The Forces of Evil Gather Momentum

As the news of the Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh as 'He Whom God shall make manifest' began to reach the ears of the Bábís in Persia, and a few Bahá'í teachers actively engaged in the propagation of His Cause and the dissemination of His newly-revealed Tablets, a crisis unprecedented in its scope and severity was brewing in Adrianople and soon assailed the companions of Bahá'u'lláh in that city. Originating from Mírzá Yahyá and engineered by Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahání, it eventually engulfed the whole community, bringing in its wake untold sufferings to Bahá'u'lláh and creating a temporary breach in the ranks of the believers.

Soon after his arrival in Adrianople Mírzá Yahyá realized that his life was no longer in danger. He had feared persecution and death ever since the martyrdom of the Báb. It was this fear which had prompted him to hide himself away in Persia and 'Iráq for about thirteen years. During these years he lived in disguise and was often on the run going from one hiding place to another, while maintaining contact with Bahá'u'lláh and arranging for his wives and family to live in His household. But now, in Adrianople, he knew the situation was different and there was no persecution. Bahá'u'lláh, soon after His arrival, had won the respect and admiration of the people of Adrianople including the Governor and other dignitaries. The co-operation and goodwill of the people became apparent when most of Bahá'u'lláh's companions, as directed by Him, engaged themselves in some work or profession and were integrated into the community.

Highly jealous of the rising prestige of Bahá'u'lláh and


aware of the declaration of His station as 'He Whom God shall make manifest', Mírzá Yahyá decided it was time to come into the open and wrest the leadership of the community from the hands of the One who had been his guide and refuge all his life, and who had, through His sin-covering eye, concealed many of his shameful deeds. Emboldened by Bahá'u'lláh's loving forgiveness, duped by Siyyid Muhammad's enticing prospects and spurred on by his own ambitious lust for leadership, Mírzá Yahyá embarked upon a path which is exclusively reserved for the evil, namely, to attempt a person's life. This was his only way, for he knew that he had no power whatsoever to confront Bahá'u'lláh. It is a fact that whenever Mírzá Yahyá came into the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, he found himself speechless. The majesty and authority of the Supreme Manifestation of God was so overwhelming that he was unable to utter a word. Several people have testified to this including Mírzá Áqá Ján, who mentions that in the early days in Baghdád he discovered that Mírzá Yahyá was so insignificant in the presence of Bahá'u'lláh that he could not speak. This puzzled Mírzá Áqá Ján, until later he realized that Mírzá Yahyá was like anyone else in the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. However, Bahá'u'lláh had instructed His amanuensis not to disclose his observations to anyone.

It was not surprising for a man such as Mírzá Yahyá, who had already committed several crimes* including the issuing of orders for the assassination of some of the outstanding disciples of the Báb and His cousin, to make elaborate plans for the taking of Bahá'u'lláh's life. The first attempt, carried out by Mírzá Yahyá's own hands, was to poison Him. Shoghi Effendi has summarized this shameful episode in these words:

Desperate designs to poison Bahá'u'lláh and His companions, and thereby reanimate his own defunct leadership, began, approximately a year after their arrival in Adrianople, to agitate his mind. Well aware of the erudition of his half

* See vol. 1, chapter 15.

brother, Áqáy-i-Kalím, in matters pertaining to medicine, he, under various pretexts, sought enlightenment from him regarding the effects of certain herbs and poisons, and then began, contrary to his wont, to invite Bahá'u'lláh to his home, where, one day, having smeared His tea-cup with a substance he had concocted, he succeeded in poisoning Him sufficiently to produce a serious illness which lasted no less than a month, and which was accompanied by severe pains and high fever, the aftermath of which left Bahá'u'lláh with a shaking hand till the end of His life. So grave was His condition that a foreign doctor, named Shíshmán, was called in to attend Him. The doctor was so appalled by His livid hue that he deemed His case hopeless, and, after having fallen at His feet, retired from His presence without prescribing a remedy. A few days later that doctor fell ill and died. Prior to his death Bahá'u'lláh had intimated that doctor Shíshmán had sacrificed his life for Him. To Mírzá Áqá Ján, sent by Bahá'u'lláh to visit him, the doctor had stated that God had answered his prayers, and that after his death a certain Dr. Chúpán, whom he knew to be reliable, should, whenever necessary, be called in his stead.

On another occasion this same Mírzá Yahyá had, according to the testimony of one of his wives, who had temporarily deserted him and revealed the details of the above-mentioned act, poisoned the well which provided water for the family and companions of Bahá'u'lláh, in consequence of which the exiles manifested strange symptoms of illness.1

In spite of this Bahá'u'lláh did not wish to disclose the wicked deeds of His brother to the public. He advised His companions not to spread the news. However, it was through Mírzá Yahyá's own actions later that the story had to be told. For soon after Bahá'u'lláh's recovery, Mírzá Yahyá openly and by insinuation shamefully claimed that it was Bahá'u'lláh who had tried to poison him! This outrageous and false accusation against One who was the well-spring of love and forgiveness served to unmask Mírzá Yahyá, and revealed his satanic nature to friends and strangers alike.


1. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 165-6.
Some time passed and Mírzá Yahyá was still waiting for the opportunity to make another attempt on the life of Bahá'u'lláh. According to his plans the scene of attack this time was to be the public bath* which Bahá'u'lláh was sure to visit. With a certain subtlety he intimated to Ustád Muhammad-'Alíy-i-Salmání,† the barber who was Bahá'u'lláh's bath attendant,‡ the merits of assassinating Bahá'u'lláh, and made it quite clear that it would be a service to the Faith of God if he would do this when attending Him in the bath. On hearing this suggestion Ustád Muhammad-'Alí was so enraged that, as we shall see later, he felt a great urge to kill Mírzá Yahyá on the spot.

Ustád Muhammad-'Alí was one of Bahá'u'lláh's disciples and had the honour to be His attendant in the bath since the Baghdád days; he continued this service in 'Akká. He was one of the servants of Bahá'u'lláh and a man of great courage and faith. He had recognized the station of Bahá'u'lláh with such depth and conviction that his whole being was dominated by a passionate love for Him, a love that knew no bounds and often carried him to the verge of rapture. Historians have stated that he was illiterate and claim that his autobiography was dictated by him. One thing, however, is clear: that even if he had barely learnt to read and write, he had no education whatsoever.


* In the days of Bahá'u'lláh it was necessary for most people in the Middle East to visit public baths as there were no bathing facilities in their houses. Public baths, which were set aside for men on certain days of the week, and for women on others, were mostly of the kind known as Turkish baths. People often visited them once a week and remained inside for many hours in order to wash and relax in the warm and steamy atmosphere. At the same time the gathering of people in one place created a social occasion where they exchanged news and discussed many topics. Often friends visited the bath together so that they could spend some hours with each other. Public baths provided customers with attendants who washed them and performed other services such as applying henna to the hair or shaving. Important people often had their own bath attendants.

† Not to be confused with the celebrated Shaykh Salmán.

‡ According to custom, a barber could often be a bath attendant also.

However, Bahá'u'lláh had bestowed upon him the knowledge of God. He became the recipient of such divine gifts that in spite of his illiteracy and humble origins, he was enabled to make a valuable contribution to Persian literature through his poems. In the history of the Faith we come across many distinguished Bahá'í poets, most of whom were men of learning and knowledge. Yet some claim that Ustád Muhammad-'Alí's poems are endowed with a special power which makes them outstanding. Those who appreciate poetry have acknowledged the beauty, lucidity and profundity of his composition. The believers who recite his soul-stirring poems often become uplifted and inspired, transported from this mortal life into the world of realities. His words, deep and full of significances, move the soul and open before one's eyes vistas of love and adoration for Bahá'u'lláh.

Those who are as yet unaffected by the potency of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh may find it hard to believe that such a man, unlettered and unaccomplished, could ever rise to such heights as to make a notable contribution to human knowledge and literature. And when we study the life of Ustád Muhammad-'Alí closely, and take into account his daily encounters with people, his manners and his language which at times were harsh and offensive, we realize that not only was he uneducated but he was also a somewhat unrefined person.

Nevertheless, when the heart is pure and the soul turns with sincerity and devotion to Bahá'u'lláh, it becomes the recipient of the knowledge of God referred to in Islám as 'a light which God casteth into the heart of whomsoever He willeth.' 2 Ustád Muhammad-'Alí was an example of this; he may be described as a flame of the love of Bahá'u'lláh. His poems are likewise songs of love and rapture and we cannot find even one line in which he has deviated from this theme. The object of his adoration is none other than Bahá'u'lláh and this is made clear in his poems. He extols and glorifies Him in beautiful language and lays bare the fire of love which burns within his heart. Most of his poems were composed extemporaneously as


2. Quoted by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 30 (Brit.), p. 46 (U.S.).
he attended to Bahá'u'lláh's hair. When he came in contact with his Beloved he was carried into the realms of the spirit and became oblivious of all that was around him. It was in this state that these beautiful poems flowed forth in an uncontrollable fashion. Having no education, he would sometimes ask the meaning of some of the words he had used. For instance, Hájí Mírzá Buzurg-i-Afnán, a distinguished believer who for many years was the custodian of the house of the Báb in Shíráz, has recounted the following story:

Salmání had a tiny barber's shop in 'Akká and in it had built a small platform with sun-baked bricks for his customers to sit upon. Many times I sat on that platform for hairdressing. He was illiterate and on occasions when he was busy dressing my hair he used to ask me the meaning of some of the words he did not know and which he had used in his poems.3

Ustád Muhammad-'Alí was a native of Isfahán. His father sent him to a barber's shop when he was nine years old. At the age of fifteen he began to work on his own. Soon after, he came in contact with the Bábís in Isfahán and about three years after the martyrdom of the Báb, he embraced the Bábí Faith. Together with some others, Ustád Muhammad-'Alí was persecuted in Isfahán for being a Bábí. Two of his co-religionists were martyred in the public square. They were Áqá Muhammad-Javád and Mullá 'Alí, who danced his way to the field of martyrdom. These two devoted Bábís were conducted to the square and had to lie down until the executioner arrived and decapitated them. Then came the turn of Ustád Muhammad-'Alí and a certain Ustád 'Abdu'l-Karím-i-Kharrát, a wood-turner.* However, the Governor ordered these men to be tortured and put in jail. Later their relatives paid a sum of money to the authorities as ransom and secured their freedom. After being released they both left Isfahán for Baghdád where

* He became a Covenant-breaker and has since been referred to as Kharátín (earth-worm).

3. Quoted by Ni'matu'lláh-i-Baydá'í, Tadhkiriy-i-Shu'aráy-i-Qarn-i-Avval-i-Bahá'í, vol. II, p. 186.
they attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. Ustád Muhammad-'Alí worked in Baghdád as a barber where he was given the honour of attending Bahá'u'lláh in the bath. He also attended Bahá'u'lláh's brothers, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and other believers.

For the sake of honouring Bahá'u'lláh and the Cause of the Báb, the companions of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdád and Adrianople had always shown consideration and regard for Mírzá Yahyá who, after all, was the nominee of the Báb and a brother of their Lord. This attitude, which was shown purely for the exaltation of the Cause of God, was misinterpreted by Mírzá Yahyá and led him to imagine that these men would be willing to carry out his orders regardless of their import. However, he soon discovered how gravely he had erred in his judgement by asking Ustád Muhammad-'Alí, one of the most faithful servants of Bahá'u'lláh, to carry out his sinister design.

Ustád Muhammad-'Alí in his memoirs has recounted in detail this shameful episode and the events leading to it. The following is a translation of some of his words:

One day I went to the bath and awaited the arrival of the Blessed Beauty. Azal * arrived first. I attended to him and applied henna. He began to talk to me. For some time he was trying hard to make me his follower, but he was doing this in a secret way. He said to me: 'Last night I dreamt that someone had a sweeping brush in his hand and was sweeping the area around me.'† He gave me to understand that this person was the Blessed Beauty. From the tone of his conversation, I knew that he wanted me to do something for him, but he did not tell me anything and soon left the bath.

Then the Blessed Beauty came in. There was a mirror on the wall, and as his image appeared in it, He recited this line of poetry, 'Thou art great, and the mirror too small to reflect Thy beauty.'


* Mírzá Yahyá.

† The connotation of these words in Persian is that Bahá'u'lláh was a humble servant of Mírzá Yahyá.

I was deep in my thoughts concerning the words of Azal. I did not understand his purpose in implying that the Blessed Beauty was sweeping the floor around him. However, it was quite clear that he wanted me to carry out a special task for him. At the same time I noticed that Hájí Mírzá Ahmad * was trying to convert me to follow Azal. During the course of several days he persisted in trying to win me over.4

Ustád Muhammad-'Alí stood firm and immovable as a rock. He rejected Hájí Mírzá Ahmad's arguments and at the end used such harsh and unspeakably offensive language that his opponent went to Bahá'u'lláh and complained. The following day, Mírzá Áqá Ján, as instructed by Bahá'u'lláh, gathered the believers together and in order to help them resolve their differences read out some Tablets including the Lawh-i-Ahmad (Persian) which was addressed to the same Hájí Mírzá Ahmad.

Ustád Muhammad-'Alí continues in his memoirs:

One day I was waiting at the bath for the arrival of Bahá'u'lláh. Azal came in first, washed himself and began to apply henna. I sat down to serve him and he began to talk to me. He said 'A certain Mírzá Na'ím, the former Governor of Nayríz, killed many believers and perpetrated many crimes against the Cause'. He then praised courage and bravery in glowing terms. He said that some were brave by nature and at the right time they would manifest that quality in their actions. He then continued the story of Mírzá Na'ím. 'From the persecuted family of the believers there remained a young boy aged ten or eleven. One day, when Mírzá Na'ím went into the bath, this boy went in with a knife. As he was coming out of the water, the boy stabbed him and ripped his belly open. Mírzá Na'ím screamed and his servants who were in the ante-room rushed in. They went for the boy, attacked and beat him. Then they went to see how their master was. The boy, although wounded,

* The recipient of the Lawh-i-Ahmad (Persian).

4. Quoted by Ishráq Khávarí, Rahíq-i-Makhtúm, vol. II, p. 1201 ff.
rose up and stabbed him again.' Azal praised courage again and said 'How wonderful it is for a man to be brave. Now, see what they are doing to the Cause of God. Everybody harms it, everyone has arisen against me, even my Brother. I have no comfort whatsoever and am in a wretched state.' His tone and implications were that he, the successor of the Báb, was the wronged one, and his Brother (I take refuge in God!) was the usurper and aggressor. Then he once more praised courage and said that the Cause of God needed help. In all this talk, the tone of his remarks, the story of Mírzá Na'ím, the praise of courage and his encouragement to me, he was in fact telling me to kill Bahá'u'lláh.

The effect of all this upon me was so disturbing that in all my life I had never felt so shattered. It was as if the whole building was falling upon my head. I was frightened; without uttering a word I went out to the ante-room. My mind was in a state of the utmost agitation. I thought to myself that I would go inside and cut his head off regardless of consequences. Then I thought, to kill him is easy, but perhaps I would offend the Blessed Beauty. One thing which prevented me from carrying out my intention was the thought that if I killed him and then went into the presence of the Blessed Beauty, and He asked me why I had killed him, what answer could I give?

I returned to the bath and being extremely angry, I shouted at him 'Go and get lost, clear off!' He whimpered and trembled and asked me to pour water over him. I complied. Washed or unwashed he went out in a state of great trepidation, and I have never seen him since.

My state of mind, however, was such that nothing could calm me. As it happened, that day the Blessed Beauty did not come to the bath, but Áqá Mírzá Músáy-i-Kalím [Bahá'u'lláh's faithful brother] came. I told him that Azal had set me on fire with his sinister suggestion. Áqá Mírzá Músá said: 'He has been thinking of this for years, this man has always been thinking in this way. Do not pay any attention to him.' He counselled me to disregard the whole thing and went inside the bath.

However, when my work was finished in the bath, I went


to the Master* and reported to Him what Mírzá Yahyá had told me, and how I was filled with rage and wanted to kill him...the Master said, 'This is something that you alone know. Do not mention it to anyone, it is better that it remain hidden.' I then went to Mírzá Áqá Ján, reported the details of the incident and asked him to tell Bahá'u'lláh. He returned and said 'Bahá'u'lláh says to tell Ustád Muhammad-'Alí not to mention this to anyone.'

That night I collected all the writings of Azal and went to the tea-room† of Bahá'u'lláh's house and burnt them all in the brazier. Before doing so, I showed them to seven or eight of the believers who were present. They all saw that they were the writings of Azal. They all protested to me and asked me the reason for doing this. I said, 'Until today I esteemed Azal highly, but now he is less than a dog in my sight'. ‡ 6

In the end Ustád Muhammad-'Alí found himself unable to keep this matter to himself. Soon the news spread and created much fear and anguish in the hearts of the believers in Adrianople.

It was after this event that Bahá'u'lláh decided to announce formally to Mírzá Yahyá, as the nominee of the Báb, His claim to be the Fountain-head of Divine Revelation, 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'. Although Mírzá Yahyá was already informed of the declaration of Bahá'u'lláh and was aware of His claim through His Tablets, nevertheless, this announcement was of great significance, in so far as it left no excuse for Mírzá Yahyá to cloud the issue. Bahá'u'lláh had formally summoned him to pay allegiance to His Cause. Failure to do so would have meant the parting of the ways.

This announcement was made by Bahá'u'lláh through the revelation of a special Tablet known as Súriy-i-Amr (Súrih of


* 'Abdu'l-Bahá. (A.T.)

† In this room the believers often gathered, talked among themselves and drank their tea. (A.T.)

‡ In Persian, to call someone a dog sounds much more insulting than it does in English. (A.T.)

5. Quoted by Ishráq Khávarí, Rahíq-i-Makhtúm, vol. II, p. 1201 ff.

[Súriy-i-Amr] God Passes By, p. 171
Command). In it He clearly stated His claims and conveyed the character of His Mission. He commissioned Mírzá Áqá Ján, His amanuensis, to take it personally to Mírzá Yahyá, read it aloud to him and demand a conclusive reply. Mírzá Yahyá asked for a time during which he could meditate his answer. This request was granted, and the following day he replied that he himself had become the recipient of divine Revelation, and it was incumbent upon all the peoples of the world to follow him and pay allegiance to his person.

Such a claim by one who was the embodiment of deceit and falsehood evoked the wrath of God, and was clearly regarded as a signal for the eventual split between Bahá'u'lláh and Mírzá Yahyá. We must bear in mind that the majority of the community in Adrianople was faithful to Bahá'u'lláh and wholly devoted to Him. The rest consisted of a few men who were evil or mischief-makers, and some weak and vacillating. They freely associated with each other and consequently tests and trials were immense at that period. Ever since their banishment to Adrianople the faithful companions of Bahá'u'lláh had been filled with anguish and sorrow as a result of the activities of Mírzá Yahyá and his supporters. With the revelation of the Súriy-i-Amr and Mírzá Yahyá's reactions, the contest between the forces of light and darkness came to a head. Embarking on an action reminiscent of His solitary retirement to the mountains of Kurdistán when the unfaithful were shamefully destroying the Cause of God, Bahá'u'lláh, who at this time was residing in the house of Amru'lláh, withdrew with His family to the nearby house of Ridá Big which was rented by His order, and refused to associate with anybody. This was on 10 March 1866. The reason for this withdrawal, which fortunately was of short duration, was similar to that which had motivated Him to retire to Kurdistán a decade earlier: namely, to relieve the tension and alleviate the feelings of enmity which during the course of years had been engendered in the hearts of some by Mírzá Yahyá and were fanned into flame by his latest actions.


The withdrawal of Bahá'u'lláh on these two occasions produced a drastic effect on both the sincere and the unfaithful. It also afforded the exiles the freedom to choose between Him and Mírzá Yahyá. The true believers who were sustained by His unfailing grace found themselves suddenly cut off from the Source of Life. The Light went from their midst and their souls were plunged into a world of darkness and deprivation.

Like plants which wither away and shrivel up when barred from the rays of the sun, the true disciples of Bahá'u'lláh, those lovers of His beauty, became dispirited and disconsolate. They would willingly have offered up their lives and all their possessions had they thought that such an action would bring about their reunion with their Beloved.

Áqáy-i-Kalím, the faithful brother and a staunch supporter of Bahá'u'lláh, who with 'Abdu'l-Bahá carried the weight of many responsibilities during the dark hours of tests and trials, especially during the absence of Bahá'u'lláh, has reported to Nabíl these words concerning Bahá'u'lláh's retirement in the house of Ridá Big:

That day witnessed a most great commotion. All the companions lamented in their separation from the Blessed Beauty.6

One of the companions of Bahá'u'lláh who was present at the time has left to posterity this account which portrays the feelings of His loved ones:

Those days were marked by tumult and confusion. We were sore-perplexed, and greatly feared lest we be permanently deprived of the bounty of His presence.7

The enemies and the wavering souls who leaned towards Mírzá Yahyá, but who often attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, were discomfited in their activities as a result of His withdrawal. The guiding hand of Bahá'u'lláh which had so far sustained them, in spite of their unfaithfulness, and pro

6. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 167.

7. ibid.

tected them with care and loving-kindness, was now withdrawn. They were thrown back on their own resources and were caught in the clutches of a strife which hastened their doom. As time passed, they sank deeper and deeper into the swamp of their own machinations and perished ingloriously.

When Bahá'u'lláh moved His residence from the house of Amru'lláh to the house of Ridá Big, He ordered His brother Áqáy-i-Kalím to divide all the furniture, bedding and utensils and send half of them to the house of Mírzá Yahyá, and to see that he received his full share of the government allowance allocated to the exiles. He also directed that several items such as the rings of the Báb, His seals and some manuscripts be delivered to him. Mírzá Yahyá had longed to possess these relics which the Báb, before His martyrdom, had specifically sent to Bahá'u'lláh.

Upon His retirement to the house of Ridá Big, Bahá'u'lláh took only one servant for Himself and His family. He instructed Áqáy-i-Kalím to take one of the companions to serve him and to appoint anyone of the companions whom Mírzá Yahyá might select as a servant to his household. Mírzá Yahyá asked for Darvísh Sidq-'Alí,* one of the most faithful disciples of Bahá'u'lláh. When informed of this, Bahá'u'lláh directed Áqáy-i-Kalím to tell the Darvísh to present himself to Mírzá Yahyá and serve him with the utmost truthfulness and sincerity, stating that no one among the unfaithful would be able to rob him of the love he cherished in his heart for the Blessed Beauty. He further urged the Darvísh to read the Lawh-i-Laylatu'l-Quds † (Tablet of the Holy Night) which had been revealed in his honour, and assured him that when he read it this time, he would be able to understand its hidden meanings.

No sooner did Áqáy-i-Kalím convey Bahá'u'lláh's message to Darvísh Sidq-'Alí, than he fell prostrate on the ground as a


* For a brief account of his life see Memorials of the Faithful, also The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 289, and below, pp. 329-30 ff.

† See p. 188.

gesture of humility and thankfulness to his Lord, and said that this message of Bahá'u'lláh and His loving-kindness were sufficient to sustain him, and that he would remain happy even if he had to endure afflictions for the rest of his life. While the Darvísh was in his service, Mírzá Yahyá offered him a sum of money which he refused, saying that Bahá'u'lláh looked after his needs and that he was serving Mírzá Yahyá solely in obedience to Bahá'u'lláh's command and not for money. Darvísh Sidq-'Alí, however, did not have to remain in the service of Mírzá Yahyá for very long. Through a succession of events he was relieved from this unpleasant task. Indeed, as we shall see, soon after Bahá'u'lláh's withdrawal to the house of Ridá Big, all the followers of Bahá'u'lláh completely dissociated themselves from Mírzá Yahyá and were cleansed from the pollution of his satanic spirit.

The 'Most Great Separation'

The withdrawal of Bahá'u'lláh to the house of Ridá Big and His refusal to meet any of the exiles created a situation in which some of the unfaithful openly turned against Him and transferred their allegiance to Mírzá Yahyá. Emboldened by the absence of Bahá'u'lláh, Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahání, who until then used to attain His presence and associate with His loved ones, publicly threw in his lot with the arch-breaker of the Covenant of the Báb and, thinking that the arena was now cleared for him, openly rose up in opposition to Bahá'u'lláh and began a vigorous campaign to discredit Him among the people. A period of intense activity ensued in which Mírzá Yahyá and Siyyid Muhammad played a major part. Assisted by their infamous allies and associates they loaded their letters with calumnies and false accusations against Bahá'u'lláh and disseminated them far and wide among the believers in Persia and 'Iráq.

These letters caused much confusion and dissension among some of the Bábí community in Persia. Certain individuals were


misled by these slanderous statements and lost their faith altogether. A number of Bábís wrote to Bahá'u'lláh and begged for guidance and enlightenment. Several Tablets in this period were revealed in response to such questions. Other believers had already reached the stage of certitude in their faith. These souls were moved by the dissemination of these evil letters to take action, and they arose, together with others whom Bahá'u'lláh had specifically chosen, such as Nabíl, to champion the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. They defended it most ably against those egotistical personalities in the Bábí community who were determined to bring division within the Cause of God.

It was Mírzá Yahyá himself who, by his actions, revealed to the Bábí community his disobedience to the Covenant which the Báb had so irrefutably established concerning 'Him Whom God shall make manifest', a disobedience long concealed by Bahá'u'lláh. The tests and trials which Bahá'u'lláh had foretold in His Tablets were now beginning to descend upon the believers. The news of the opposition of Mírzá Yahyá, the nominee of the Báb, created a great commotion among the Bábís, and served as a signal for the permanent rupture between him and his illustrious Brother.

It was during this period that Mírzá Yahyá entrusted one of his companions with some papers for distribution among the Bábís in Persia. On learning their contents, this man refused to comply with his orders and instead showed them to some faithful believers. These papers contained many statements misrepresenting Bahá'u'lláh and accusing Him of those very crimes which Mírzá Yahyá himself had already committed. They fell ultimately into the hands of Bahá'u'lláh's friends in Adrianople who were astonished by Yahyá's shameful behaviour when they saw them.*

Not satisfied with these perfidious deeds, Mírzá Yahyá decided to carry his rebellion to circles hitherto untouched by these matters. Thinking that Bahá'u'lláh would continue to


* Despite the contents of these letters, Bahá'u'lláh advised the messenger that he should carry out the instructions of Mírzá Yahyá and deliver them.

bear every false accusation and any amount of ill-treatment with resignation and forbearance, he sent a petition to Khurshíd Páshá, the Governor of Adrianople, and to the Governor's assistant 'Azíz Páshá. This communication, which the Governor shared with Bahá'u'lláh, was couched in obsequious language, contained false statements about Bahá'u'lláh and was aimed at discrediting Him in the eyes of the Governor, who was one of His most ardent admirers. One of Yahyá's false accusations was that he was not receiving his share of the allowance which the Government had allotted to Bahá'u'lláh and His fellow exiles. To support this claim he sent one of his wives to call on the Governor to complain that her husband's share of allowance was cut off by Bahá'u'lláh and that as a result he had become destitute and his children were on the verge of starvation.

As we have already stated, the fact was that Bahá'u'lláh had always supported Mírzá Yahyá and his family. And when He retired to the house of Ridá Big, He had arranged for Yahyá to receive his full share of the government allowance.

Hájí Mírzá Haydar-'Alí, who arrived in Adrianople a few months after these distasteful events and attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh many times, has written concerning Mírzá Yahyá's petition to the authorities in these words:

When Azal arose in hostility with his satanic spirit to oppose and challenge the Blessed Beauty, through calumnies and false accusations, he wrote a letter to the Governor of Adrianople. We* all saw this letter. It opened with these words: 'May my soul and body be a sacrifice for thee.' It went on to say: 'O thou 'Azíz,† we come to you in destitution, grant us some corn.' He continues falsely to accuse the Ancient Beauty of having cut off his livelihood.

The opening sentence of his letter, the statement of his needs, and the complaints all demonstrate that God cannot be confused with man, and that there is no likeness between


* Referring to himself and other disciples of Bahá'u'lláh.

† 'Azíz Páshá, the Deputy Governor of Adrianople.

the two. We see the contrast, for instance, in these words of the Ancient Beauty as He addresses the late Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz:* 'O thou Ra'ís [Chief], hearken to the voice of God, the Supreme Ruler, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. He verily calleth between earth and heaven and summoneth mankind to the scene of effulgent glory.'

In this blessed Tablet, He foreshadows that the Sultán would lose his throne and the country would pass out of his hands...To return to our subject: Bahá'u'lláh had, through an intermediary, proved to the Governor that these allegations [by Mírzá Yahyá] were false and, in a message, explained to him that these calumnies were designed to hurt and humiliate Him...8

The accusations of Mírzá Yahyá spread far and wide. Shoghi Effendi writes:

...He [Bahá'u'lláh] was soon after informed that this same brother [Mírzá Yahyá] had despatched one of his wives to the government house to complain that her husband had been cheated of his rights, and that her children were on the verge of starvation--an accusation that spread far and wide and, reaching Constantinople, became, to Bahá'u'lláh's profound distress, the subject of excited discussion and injurious comment in circles that had previously been greatly impressed by the high standard which His noble and dignified behaviour had set in that city.9

In a Tablet to Shaykh Salmán,† Bahá'u'lláh describes the agony of His heart for Mírzá Yahyá's shameful deeds. He recounts his calumnies concerning his share of the allowance, stating that it has always been divided between the exiles, and mentions that had it not been for the sake of those who accompanied Him, He Himself would never have accepted the government allowance in spite of all the hardships which such an action would have entailed. As we shall see later, when the campaign of calumnies was intensified, Bahá'u'lláh refused to

* This Tablet is actually addressed to 'Álí Páshá, the Grand Vizir.

† See chapter 13 and also vol. 1, pp. 109-13.

8. Hájí Mírzá Haydar-'Alí, Bihjatu's-Sudúr, p. 76.

9. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 167-8.

draw this allowance and had to sell some of His belongings in order to provide for His livelihood.

One of the features of the life of Bahá'u'lláh was that although born of one of the wealthiest families in Persia and having lived many years in luxurious surroundings, He spent forty years of His Ministry in an austerity to which He had never been accustomed during the earlier days of His life. For two years he lived in the utmost poverty in the mountains of Kurdistán where many a day He subsisted on milk alone. In Baghdád He lived a simple life and had to endure many privations. 'There was a time in 'Iráq,' He affirms in a Tablet, 'when the Ancient Beauty...had no change of linen. The one shirt He possessed would be washed, dried and worn again.' 10 In Adrianople and 'Akká He submitted Himself to the privations and hardships which a ruthless enemy had imposed upon Him.

Although many believers through their devotion, and often by sacrificing their own needs, offered gifts to Bahá'u'lláh, He usually distributed such gifts among the poor and He Himself lived with the utmost simplicity. For example, Husayn-i-Áshchí, a youth from Káshán who served Bahá'u'lláh as a cook in Adrianople and later in 'Akká, has left to posterity the following account of the days when He stayed in the house of Amru'lláh in Adrianople.

This house [of Amru'lláh] was very large and magnificent. It had a large outer apartment where all the loved ones of Bahá'u'lláh used to gather. They were intoxicated with the wine of His Peerless Beauty...However, the means of livelihood were very inadequate and meagre. Most of the time there was no food which could be served to Bahá'u'lláh other than bread and cheese. Every day I used to save some meat and oil and store them in a special place until there was enough to cook. I would then invite Bahá'u'lláh to a meal on the lawn. We managed to save some money and buy two cows and one goat. The milk and yoghurt which were produced were served in the holy household...

10. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 137.
In the winter there was a brazier* in each room. It was among my duties to light them. In order to economize I used to measure the amount of coal that I placed in each brazier. Someone had informed Bahá'u'lláh of this. He summoned me to His presence and said: 'I hear you count the pieces of coal which go into each brazier!' Bahá'u'lláh smiled and was very amused. He agreed that such economy was necessary in a large house.11
Because of the harmful actions of Mírzá Yahyá and Siyyid Muhammad, Bahá'u'lláh was forced to end His withdrawal, which had lasted about two months, and come forward to protect the Cause of God from the onslaught of the unfaithful. It was at this time that Bahá'u'lláh expelled Siyyid Muhammad from the gatherings of His followers and soon the 'Most Great Separation', which was a clear division between the followers of Bahá'u'lláh and those of Mírzá Yahyá, became public. The two-months' withdrawal of Bahá'u'lláh acted as a spiritual vacuum for the exiles in Adrianople. It created a great test and as a result each one of them showed the measure of his sincerity and faith. When the time of separation came, each person knew to which side he belonged. However, the great majority of the exiles remained steadfast in the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. Only a few, who had gathered around Mírzá Yahyá, were expelled from the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. Several ambitious men and egotistical personalities in Persia also threw in their lot with Mírzá Yahyá. They strengthened his hand and, as we shall see later, he, instigated by Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahání, intensified his evil activities and spread the seeds of dissension and strife among the authorities in the capital city of the Ottoman Empire.

* Portable fireplace made of cast iron in which charcoal is burnt.

11. Husayn-i-Áshchí, unpublished memoirs.