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Courage and Sacrifice: Mírzá Abu’l-Fazl

Mirza Abu'l-Fazl (1844 - 1914)

 

Photo courtesy of International Bahá’í Library Collections. http://library.bahai.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the early decades of the Faith of the Báb and then of Bahá’u’lláh, the primary courage and sacrifice demanded of the believers was the courage to face the threat of physical harm, including death. Many of the early converts to the Faith were fully aware that their conversion could mean their death, yet, once convinced of the truth of Bahá’u’lláh’s stupendous claim to be the Promised One of all the religions of God, they did not fail to risk their wealth and lives for their Lord.  They became souls ignited by the spirit of God, soaring in the illimitable realms of the spirit, rather than people whose focus was the transitory things of this brief physical life.

Mirza Abu’l-Fadl, however, demonstrated another type of courage and sacrifice. Before his conversion, he was a Muslim who lived in Cairo as a renowned and erudite scholar of Islam. He was a man highly respected and whose advice was often sought. And, not surprisingly, he had acquired a very high opinion of himself as one who, with his knowledge and accomplishments, could best others in argument and explain things to those less intellectually able than himself.  Mirza Abu’l-Fadl was steeped in the kind of knowledge that can act as a veil to obscure spiritual truth, as Bahá’ulláh tells us:

Know verily that Knowledge is of two kinds: Divine and Satanic. The one welleth out from the fountain of divine inspiration; the other is but a reflection of vain and obscure thoughts. The source of the former is God Himself; the motive-force of the latter the whisperings of selfish desire. The one is guided by the principle: “Fear ye God; God will teach you;” the other is but a confirmation of the truth: “Knowledge is the most grievous veil between man and his Creator.” The former bringeth forth the fruit of patience, of longing desire, of true understanding, and love; whilst the latter can yield naught but arrogance, vainglory and conceit.                        Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Iqán

Mirza Abu’l-Fadl had the remarkable courage to tear aside these veils of knowledge, at the price of great emotional pain and turmoil, and to persist in his investigation of the Faith, with great scepticism, until at last, after much prayer and soul-searching, he realized in his heart the truth of Bahá’u’lláh’s claims.  Then he attained true knowledge:

The first Tajalli [Effulgence] which hath dawned from the Day-Star of Truth is the knowledge of God — exalted be His glory. And the knowledge of the King of everlasting days can in no wise be attained save by recognizing Him Who is the Bearer of the Most Great Name. He is, in truth, the Speaker on Sinai Who is now seated upon the throne of Revelation. He is the Hidden Mystery and the Treasured Symbol. All the former and latter Books of God are adorned with His praise and extol His glory. Through Him the standard of knowledge hath been planted in the world and the ensign of the oneness of God hath been unfurled amidst all peoples.

 Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh

Armed with this true knowledge, he then, for the remainder of his life, used his great intellectual gifts in the service of his Lord and became one of the humblest and most self-effacing persons that one could ever meet. He became one the greatest scholars of the Bahá’í Faith and was highly admired by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, whom he served during their lifetimes.  

This remarkable story is told by Adib Taherzadeh in The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, Vol. III.  Here is an excerpt that recounts Mirza Abu’l-Fadl’s story of his realization of the truth:

One night I was roused from my slumber and I began to   
admonish myself in these words: ‘It is about one year that
you have been associating and arguing with these Bahá’ís.
These men are illiterate and uneducated, yet they have
asserted their ascendancy over you every time, they have
adduced proofs and demonstrated the validity of their
Cause. Although you consider yourself to be a learned man
and a researcher in the Holy Books, commentaries and
traditions, yet you know that these men are much more
resourceful than you are. It is as if they are inspired and
assisted by God, and the Holy Spirit speaks through them.
You have also been a witness to their exalted character and
heavenly virtues. Why then should you interpret their
words as the breathings of the evil whisperer? You
remember how enchanted you were when you read the
story of the ‘Show of Sultan Salim’ in the Lawh-i-Ra’ís!
How you were attracted by the eloquence and sublimity of
those words! Now, you ought to read and investigate the
writings of the one who claims to be the revealer of the
Word of God with the eye of justice and fairness. If this
Cause be untrue, the first to contend it is God. Therefore, its
survival is impossible…

I arose, performed my ablutions and said prayers. I then
took the Tablet of Bahá’u’lláh [Lawh-i-Ra’ís] which,
although it had been in my possession for a long time, I had
not been moved to read. I opened it, turned tearfully and
with devotion to God, and began to read it. It was then that I
heard the voice of God… calling me through the
mouthpiece of this Manifestation, ‘Am I not your Lord?’
To that call reaching me from the Beauty of the All-Glorious,
I responded with all my heart, ‘Thou art, thou
art! I believed.

I passed from the state of idle fancies and vain imaginings
into that of certitude… I became highly attracted to the
Word of God and carried away by its power. I felt such love
and devotion towards the Dayspring of Divine Revelation
[Bahá’u’lláh] and experienced such joy and ecstasy in myself
that I cannot ever describe it. Words cannot express the   
heights of spirituality to which I had been transformed… I
knew that if I served these souls who had become the cause
of my guidance to the end of my days, and if I laid down my
Life in their path, I should never be able to repay them for
giving me eternal salvation and spiritual life…

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Courage & Sacrifice: the importance of children’s classes

Tahirih Siyavushi    Mahshid Nirumand   Akhtar Thabit   Zarrin Muqimi-Abyánih   Nusrat Yalda'i   Simin Sabiri   Shahin Dalvand   Ruya Ishraqi   Izzat Ishraqi   Mona Mahmudnizhad

Photos and article reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community.  www.media.bahai.org

 

“Let there be no compulsion in religion.”   Qur’án (2:256/257)

 

We hope that you take to heart the importance of the religious and moral education of your children. Here is the story of some who did. These ten faithful, courageous, and undaunted women, ranging in age from 17 to 57 years (Mona was the youngest) were executed by hanging in Shiraz, Iran on 18 June 1983.  The primary charge against them was teaching Bahá’i children’s classes.  Here is the article from the Bahá’í International Community. Those responsible for their deaths are still running the country today and have not changed their goal: the eradication of the Bahá’í Faith in Iran.

“Ranging in age from 17 to 57, the ten Bahá’í women were led to the gallows in succession. Authorities apparently hoped that as each saw the others slowly strangle to death, they would renounce their own faith.

But according to eyewitness reports, the women went to their fate singing and chanting, as though they were enjoying a pleasant outing.

One of the men attending the gallows confided to a Bahá’í: “We tried saving their lives up to the last moment, but one by one, first the older ladies, then the young girls, were hanged while the others were forced to watch, it being hoped that this might induce them to recant their belief. We even urged them to say they were not Bahá’ís, but not one of them agreed; they preferred the execution.”

All of the women had been interrogated and tortured in the months leading up to their execution. Indeed, some had wounds still visible on their bodies as they lay in the morgue after their execution.

The youngest of these martyrs was Muna Mahmudnizhad, a 17-year-old schoolgirl who because of her youth and conspicuous innocence became, in a sense, a symbol of the group. In prison, she was lashed on the soles of her feet with a cable and forced to walk on bleeding feet.

Yet she never waivered in her faith, even to the point of kissing the hands of her executioner, and then the rope, before putting it around her own throat.

Another young woman, Zarrin Muqimi-Abyanih, 28, told the interrogators whose chief goal was to have her disavow her faith: “Whether you accept it or not, I am a Bahá’í. You cannot take it away from me. I am a Bahá’í with my whole being and my whole heart.”

During the trial of another of the women, Ruya Ishraqi, a 23-year-old veterinary student, the judge said: “You put yourselves through this agony only for one word: just say you are not a Bahá’í and I’ll see that…you are released…” Ms. Ishraqi responded: “I will not exchange my faith for the whole world.”

The names of the other women hanged on 18 June 1983 were: Shahin Dalvand, 25, a sociologist; Izzat Janami Ishraqi, 57, a homemaker; Mahshid Nirumand, 28, who had qualified for a degree in physics but had it denied her because she was a Bahá’í; Simin Sabiri, 25; Tahirih Arjumandi Siyavushi, 30, a nurse; Akhtar Thabit, 25, also a nurse; Nusrat Ghufrani Yalda’i, 47, a mother and member of the local Bahá’í Spiritual Assembly.

All had seen it as their duty to teach Bahá’í religious classes — especially since the government had barred Bahá’í children from attending even regular school.”

Courage & Sacrifice: Haji Sulayman Khan

The body of a newly martyred Bábí (an early Bahá’í) is proudly shown at the entrance to a village in Iran about 1850.  Courtesy www.bahai-biblio.org.

 

“Let there be no compulsion in religion.”    Qur’an (2:256/257)

 

In August 1852, two obscure and irresponsible young men, followers of the recently executed Báb, frustrated by years of unrelenting and barbaric persecution by a clergy and government provoked only by the expression of religious beliefs, foolishly tried to assassinate the Shah of Persia. The attempt was not well planned and could not have succeeded. However, it gave the clergy and government an opportunity to unleash the hatred in their souls for the new and astonishingly successful religion of the Báb, He who had proclaimed Himself to be the successor to the Prophet Muhammad and the precursor of one Whom He identfied as He Whom God shall make manifest (Bahá’u’lláh). What ensued was a bloodbath of persecution throughout Persia. Here is the story of one of those martyrdoms. It reveals the complete devotion to their Lord and detachment from the ephemeral things of this earth held by so many of the early Bábís and Bahá’ís.

The Story of the Joyous Martyrdom of Haji Sulayman Khan

from The Dawn-Breakers

by Nabil-A’zam

Translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi

Among those who, in the midst of the general confusion, were seized and thrown into prison was Haji Sulayman Khan, the circumstances of whose martyrdom I now proceed to relate. The facts I mention have been carefully sifted and verified by me, and I owe them, for the most part, to Aqay-i-Kalim, who was himself in those days in Tihran and was made to share the terrors and sufferings of his brethren. “On the very day of Haji Sulayman Khan’s martyrdom,” he informed me, “I happened to be present, with Mirza Abdu’l-Majid, at a gathering in Tihran at which a considerable number of the notables and dignitaries of the capital were present. Among them was Haji Mulla Mahmud, the Nizamu’l-‘Ulama, who requested the Kalantar to describe the actual circumstances of the death of Haji Sulayman Khan. The Kalantar motioned with his finger to Mirza Taqi, the kad-khuda who, he said, had conducted the victim from the vicinity of the imperial palace to the place of his execution, outside the gate of Naw. Mirza Taqi was accordingly requested to relate to those present all that he had seen and heard. ‘I and my assistants,’ he said, ‘were ordered to purchase nine candles and to thrust them, ourselves into deep holes we were to cut in his flesh. We were instructed to light each one of these candles and to conduct him through the market to the accompaniment of drums and trumpets as far as the place of his execution. There we were ordered to hew his body into two halves, each of which we were asked to suspend on either side of the gate of Naw. He himself chose the manner in which he wished to be martyred. Hajibu’d-Dawlih had been commanded by Násiri’d-Dín Sháh to enquire into the complicity of the accused, and, if assured of his innocence, to induce him to recant. If he submitted, his life was to be spared and he was to be detained pending the final settlement of his case. In the event of his refusal, he was to be put to death in whatever manner he himself might desire.

 

“‘The investigation of hajibu’d-Dawlih convinced him of the innocence of Haji Sulayman Khan. The accused, as soon as he had been informed of the instructions of his sovereign, was heard joyously exclaiming: “Never, so long as my life-blood continues to pulsate in my veins, shall I be willing to recant my faith in my Beloved! This world which the Commander of the Faithful has likened to carrion will never allure me from my heart’s Desire.” He was asked to  determine the manner in which he wished to die. “Pierce holes in my flesh,” was the instant reply, “and in each wound place a candle. Let nine candles be lighted all over my body, and in this state conduct me through the streets of Tihran. Summon the multitude to witness the glory of my martyrdom, so that the memory of my death may remain imprinted in their hearts and help them, as they recall the intensity of my tribulation, to recognize the Light I have embraced. After I have reached the foot of the gallows and have uttered the last prayer of my earthly life, cleave my body in twain and suspend my limbs on either side of the gate of Tihran, that the multitude passing beneath it may witness to the love which the Faith of the Báb has kindled in the hearts of His disciples, and may look upon the proofs of their devotion.”

 

“‘Hajibu’d-Dawlih instructed his men to abide by the expressed wishes of Haji Sulayman Khan, and charged me to conduct him through the market as far as the place of his execution. As they handed to the victim the candles they had purchased, and were preparing to thrust their knives into his breast, he made a sudden attempt to seize the weapon from the executioner’s trembling hands in order to plunge it himself into his flesh. “Why fear and hesitate?” he cried, as he stretched forth his arm to snatch the knife from his grasp. “Let me myself perform the deed and light the candles.” Fearing lest he should attack us, I ordered my men to resist his attempt and bade them tie his hands behind his back. “Let me,” he pleaded, point out with my fingers the places into which I wish them to thrust their dagger, for I have no other request to make besides this.”

 

“‘He asked them to pierce two holes in his breast, two in his shoulders, one in the nape of his neck, and the four others in his back. With stoic calm he endured those tortures. Steadfastness glowed in his eyes as he maintained a mysterious and unbroken silence. Neither the howling of the multitude nor the sight of the blood that streamed all over his body could induce him to interrupt that silence. Impassive and serene he remained until all the nine candles were placed in position and lighted.

 

“‘When all was completed for his march to the scene  of his death, he, standing erect as an arrow and with that same unflinching fortitude gleaming upon his face, stepped forward to lead the concourse that was pressing round him to the place that was to witness the consummation of his martyrdom. Every few steps he would interrupt his march and, gazing at the bewildered bystanders, would shout: “What greater pomp and pageantry than those which this day accompany my progress to win the crown of glory! Glorified be the Báb, who can kindle such devotion in the breasts of His lovers, and can endow them with a power greater than the might of kings!” At times, as if intoxicated with the fervour of that devotion, he would exclaim: “The Abraham of a bygone age, as He prayed God, in the hour of bitter agony, to send down upon Him the refreshment for which His soul was crying, heard the voice of the Unseen proclaim: ‘O fire! Be thou cold, and to Abraham a safety!But this Sulayman is crying out from the depths of his ravaged heart: ‘Lord, Lord, let Thy fire burn unceasingly within me, and suffer its flame to consume my being.'” As his eyes saw the wax flicker in his wounds, he burst forth in an acclamation of frantic delight: “Would that He whose hand has enkindled my soul were here to behold my state!” “Think me not to be intoxicated with the wine of this earth!” he cried to the vast throng who stood aghast at the sight of his behaviour. It is the love of my Beloved that has filled my soul and made me feel endowed with a sovereignty which even kings might envy!”

 

“‘I cannot recall the exclamations of joy which fell from his lips as he drew near to his end. All I remember are but a few of the stirring words which, in his moments of exultation, he was moved to cry out to the concourse of spectators. Words fail me to portray the expression of that countenance or to measure the effect of his words on the multitude.

 

“‘He was still in the bazaar when the blowing of a breeze excited the burning of the candles that were placed upon his breast. As they melted rapidly, their flames reached the level of the wounds into which they had been thrust. We who were following a few steps behind him could hear distinctly the sizzling of his flesh. The sight of gore and fire which covered his body, instead of silencing his voice, appeared to heighten his unquenchable enthusiasm. He could still be heard, this time addressing the flames, as they ate into his wounds: “You have long lost your sting, O flames, and have been robbed of your power to pain me. Make haste, for from your very tongues of fire I can hear the voice that calls me to my Beloved!”

 

“‘Pain and suffering seemed to have melted away in the ardour of that enthusiasm. Enveloped by the flames, he walked as a conqueror might have marched to the scene of his victory. He moved through the excited crowd a blaze of light amidst the gloom that surrounded him. Arriving at the foot of the gallows, he again raised his voice in a last appeal to the multitude of onlookers: “Did not this Sulayman whom you now see before you a prey to fire and blood, enjoy until recently all the favours and riches the world can bestow? What could have caused him to renounce this earthly glory and accept in return such great degradation and suffering?” Prostrating himself in the direction of the shrine of the Imam-Zadih Hasan, he murmured certain words in Arabic which I could not understand. “My work is now finished!” he cried to the executioner, as soon as his prayer was ended. “Come and do yours!” He was still alive when his body was hewn into two halves with a hatchet. The praise of his Beloved, despite such incredible sufferings, lingered upon his lips until the last moment of his life.’

 

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Courage & Sacrifice: Ali-Akbar-i-Hakkak

A fate that befell some early Bábís and Bahá'ís for refusing to recant their faith

Photo courtesy www.bahai-biblio.org.

The Story of Ali-Akbar-i-Hakkak

from Adib Taherzadeh’s The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, Volume 2

quoting from History of the Martyrs of Yazd by Hájí-Muhammad-Táhir-i-Málmírí (Mr. Taherzadeh’s father)

Those who truly recognized the station of Bahá’u’lláh accepted persecutions and sufferings for His love. They knew that after embracing the Faith of God their lives would be endangered. Indeed, when they left their homes to go out they could not be sure they would ever return. The enemy was poised at all times to strike at any one who was identified with the new-born Faith. So, those who followed the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh in the early days clearly understood that at any time they might have to lay down their lives in the path of God. This was their test of faith and the great majority of them remained steadfast till the end.

The following account depicting the scene of the martyrdom of one of the early believers, demonstrates this faith.

Here is one who laid down his life in such a dramatic fashion that many among the multitude of spectators who had thronged the square to deride the victim and make merry at the sight of his execution were moved to tears. Even the hearts of those callous men who had been appointed to commit this heinous deed were deeply touched. The illustrious hero who appeared on this tragic scene was Ali-Akbar-i-Hakkak, a very attractive and handsome young man from Yazd, Persia. He was an engraver by profession and highly skilled in his art. He was married and had a four-year-old son by the name of Habibu’llah. As soon as the tragic news of the Nayriz upheaval reached Yazd, Ali-Akbar set out at once on a journey to visit the historic site where the peerless Vahid together with his band of valiant crusaders had fought and fallen. On his return to Yazd he manifested such a spiritual joy and overwhelming zeal in the teaching work that soon he was denounced and branded as a ‘Bábí’ whereupon the despotic Governor had him arrested on a charge of heresy and reported the matter to Tihran asking for instructions.

Nearly two months wore on and no word came from Tihran. Therefore a fine was exacted from the captive and then he was released on bail on the understanding that as soon as the decree was received he should place himself immediately at the disposal of the Governor.

Unruffled by the dire fate which awaited him, Ali-Akbar resumed his occupation in a spirit of complete resignation until after a lapse of three months a message came from Tihran to the effect that any person found to belong to the Bábí Faith should be put to death forthwith. This odious order invested the Governor with plenary powers to carry out his design. Therefore early in the morning of 15 July 1852 he sent his men to arrest Ali-Akbar at his home. Having done so they conducted him to the Governor’s office in the barracks where the Governor interviewed him.

Though the people in Yazd were steeped in prejudice against the new Faith and apt to fly into a fierce fury at the sight of anyone who was identified as ‘Bábí’, they nevertheless admired Ali-Akbar for his rare qualities and charming manners. Moreover, his reputation as the best engraver had won him real affection by all who had come to know him. Even the Governor and the officials felt reluctant to have him executed. They did everything in their power to make him utter a mere word of lip-denial against the new Faith and thus save his own life. They employed many a word of persuasion, threat and promise but none could induce this valiant hero to recant nor did the pomp and might of a ruthless potentate influence this stout-hearted man of God to compromise his cherished faith in favor of this fleeting life and its earthly vanities. The Governor grew  angry; he could not tolerate one who dared to challenge his authority and persist in his own ideas.

Furious with rage, the Governor summoned his Farrash-bashi (chief steward) and ordered him to put this defiant Bábí to death at once by blowing him from the mouth of a cannon. The order was immediately passed on to the artillery unit who hauled their gun out of the barracks to the adjoining public square. Then the Farrash-bashi accompanied by the executioner led the valiant victim to the square amidst a gathering multitude of spectators.

Eager to save Ali-Akbar from his fate, the Farrash-bashi employed ingenious ways of intimidation and inducement in a futile effort to break down his spirit and make him abjure his allegiance to the new Faith.

The cannon from which he was to be blown was an old type muzzle-loader, and the Farrash-bashi, knowing that it was as yet unloaded, hit upon the idea of staging a mock execution in the hope that the victim would succumb to the fright and terror that such an ordeal would usually provoke. Therefore, assuming a wild and serious look, he barked orders at the executioner to hurry up, tie down the victim tightly to the mouth of the gun and have him blown off without further delay. Thus Ali-Akbar was bound to the gun and left in this frightful position for quite a long while during which the gun crew kept running back and forth pretending to be adjusting their gun, as though they were just about to fire.

During the whole time the Farrash-bashi was watching the victim closely, urging him to recant. However, he was amazed to see that instead of becoming terrified and shaken Ali-Akbar had maintained his calm and fortitude throughout. The Farrash-bashi soon realized that intimidation had failed to bring about what he hoped for. He ran towards the gunner, stopped him from his false attempt at discharging the unloaded gun, and asked the executioner to set the victim free.

By that time (about ll a.m.) the whole square was fully packed with a seething mass of spectators who looked stupefied and bewildered.  

As soon as Ali-Akbar was unfastened the Farrash-bashi came over to him expressing his sympathy in a kindly manner. He then conducted him to an adjacent public cistern away from the crowd where he offered him a seat near to himself on a little platform. He reasoned with Ali-Akbar most earnestly, urged and persuaded him again and again to denounce the Faith and save his own life, but the effort proved unsuccessful. There sat Ali-Akbar solid as a rock, immovable and uncompromising, resisting the full force of these dire tests. As these painful moments dragged on, the Farrash-bashi began to perceive with bitter plainness that nothing whatever could induce this invincible youth to recant. Dismayed and disappointed, he led him back to the scene of death and ordered the gun crew to load their gun forthwith. Meanwhile a new idea occurred to him which might well prove effective in breaking down the victim’s fortitude. He sent his men to fetch Ali-Akbar’s poor wife and child to the scene — a very strong and challenging inducement indeed. After a few moments the unfortunate wife appeared in a state of panic holding the hand of their beloved child who looked sweet and attractive in this best suit.

She faced her husband and weeping bitterly implored, ‘Come and have pity on this child!’ ‘What am I to do without you?’ she sobbed. But Ali-Akbar did not answer; he turned his back on them. Again the wife and child came forward and stood in front of him. She flung herself at his feet, begging and imploring. But Ali-Akbar kept silent and once again turned away from them. Then the little child ran over to his father and grabbing the hem of his garment exclaimed ‘Daddy, Daddy, why do you turn away from me?
Don’t you love me any more?’

These simple, these piercing words must have movedAli-Akbar more than anything else. Perhaps he could not bear it, for he raised his head heavenward in such a gesture as to make an impassioned appeal. It seemed as if he were saying: ‘Oh God! I entreat Thee to spare me from further
temptations.’

The tragic episode had reached its climax. The occasion  had become so gripping, so heart-rending that many among the onlookers were stricken with grief and sympathy. Even the Farrash-bashi’s eyes were dimmed with tears. The heroic self-renunciation and superhuman fortitude manifested by this gallant martyr shattered the last scrap of hope which the Farrash-bashi entertained in making the victim abjure his faith. Browbeaten and dismayed, he decided to put an end to this sad spectacle by carrying out the Governor’s order at once.

So the victim was presently bound up once again to the mouth of the cannon in front of his unfortunate wife and child. As soon as this had been done the site was cleared of all those who stood nearby, but the child refused to be pushed further away. He became restive and kept crying and pleading, ‘Take me to my Daddy! Let me go near him!’

The dreadful end was now at hand. A tense feeling had seized upon the souls and a sense of dread and awe overwhelmed the whole mass of the people in the square. At a sharp signal from the Farrash-bashi the gunner ignited the explosive charge which was designed to send the victim sky-high, torn into bits in a split of a second. But to the profound amazement of all the gun didn’t go off! Again and again the charge was ignited but the gun still wouldn’t go off! Everybody looked stupefied and spellbound.

The Farrash-bashi ran towards the victim and calling  him by his name exclaimed, ‘We don’t want you to be killed; it seems that God does not wish it either. Now won’t you have sympathy for your child?!’ But he did not say a word, even when his horror-stricken wife and child rushed once again to his side. He stayed as calm and unconcerned as ever.

In the meantime the gunner was busy at the breech refilling the charge. The Farrash-bashi paused a moment in earnest expectation. Perhaps he would now give way. Perhaps he would say a word of denial. Perhaps something would happen that could save his life. However, to Ali-Akbar’s mind a compromise was utterly unthinkable… The soul longed and craved to sacrifice his puny frame for the love of his Lord and to take  his flight to the abode of the Beloved. Now the golden opportunity had offered itself… His prolonged and unexampled fortitude served increasingly to throw into relief the striking contrast between his own noble vision and the Farrash-bashi’s base pattern of thought.

Far from being grieved and shaken, how jubilant, how thrilled, how relaxed must have felt his soul when the Farrash-bashi in his utter despair and bewilderment signaled once again to fire.

And this time in a flash of a second the body of Ali-Akbar, blasted into bits amidst a tremendous burst of fire and smoke, flew sky-high, then came down from heaven like a swarm of tiny meteors, accompanied by a shower of crimson droplets, to be scattered far and wide all over the square.

The Governor ordered that the fragments of his body should be left exposed until sunset, that they might be trampled upon by men and animals.

This tragic martyrdom came as a shattering blow to the entire body of the early believers, particularly to his unfortunate wife. Her grief knew no bounds as she continued to weep and wail, and to beat her head.

 

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We see. We know. We do not forget.

The seven Bahá'í leaders held in prison in Iran

Photo courtesy of http://iran.bahai.us/.

They are Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naemi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm.

They are among the most recent victims in Iran of oppression, intolerance, ignorance, and a self-centered interest by a corrupt, entrenched, and fanatical clergy intent on oppressing a religious minority that has been able to do what no other religion or belief has been able to do in that once great country: succeed – succeed in helping hundreds of thousands of Iranians realize that there is a successor to the Prophet Muhammad, and that His name is Bahá’u’lláh. For 165 years this clergy, with the help of timid governments afraid to challenge their authority, has done whatever it could get away with to eradicate this religious community, those who profess the Bahá’í Faith.

What does our Faith teach us that would cause a just Iranian government to treat Bahá’ís so? Here it is:

In every country where any of this people reside, they must behave towards the government of that country with loyalty, honesty and truthfulness. This is that which hath been revealed at the behest of Him Who is the Ordainer, the Ancient of Days.

 Bahá’u’lláh

What harmful way have the Bahá’ís in Iran been taught to behave toward Muslims and people of other faiths that would justify such mistreatment by the clergy in that land? This is it:

Consort with all religions with amity and concord, that they may inhale from you the sweet fragrance of God. Beware lest amidst men the flame of foolish ignorance overpower you. All things proceed from God and unto Him they return. He is the source of all things and in Him all things are ended.

 Bahá’u’lláh

The followers of Bahá’u’lláh in that land, as in every country, have never varied from these standards. These are our standards. These are our beliefs. These are our practice and our commitment. They have not varied in the past and they will not vary in the future.

The trial of the seven leaders of the Baha’i Faith in Iran could take place this week. They have been charged with spying for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic Republic. These charges are unfounded and no evidence against them has been brought to light. The Baha’i leaders have been held for nearly a year in Evin prison and denied access to their attorney, the Nobel Laureate, Shirin Ebadi. [from http://iran.bahai.us/]

You can play your role as a citizen of the world to oppose this injustice by asking your own government to complain. Citizens of the United States can contact their Representatives in the House and their Senators to support resolutions condemning this behavior. It is a message that says “We know what you’re doing. We have not forgotten. We will not forget. ” U.S. citizens may do this online at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.

How can Iran ever re-establish itself as a proud and great country when it treats its own people with such disregard and disrespect?

We beseech God to aid thee to be just and fair-minded,  and to acquaint thee with the things that were hidden from the eyes of men. He, in truth, is the Mighty, the Unconstrained. We ask thee to reflect upon that which hath been revealed, and to be fair and just in thy speech, that perchance the splendors of the daystar of truthfulness and sincerity may shine forth, and may deliver thee from the darkness of ignorance, and illumine the world with the light of knowledge.

 Bahá’u’lláh

And

Say: Honesty, virtue, wisdom and a saintly character redound to the exaltation of man, while dishonesty, imposture, ignorance and hypocrisy lead to his abasement.

 Bahá’u’lláh