A remarkable episode in Máh-Kú: the Báb

The fortress of Máh-Kú in northwestern Iran, where the Báb was imprisoned in 1847 and 1848. Photo courtesy of Médiathèque Baha’ie Francophone http://www.bahai-biblio.org.


Bahá’ís do not disbelieve in accounts of miracles found in the holy texts of other religions or in the ability of a Manifestation of God to perform them, although some of these accounts are actually symbolic expressions or metaphors for important spiritual occurrences.  After all, who can find them convincing or persuasive other than eye witnesses? And what do they have to do with a Manifestation’s divine mission? Even Pharoah’s priests were able to turn staffs into serpents in the presence of Moses, so apparently this power is not confined to God’s Messengers. As a result, Bahá’ís pay little attention to the personal accounts of believers or others of miracles by the Báb or Bahá’u’lláh.  They are given no special attention in our literature, but they are there.  

Here is an astonishing account of the Báb being physically present in two places at the same time. And, it was not witnessed by one of His followers, but by the warden of the castle where he was imprisoned in Máh-Kú, a man by the name of ‘Alí-Khán. You may find this story in The Revelation of  Bahá’u’lláh, Vol III, by Adib Taherzadeh.


… when the Báb was imprisoned in the castle of Mah-Ku, the warden of the Castle was a man named ‘All-Khan, who discharged his functions with the utmost severity and refused to allow any of the followers of the Báb to gain admittance into His presence. Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, one of the ardent disciples of the Báb, came to Mah-Ku, but was refused admission. Nabil-i-A’zam has recounted the following story as related by Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi, the amanuensis of the Bab:

‘For the first two weeks,’ Siyyid Husayn further related, ‘no
one was permitted to visit the Báb. My brother and I alone
were admitted to His presence. Siyyid Hasan would, every
day, accompanied by one of the guards, descend to the town
and purchase our daily necessities. Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi,
who had arrived at Mah-Ku, spent the nights in a masjid
outside the gate of the town. He acted as an intermediary
between those of the followers of the Báb who occasionally
visited Mah-Ku and Siyyid Hasan, my brother, who would
in turn submit the petitions of the believers to their Master
and would acquaint Shaykh Hasan with His reply.   

‘One day the Báb charged my brother to inform Shaykh
Hasan that He would Himself request ‘Ali Khan to alter his
attitude towards the believers who visited Mah-Ku and to
abandon his severity. “Tell him,” He added, “I will
tomorrow instruct the warden to conduct him to this
place.” I was greatly surprised at such a message. How
could the domineering and self-willed ‘Ali Khan, I thought
to myself, be induced to relax the severity of his discipline?
Early the next day, the gate of the castle being still closed,
we were surprised by a sudden knock at the door, knowing
full well that orders had been given that no one was to be
admitted before the hour of sunrise. We recognised the
voice of ‘Ali Khan, who seemed to be expostulating with the
guards, one of whom presently came in and informed me
that the warden of the castle insisted on being allowed
admittance into the presence of the Báb. I conveyed his
message and was commanded to usher him at once into His
presence. As I was stepping out of the door of His
antechamber, I found ‘Ali Khan standing at the threshold in
an attitude of complete submission, his face betraying an
expression of unusual humility and wonder. His self-assertiveness
and pride seemed to have entirely vanished.
Humbly and with extreme courtesy, he returned my salute
and begged me to allow him to enter the presence of the Báb.
I conducted him to the room which my Master occupied
His limbs trembled as he followed me. An inner agitation
which he could not conceal brooded over his face. The Bab
arose from His seat and welcomed him. Bowing reverently,
‘Ali Khan approached and flung himself at His feet.
“Deliver me,” he pleaded, “from my perplexity. I adjure
You, by the Prophet of God, Your illustrious Ancestor, to
dissipate my doubts, for their weight has well-nigh crushed
my heart. I was riding through the wilderness and was
approaching the gate of the town, when, it being the hour of
dawn, my eyes suddenly beheld You standing by the side of
the river engaged in offering Your prayer. With
outstretched arms and upraised eyes, You were invoking
the name of God. I stood still and watched You. I was
waiting for You to terminate Your devotions that I might   
approach and rebuke You for having ventured to leave the
castle without my leave. In Your communion with God,
You seemed so wrapt in worship that You were utterly
forgetful of Yourself. I quietly approached You; in Your
state of rapture, You remained wholly unaware of my
presence. I was suddenly seized with great fear and recoiled
at the thought of awakening You from Your ecstasy. I
decided to leave You, to proceed to the guards and to
reprove them for their negligent conduct. I soon found out,
to my amazement, that both the outer and inner gates were
closed. They were opened at my request, I was ushered into
your presence, and now find You, to my wonder, seated
before me. I am utterly confounded. I know not whether
my reason has deserted me.” The Báb answered and said:
“What you have witnessed is true and undeniable. You
belittled this Revelation and have contemptuously
disdained its Author. God, the All-Merciful, desiring not to
afflict you with His punishment, has willed to reveal to your
eyes the Truth. By His Divine interposition, He has
instilled into your heart the love of His chosen One, and
caused you to recognize the unconquerable power of His

This marvellous experience completely changed the heart
of ‘All Khan. Those words had calmed his agitation and
subdued the fierceness of his animosity. By every means in
his power, he determined to atone for his past behaviour. ‘A
poor man, a shaykh,’ he hastily informed the Báb, ‘is
yearning to attain Your presence. He lives in a masjid
outside the gate of Mah-Ku. I pray You that I myself be
allowed to bring him to this place that he may meet You. By
this act I hope that my evil deeds may be forgiven, that I may
be enabled to wash away the stains of my cruel behaviour
toward Your friends.’ His request was granted, whereupon
he went straightway to Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi and
conducted him into the presence of his Master.

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