The Light of Faith Reaches
India and Burma

A number of outstanding believers had been travel teaching in Persia from the early days of the Faith. By the time Bahá'u'lláh entered the city of 'Akká, the Faith had also reached a few of the neighbouring countries and its light had illumined the hearts of some of their inhabitants. Towards the end of Bahá'u'lláh's Ministry, the Cause of God was introduced to fifteen countries, mainly the Islámic lands stretching from Turkmenistan in the east to Egypt and the Súdán in the west. Several teachers of the Cause travelled through these territories, among them some eminent Bahá'ís such as Nabíl-i-Akbar and Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl.

To the vast sub-continent of India, whose inhabitants were mainly non-Muslim, Bahá'u'lláh despatched the zealous, untiring and renowned travel-teacher Sulaymán Khán-i-Tunukábání, surnamed by Him Jamálu'd-Dín and usually referred to as Jamál Effendi. He came from the province of Mázindarán in northern Persia. His Bahá'í career began in Tihrán, where he had moved in order to obtain an important position in government circles. There he found the Faith and became an ardent believer. The fire of the love of Bahá'u'lláh began to burn brightly within his heart, so he changed his plans completely. The first thing he did was to dress as a dervish,* which was the most convenient appearance for


* A Persian mendicant who usually lives on alms and roams the country freely. Sometimes men of culture and means also dressed as dervishes in order to enjoy freedom of movement. Often these men, by virtue of their knowledge and erudition, became the centre of attraction for those who inclined towards Súfism.

a person who wished to roam around the country with freedom. Sulaymán Khán had a strong urge to travel to 'Akká and attain the presence of His Lord. So he set off on the journey and travelled to the Holy Land via Tabríz. He achieved his heart's desire and basked for some time in the sunshine of Bahá'u'lláh's presence.

When the time of his pilgrimage came to an end, he did not return to Persia, but instead travelled extensively and for a long time in the Ottoman territory. Being a man of culture and dressed as he was in the garb of a dervish, he hoped to become a centre of attraction for many souls in that vast country, so that he could teach the Faith to them.

Shaykh Kázim-i-Samandar* states that he met Sulaymán Khán in Istanbul in the year AH 1291 (AD 1874) when the latter was travelling around the country after his pilgrimage to the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. Samandar writes:

His {Sulaymán Khán's} intention in putting on the garb of a dervish was to be able to diffuse the divine fragrances and teach the Cause of the Lord of Revelation in those regions. Gradually, after his association with the public, he realized that these people for the time being did not have the capacity to embrace the Faith, and also his activities were not conducive to wisdom. Therefore he returned to 'Akká and attained the presence of the Blessed Perfection. From there he went to India...1
Some years before this episode, a few members of the Afnán family had established a trading company and later a printing press bearing the trade mark 'Násirí' in Bombay, India. This was the first printing press in the Bahá'í world to produce several volumes of Bahá'í writings. As a result of this enterprise Bombay became a place where Bahá'ís would congregate and to which Persian Bahá'í pilgrims travelled on their way to and from 'Akká. When the Afnáns realized that there was receptivity towards the Faith among the Indians, they sent a petition to Bahá'u'lláh for a Bahá'í teacher with knowledge and experience to go to India, and

* For an account of his life see vol. 3. pp. 88-91.

1. Táríkh-i-Samandar, p. 213.



Known as Jamálu'd-Dín, he was sent by Bahá'u'lláh to teach in the sub-continent of India



An illustrious believer in Burma, posthumously named by Shoghi Effendi as a Hand of the Cause of God

offered financial assistance towards this meritorious enterprise. Their request coincided with the time that Sulaymán Khán was in 'Akká. Bahá'u'lláh chose him for this purpose and instructed him to go to India and teach the Cause of God in that vast sub-continent. With a happy heart and radiant countenance, this old man of God set off for India in his dervish dress, his dignified bearing enhanced by a long cloak and a special headdress which immediately put him in the category of men of culture and leaders of thought. He took with him a relative of his, Mírzá Husayn, as his companion. He arrived in Bombay in 1878, around the time Bahá'u'lláh was in Mazra'ih, and from there began his teaching activities. He travelled extensively throughout India, then went to Ceylon where he encountered great opposition from Buddhist leaders. His companion died in Ceylon. He travelled to Burma for a short visit and continued travel teaching for over ten years. During this period he met many leaders of thought and men of culture from every background and religion. He associated with people with genuine friendship and love; his pleasant manners and good character, his attractive talks and dignified way of listening, all contributed to his success in the teaching field.

People from all walks of life turned to Sulaymán Khán, whom they knew as Jamál Effendi, for enlightenment and spiritual blessing. He published The Seven Valleys in Persian and disseminated it among certain people. He attracted many souls to the Cause; some became ardent believers, others remained admirers of the Faith till the end of their lives. Bahá'u'lláh addressed several encouraging Tablets to him, showering His confirmations upon his work and assuring him of His good-pleasure. To others who had embraced the Faith in India, Bahá'u'lláh also addressed some Tablets.

In the city of Madras Sulaymán Khán came across Siyyid Mustafáy-i-Rúmí, a youth of about twenty years whose parents were, originally from 'Iráq. He was deeply attached to Islám and diligently observed every religious rite. This youth became greatly attracted to Sulaymán Khán whose charming personality


and radiance of spirit had left an abiding impression on him. Siyyid Mustafá listened with great interest to Sulaymán Khán's explanations about religion in general and the Bahá'í Faith in particular. He became highly attracted to the Person of Bahá'u'lláh as he sat spellbound, listening to the discourses of his new-found teacher. Soon Siyyid Mustafá recognized the truth of the Cause and became filled with excitement at the knowledge that the Supreme Manifestation of God had at last revealed Himself to mankind. He was the most illustrious of Jamal Effendi's converts in the sub-continent of India. He served the Cause with distinction, mainly in Burma, and was posthumously named by Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith, as one of the Hands of the Cause of God. After his death, Shoghi Effendi, in a cable to the Bahá'í world, referred to him as a 'DISTINGUISHED PIONEER' of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, a 'STAUNCH AND HIGH-MINDED SOUL', the record of whose 'SUPERB SERVICES IN BOTH TEACHING AND ADMINISTRATIVE FIELDS SHED LUSTRE ON BOTH THE HEROIC AND FORMATIVE AGES OF BAHÁ'Í DISPENSATION', and whose resting-place 'SHOULD BE REGARDED FOREMOST SHRINE IN THE COMMUNITY OF BURMESE BELIEVERS'.

For over ten years Sulaymán Khán travelled throughout the sub-continent; then he departed for the Holy Land to attain the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. He was accompanied by two believers whom he had brought under the shadow of the Cause of God. He also took with him a young lad to work as a domestic helper in the household of Bahá'u'lláh. He attained the presence of His Lord in 'Akká for the third time, but his sojourn in the Holy Land was cut very short, for Bahá'u'lláh instructed him to return to India and continue his teaching exploits in that vast country. This time he again took one of the believers to accompany him in his travels, arriving back in India on the eve of Naw-Rúz* 1888.

In some of his letters Siyyid Mustafáy-i-Rúmí has named a number of countries and provinces that were visited by Sulaymán Khán. In each place he had sown the seeds of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh in many hearts. Among the places he visited were


* 21 March, the Bahá'í New Year.

[Naw-Rúz] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas; Prayers and Meditations, p. 67; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, 2, 3, 4

Ceylon, Punjab, Burma, Malaya, Siam, Java, and the islands of Celebes and Bali. On one of his trips, which lasted one and a half years, he visited Lahore, Punch, Yarkand, Kashmir, Laddakh (Ladakh), Tibet, Balkh and Badakhshán. Siyyid Mustafá has written a brief account about this journey, a summary of which is translated below:

On this journey, according to Jamal Effendi's own account, his feet became frost-bitten so severely owing to the extreme cold that for about six months he was confined to bed in Yarkand. When recovered, he went to Balkh and Badakhshán (both in Afghanistan) but his feet were still wounded--and he walked with difficulty. The road between Kashmir and Tibet, where one has to climb high mountains, was extremely difficult for him to negotiate. All his luggage containing many Bahá'í books and Tablets, which was carried on the backs of bullocks, fell into a river and could not be recovered.

Between Kashmir and Tibet, Jamal Effendi had to encounter great numbers of the Ismá'ílí sect, followers of Áqá Khán-i-Mahallátí. The majority of these people were bloodthirsty and savage. Because of much ill-treatment, he was disappointed and with a heavy heart...went to Balkh and Badakhshán in Afghanistan. The people in that area also treated him very badly,...so he returned to Kashmir in 1889. From there he resumed his customary trips to various parts of India and later went to Burma...2

After the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, Sulaymán Khán was instructed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to remain on the sub-continent and continue his meritorious activities. As the years went by his achievements became clearly visible, and the foundations he laid in those vast countries and islands remained unassailable with the passage of time. Through his travel teaching many people were attracted to the Cause, especially in the islands of Java where some rulers and dignitaries were influenced by his teaching work. In Burma he achieved greater success. In the city of Mandalay, it is reported that no less than six thousand Muslims were converted to the Faith. But he did not disclose to them that Bahá'u'lláh had

2. Masábih-i-Hidáyat, vol. 8, pp. 134-6.
ushered in a new Dispensation with new laws and teachings, because they were not ready for them at the time. These people, according to the testimony of some local believers, acknowledged the truth of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, but at the same time were practising Muslims and carried out the religious laws and rituals of Islám.

In the early days of His Ministry, some time after Sulaymán Khán had ended his services on the sub-continent and had returned to the Holy Land, 'Abdu'l-Bahá sent Mírzá Mahram, a teacher of the Faith, to Mandalay with clear instructions to announce the independence of the Faith to these people and acquaint them with the laws of the new Dispensation and the abrogation of the laws of Islám. Mírzá Mahram carried out this mission faithfully. But on hearing such far-reaching deviations from Islámic laws, almost two-thirds of this community angrily rejected the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh and later some of them came together to kill Mírzá Mahram. One day a great crowd assembled outside his residence and had it not been for the prompt action of a British police officer, they would have succeeded in putting him to death. It is reported that the British officer, who was a Christian, asked Mírzá Mahram, 'What did you say to these people who have now assembled to take your life?' 'I said', Mírzá Mahram replied, 'the same thing that Christ said in His day.' Mírzá Mahram nonetheless succeeded in remaining in Mandalay for some time. He deepened the knowledge of the remainder of the community and enabled them to embrace the Cause of God fully and to carry out its laws and teachings in their daily lives.

As to Sulaymán Khán, he spent altogether about twenty years continually teaching the Cause of God in India and adjoining countries. He succeeded in converting peoples of various religions to the Faith. Among them were Muslims of the Sunní and Shí'ah sects, Ismá'ílís, Hindus and Buddhists. However, the hardships he underwent during these years, his travelling in climates of extreme heat and cold, riding on bullocks and elephants, passing through so many inhospitable regions and encountering some inhuman opposition, all took their toll on his strength and he


returned to 'Akká. This was about five years after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh.

After some time in the Holy Land, 'Abdu'l-Bahá sent him on an important mission to Persia. The background to this story goes back to the days of Bahá'u'lláh when two outstanding believers, the Hand of the Cause of God Mullá 'Alí-Akbar, known as Hájí Ákhúnd, and Hájí Abu'l-Hasan, known as Hájí Amín, the Trustee of Bahá'u'lláh, were both cast into the prison of Qazvín in 1891 for about two years.* The prime minister at the time was 'Alí-Asghar Khán, the Amínu's-Sultán. He was sympathetic to their case, knew that they were unjustly imprisoned, and made kind remarks about them. Bahá'u'lláh was pleased about this and wished 'Abdu'l-Bahá to send a message to him. 'Abdu'l-Bahá describes this in these words:

Not long before His passing, Bahá'u'lláh had said: 'Should someone go to Persia, and manage to convey it, this message must be delivered to Amínu's-Sultán: "You took steps to help the prisoners; you freely rendered them a befitting service; this service will not be forgotten. Rest assured that it will bring you honor and call down a blessing upon all your affairs. O Amínu's-Sultán! Every house that is raised up will one day fall to ruin, except the house of God; that will grow more massive and be better guarded day by day. Then serve the Court of God with all your might, that you may discover the way to a home in Heaven, and found an edifice that will endure forever."' 3
Soon after this the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh took place. 'Abdu'l Bahá was able to carry out Bahá'u'lláh's wishes shortly after the following incident took place in Persia. Early on during the Ministry of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Siyyid Asadu'lláh-i-Qumí,† who was then in 'Akká, had a dream: in his dream Bahá'u'lláh placed a few Tablets inside some envelopes, wrote on them in red ink, handed the envelopes to Siyyid Asadu'lláh and directed him to proceed to Persia. In the morning the Siyyid recounted his dream to 'Abdu'l-Bahá and asked permission to leave for Persia. 'Abdu'l-

* see below, pp. 337-8.

† For a brief reference to him see vol. 1 , p. 35.

3. Memorials of the Faithful, p. 136.
Bahá warned him that on this journey he would be severely persecuted in a special manner. This prophecy was fulfilled when Siyyid Asadu'lláh reached the city of Ardabíl in the province of Ádhirbáyján. A few of the clergy became aware of his teaching activities in the city and plotted to take his life. One day he was conducted to a place where several men surrounded him and beat him so severely that they thought he was dead. They dragged his body into a disused stable. After some time he regained consciousness but was taken into prison by the orders of the governor. Later he was sent to the prison of Tabríz in which he languished for a few days. Eventually orders arrived that he should be sent to Tihrán under escort. However, instead of taking him to a prison there, the Prime Minister gave instructions that the Siyyid should be brought to his own home, where he was received with kindness and consideration.

On his way to Tihrán, while escorted by the soldiers, Siyyid Asadu'lláh recalled the words of Bahá'u'lláh a few years earlier when on a certain occasion he had attained His presence in the Mansion of Mazra'ih in AH 1306 (AD 1888-9). He said to him, 'Asadu'lláh, I want to send you to visit Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, but remember that he does not kill Bahá'ís any more. Do you wish to go?'* And Siyyid Asadu'lláh bowed as a sign of his submission to his Lord. Now he was a prisoner on his way to the capital and he knew that somehow he was going to meet the Sovereign:

Amínu's-Sultán came to the prisoner's assistance and, in his own office, provided Asadu'lláh with a sanctuary. One day when the Prime Minister was ill, Násiri'd-Dín Sháh arrived to visit him. The Minister then explained the situation, and lavished praise upon his captive; so much so that the Sháh, as he left, showed great kindness to Asadu'lláh, and spoke words of consolation. This, when at an earlier time, the captive would have been strung up at once to adorn some gallows-tree, and shot down with a gun.4
The Prime Minister's act of kindness in harbouring Siyyid

* These are not to be taken as the exact words of Bahá'u'lláh.

4. Memorials of the Faithful, pp. 136-7.
Asadu'lláh prompted 'Abdu'l-Bahá to carry out the wishes of Bahá'u'lláh and send him a message. The person to whom 'Abdu'l-Bahá entrusted this task was Sulaymán Khán.

After a time Amínu's-Sultán lost the Sovereign's favor. Hated, in disgrace, he was banished to the city of Qum. Thereupon this servant dispatched Sulaymán Khán to Persia, carrying a prayer and a missive written by me. The prayer besought God's aid and bounty and succor for the fallen Minister, so that he might, from that corner of oblivion, be recalled to favor. In the letter we clearly stated: 'Prepare to return to Tihrán. Soon will God's help arrive; the light of grace will shine on you again; with full authority again, you will find yourself free, and Prime Minister. This is your reward for the efforts you exerted on behalf of a man who was oppressed.' That letter and that prayer are today in the possession of the family of Amínu's-Sultán.

From Tihrán, Sulaymán Khán journeyed to Qum, and according to his instructions went to live in a cell in the shrine of the Immaculate.* The relatives of Amínu's-Sultán came to visit there; Sulaymán Khán inquired after the fallen Minister and expressed the wish to meet him. When the Minister learned of this, he sent for Sulaymán Khán. Placing all his trust in God, Sulaymán Khán hastened to the Minister's house and, meeting him in private, presented the letter from 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The Minister rose, and received the letter with extreme respect. Then addressing the Khán he said: 'I had given up hope. If this longing is fulfilled, I will arise to serve; I will preserve and uphold the friends of God.' Then he expressed his gratitude, indebtedness and joy, and added, 'Praise be to God, I hope again; I feel that by His aid, my dream will come true.'

In brief, the Minister pledged himself to serve the friends, and Sulaymán Khán took his leave. The Minister then desired to give him a sum of money to defray the expenses of his journey, but Sulaymán Khán refused and, despite the Minister's insistence, would accept nothing. The Khán had


* Qum is the shrine city of Fátimih 'the Immaculate'. Sister of the eighth Imám, Imám Ridá, she was buried here in AD 816.

not yet reached the Holy Land on his return journey when Amínu's-Sultán was recalled from exile and immediately summoned to the Premiership again. He assumed the position and functioned with full authority; and at first he did indeed support the believers, but toward the end, in the case of the Yazd* martyrdoms, he was neglectful. He neither helped nor protected the sufferers in any way, nor would he listen to their repeated pleas, until all of them were put to death. Accordingly he too was dismissed, a ruined man; that flag which had flown so proudly was reversed, and that hoping heart despaired.5
Before embarking on this journey Sulaymán Khán was advised by 'Abdu'l-Bahá not to divulge to anyone the nature of the mission with which he was entrusted. It took only a month after receiving 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablet before Amínu's-Sultán was again installed as Prime Minister and the promise of 'Abdu'l-Bahá was fulfilled. Soon after this happened, Sulaymán Khán in his enthusiasm made a mistake and intimated the whole story to the proud and egotistical Jamál-i-Burújirdí,† the notoriously unfaithful Bahá'í teacher who soon after became a Covenant-breaker. When Jamál heard of the success of the mission and the reverence shown by Amínu's-Sultán for the Tablet from 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the fire of jealousy raged in his heart and prompted him to establish contact with the Prime Minister in order to claim credit for himself. He made preparations and soon a meeting took place between the two. The satanic influence which Jamál-i-Burújirdí exerted upon the Prime Minister in this interview was fatal.

There is nothing more damaging to a soul than meeting a person who is infected with the disease of Covenant-breaking. 'Abdu'l-Bahá has stated6 that the reason for Amínu's-Sultán's failure to keep his promise of support for the Faith was twofold. One was the chilling effect of meeting Jamál-i-Burújirdí, the other was pride in his position of supreme authority.


* This refers to the upheaval of 1903 in Yazd in which a great number of Bahá'ís were martyred. (A.T.)

† see vol. 2.

5. Memorials of the Faithful, pp. 137-8.

6. Zarqání, Badáyi'u'l-Áthár, vol. 2. p. 158.

As for Sulaymán Khán, he returned to the Holy Land, but it did not take long before he passed away to the realms above. This was in the year AH 1316. He was buried in 'Akká, having achieved everlasting renown as the spiritual conqueror of the subcontinent of India and of Burma.