The Death of The Purest Branch

A little under two years had passed since Bahá'u'lláh's confinement in the barracks, when suddenly a most tragic event occurred. It was the untimely death of Mírzá Mihdí, entitled the Purest Branch, the younger brother of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who was fatally wounded when he fell from the roof of the barracks.

In 1848, at a time when the followers of the Báb were engulfed by sufferings and persecutions, a son had been born in Tihrán to Bahá'u'lláh and His illustrious wife Ásíyih Khánum, entitled Navváb.* He was four years younger than 'Abdu'l-Bahá and was given the name 'Mihdí', after a brother of Bahá'u'lláh who was dear to Him and had died a year before. Later the Pen of the Most High bestowed upon this son the title 'Ghusnu'lláhu'l-Athar' (The Purest Branch).

Unlike 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Mírzá Mihdí could not remember much of a life of luxury in Tihrán, for when he was just over four years of age His father had been imprisoned in the Síyáh-Chál, and all His possessions plundered and seized by the enemies of the Cause. During the four months that Bahá'u'lláh lay in that horrible dungeon, the Holy Family spent their days in anguish and fear, not knowing what would happen to Him. Often frightened and anxious, this child, tender in age and delicate by nature, found his only shelter and refuge within the arms of a loving and devoted mother. But Providence deprived him of this also. As the journey to Baghdád, undertaken in the severe cold of the winter, was laden with hardships and dangers unbearable for a child as delicate as Mírzá Mihdí, he


* See vol. 1, p. 15.



Bahá'u'lláh's cherished son whose death in the barracks of 'Akká
released enormous forces for the unity of the human race



A photograph taken in Adrianople

had to be left behind in Tihrán in the care of relatives. For about seven years he tasted the agony and heartbreak of separation from his beloved parents. It seems that at this early age, his soul was being prepared by the Almighty through pain and suffering to play a major part in the arena of sacrifice and to shed an imperishable lustre upon the Cause of his heavenly Father.

Mírzá Mihdí was taken to Baghdád to join the Family in the year AH 1276 (circa AD 1860). It was in that city that this pure and holy youth, noted for his meekness, came in touch with the Divine Spirit and was magnetized by the energizing forces of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. From that time on, he devoted every moment of his life to the service of his heavenly Father. He was Bahá'u'lláh's companion in Baghdád, Adrianople and 'Akká, and served Him as an amanuensis* towards the end of his life, leaving to posterity some Tablets in his handwriting. The last ten years of his life were filled with the hardship and suffering inflicted on Bahá'u'lláh and His companions in the course of the three successive banishments from Baghdád to 'Akká.

The Purest Branch resembled 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and throughout his short and eventful life he displayed the same spiritual qualities which distinguished his illustrious Brother. The believers loved and venerated him as they did 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

In 'Akká, the Purest Branch lived in the barracks near his Father. Often he attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh late in the afternoon to act as His amanuensis. On 22 June 1870, early in the evening, Bahá'u'lláh informed His son that he was not needed that day to write and that instead he could go up on the roof for prayer and meditation as was his custom. It was a normal practice of the prisoners to go on the roof for fresh air in the evening of a hot summer day. The Purest Branch had


* It must be noted that although Mírzá Áqá Ján was Bahá'u'lláh's amanuensis, there were also others who were engaged in this task from time to time.

often paced up and down that roof chanting prayers and meditating. But on that fateful evening as he chanted the verses of the Qasídiy-i-Varqá'íyyih, one of Bahá'u'lláh's most moving poems revealed in Kurdistán,* he was carried away in a state of utter detachment and joy. As he paced along that familiar space wrapped in his customary meditations with his eyes closed, he fell through an open skylight on to an open crate lying on the floor below. He was badly wounded, and bled profusely. He was so terribly injured that they had to remove his clothes by tearing them from him. The following is a summary of an account given by Husayn-i-Áshchí, the cook in Bahá'u'lláh's household, and a devoted believer. In this he describes the tragic circumstances of the fall and death of the Purest Branch:

It is not possible for anyone to visualize the measure of humility and self-effacement and the intensity of devotion and meekness which the Purest Branch evinced in his life. He was a few years younger than the Master, but slightly taller than him. He used to act as Bahá'u'lláh's amanuensis and was engaged in transcribing the Writings...When he had finished writing he was in the habit of going on to the roof of the barracks for prayers. There was a skylight, an opening in the middle of the roof near where the kitchen was situated. As he was pacing in a state of prayer, attracted to the Kingdom of Abhá, with his head turned upwards, he fell through the skylight down on some hard objects. The terrific loud sound of the impact made us all run to the scene of the tragedy where we beheld in astonishment what had happened as decreed by God, and were so shocked as to beat upon our heads. Then the Ancient Beauty came out of his room and asked what he had done which caused his fall. The Purest Branch said that he knew the whereabouts of the skylight and in the past had been careful not to come near it, but this time it was his fate to forget about it.

We carried his precious person to his room and called a doctor who was an Italian, but he could not help...In spite


* see vol. 1, pp. 62-4.

of much pain and agony, and being weak, he warmly greeted those who came to his bedside, showered an abundance of love and favours upon them and apologized to everyone, saying he was ashamed that while they were all sitting, he had to lie down in their presence...1
Members of the Holy Family and some of the companions gathered around him and all were so distressed and grief-stricken that 'Abdu'l-Bahá with tearful eyes entered the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, prostrated Himself at His feet and begged for healing. Bahá'u'lláh is reported to have said 'O my Greatest Branch,* leave him in the hands of his God.' He then proceeded to the bedside of his injured son, dismissed everyone from His presence and stayed beside him for some time. Although no one knows what took place in that precious hour between the lover and the Beloved, we can be sure that this son of Bahá'u'lláh, whose devotion and love for the Cause of His Father knew no bounds, must have been exhilarated by the outpouring of bounties and love from his Lord.

It must be remembered that the relationship of Bahá'u'lláh and the members of His family who remained faithful to the Cause was not identical to the relationship which exists between members of other families. Normally, a father and a son at home have a very intimate and informal attitude towards each other. But in the case of Bahá'u'lláh and His faithful children, it was very different indeed, although that intimate relationship of father and son did indeed exist. However, the station of Bahá'u'lláh as a Manifestation of God completely overshadowed His position as a physical father. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Greatest Holy Leaf and the Purest Branch looked upon Bahá'u'lláh not merely as their father, but as their Lord. And because they had truly recognized His station, they acted at all times as most humble servants at His threshold. 'Abdu'l-Bahá always entered the presence of Bahá'u'lláh with such genuine humbleness and reverence that no one among His followers


* 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

1. Unpublished memoirs.
could manifest the spirit of lowliness and utter self-effacement as He did. The humility of 'Abdu'l-Bahá as He bowed before His Father, or prostrated Himself at His feet or dismounted His steed when He approached the Mansion in which Bahá'u'lláh resided, demonstrates this unique relationship which existed between this Father and His faithful sons and daughter.

In the light of all this we can appreciate how the Purest Branch must have felt when his Father went to his bedside. What expressions of devotion, love and thanksgiving must have passed through his lips on that occasion, we cannot imagine. All we know is that Bahá'u'lláh, having the power of life and death in His hands, asked His dying son whether he wished to live. He assured him that if this was his wish God would enable him to recover and grant him good health. But the Purest Branch begged Bahá'u'lláh to accept his life as a ransom for the opening of the gates of the prison to the face of the many believers who were longing to come and enter the presence of their Lord. Bahá'u'lláh accepted his sacrifice and he died on 23 June 1870, twenty-two hours after his fall.

Thus ended the life of one of whom Bahá'u'lláh states that he 'was created of the light of Bahá', whose birth had taken place during some of the darkest hours in the history of the Faith, whose infancy had been spent within the cradle of adversity, whose soul at an early age had been set aglow with the fire of ordeal and separation, whose days of joy had been spent in exile and within the walls of a prison, and whose tragic death had clothed him with the crimson vesture of sacrifice, shedding thereby an imperishable lustre upon the Cause of his glorious Father.

The death of the Purest Branch within the confines of the prison created a bitter commotion among the companions who lamented the loss of one of the most illustrious among the family of Bahá'u'lláh. The following is a summary of Husayn-i-Áshchí's notes:


When the Purest Branch passed away, Shaykh Mahmúd* begged the Master to allow him to have the honour of washing the body and not to let anyone† from the city of 'Akká perform this service. The Master gave permission. A tent was pitched in the middle of the barracks. We placed his blessed body upon a table in the middle of the tent and Shaykh Mahmúd began the task of washing it.‡ The loved ones of God were wailing and lamenting with tearful eyes and, like unto moths, were circling around that candle which the hands of God had lighted. I brought water in and was involved in washing the body. The Master was pacing up and down outside the tent. His face betrayed signs of deep sorrow...

The body after being washed and shrouded was placed inside a new casket. At this moment the cry of weeping and mourning and sore lamentation rose up to the heavens. The casket was carried high on the shoulders of men out of the barracks with utmost serenity and majesty. It was laid to rest outside 'Akká in the graveyard of Nabí Sálih...At the time of returning to the barracks an earth tremor shook the area and we all knew that it was the effect of the interment of that holy being.2

Nabíl-i-A'zam has said that he, Siyyid Mihdíy-i-Dahají § and Nabíl-i-Qá'iní ř were in Nazareth when the earth tremor occurred. It lasted for about three minutes and people were frightened. Later when they heard the news of the death of the Purest Branch they realized that it coincided with the timing of his burial and then they knew the reason for it. Bahá'u'lláh, in one of His Tablets referring to the Purest Branch, confirms the

* see pp. 65-7.

† In Islámic countries the body of the dead is washed before being wrapped in a shroud. There are men in every city whose profession is to wash the dead. (A.T.)

‡ Another person who took part in washing the body was Mírzá Hasan-i-Mázindarání, Bahá'u'lláh's cousin. See p. 216.

§ see vol. 2.

ř see pp. 57-8.

2. Unpublished memoirs.
cause of the earth tremor in these words:

Blessed art thou and blessed he that turneth unto thee, and visiteth thy grave, and draweth nigh, through thee, unto God, the Lord of all that was and shall be...I testify that thou didst return in meekness unto thine abode. Great is thy blessedness and the blessedness of them that hold fast unto the hem of thy outspread robe...Thou art, verily, the trust of God and His treasure in this land. Erelong will God reveal through thee that which He hath desired. He, verily, is the Truth, the Knower of things unseen. When thou wast laid to rest in the earth, the earth itself trembled in its longing to meet thee. Thus hath it been decreed, and yet the people perceive not...Were We to recount the mysteries of thine ascension, they that are asleep would waken, and all beings would be set ablaze with the fire of the remembrance of My Name, the Mighty, the Loving.3
After his tragic death the saintly mother of the Purest Branch mourned the passing of her beloved son and wept almost incessantly. When Bahá'u'lláh assured her that God had accepted her son as a ransom, that the believers might attain the presence of their Beloved and that mankind as a whole be quickened, that noble mother was consoled and her weeping ceased.

The blood-stained clothes of the Purest Branch are among the precious relics gathered by the hands of his devoted sister, the Greatest Holy Leaf, and left to posterity as a silent witness to this great sacrifice.

Soon after the martyrdom of the Purest Branch many restrictions in the barracks were relaxed and several believers who were longing to attain the presence of Bahá'u'lláh did so. And about four months after this tragic event, Bahá'u'lláh and His companions left the prison barracks altogether. As we shall see later, Bahá'u'lláh resided in a house in 'Akká, and soon many pilgrims from Persia came and attained His presence.

In December 1939 Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith, in the face of great dangers and difficulties and in the


3. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, 21 December 1939, 'The Spiritual Potencies of that Consecrated Spot', Messages to America, p. 34.
company of a few friends, with great care and with his own hands, removed the remains of the Purest Branch, together with those of his illustrious mother, from two different cemeteries in 'Akká, and at a profoundly moving ceremony on Christmas Day in the presence of a few believers, carried the caskets on his own shoulders and buried those sacred remains on the slope of Mount Carmel, adjacent to the resting place of the Greatest Holy Leaf and in the vicinity of the Shrine of the Báb.

The death of the Purest Branch must be viewed as Bahá'u'lláh's own sacrifice, a sacrifice on the same level as the crucifixion of Christ and the martyrdom of the Báb. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith, states that Bahá'u'lláh has exalted the death of the Purest Branch to the 'rank of those great acts of atonement associated with Abraham's intended sacrifice of His son, with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the martyrdom of the Imám Husayn...' 4 In another instance, Shoghi Effendi states5 that in the Bábí Dispensation, it was the Báb himself who sacrificed His life for the redemption and purification of mankind. In the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh, it was the Purest Branch who gave his life releasing thereby all the forces necessary for bringing about the unity of mankind.

Although we will not be able to fully understand the mystery of sacrifice in this world, we can find through the Writings that there is a tremendous power released when man sacrifices something in the path of God. We have already discussed this theme in volume 2. In one of His Tablets, 'Abdu'l-Bahá explains that not until a seed completely disintegrates under the soil can it produce a tree. It is then that an object as insignificant as a seed, by sacrificing itself completely, will be transformed into a mighty tree with branches, fruits and flowers. It is the same when man sacrifices something of his own.

A human being has two opposite forces working within


* see Appendix III.

4. God Passes By, p. 188.

5. Letter to the believers in the East, 25 December 1939.

him, the animal and the spiritual. The animal nature inclines man to the material world. The Manifestations of God have exhorted their followers to detach themselves from material inclinations so that their spiritual side may dominate over the physical. As we have already stated in this and previous volumes,* by detachment is not meant renunciation of the world, mendicancy or asceticism. In a nutshell, detachment is to submit one's will to the will of God and to seek His good pleasure above one's own. Therefore, the challenge to every believer in this life is detachment from all else save God. To become detached from something of this world is often a painful process and this is where sacrifice becomes necessary, because man is attracted to the material world and to his own self by nature. When the believer sacrifices something of this world, an act which entails pain and suffering or deprivation of material benefits, he will attain to a higher spiritual status, depending on the measure of sacrifice.

And when he gives up something dear to him for the sake of the Cause of God, as testified by Bahá'u'lláh in His writings, mysterious forces will be released which will enable the Faith to grow. To offer up one's time, to labour for the establishment of the Faith in a locality, to give up the comforts of home and to go as a Bahá'í pioneer to foreign lands, to offer up one's substance for the promotion of the Cause, to be persecuted for one's faith, all these sacrifices are meritorious in the sight of God and will undoubtedly bring victory to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, provided one's motives are pure and sincere. But to lay down one's life in the path of God when circumstances demand it is the ultimate in the realm of sacrifice. It is like a seed which sacrifices its all to the soil. Thousands of martyrs in Persia, faced with the challenge of either relinquishing their Faith or dying, have released enormous spiritual forces for the promotion and consolidation of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh by their sacrifice.For two things are primarily responsible for the spreading of the Faith and its


* For more discussion on this important subject see vols. 1 and 2.

penetration into the hearts of men. One is the outpouring of the world-vivifying, soul-stirring energies of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh which like the rays of the sun in spring give new life to all created things, the other is the blood of the martyr which waters the tree of His Cause. In one of his letters6 to the believers of the East, Shoghi Effendi has attributed all the great victories of the Cause in the western world, including the conversion to the Faith of Queen Marie of Rumania,* to the mysterious forces released by the blood of countless martyrs in Persia. However, in this Dispensation Bahá'u'lláh has exhorted His followers not to seek martyrdom. He has instead decreed that the believers should live to teach the Faith, and has exalted the reward of teaching to that of martyrdom.†

Being the sacrifice of Bahá'u'lláh Himself, the Purest Branch by offering his life as a ransom for the opening of the gates of the prison, released incalculable spiritual energies within human society, energies which in the fullness of time, according to Bahá'u'lláh, will bring about the unity of the human race. In a prayer revealed by Bahá'u'lláh on the day that the Purest Branch died, Bahá'u'lláh has made the following statement which Shoghi Effendi described as 'astounding'.

Glorified art Thou, O Lord, my God! Thou seest me in the hands of Mine enemies, and My son bloodstained before Thy face, O Thou in Whose hands is the kingdom of all names. I have, O my Lord, offered up that which Thou hast given Me, that Thy servants may be quickened and all that dwell on earth be united.7
Without these utterances by Bahá'u'lláh, revealing the tremendous potentialities of this sacrifice, probably no one among His followers could have visualized the significance of the death of this noble son. Quoting the above passages, Shoghi Effendi in a letter addressed to the believers in the East8

* For further information see God Passes By, pp. 389-95.

† see vol. 2, p. 94.

6. Letter to the believers in the East, Ridván 89 (= April 1933).

7. Quoted in Messages to America, p. 34.

8. 25 December 1939.

on the occasion of the transfer of the remains of the Purest Branch and his illustrious mother to their glorious resting places on Mount Carmel, has made it clear that the quickening of the peoples of the world, the unity of the nations on this planet, and the oneness of mankind--which are the primary objectives of this Revelation--will be all realized through the mysterious forces released by the sacrifice of the Purest Branch.

How befitting, therefore, that the buildings intended to house the international administrative institutions of the Faith--the vehicle through which the world-redeeming, world-embracing Order of Bahá'u'lláh is to be established on the surface of this planet, thereby achieving the unity of the human race--are to be situated on the slopes of Mount Carmel around an arc in whose very centre lie not only the remains of the illustrious daughter of Bahá'u'lláh, the Greatest Holy Leaf, and of her mother, but also those of a noble son sacrificed by his Almighty Father so that we, his servants, 'may be quickened and all that dwell on earth may be united'.

Elaborating on the future unfoldment of the World Centre of the Faith, and its spiritual links with these three members of Bahá'u'lláh's family, Shoghi Effendi, as far back as 1939, wrote these highly illuminating words:

For it must be clearly understood, nor can it be sufficiently emphasized, that the conjunction of the resting-place of the Greatest Holy Leaf with those of her brother and mother incalculably reinforces the spiritual potencies of that consecrated Spot which, under the wings of the Báb's overshadowing Sepulchre, and in the vicinity of the future Mashriqu'l-Adhkár,* which will be reared on its flank, is destined to evolve into the focal centre of those world-shaking, world-embracing, world-directing administrative institutions, ordained by Bahá'u'lláh and anticipated by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and which are to function in consonance with

* Literally 'the dawning-place of the mention of God', a Bahá'í House of Worship. See below, pp. 345-8. (A.T.)

the principles that govern the twin institutions of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice. Then, and then only, will this momentous prophecy which illuminates the concluding passages of the Tablet of Carmel* be fulfilled: 'Ere long will God sail His Ark upon thee (Carmel), and will manifest the people of Bahá who have been mentioned in the Book of Names.'

To attempt to visualize, even in its barest outline, the glory that must envelop these institutions, to essay even a tentative and partial description of their character or the manner of their operation, or to trace however inadequately the course of events leading to their rise and eventual establishment is far beyond my own capacity and power. Suffice it to say that at this troubled stage in world history the association of these three incomparably precious souls who, next to the three Central Figures of our Faith, tower in rank above the vast multitude of the heroes, Letters, martyrs, hands, teachers and administrators of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, in such a potentially powerful spiritual and administrative Centre, is in itself an event which will release forces that are bound to hasten the emergence in a land which, geographically, spiritually and administratively, constitutes the heart of the entire planet, of some of the brightest gems of that World Order now shaping in the womb of this travailing age.9

The Pen of the Most High did not stop revealing the words of God because of that mournful event, the death of the Purest Branch. The Manifestation of God is never preoccupied with one matter at a time and nothing of this world can thwart Him from His all-encompassing vision. He is not limited, as human beings are, in His dealings with things. We have already discussed this aspect of the Manifestation of God in previous volumes.† On the same day when the spirit of the Purest

* The Tablet of Carmel revealed by Bahá'u'lláh may be considered as the Charter for building the World Centre of the Faith. We shall refer to this Tablet in the next volume. (A.T.)

† see vol. 1, pp. 262-3; vol. 2, pp. 416-17.

9. Messages to America, pp. 32-3.
Branch ascended to the Realms above, Bahá'u'lláh revealed a Tablet in honour of one of the believers in Qazvín. In it He pays glowing tribute to His son and bestows upon him His benedictions. This is part of the Tablet:

At this very moment My son is being washed before My face, after Our having sacrificed him in the Most Great Prison. Thereat have the dwellers of the Abhá Tabernacle wept with a great weeping, and such as have suffered impisonment with this Youth in the path of God, the Lord of the promised Day, lamented. Under such conditions My Pen hath not been prevented from remembering its Lord, the Lord of all nations. It summoneth the people unto God, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful. This is the day whereon he that was created by the light of Bahá has suffered martyrdom, at a time when he lay imprisoned at the hands of his enemies.

Up on thee, O Branch of God! be the remembrance of God and His praise, and the praise of all that dwell in the Realm of Immortality, and of all the denizens of the Kingdom of Names. Happy art thou in that thou hast been faithful to the Covenant of God and His Testament, until Thou didst sacrifice thyself before the face of thy Lord, the Almighty, the Unconstrained. Thou, in truth, hast been wronged, and to this testifieth the Beauty of Him, the Self Subsisting. Thou didst, in the first days of thy life, bear that which hath caused all things to groan; and made every pillar to tremble. Happy is the one that remembereth thee, and draweth nigh, through thee, unto God, the Creator of the Morn.10

Lawh-i-Pisar-'Amm (Tablet to the Cousin)

This Tablet was revealed in the barracks of 'Akká in honour of Mírzá Hasan-i-Mázindarání, a cousin of Bahá'u'lláh. We have already stated that Mírzá Hasan managed to enter the barracks and remained there for some time. He was present when the Purest Branch passed away and assisted Shaykh Mahmúd in


10. Quoted in Messages to America, pp. 33-4.
washing his body. This Tablet was revealed when Bahá'u'lláh directed Mírzá Hasan to return home. This kinsman of Bahá'u'lláh was very dear to Him. It was Bahá'u'lláh Himself who, in the early days of the ministry of the Báb, had converted his father Mullá Zaynu'l-'Ábidín (a paternal uncle of Bahá'u'lláh) to the Faith. His son Mírzá Hasan was devoted to the Cause and had dedicated himself to the service of its Author.

In the opening passages of this Tablet, Bahá'u'lláh urges Mírzá Hasan to offer thanks to God for having enabled him to enter the presence of His Lord, being the first among Bahá'u'lláh's relatives to do so in the Holy Land. Also, to treasure His gracious favours through which the ties of kinship were not severed. He affirms that the bounty of retaining this family tie was so precious that nothing in this world could equal it.

As already stated in previous volumes,* a number of Bahá'u'lláh's relatives including uncles and cousins, as well as brothers and sisters, fully recognized the station of Bahá'u'lláh and became his devoted followers. In His sight they were distinguished from the rest, for they had strengthened their physical relationship with spiritual ties of faith. Since the primary mission of the Manifestation of God is to confer spiritual life upon the souls, those who become deprived of this are therefore reckoned as dead in His estimation. In the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and in the Holy Books of other religions, the word 'dead' is often used to refer to those devoid of faith and spiritual life. In the light of this, it becomes clear that those among Bahá'u'lláh's relatives who were not illumined with the light of faith had, indeed, severed their relationship with Him.

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh exhorts Mírzá Hasan to make mention of his Lord and to conduct himself in such wise that people might inhale from him the fragrances of the Beloved, and witness the purity and excellence of his deeds, deeds which


* see vol. 1, pp. 8, 12-16, 49-51, 122-3; vol. 2, p. 205n.

were praiseworthy in the sight of God. He counsels him to detach himself from the world and its transitory vanities. Instead he should endeavour to adorn himself with the glory of His Name which is imperishable and everlasting.

The rest of the Tablet consists of exhortations to other people. First, there is a long message which appears to be addressed to Bahá'u'lláh's half-brother Mírzá Ridá-Qulí. He does not mention his name in this Tablet, but from the tone and contents of Bahá'u'lláh's words, one may deduce that it is probably for him. In a previous volume* we have referred to this brother briefly. Although his wife Maryam,† a cousin of Bahá'u'lláh, was a devoted believer, Mírzá Ridá-Qulí himself was not touched sufficiently by the light of the Faith to enter into the fold. He remained distant from Bahá'u'lláh and there is a suggestion in this Tablet that at one stage he had requested Bahá'u'lláh not to write to him. It must be noted that from time to time Bahá'u'lláh had maintained communication with this brother and urged him to open his inner eyes so that he might behold his Lord and embrace His Faith. In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh expresses His grief and deep sorrow for a brother who remained aloof from the Cause of God, and with loving-kindness exhorts him to arise and make amends.

Mírzá Ridá-Qulí was held in high esteem in Tihrán. The following account by Hájí Mírzá Haydar-'Alí throws some light on his attitude towards Bahá'u'lláh. The story relates to Mírzá Husayn-Khán-i-Mushíru'd-Dawlih‡ who was the Persian Ambassador in Turkey for ten years. He was recalled to Tihrán and in 1871 was made Prime Minister:

And when he [the Mushíru'd-Dawlih] went to Tihrán, the Ministers, leaders and dignitaries came to visit him. Among them was the late Hájí Mírzá Ridá-Qulí, a half-brother of the Ancient Beauty. He was introduced as a brother of

* see vol. 1, p. 12.

† see vol. 1, pp. 12-13.

‡ see vol. 2, passim.

Bahá'u'lláh. Due to embarrassment and fear he said, 'I have a father, why can't you introduce me through him?' On hearing this the Mushíru'd-Dawlih exclaimed in a rebuking tone: 'You ought to pride yourself on and glory in being a brother of Bahá'u'lláh. It is a very great honour and a source of pride for Persia and the people of Persia that Bahá'u'lláh is a native of this country. Every Prince, minister or ruler who went from Persia to Istanbul at any time, became, in various ways, the cause of disgrace and humiliation for the government and the people of Persia...Although exiled by the government, Bahá'u'lláh conducted Himself with such firmness and dignity and manifested such an ascendancy and glory that He truly revived Persia and her peoples...11
That such a glowing tribute should be paid by Mírzá Husayn-Khán, the Mushíru'd-Dawlih,* who in earlier years as Persian Ambassador in Turkey had assiduously worked against Bahá'u'lláh, but who later changed his attitude, is a proof that nothing can be as effective as pure and holy deeds in convincing people of the truth of the Cause of God. We find in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh numerous exhortations concerning this. In the Ishráqát (Splendours) Bahá'u'lláh states:

In this Revelation the hosts that can render it victorious are the hosts of praiseworthy deeds and upright character.12
In another Tablet He declares:

Man is like unto a tree. If he be adorned with fruit, he hath been and will ever be worthy of praise and commendation. Otherwise a fruitless tree is but fit for fire. The fruits of the human tree are exquisite, highly desired and dearly cherished. Among them are upright character, virtuous deeds and a goodly utterance. The springtime for earthly trees occurreth once every year, while the one for human trees appeareth in the Days of God--exalted be His glory.

* For further information about him and the change that took place in his attitude towards Bahá'u'lláh see vol. 2, pp. 399-401.

11. Quoted by Hájí Mírzá Haydar-'Alí, unpublished biography of Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl, p. 150.

12. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 126.

Were the trees of men's lives to be adorned in this divine Springtime with the fruits that have been mentioned, the effulgence of the light of justice, would, of a certainty, illumine all the dwellers of the earth and everyone would abide in tranquillity and contentment beneath the sheltering shadow of Him Who is the Object of all mankind.13
And in the Lawh-i-Dunyá (Tablet of the World) Bahá'u'lláh declares:

This Wronged One hath forbidden the people of God to engage in contention or conflict and hath exhorted them to righteous deeds and praiseworthy character. In this day the hosts that can ensure the victory of the Cause are those of goodly conduct and saintly character. Blessed are they who firmly adhere unto them and woe betide such as turn away therefrom.14

13. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 257.

14. ibid. p. 88.