The Exile to Adrianople

When we look at the circumstances which had led the Ottoman Government to remove Bahá'u'lláh from Baghdád, we recall the outright refusal of that Government to hand Bahá'u'lláh over to the Persian authorities and its reluctance to banish Him from Baghdád. When 'Abdu'l-Bahá was in the Garden of Ridván prior to His departure for Constantinople, He wrote a letter to a relative in Persia in which He said that after bringing much pressure to bear upon the Ottoman Government, the Persian Ambassador Hájí Mírzá Husayn Khán became so frustrated by the Sublime Porte that he cut his relationships with his friends in government circles, stayed at home for seven days and refused to see any of the Sultán's ministers. At last 'Álí Páshá,* a very close friend of his, found no alternative but to give in and order the removal of Bahá'u'lláh from Baghdád.

Now that Bahá'u'lláh was in Constantinople, the Persian Ambassador was making a desperate bid to misrepresent Him to the authorities and thereby secure their support for banishing Him further. The day after Bahá'u'lláh's arrival in Constantinople, the Ambassador sent Prince Shujá'u'd-Dawlih and Hájí Mírzá Hasan-i-Safá, the two most prominent men in his circle, to call on Bahá'u'lláh on his behalf. He expected that Bahá'u'lláh would return the call and see him in person, but he soon found that this was not going to happen. In those days it was customary for prominent guests of the Government, soon after their arrival in the capital, to call upon the Shaykhu'l-Islám, †


* The Grand Vizir of the Sultán. See p. 413.

† The highest religious dignitary of the Islámic community.

the Prime Minister and other high-ranking officials. It was on the occasion of these visits that people solicited all kinds of favours, made deals and secured the support of the authorities for themselves. Bahá'u'lláh refused to do this and did not even return the visits of some of the Sultán's ministers who had already called on him to pay their respects.

Kamál Páshá and a few others went so far as to remind Him of this custom. Bahá'u'lláh responded by saying that He was aware of the practice but had no demands to make of anyone nor did He require favours from them; therefore there was no reason for Him to call. Bahá'u'lláh refers to this in the Súriy-i-Mulúk in these words:

Call Thou to remembrance Thine arrival in the City (Constantinople), how the Ministers of the Sultán thought Thee to be unacquainted with their laws and regulations, and believed Thee to be one of the ignorant. Say: Yes, by My Lord! I am ignorant of all things except what God hath, through His bountiful favour, been pleased to teach Me. To this We assuredly testify, and unhesitatingly confess it.

Say: If the laws and regulations to which ye cleave be of your own making, We will, in no wise, follow them. Thus have I been instructed by Him Who is the All-Wise, the All-Informed. Such hath been My way in the past, and such will it remain in the future, through the power of God and His might.1

This attitude of detachment played into the hands of the Persian Ambassador who decided to introduce Bahá'u'lláh to the Sublime Porte as one who was arrogant and proud, considering Himself subject to no law. The Ambassador did this mainly through the influence of Hájí Mírzá Hasan-i-Safá. This was a man of learning who had travelled widely in Africa and Asia and had been living in Constantinople at the time that Hájí Mírzá Husayn Khán arrived there as Ambassador. He became an intimate friend of the Ambassador and was one of his closest confidants. Hájí Mírzá Hasan was also one of the

1. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section lxv.
leading figures among the Súfís of Constantinople and was highly respected in government circles, as in those days there was much regard for the Súfís in the country.

During Bahá'u'lláh's sojourn in Constantinople Hájí Mírzá Hasan visited Him more than once. He became aware of Bahá'u'lláh's innate knowledge and when in His presence showed much respect and humility; but outside he worked against Him. Knowing that his word carried much weight at the Sublime Porte, the Persian Ambassador used Hájí Mírzá Hasan as a tool to circulate unfounded reports among the authorities about Bahá'u'lláh's conduct and His aspirations. Indeed this man assisted the Ambassador ably in his campaign to discredit Bahá'u'lláh and misrepresent His Cause.

At last the machinations of Mírzá Husayn Khán yielded their fruit. 'Álí Páshá, the Prime Minister, presented a report to the Sultán informing him of the Persian Government's request that Bahá'u'lláh be banished either to Boursa or Adrianople. He asked the Sultán's approval for banishment to Adrianople and suggested that an allowance of 5,000 qurúsh per month be given to Bahá'u'lláh for subsistence, adding that during His stay in Constantinople He had been a guest of the Government. He also enclosed the list* of all those who had accompanied Him from Baghdád to Constantinople.

Immediately upon receipt of this report the Sultán endorsed these measures and the edict was issued the following day. Shoghi Effendi has summarized the events leading to Bahá'u'lláh's further banishment in these words:

No less a personage than the highly-respected brother-in-law of the Sadr-i-A'zam was commissioned to apprise the Captive of the edict pronounced against Him--an edict which evinced a virtual coalition of the Turkish and Persian imperial governments against a common adversary, and which in the end brought such tragic consequences upon the Sultanate, the Caliphate and the Qájár dynasty. Refused an

* See pp. 5-6.

audience by Bahá'u'lláh that envoy had to content himself with a presentation of his puerile observations and trivial arguments to 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Áqáy-i-Kalím, who were delegated to see him, and whom he informed that, after three days, he would return to receive the answer to the order he had been bidden to transmit.

That same day a Tablet, severely condemnatory in tone, was revealed by Bahá'u'lláh, was entrusted by Him, in a sealed envelope, on the following morning, to Shamsí Big, who was instructed to deliver it into the hands 'Álí Páshá, and to say that it was sent down from God. 'I know not what that letter contained,' Shamsí Big subsequently informed Áqáy-i-Kalím, 'for no sooner had the Grand Vizir perused it than he turned the colour of a corpse, and remarked: "It is as if the King of Kings were issuing his behest to his humblest vassal king and regulating his conduct." So grievous was his condition that I backed out of his presence.' 'Whatever action,' Bahá'u'lláh, commenting on the effect that Tablet had produced, is reported to have stated, 'the ministers of the Sultán took against Us, after having become acquainted with its contents, cannot be regarded as unjustifiable. The acts they committed before its perusal, however, can have no justification.'

That Tablet, according to Nabíl, was of considerable length, opened with words directed to the sovereign himself, severely censured his ministers, exposed their immaturity and incompetence, and included passages in which the ministers themselves were addressed, in which they were boldly challenged, and sternly admonished not to pride themselves on their worldly possessions, nor foolishly seek the riches of which time would inexorably rob them.

Bahá'u'lláh was on the eve of His departure, which followed almost immediately upon the promulgation of the edict of His banishment, when in a last and memorable interview with the aforementioned Hájí Mírzá Hasan-i-Safá, He sent the following message to the Persian Ambassador: 'What did it profit thee, and such as are like thee, to slay, year after year, so many of the oppressed, and to inflict upon them manifold afflictions, when they have increased a


hundredfold, and ye find yourselves in complete bewilderment, knowing not how to relieve your minds of this oppressive thought ... His Cause transcends any and every plan ye devise. Know this much: Were all the governments on earth to unite and take My life and the lives of all who bear this Name, this Divine Fire would never be quenched. His Cause will rather encompass all the kings of the earth, nay all that hath been created from water and clay ... Whatever may befall Us, great shall be our gain, and manifest the loss wherewith they shall be afflicted.2

The night before His departure for Adrianople Bahá'u'lláh directed Nabíl-i-A'zam* and Mírzá Áqá surnamed Muníb † to travel to Persia in order to disseminate the news of Bahá'u'lláh among the Bábís, to teach them the Faith and help them to recognize His station. Others whom He dismissed from His presence that evening were Áqá Muhammad-Báqir-i-Káshání, Khayyát-Báshíy-í-Káshání, Áqá Husayn-i-Naráqí, Mír Muhammad-i-Mukárí, ‡ and Áqá Siyyid Husayn-i-Káshání. The last-named had a great sense of humour and at times he used to come into the presence of Bahá'u'lláh and make Him laugh with some amusing remark.

That evening witnessed a great commotion. The thought of separation from their Beloved plunged them into such grief that all the companions of Bahá'u'lláh were moved to tears. Knowing the vital need for someone in Constantinople to serve as a channel of communication for the believers in Persia and assist those who passed through the city, Bahá'u'lláh arranged for Áqá Muhammad-'Alíy-i-Sabbágh of Yazd to remain there. This believer stayed for about two years in Constantinople until others were able to take over his work. He then proceeded to Adrianople where he joined the exiles and was once again close to his Lord.

On the day Bahá'u'lláh was to leave Constantinople, a


* See vol. 1, pp. 202-6.

† ibid. pp. 283-7.

‡ See chapter 14.

2. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 159-61.
devoted believer by the name of Mírzá Mustafá arrived. He was a native of Naráq, and had embraced the Faith of the Báb in the early days. During Bahá'u'lláh's sojourn in 'Iráq he had visited that country, and attained His presence. He had remained there for some time, and beheld the glory of his Lord which was as yet unrevealed to the eyes of men. In Constantinople he had the opportunity to meet Him only once, when Bahá'u'lláh summoned him and directed him to return to Persia and engage in teaching His Cause. He went to Ádhirbáyján. The following are the words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá concerning this heroic soul:

When Mírzá Mustafá reached Ádhirbáyján, he began to spread the Faith. Day and night he remained in a state of prayer, and there in Tabríz he drank of a brimming cup. His fervour increased, his teaching raised a tumult. Then the eminent scholar, the renowned Shaykh Ahmad-i-Khurásání, came to Ádhirbáyján and the two of them joined forces. The result was such overwhelming spiritual fire that they taught the Faith openly and publicly and the people of Tabríz rose up in wrath.

The farráshes hunted them down, and caught Mírzá Mustafá. But then the oppressors said, 'Mírzá Mustafá had two long locks of hair. This cannot be the right man.' At once, Mírzá Mustafá took off his hat and down fell the locks of hair. 'Behold!' he told them. 'I am the one.' They arrested him then. They tortured him and Shaykh Ahmad until finally, in Tabríz, those two great men drained the cup of death and, martyred, hastened away to the Supreme Horizon.

At the place where they were to be killed, Mírzá Mustafá cried out: 'Kill me first, kill me before Shaykh Ahmad, that I may not see them shed his blood!' 3

It was customary at the time of execution for the victim to turn his face towards the Qiblih* of Islám. But Mírzá Mustafá

* The point of adoration, the direction towards which the faithful turn at the time of devotion and prayers. For the followers of Muhammad, this is the Ka'bah at Mecca. For Bahá'ís, it was the Person of Bahá'u'lláh during His lifetime, and since His passing it has been the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh outside 'Akká.

3. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 149.
turned towards Adrianople. He was reminded to face the Qiblih but he refused to do so. He said 'This is the true Qiblih,' and shouted 'Yá-Bahá'u'l-Abhá'.*

Another person who laid down his life in the path of God on that occasion was Mullá 'Alí-Naqíy-i-Níshápúrí. These three believers were beheaded by the order of Sardár 'Azíz Khán, the governor of Tabríz, in the same square in which the Báb had been martyred. This was in 1283 A.H. (A.D. 1866-67). Bahá'u'lláh revealed many Tablets for Mírzá Mustafá and referred to his martyrdom in some of His Writings. † After the martyrdom of Mírzá Mustafá, Bahá'u'lláh renamed his son after the father. This son and his mother were given the honour of serving in the household of Bahá'u'lláh in 'Akká. But after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, Mírzá Mustafá broke His Covenant and rebelled against 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

In one of the coldest December months that Turkey had seen for years, Bahá'u'lláh and His family--including His two faithful brothers, Mírzá Músá, entitled Áqáy-i-Kalím, and Mírzá Muhammad-Qulí, together with Mírzá Yahyá‡--set out on their journey to the city of Adrianople. The officer commissioned to take charge of the journey was 'Alí Big Yúz-Báshí. According to a statement by Mírzá Áqá Ján, it appears that Bahá'u'lláh was accompanied by twelve of His companions.4 Among them was the notorious Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahání whose evil spirit was increasingly casting its shadow upon the exiles. Through his satanic influence he brought much pain and anguish to their hearts and created severe tests and trials for them.

In the Súriy-i-Mulúk, addressing Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz, Bahá'u'lláh speaks of His arrival in the city of Constantinople


* Literally 'O Thou the Glory of the Most Glorious', an invocation, the Greatest Name of God.

† For instance, see Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 72-3.

‡ On leaving Baghdád, he had acquired a passport in the name of Mírzá 'Alí, a newly assumed name. During his sojourn in Adrianople and later in Cyprus, the authorities referred to him by this name.

4. Quoted by Muhammad-'Alíy-i-Faizi, Hadrat-i-Bahá'u'lláh, p. 196.
in conspicuous glory and His departure 'with an abasement with which no abasement on earth can compare'.5 He also describes the manner in which He and His loved ones were banished to Adrianople and the sufferings they were made to endure on their way to that city and on their arrival there. These are some of His words: 'Neither My family, nor those who accompanied Me, had the necessary raiment to protect them from the cold in that freezing weather.' 'The eyes of Our enemies wept over Us, and beyond them those of every discerning person.' 6

The circumstances of Bahá'u'lláh's banishment were tragic as well as humiliating. The authorities did not give adequate time to Bahá'u'lláh and His party to prepare themselves for this long and hazardous journey. The weather was unusually cold, many rivers were frozen and the only way to obtain water on the journey was by lighting a fire and melting ice. The members of the party, which included women and children, were inadequately clad, yet some of them were made to ride in wagons normally used for carrying goods while others had to ride on animals. Of this journey Shoghi Effendi writes:

Travelling through rain and storm, at times even making night marches, the weary travellers, after brief halts at Kúchik-Chakmachih, Búyúk-Chakmachih, Salvarí, Birkás, and Bábá-Ískí, arrived at their destination, on the first of Rajab 1280 A.H. (December 12, 1863), and were lodged in the Khán-i-'Arab, a two-storey caravanserai, near the house of 'Izzat-Áqá. Three days later, Bahá'u'lláh and His family were consigned to a house suitable only for summer habitation, in the Murádíyyih quarter, near Takyiy-i-Mawlaví, and were moved again, after a week, to another house, in the vicinity of a mosque in that same neighbourhood. About six months later they transferred to more commodious quarters, known as the house of Amru'lláh (House of God's command) situated on the northern side of the mosque of Sultán Salím.7

The two houses in Murádíyyih are now both completely demolished. An eye-witness has described the second house as a

5. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 161.

6. ibid.

7. ibid., pp. 161-2.

large mansion with eighteen rooms and a Turkish bath. Soon after their arrival the companions of Bahá'u'lláh found accommodation elsewhere and, as instructed by Him, engaged in trades and professions in the city.

It was not long after Bahá'u'lláh's arrival in Adrianople that its inhabitants became aware of His greatness and were deeply impressed by His genuine love and exalted character. Their leaders, including the Governor of the city and other high-ranking officials, as well as men of culture and learning, were drawn to Him and soon discovered that He was the source of all knowledge and the embodiment of virtues. Some of these people earnestly sought His presence, sat at His feet and received spiritual enlightenment from Him. Such were the marks of honour and esteem shown to Bahá'u'lláh that on occasions when He walked in the streets and bazaars the people spontaneously stood and bowed before Him. Their veneration for Him was profound and whole-hearted. Among the people He was referred to as 'Shaykh Effendi', a designation which carried with it great prestige at the time.

In Adrianople Bahá'u'lláh did not appear in public as much as He had done in Baghdád. Instead He allowed 'Abdu'l-Bahá to do this for Him. But He did occasionally visit the mosques of Murádíyyih and Sultán Salím where some of the learned and devout came in contact with Him, recognized His greatness and became His admirers. This is one of the remarkable features of the life of Bahá'u'lláh--that although the powerful machinery of a despotic and tyrannical government was directed against Him, bringing about untold personal suffering and persecutions, He yet evinced such glory and imparted such love that a great many people were magnetized by Him and were deeply affected by His peerless and exalted character. That a prisoner and an exile could exert such abiding influence upon men both high and low is one of the evidences of His Divine power and a sign of His authority as the Supreme Manifestation of God.

In spite of the hardships and rigours of yet another exile, the outpourings of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh continued un-


abated in Adrianople. In one of his writings dated 17th Jamádí 1281 A.H. (19 October 1864), Mírzá Áqá Ján has testified that from the days of 'Iráq up to that day, Tablets had been sent down successively and unceasingly from the heaven of the Will of God.8 This process acquired still greater momentum in Adrianople. From the tone of these Tablets it became clear that the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh had already entered a new phase and that He, who in previous years had only alluded to His station, was now openly summoning the believers to Himself as the Supreme Manifestation of God.

8. Quoted by Fádil-i-Mázindarání, Asráru'l-Áthár, vol. I, p. 77.