mírzá Aqásí to urge Muhammad Sháh to order the banishment of the Báb to Ádhirbayján was the fear lest the promise which the Báb had given to the sovereign that He would cure him of his illness, were he to allow Him to be received in Tihrán, should be fulfilled. He felt sure that should the Báb be able to effect such a cure, the Sháh would fall under the influence of his Prisoner and would cease to confer upon his prime minister the honours and benefits which he exclusively enjoyed.

15. According to Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl, Hájí Mírzá Aqásí sought, by his reference to the rebellion of Muhammad Hasan Khán, the Salar, in Khurásán, and the revolt of Áqá Khán-i-Isma'ílí, in Kirmán, to induce the sovereign to abandon the project of summoning the Báb to the capital, and to send Him instead to the remote province of Ádhirbayján.

16. "Nevertheless, on this occasion, his expectations did not materialize. Fearing that the presence of the Báb in Tihrán would occasion new disturbances (there were plenty of them due to his whims and his poor administration), he altered his plans and the escort, charged to take the Báb from Isfahán to Tihrán, received, when about thirty kilometers from the city, the order to take the prisoner directly to Máh-Kú. This town, in the mind of the prime minister, would offer nothing to the impostor because its inhabitants, out of gratitude for the favors and protection they had received from him, would take steps to suppress any disturbances which might break out." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 356.)

17. "The state of Persia, however, was not satisfactory; for Hájí Mírzá Aqásí, who had been its virtual ruler for thirteen years, 'was utterly ignorant of statesmanship or of military science, yet too vain to receive instruction and too jealous to admit of a coadjutor; brutal in his language; insolent in his demeanour; indolent in his habits; he brought the exchequer to the verge of bankruptcy and the country to the brink of revolution. The pay of the army was generally from three to five years in arrears. 'The cavalry of the tribes was almost annihilated.' Such—to adopt the weighty words of Rawlinson—was the condition of Persia in the middle of the nineteenth century." (P. M. Sykes' "A History of Persia," vol. 2, pp. 439–40.)

18. "Hájí Mírzá Aqásí, the half crazy old Prime Minister, had the whole administration in his hands, and obtained complete control over the Sháh. The misgovernment of the country grew worse and worse, while the people starved, and cursed the Qájár dynasty…. The condition of the province was deplorable and every man with any pretension to talent or patriotism was driven into exile by the old haji, who was sedulously collecting wealth for himself at Tihrán, at the expense of the wretched country. The governorships of provinces were sold to the highest bidders, who oppressed the people in a fearful manner." (C. R. Markham's "A General Sketch of the History of Persia," pp. 486–7.)

19. Gobineau writes regarding his fall: "Hájí Mírzá Aqásí, robbed of the power which he had constantly ridiculed, had retired to Karbilá and he spent his remaining days playing tricks on the Mullás and scoffing even at the holy martyrs." ("Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 160.) "This shrewd man had gained such power over the late Sháh that one could truly say that the minister was the real sovereign; he could not therefore survive the loss of his good fortune. At the death of Muhammad Sháh, he had disappeared and had gone to Karbilá where, under the protection of the sainted Imám, even a state criminal could find an inviolable asylum. He was soon overcome by gnawing grief which, more than his remorse; shortened his life." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, pp. 367–8.)

The Báb was accordingly ordered to proceed to Tabríz. 20 The same escort, under the command of Muhammad Big, attended Him on His journey to the northwestern province of Ádhirbayján. He was allowed to select one companion and one attendant from among His followers to be with Him during His sojourn in that province. He selected Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdí and Siyyid Hasan, his brother. He refused to expend on Himself the funds provided by the government for the expense of that journey. All the allowances that were given by the State He bestowed upon the poor and needy, and devoted to His own private needs the money which He, as a merchant, had earned in Búshihr and Shíráz. As orders had been given to avoid entering the towns in the course of the journey to Tabríz, a number of the believers of Qazvín, informed of the approach of their beloved Leader, set out for the village of Síyáh-Dihán 21 and were there able to meet Him.
20. According to "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 16), the Báb "wrote a letter, in the course of the journey, to the Prime Minister, saying: 'You summoned me from Isfahán to meet the doctors and for the attainment of a decisive settlement. What has happened now that this excellent intention has been changed for Máh-Kúh and Tabríz?'"

21. According to Samandar (manuscript, pp. 45), the Báb tarried in the village of Síyáh-Dihán, in the neighbourhood of Qazvín, on His way to Ádhirbayján. In the course of that journey, He is reported to have revealed several Tablets addressed to the leading 'ulamás in Qazvín among whom were the following: Hájí Mullá 'Abdu'l-Vahháb, Hájí Mullá Sálih, Hájí Mullá Taqí, and Hájí Siyyid Taqí. These Tablets were conveyed to their recipients through Hájí Mullá Ahmad-i-Ibdal. Several believers, among whom were the two sons of Hájí Mullá 'Abdu'l-Vahháb were able to meet the Báb during the night He spent in that village. It is from this village that the Báb is reported to have addressed His epistle to Hájí Mírzá Aqásí.

One of them was Mullá Iskandar, who had been delegated by Hujjat to visit the Báb in Shíráz, and to investigate His Cause. The Báb commissioned him to deliver the following message to Sulaymán Khán-i-Afshar, who was a great admirer of the late Siyyid Kázim: "He whose virtues the late siyyid unceasingly extolled, and to the approach of whose Revelation he continually alluded, is now revealed. I am that promised One. Arise and deliver Me from the hand of the oppressor." When the Báb entrusted this message to Mullá Iskandar, Sulaymán Khán was in Zanján and was preparing to leave for Tihrán. Within the space of three days, that message reached him. He failed, however, to respond to that appeal.    
Two days later, a friend of Mullá Iskandar had acquainted Hujjat, who, at the instigation of the 'ulamás of Zanján, had been incarcerated in the capital, with the appeal of the Báb. Hujjat immediately instructed the believers of his native city to undertake whatever preparations were required and to collect the necessary forces to achieve the deliverance of their Master. He urged them to proceed with caution and to attempt, at an appropriate moment, to seize and carry Him away to whatever place He might desire. These were shortly joined by a number of believers from Qazvín and Tihrán, who set out, according to the directions of Hujjat, to execute the plan. They overtook the guards at the hour of midnight and, finding them fast asleep, approached the Báb and begged Him to flee. "The mountains of Ádhirbayján too have their claims," was His confident reply as He lovingly advised them to abandon their project and return to their homes. 22
22. In the "Taríkh-i-Jadíd," Muhammad Big is reported to have related the following account to Hájí Mírzá Jání: "So we mounted and rode on till we came to a brick caravanserai distant two parsangs from the city. Thence we proceeded to Milán, where many of the inhabitants came to see His Holiness, and were filled with wonder at the majesty and dignity of that Lord of mankind. In the morning, as we were setting out from Milán, an old woman brought a scald-headed child, whose head was so covered with scabs that it was white down to the neck, and entreated His Holiness to heal him. The guards would have forbidden her but His Holiness prevented them, and called the child to Him. Then He drew a handkerchief over its head and repeated certain words; which he had no sooner done than the child was healed. And in that place about two hundred persons believed and underwent a true and sincere conversion." (Pp. 222–21.)
Approaching the gate of Tabríz, Muhammad Big, feeling that the hour of his separation from his Prisoner was at hand, besought His presence and with tearful eyes begged Him to overlook his shortcomings and transgressions. "The journey from Isfahán," he said, "has been long and arduous. I have failed to do my duty and to serve You as I ought. I crave Your forgiveness, and pray You to vouchsafe me Your blessings." "Be assured," the Báb replied, "I account you a member of My fold. They who embrace My Cause will eternally bless and glorify you, will extol your conduct and exalt your name." 23 The rest of the guards followed the example of their chief, implored the blessings of their Prisoner, kissed His feet, and with tears in their eyes bade Him a last farewell.


To each the Báb expressed His appreciation of his devoted attentions and assured him of His prayers in his behalf. Reluctantly they delivered Him into the hands of the governor of Tabríz, the heir to the throne of Muhammad Sháh. To those with whom they were subsequently brought in contact, these devoted attendants of the Báb and eye-witnesses of His superhuman wisdom and power, recounted with awe and admiration the tale of those wonders which they had seen and heard, and by this means helped to diffuse in their own way the knowledge of the new Revelation.

23. Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl states in his writings that he himself, while in Tihrán, met the son of Muhammad Big, and heard him recount the remarkable experiences his father had had in the course of his journey to Tabríz in the company of the Báb. 'Alí-Akbar Big was a fervent believer in the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh and was known as such by the Bahá'ís of Persia.
The news of the approaching arrival of the Báb at Tabríz bestirred the believers in that city. They all set out to meet Him, eager to extend to so beloved a Leader their welcome. The officials of the government into whose custody the Báb was to be delivered refused to allow them to draw near and to receive His blessings. One youth, however, unable to restrain himself, rushed forth barefooted, through the gate of the city, and, in his impatience to gaze upon the face of his Beloved, ran out a distance of half a farsang 24 towards Him. As he approached the horsemen who were marching in advance of the Báb, he joyously welcomed them and, seizing the hem of the garment of one among them, devoutly kissed his stirrups. "Ye are the companions of my Well-Beloved," he tearfully exclaimed. "I cherish you as the apple of my eye." His extraordinary behaviour, the intensity of his emotion, amazed them. They immediately granted him his request to attain the presence of his Master. As soon as his eyes fell upon Him, a cry of exultation broke from his lips. He fell upon his face and wept profusely. The Báb dismounted from His horse, put His arms around him, wiped away his tears, and soothed the agitation of his heart. Of all the believers of Tabríz, that youth alone succeeded in offering his homage to the Báb and in being blessed by the touch of His hand. All the others had perforce to content themselves with a distant glimpse of their Beloved, and with that view sought to satisfy their longing. 24. Unit of measurement. Its length differs in different parts of the country according to the nature of the ground, the local interpretation of the term being the distance which a laden mule will walk in the hour, which varies from three to four miles. Arabicised from the old Persian 'parsang,' and supposed to be derived from pieces of stone (sang) placed on the roadside.
When the Báb arrived at Tabríz, He was conducted to one of the chief houses in that city, which had been reserved for His confinement. 25



A detachment of the Násirí regiment stood guard at the entrance of His house. With the exception of Siyyid Husayn and his brother, neither the public nor His followers were allowed to meet Him. This same regiment, which had been recruited from among the inhabitants of Khamsíh, and upon which special honours had been conferred, was subsequently chosen to discharge the volley that caused His death. The circumstances of His arrival had stirred the people in Tabríz profoundly. A tumultuous concourse of people had gathered to witness His entry into the city. 26 Some were impelled by curiosity, others were earnestly desirous of ascertaining the veracity of the wild reports that were current about Him, and still others were moved by their faith and devotion to attain His presence and to assure Him of their loyalty. As He walked along the streets, the acclamations of the multitude resounded on every side. The great majority of the people who beheld His face greeted Him with the shout of "Alláh-u-Akbar," 27 others loudly glorified and cheered Him, a few invoked upon Him the blessings of the Almighty, others were seen to kiss reverently the dust of His footsteps. Such was the clamour which His arrival had raised that a crier was ordered to warn the populace of the danger that awaited those who ventured to seek His presence. "Whosoever shall make any attempt to approach the Siyyid-i-Báb," went forth the cry, "or seek to meet him, all his possessions shall forthwith be seized and he himself condemned to perpetual imprisonment."

25. According to "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 16), the Báb remained forty days in Tabríz. According to Hájí Mu'inu's-Saltanih's manuscript (p. 138), the Báb spent the first night, on His arrival in Tabríz, in the home of Muhammad Big. From there He was transferred to a room in the Citadel (the Ark) which adjoined the Masjid-i-'Alí Sháh.

26. "The success of this energetic man, Mullá Yúsúf-i-Ardibílí, was so great and so swift that, at the very gates of Tauris (Tabríz), the inhabitants of this populous village acknowledged him as their leader and took the name of Bábí's. Needless to say that, in the town itself, the Bábí's were quite numerous, even though the government was taking steps to convict the Báb, to punish him and thereby justify itself in the eyes of the people." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, pp. 357–8.)

27. "God is the Most Great."

On the day after the Báb's arrival, Hájí Muhammad-Taqíy-i-Milání, a noted merchant of the city, ventured, together with Hájí 'Alí-'Askar, to interview the Báb. They were warned by their friends and well-wishers that by such an attempt they would not only be risking the loss of their possessions but would also be endangering their lives. They refused, however, to heed such counsels. As they approached the door of the house in which the Báb was confined, they were immediately arrested. Siyyid Hasan, who at that moment was coming out from the presence of the Báb, instantly intervened. "I am commanded by the Siyyid-i-Báb," he vehemently protested, "to convey to you this message: 'Suffer these visitors to enter, inasmuch as I Myself have invited them to meet Me.'" I have heard Hájí 'Alí-'Askar testify to the following: "This message immediately silenced the opposers. We were straightway ushered into His presence. He greeted us with these words: 'These miserable wretches who watch at the gate of My house have been destined by Me as a protection against the inrush of the multitude who throng around the house. They are powerless to prevent those whom I desire to meet from attaining My presence.' For about two hours, we tarried with Him. As He dismissed us, He entrusted me with two cornelian ringstones, instructing me to have carved on them the two verses which He had previously given to me; to have them mounted and brought to Him as soon as they were ready. He assured us that at whatever time we desired to meet Him, no one would hinder our admittance to His presence. Several times I ventured to go to Him in order to ascertain His wish regarding certain details connected with the commission with which He had entrusted me. Not once did I encounter the slightest opposition on the part of those who were guarding the entrance of His house. Not one offensive word did they utter against me, nor did they seem to expect the slightest remuneration for their indulgence.  
"I recall how, in the course of my association with Mullá Husayn, I was impressed by the many evidences of his perspicacity and extraordinary power. I was privileged to accompany him on his journey from Shíráz to Mashhad, and visited with him the towns of Yazd, Tabas, Bushrúyih, and Turbat. I deplored in those days the sadness of my failure to meet the Báb in Shíráz. 'Grieve not,' Mullá Husayn confidently assured me; 'the Almighty is no doubt able to compensate you in Tabríz for the loss you have sustained in Shíráz. Not once, but seven times, can He enable you 241 to partake of the joy of His presence, in return for the one visit which you have missed.' I was amazed at the confidence with which he uttered those words. Not until the time of my visit to the Báb in Tabríz, when, despite adverse circumstances, I was, on several occasions, admitted into His presence, did I recall those words of Mullá Husayn and marvel at his remarkable foresight. How great was my surprise when, on my seventh visit to the Báb, I heard Him speak these words: 'Praise be to God, who has enabled you to complete the number of your visits and who has extended to you His loving protection.'"