24

Epistle to the Son of the Wolf

Shaykh Muhammad-Taqí, the Son of the Wolf

This momentous Epistle was revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in the last year of His earthly life. It is addressed to Shaykh Muhammad-Taqí, known as Áqá Najafí, a son of Shaykh Muhammad-Báqir who was stigmatized by Him as 'Wolf'.* After the death of his father in 1883, Áqá Najafí succeeded him as a leading mujtahid of Isfahán. He was an inveterate enemy and formidable opponent of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, a vicious and evil-minded clergyman who fulfilled the famous saying: 'The child is the secret of his sire.' He well merited the title 'Son of the Wolf'.

In his younger days he collaborated with his father in pursuing the policy of murdering the Bahá'ís. He was the one who rolled up his sleeves on the occasion of the martyrdom of the King and the Beloved of the Martyrs and announced his readiness to carry out their execution personally should the official executioner refuse to co-operate. Once he assumed office it was through his instigation and on his direct orders that the great upheavals against the Bahá'ís occurred in Isfahán and neighbouring townships. It was by his command that several believers were put to death, and in 1903 he was the chief instigator of the upheaval of Yazd, the bloodiest massacre of the Bahá'ís since the bloodbath of Tihrán in 1852.

To such a man, who was perpetrating the most heinous crimes against His followers in Persia, Bahá'u'lláh addressed this

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* see above, ch. 6.


Epistle to the Son of the Wolf
weighty Epistle. The opening paragraph is in praise of God, and the second, in praise of Bahá'u'lláh as the 'Supreme Mediator', 'the Most Exalted Pen', 'the dawning-place' of God's 'most excellent names', and 'the dayspring of His most exalted attributes'. Having unequivocally announced His own station to Áqá Najafí, Bahá'u'lláh in the next paragraph proclaims to him that 'the ear of man hath been created that it may hearken unto the Divine Voice of this Day', counsels him first to 'purify' his soul 'with the waters of renunciation', to 'crown' his head with 'the crown of the fear of God' and then to arise from his seat, turn his face in the direction of Bahá'u'lláh's abode and recite a prayer which is revealed especially for him.

From the manner in which Áqá Najafí continued his opposition to the Faith after receiving this Epistle, we can guess the extent of his anger on reading the first three paragraphs. The perusal of the lengthy prayer which followed must have enraged him further. Although the revelation of this prayer, and indeed the whole Epistle, is a genuine attempt by Bahá'u'lláh to lead his misguided soul to God, the prayer nevertheless serves as the best descriptive material for depicting the infamous life of Áqá Najafí. Among some beautiful passages we find condemnatory statements such as these, in which Áqá Najafí is counselled by Bahá'u'lláh to recite in a prayerful attitude and beg God's forgiveness for his wicked deeds:

'I testify, O my God, and my King, that Thou hast created me to remember Thee, to glorify Thee, and to aid Thy Cause. And yet, I have aided Thine enemies...'

'Alas, alas, for my waywardness, and my shame, and my sinfulness, and my wrong-doing...alas, alas! and again alas, alas! for my wretchedness and the grievousness of my transgressions! Thou didst call me into being, O my God, to exalt Thy Word, and to manifest Thy Cause. My heedlessness, however, hath deterred me and compassed me about, in such wise that I have arisen to blot out Thy signs, and to shed the blood of Thy loved ones...

'O Lord, my Lord! and again, O Lord, my Lord! and yet

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[I testify, O my God...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 3

[Alas, alas, for my waywardness...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 4

again, O Lord, my Lord! I bear witness that by reason of mine iniquity the fruits of the tree of Thy justice have fallen, and through the fire of my rebelliousness the hearts of such of Thy creatures as enjoy near access to Thee were consumed, and the souls of the sincere among Thy servants have melted. O wretched, wretched that I am! O the cruelties, the glaring cruelties, I inflicted! Woe is me, woe is me, for my remoteness from Thee, and for my waywardness, and mine ignorance, and my baseness, and my repudiation of Thee, and my protests against Thee!...

'Alas, alas! My turning away from Thee hath burnt up the veil of mine integrity, and my denial of Thee hath rent asunder the covering cast over mine honor. O would that I were beneath the depths of the earth, so that my evil deeds would remain unknown to Thy servants! Thou seest the sinner, O my Lord, who hath turned towards the dawning-place of Thy forgiveness and Thy bounty, and the mountain of iniquity that hath sought the heaven of Thy mercy and pardon. Alas, alas! My mighty sins have prevented me from approaching the court of Thy mercy, and my monstrous deeds have caused me to stray far from the sanctuary of Thy presence. Indeed, I am he that hath failed in duty towards Thee, and hath broken Thy Covenant and Thy Testament, and committed that which hath made the dwellers of the cities of Thy justice, and the dawning-places of Thy grace in Thy realms, to lament. I testify, O my God, that I have put away Thy commandments, and clung to the dictates of my passions, and have cast away the statutes of Thy Book, and seized the book of mine own desire. O misery, misery! As mine iniquities waxed greater and greater, Thy forbearance towards me augmented, and as the fire of my rebelliousness grew fiercer, the more did Thy forgiveness and Thy grace seek to smother up its flame. By the power of Thy might! O Thou Who art the desire of the world and the Best-Beloved of the nations! Thy long-suffering hath puffed me up, and Thy patience hath emboldened me...

'...Thou hast given me a tongue wherewith to remember and praise Thee, and yet it uttereth that which hath caused the souls of such of Thy chosen ones as are nigh unto Thee to melt...

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[O Lord, my Lord!] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 4

[Alas, alas! My turning away...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 5

[Thou hast given me a tongue wherewith...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 6

'...Thou hast given me eyes to witness Thy signs, and to behold Thy verses, and to contemplate the revelations of Thine handiwork, but I have rejected Thy will, and have committed what hath caused the faithful among Thy creatures and the detached amidst Thy servants to groan. Thou hast given me ears that I may incline them unto Thy praise and Thy celebration...

'...And yet, alas, alas, I have forsaken Thy Cause, and have commanded Thy servants to blaspheme against Thy trusted ones and Thy loved ones, and have acted, before the throne of Thy justice, in such wise that those that have recognized Thy unity and are wholly devoted to Thee among the dwellers of Thy realm mourned with a sore lamentation...

'...Alas, alas! Thou hast ordained that every pulpit be set apart for Thy mention, and for the glorification of Thy Word, and the revelation of Thy Cause, but I have ascended it to proclaim the violation of Thy Covenant, and have spoken unto Thy servants such words as have caused the dwellers of the Tabernacles of Thy majesty and the denizens of the Cities of Thy wisdom to lament...

'...By Thy glory! I know not for which sin to beg Thy forgiveness and implore Thy pardon, nor from which of mine iniquities to turn aside unto the Court of Thy bounteousness and the Sanctuary of Thy favor. Such are my sins and trespasses that no man can number them, nor pen describe them...1

No one but God can address a man in this way and lay bare before him his sinfulness and transgressions. Never for one moment did Áqá Najafí look upon himself in the light of this prayer while on this earth. But no doubt he has been able to see his true self in the world beyond, like every other soul, and discover how grievously he erred in his earthly life.

A noticeable feature throughout the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf is Bahá'u'lláh's loving exhortation. There is no revenge in God's domain. Although He is addressing one of His bitterest enemies, God's loving compassion can be seen at work. While condemning his wicked deeds, He prays that he may change his ways. While sometimes appearing wrathful, He is never vindictive in His

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1. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 3-8.
[Thou hast given me eyes to witness...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 6

[And yet, alas, alas, I have forsaken...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 7

[Alas, alas! Thou hast ordained...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 8

[By Thy glory! I know not...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 8

remarks. While denouncing his machinations, He is never extreme in His words. His dispassionate exposition of His teachings, His explicit description of the circumstances of His Revelation, His profound arguments setting forth the proofs of the validity of His Mission, His challenging remarks addressed to His adversaries, are all interwoven with passages reflecting His compassion, His exalted counsels, and His unbounded love for His servants, whether friend or foe.

The Re-revelation of Tablets

In His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh occasionally quotes passages from Writings He has previously revealed. But the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf is different, in that it contains a great many quotations from His earlier Tablets. It includes an anthology of His Writings, chosen by Himself. We have already described in previous volumes* the manner in which Bahá'u'lláh revealed His Writings and the speed with which His amanuensis was empowered by Him to write down His words. Whereas any compiler will copy the required source material for his quotations, the Revealer of the Word of God does not follow this pattern. It is inconceivable to imagine that when He wished to quote from a previous Tablet, Bahá'u'lláh would stop the flow of His Revelation and direct His amanuensis to insert a certain part of a Tablet as a quotation. It must be remembered that Bahá'u'lláh revealed about fifteen thousand Tablets during the forty years of His Ministry. Most of these were not easily accessible at the time, and none of them were indexed so as to enable one to retrieve a desired passage from among so many pages. For Bahá'u'lláh's amanuensis or anyone else to try to find part of a Tablet in those days would be very much like looking for a needle in a haystack.

On the other hand, divine revelation, as witnessed by many of Bahá'u'lláh's disciples, was accompanied by the release of enormous powers which emanated from His person, manifesting the majesty of God and His awe-inspiring glory as verses of God

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* see vol. 1, ch. 3.

poured down like copious rain. To suddenly stop this heavenly outpouring and busy oneself with the cumbersome task of looking for a passage among so many pages, would not only have been inconsistent with the dignity and majesty of the Revealer of the Word of God, but would also degrade him to the position of a human author.

Every quotation one finds in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf was re-revealed by Bahá'u'lláh at the time. This is one of the evidences of the power of God, that His Mouthpiece can utter the same words which had been revealed to Him some years before. Not only was this true in relation to His own Writings, but, as mentioned previously,* He quoted passages from the Writings of the Báb without having access to His Works. Of course this knowledge is not limited to Books of Scripture but extends to everything. In the Tablet of Hikmat Bahá'u'lláh confirms this to Nabíl-i-Akbar in these words:

Thou knowest full well that We perused not the books which men possess and We acquired not the learning current amongst them, and yet whenever We desire to quote the sayings of the learned and of the wise, presently there will appear before the face of thy Lord in the form of a tablet all that which hath appeared in the world and is revealed in the Holy Books and Scriptures. Thus do We set down in writing that which the eye perceiveth. Verily His knowledge encompasseth the earth and the heavens.

This is a Tablet wherein the Pen of the Unseen hath inscribed the knowledge of all that hath been and shall be--a knowledge that none other but My wondrous Tongue can interpret.2

A careful examination of the quotations in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf shows that the quotations and the original texts are almost exactly the same. Very rarely they may differ in one or two words, usually an adverb, a preposition or an adjective, but the meaning remains the same. The reason for this is that a certain word has been re-revealed differently. The discrepancy is more
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* see above, pp. 47-8.


2. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 148-9.
noticeable in the original language, for the translation into English is not affected by the change of an adverb or a preposition.

To cite an example: in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Bahá'u'lláh quotes the 'second leaf of the Most Exalted Paradise' from His Tablet known as Kalimát-i-Firdawsíyyih. The phrase 'Pen of the Most High' in the original Tablet is re-revealed in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf as 'Pen of the Divine Expounder',* but the rest of the quotation remains the same as in its original form.

Bahá'u'lláh's Presentation of His Teachings

A deep study of the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf requires some knowledge of Islámic subjects. A detailed study of these is beyond the scope of this book, but some brief notes are given in Appendix 3, and the English edition also has a useful glossary. Some historical events too need explanation, but most of these have already been described in this and former volumes; references will be given to these where necessary.

Throughout the Epistle Bahá'u'lláh addresses Áqá Najafí as the 'Shaykh'. He proclaims to him the advent of the Day of God, identifies Himself as God's Supreme Manifestation and describes the verities enshrined in His Revelation. He describes His Mission clearly, introducing Himself to the Shaykh when he states:

This Wronged One hath frequented no school, neither hath He attended the controversies of the learned. By My Life! Not of Mine own volition have I revealed Myself, but God, of His own choosing, hath manifested Me.3
He then quotes some verses He had revealed in the Lawh-i-Sultán† addressed to Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, beginning with this celebrated passage:

O King! I was but a man like others, asleep upon My couch,
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* see Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 63, and Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 28.

† For details of the Lawh-i-Sultán see vol. 2, pp. 337-57, and vol. 3, ch. 9.


3. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 11.
when lo, the breezes of the All-Glorious were wafted over Me, and taught Me the knowledge of all that hath been. This thing is not from Me, but from One who is Almighty and All-Knowing.4*
In this Epistle Bahá'u'lláh outlines some of His basic teachings such as love, unity, and similar principles which constitute the cornerstones of His Faith. Most of the utterances expressing these teachings are gleaned by Himself from His previously revealed Writings. He probably uses this method in order to assure the Shaykh that these teachings are not newly formulated but have been promulgated from the very beginning of His Revelation, and that for several decades the believers have been exhorted to carry them out. These are some of the teachings which, among many more, He presents to the Shaykh:

The Divine Messengers have been sent down...for the purpose of promoting the knowledge of God, and for furthering unity and fellowship amongst men...5

Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men...6

That the diverse communities of the earth, and the manifold systems of religious belief, should never be allowed to foster the feelings of animosity among men, is, in this Day, the essence of the Faith of God and His religion...7

Religious fanaticism and hatred are a world-devouring fire, whose violence none can quench...8

Ye are the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye with one another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship...9

So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth...10

Consort with all men, O people of Bahá, in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship...11

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* For an interpretation of this passage by 'Abdu'l-Bahá see vol. 2, pp. 346-7.


4. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 11.

5. ibid. p. 12.

6. ibid p. 13.

7. ibid.

8. ibid. p. 14.

9. ibid.

10. ibid.

11. ibid. p. 15.

A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of men...12

O ye friends of God in His cities and His loved ones in His lands! This Wronged One enjoineth on you honesty and piety...13

We enjoin the servants of God and His handmaidens to be pure and to fear God, that they may shake off the slumber of their corrupt desires, and turn toward God...14

Revile ye not one another. We, verily, have come to unite and weld together all that dwell on earth...15

Lay fast hold on whatever will profit you, and profit the peoples of the world. Thus commandeth you the King of Eternity, Who is manifest in His Most Great Name...16

In this Revelation the hosts which can render it victorious are the hosts of praiseworthy deeds and upright character...17

Verily I say: The fear of God hath ever been a sure defence and a safe stronghold for all the peoples of the world...18

We, verily, have chosen courtesy, and made it the true mark of such as are nigh unto Him. Courtesy, is, in truth, a raiment which fitteth all men, whether young or old...19

Purge your hearts from love of the world, and your tongues from calumny, and your limbs from whatsoever may withhold you from drawing nigh unto God...20

This Wronged One hath, at all times, summoned the peoples of the world unto that which will exalt them, and draw them nigh unto God...21

Say: O people of God! Adorn your temples with the ornament of trustworthiness and piety. Help then, your Lord with the hosts of goodly deeds and a praiseworthy character.22

These are just a few of Bahá'u'lláh's exhortations, constituting the essence of His spiritual teachings, which He has set forth in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf for the Shaykh. He also quotes for him a celebrated passage revealed as an admonishment to His
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12. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 15.

13. ibid. p. 23.

14. ibid.

15. ibid. p. 24.

16. ibid.

17. ibid. p. 26.

18. ibid. p. 27.

19. ibid. p. 50.

20. ibid. p. 54.

21. ibid. p. 137.

22. ibid. p. 135.

son, Badí'u'lláh, * a passage which may be regarded as a charter of moral conduct for an individual:

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer to the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.23
'Shed not the blood of anyone'

Another category of teachings which features prominently in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf is that which forbids contention, strife, religious hostility, warfare, and all acts from which a trace of mischief or sedition may be detected. The reason for Bahá'u'lláh's emphasis on this topic becomes apparent in the light of history. During the Bábí Dispensation the followers of the Báb defended themselves heroically against the onslaught of their

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* After the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh he broke the Covenant and rose up against 'Abdu'l-Bahá. For more information see the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The present author intends to give an account of his misdeeds in the forthcoming volumes entitled The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh.


23. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 93-4.


[Be generous in prosperity...] Gleanings From The Writings Of Bahá'u'lláh, CXXX; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 231.
enemies. The upheavals of Mázindarán, Nayríz and Zanján* are typical examples. Since they took up arms and defended themselves so valiantly, the Bábís were highly feared by the Persian populace. This sense of fear was heightened by the attempt on the life of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh by a few irresponsible Bábís in 1850.

From the early days of His Ministry Bahá'u'lláh admonished the followers of the Báb to abandon the practice of the use of force, to put their swords in their sheaths and never bring them out again. 'In the Book of God, the Mighty, the Great,' Bahá'u'lláh admonishes His loved ones, 'Ye have been forbidden to engage in contention and conflict.' He exhorted His followers not to resist their enemies by force, and if the occasion demanded it, to give their lives willingly in the path of God rather than to kill. Concerning this transformation, Bahá'u'lláh writes in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf:

Day and night, while confined in that dungeon,† We meditated upon the deeds, the condition, and the conduct of the Bábís, wondering what could have led a people so high-minded, so noble, and of such intelligence, to perpetrate such an audacious and outrageous act against the person of His Majesty. This Wronged One, thereupon, decided to arise, after His release from prison, and undertake, with the utmost vigor, the task of regenerating this people...

After Our arrival,‡ We revealed, as a copious rain, by the aid of God and His Divine Grace and mercy, Our verses, and sent them to various parts of the world. We exhorted all men, and particularly this people, through Our wise counsels and loving admonitions, and forbade them to engage in sedition, quarrels, disputes and conflict. As a result of this, and by the grace of God, waywardness and folly were changed into piety and understanding, and weapons converted into instruments of peace.24

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* For details see The Dawn-Breakers.

† Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán, see vol. 1, pp. 8-11. (A. T.)

‡ In 'Iráq. (A.T.)


24. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 21-2.
In spite of this complete transformation, the people of Persia did not differentiate between the Bábís and the Bahá'ís. They insisted on regarding the followers of Bahá'u'lláh as Bábís and in associating them with violence. It is for this reason that throughout this Epistle Bahá'u'lláh quotes passages such as these:

Beware lest ye shed the blood of anyone. Unsheathe the sword of your tongue from the scabbard of utterance, for therewith ye can conquer the citadels of men's hearts...25

O people! Spread not disorder in the land, and shed not the blood of anyone...26

The sword of the virtuous character and upright conduct is sharper than the blades of steel...27

Not only were the public given wrong impressions about the conduct of the believers: Násiri'd-Din Sháh himself is said to have been afraid throughout his reign even of coming face to face with a Bahá'í. This fear was somewhat understandable, because he always remembered the attempt on his life.

For example, in 1882 a number of believers were imprisoned in Tihrán by the orders of Náyibu's-Saltanih, the Governor of Tihrán, who was a son of the Sháh. Among the prisoners were the Hand of the Cause Mullá 'Alí-Akbar,* Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl † and Mullá Muhammad-Ridáy-i-Yazdí.‡ Their imprisonment lasted two years, and the Governor, who appeared to be very tolerant, used to invite the learned among the prisoners to explain various aspects of the Faith to him. In several sessions, which lasted for hours, these souls were able to prove the validity of the claims of Bahá'u'lláh and describe His teachings. The knowledge of Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl, the audacity of Mullá Ridá and the spiritual qualities of Mullá 'Alí-Akbar combined together and resulted in an unprecedented proclamation of the teachings of the Faith in high

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* see above, pp. 294-301.

† For his life story see vol. 3, pp. 91-107, and vol. 3, Appendix 2.

‡ For an account of his life see vol. 1, pp. 84-91.


25. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 25.

26. ibid.

27. ibid. p. 29.

circles. A detailed account of their brilliant discussions is beyond the scope of this book.

When Násiri'd-Dín Sháh became aware of this, he is reported to have intimated to his son, the Náyibu's-Saltanih, that he desired to meet Mullá 'Alí-Akbar but feared to come face to face with the prisoner. The Náyibu's-Saltanih assured his father that there was no danger involved. But the Sháh would not take the risk. Mullá 'Alí-Akbar was consequently brought into a room; the Sháh looked from behind a window at the dignified and composed person of Mullá 'Alí-Akbar in chains and fetters, majestically seated on a chair. The Sháh was so impressed that he ordered his photographer to take a photograph of him in that condition (see opposite page).

It was because of the Sháh's mistrust that Bahá'u'lláh revealed passages such as these, to dissociate the conduct of the Bahá'ís from the conduct of those of the past and assure him and the Shaykh of their loyalty and truthfulness:

Night and day hath this Wronged One been occupied in that which would unite the hearts, and edify the souls of men. The events that have happened in Persia during the early years have truly saddened the well-favored and sincere ones. Each year witnessed a fresh massacre, pillage, plunder, and shedding of blood. At one time there appeared in Zanján that which caused the greatest consternation; at another in Nayríz, and at yet another in Tabarsí, and finally there occurred the episode of the Land of Tá (Tihrán). From that time onwards this Wronged One, assisted by the One True God--exalted be His glory--acquainted this oppressed people with the things which beseemed them. All have sanctified themselves from the things which they and others possess, and have clung unto, and fixed their eyes upon that which pertaineth unto God.

It is now incumbent upon His Majesty the Sháh--may God, exalted be He, protect him--to deal with this people with loving-kindness and mercy. This Wronged One pledgeth Himself, before the Divine Kaaba, that, apart from truthfulness and trustworthiness, this people will show forth nothing

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THE HAND OF THE CAUSE OF GOD HÁJÍ ÁKHÚND IN CHAINS AND STOCKS

THE HAND OF THE CAUSE OF GOD HÁJÍ ÁKHÚND IN CHAINS AND STOCKS

This photograph was taken at the request of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh

that can in any way conflict with the world-adorning views of His Majesty.28
In another passage He states:

O Shaykh! It is incumbent upon the divines to unite with His Majesty, the Sháh--may God assist him--and to cleave day and night unto that which will exalt the station of both the government and the nation. This people are assiduously occupied in enlightening the souls of men and in rehabilitating their condition. Unto this testifieth that which hath been sent down by the Most Sublime Pen in this lucid Tablet.29
And again He demonstrates the spiritual character of the Bahá'ís and their readiness to give their lives rather than hurting their enemies:

O Shaykh! This people have passed beyond the narrow straits of names, and pitched their tents upon the shores of the sea of renunciation. They would willingly lay down a myriad lives, rather than breathe the word desired by their enemies. They have clung to that which pleaseth God, and are wholly detached and freed from the things which pertain unto men. They have preferred to have their heads cut off rather than utter one unseemly word. Ponder this in thine heart. Methinks they have quaffed their fill of the ocean of renunciation. The life of the present world hath failed to withhold them from suffering martyrdom in the path of God.

In Mázindarán a vast number of the servants of God were exterminated. The Governor, under the influence of calumniators, robbed a great many of all that they possessed. Among the charges he laid against them was that they had been laying up arms, whereas upon investigation it was found out that they had nothing but an unloaded rifle! Gracious God! This people need no weapons of destruction, inasmuch as they have girded themselves to reconstruct the world. Their hosts are the hosts of goodly deeds, and their arms the arms of upright conduct, and their commander the fear of God. Blessed that one that judgeth with fairness.30

The reader may be helped to appreciate the significance of the
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28. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 88-9.

29. ibid. p. 137.

30. ibid. p. 74.

term 'narrow straits of names' used above by referring to the subject of the 'Kingdom of Names' discussed in volume 2.*

'The aim...is to quench the flame of hate'

In order to highlight the transformation which had taken place since the days of the Bábí upheavals, Bahá'u'lláh cites the examples of a few of the Bahá'í martyrs who had put up no resistance even under the threat of death. He addresses the Shaykh in these words:

O Shaykh! Time and again have I declared, and now yet again I affirm, that for two score years We have, through the grace of God and by His irresistible and potent will, extended such aid to His Majesty the Sháh--may God assist him--as the exponents of justice and of equity would regard as incontestable and absolute...

Previous to these forty years controversies and conflicts continually prevailed and agitated the servants of God. But since then, aided by the hosts of wisdom, of utterance, of exhortations and understanding, they have all seized and taken fast hold of the firm cord of patience and of the shining hem of fortitude, in such wise that this wronged people endured steadfastly whatever befell them, and committed everything unto God, and this notwithstanding that in Mázindarán and at Rasht a great many have been most hideously tormented. Among them was his honor, Hájí Nasír, who, unquestionably, was a brilliant light that shone forth above the horizon of resignation. After he had suffered martyrdom, they plucked out his eyes and cut off his nose, and inflicted on him such indignities that strangers wept and lamented, and secretly raised funds to support his wife and children.31

Hájí Nasír was a devoted believer in whose honour Bahá'u'lláh revealed the Tablet of Nasír. Part of this important Tablet has been translated by Shoghi Effendi into English, and a brief account of his life and martyrdom as well as a description of this well-known Tablet is given in a previous volume.†

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* pp. 39-43

† see vol. 2, pp. 245-59.


31. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 71-2.
Bahá'u'lláh also refers to the martyrdom of the 'twin shining lights', the King and Beloved of Martyrs:*

O Shaykh! My Pen is abashed to recount what actually took place. In the land of Sád (Isfahán) the fire of tyranny burned with such a hot flame that every fair-minded person groaned aloud. By thy life! The cities of knowledge and of understanding wept with such a weeping that the souls of the pious and of the God-fearing were melted. The twin shining lights, Hasan and Husayn (the King of Martyrs and the Beloved of Martyrs) offered up spontaneously their lives in that city. Neither fortune, nor wealth, nor glory, could deter them! God knoweth the things which befell them and yet the people are, for the most part, unaware! 32
Bahá'u'lláh further cites the example of other martyrs for the Shaykh:

Before them one named Kázim and they who were with him, and after them, his honor Ashraf, all quaffed the draught of martyrdom with the utmost fervor and longing, and hastened unto the Supreme Companion.33
By Kázim is meant Mullá Kázim from Talkhunchih, a village in the neighbourhood of Isfahán. He was a learned divine well respected by the people of Isfahán. He became a believer in AH 1288 (AD 1871-2) and began to teach the Faith to his people, some of whom became believers. The news spread and he was forced to leave his native village. For a time he lived in Isfahán where he succeeded in bringing a number of people under the shadow of the Cause. This news reached the powerful mujtahid of the city, the inveterate enemy of the Cause Shaykh Muhammad-Báqir (the Wolf), who immediately wrote his death sentence. By this time, however, Mullá Kázim had relinquished his clerical attire and was working as a labourer in a public bath in the city. He succeeded in slipping out of Isfahán back to his own village. Then followed a period of comings and goings to Isfahán, Shíráz and Tihrán. At last he was arrested in his native village and sent
384

* see above, ch. 5.


32. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 72.

33. ibid.

to Isfahán where he was put in prison. Prince Mas'úd Mírzá the Zillu's-Sultán summoned Mullá Kázim to his presence, and when he refused to recant his Faith the Prince implemented the death sentence and ordered his execution. This was in 1877.

The execution took place in a large public square, the famous Maydán-i-Sháh, where great crowds had assembled to watch. Having refused to recant his Faith and be freed, Mullá Kázim was beheaded by the executioner. Shaykh Muhammad-Báqir ordered his corpse to be hung upside-down from a pole situated on the executioner's platform. The rope from which he was suspended broke and his body fell down from a great height. His smashed body was again suspended and the Shaykh announced that anyone who threw a stone at the corpse would assuredly secure a place for himself in paradise. A frenzied crowd carried out the attack. For two days men and women could be seen walking long distances carrying stones. Even pregnant women who could hardly walk took part in this shameful crime. When the body was deserted at night some men even gouged out the eyes and cut off the fingers, the nose, the lips and the ears.

On the morning of the third day Shaykh Muhammad-Báqir arrived on the scene. Not satisfied with the savage indignities which had been heaped upon the victim, he ordered the corpse to be lowered to the ground for a horseman to gallop over it. And when every part of the corpse was broken, it was delivered to the flames and the charred bones were thrown into a disused well.

As to Ashraf mentioned in the passage cited above, he was a native of Najafábád, but since he lived in Ábádih for some time he became known as Mírzá Ashraf of Ábádih. He was a great teacher of the Faith who enabled many souls to embrace the Cause of God. He travelled to India, stayed for some time in Bombay and eventually went to live in Isfahán. He had such a radiant personality that people were drawn to him for his spiritual qualities, his piety and his knowledge.

It was in 1888 when Zillu's-Sultán discovered that one of his secretaries, together with a young servant, were attracted to the Faith and were studying the Kitáb-i-Íqán. The Prince was filled

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with rage when he discovered that it was Mírzá Ashraf who had been teaching the Faith to these two. He arrested Ashraf and put him in prison. A few days later the Prince invited a number of divines including Áqá Najafí (the Son of the Wolf) to interrogate Mírzá Ashraf in his presence. With great eloquence and conviction Ashraf in a loud voice, which could be heard outside the room, declared his beliefs and proved the validity of the Faith he had embraced. Confounded and utterly helpless to refute his arguments in support of the Faith, the divines used their usual weapon of denunciation. Áqá Najafí wrote Ashraf's death sentence and delivered it into the hands of the Prince who ordered his execution.

Mírzá Ashraf was executed on 23 October 1888 by hanging in the same public square as Mullá Kázim. By order of Áqá Najafí, his body was trampled underfoot, savagely mutilated by the mob, delivered to the flames and then thrown into a ditch and a wall pulled down over it. These barbarous acts of killing were typical of the way in which a great many Bahá'í martyrs met their deaths in a spirit of resignation and reliance upon God.

In the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf Bahá'u'lláh cites the names of a few other martyrs. He mentions Badí, who delivered Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet to the Sháh, gives a brief account of the martyrdom of Áqá Najaf-'Alí, calls to mind the stories of Mírzá Mustafá, of Abá Basír and Ashraf-i-Zanjání, of Abá Badí' (the father of Badí'), and of Siyyid Ismá'íl. The stories of these martyrs are recounted in previous volumes.* In the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf Bahá'u'lláh marvels at the

splendour and glory which the light of renunciation, shining from the upper chamber of the heart of Mullá 'Alí-Ján, hath shed. He was so carried away by the breezes of the Most Sublime Word and by the power of the Pen of Glory that to him the field of martyrdom equalled, nay outrivalled, the haunts of earthly delights.34
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* see in order mentioned above: vol. 3, ch. 9; vol. 2, pp. 222-3; vol. 2, pp. 60-61; vol. 2, pp. 223-30; vol. 2, pp. 128-36; vol. 1, pp. 101-3.


34. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 73.
Mullá 'Alí-Ján was a native of Mázindarán and was born in the year 1846. In his youth he displayed a passion for acquiring religious knowledge. He therefore studied Islámic theology and became well-versed in the Qur'án and the traditions of Islám. One day he came across some traditions extolling the merits of the city of 'Akká. He was puzzled by this, and no one among the divines could explain to him the significance of these traditions. He searched for an answer until he came across a well-known Bahá'í who taught him the Faith. Embracing the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh endowed Mullá 'Alí-Ján with new vision, and his religious passion found an outlet in the teaching field. With exemplary devotion and enthusiasm he taught the Faith to many souls; he even took the unusual step of proclaiming the Faith from the pulpits of the mosques. This resulted in great numbers entering the Faith in different villages.

Then began a period of great opposition. The divines clamoured for his death, and he was sent to Tihrán where he was imprisoned. Eventually, with the approval of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, on 29 June 1883 he was escorted by a band of soldiers beating drums and blowing trumpets to a public square in Tihrán and executed. Shoghi Effendi has summarized the story of his martyrdom in these words:

Mullá 'Alí Ján was conducted on foot from Mázindarán to Tihrán, the hardships of that journey being so severe that his neck was wounded and his body swollen from the waist to the feet. On the day of his martyrdom he asked for water, performed his ablutions, recited his prayers, bestowed a considerable gift of money on his executioner, and was still in the act of prayer when his throat was slit by a dagger, after which his corpse was spat upon, covered with mud, left exposed for three days, and finally hewn to pieces.35
Another example cited in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf of the Bahá'ís showing compassion and extending forgiveness to their enemies is the story of the martyrdom of Hájí Muhammad-Ridá
387


35. God Passes By, p. 201.
in 'Ishqábád, a moving episode which has already been related elsewhere in this book.*

By referring to these heart-rending stories of the martyrs, Bahá'u'lláh highlights the most important aim of His Cause, namely to blot out every trace of enmity and hatred from the hearts of men and unite mankind through the power of His Revelation. He testifies to this exalted aim in His Will and Testament, the Book of the Covenant:

The aim of this Wronged One is sustaining woes and tribulations, in revealing the Holy Verses and in demonstrating proofs hath been naught but to quench the flame of hate and enmity, that the horizon of the hearts of men may be illumined with the light of concord and attain real peace and tranquillity...36
In the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf Bahá'u'lláh cites for the Shaykh long passages from His Tablets to the kings and rulers of His time, Tablets through which He had proclaimed His Mission, unveiled the nature of His Revelation, elucidated its fundamental verities, described some of His universal teachings, issued His exhortations, and summoned the most potent among the crowned heads of the world to embrace His Cause. Parts of these Tablets addressed to Násiri'd-Dín Sháh (known as the Lawh-i-Sultán), to Napoleon III, to the Czar of Russia and Queen Victoria are re-revealed in this mighty Epistle. These Tablets have already been referred to in some detail in previous volumes.†

Another subject which comes up in various parts of the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf is the suffering inflicted upon Bahá'u'lláh from the early days of the Báb's Ministry. Quoting a passage from His Tablet to Queen Victoria Bahá'u'lláh remarks:

Consider these days in which He Who is the Ancient Beauty
388

* see above, pp. 342-4.

† For the Lawh-i-Sultán see vol. 2, ch. 16, and vol. 3, ch. 9. For the Tablet to Napoleon III see vol. 2, pp. 368-9, and vol. 3, pp. 110-15. For the Tablet to Czar Alexander II see vol. 3, pp. 118-23. For the Tablet to Queen Victoria see vol. 3, pp. 123-8.


36. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 219.
hath come in the Most Great Name, that He may quicken the world and unite its peoples. They, however, rose up against Him with sharpened swords, and committed that which caused the Faithful Spirit to lament, until in the end they imprisoned Him in the most desolate of cities, and broke the grasp of the faithful upon the hem of His robe...

...At all times He was at the mercy of the wicked doers. At one time they cast Him into prison, at another they banished Him, and at yet another hurried Him from land to land. Thus have they pronounced judgment against Us, and God, truly, is aware of what I say.37

In a passage addressed to the Shaykh Bahá'u'lláh recounts some of the ordeals He was subjected to in the earlier days in Persia.

O Shaykh! That which hath touched this Wronged One is beyond compare or equal. We have borne it all with the utmost willingness and resignation, so that the souls of men may be edified, and the Word of God be exalted. While confined in the prison of the Land of Mím (Mázindarán) We were one day delivered into the hands of the divines. Thou canst well imagine what befell Us. Shouldst thou at sometime happen to visit the dungeon of His Majesty the Sháh, ask the director and chief jailer to show thee those two chains, one of which is known as Qará-Guhar, and the other as Salásil. I swear by the Day-Star of Justice that for four months this Wronged One was tormented and chained by one or the other of them. 'My grief exceedeth all the woes to which Jacob gave vent, and all the afflictions of Job are but a part of My sorrows!' 38
In mentioning 'the prison, of the Land of Mím', Bahá'u'lláh is referring to the incident in Ámul where He was bastinadoed and imprisoned for a short while.* The 'dungeon of His majesty the Sháh' is the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán.† The verse at the end of the above passage comes from the famous Arab poet, Ibn-i-Fárid, in his celebrated ode the Qasídiy-i-Tá'íyyih. Bahá'u'lláh wrote His
389

* For details see The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 368-76, and above, p. 148.

† see vol. 1, p. 9.


37. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 63-4.

38. ibid. pp. 76-7.

own Qasídiy-i-Varqá'íyyih in a rhyme and metre identical with the former, and He quotes this verse from Ibn-i-Fárid in His Qasídih. The circumstances of its revelation are described in a former volume.*

In another passage Bahá'u'lláh describes His afflictions in these words:

The one true God well knoweth, and all the company of His trusted ones testify, that this Wronged One hath, at all times, been faced with dire peril. But for the tribulations that have touched Me in the path of God, life would have held no sweetness for Me, and My existence would have profited Me nothing. For them who are endued with discernment, and whose eyes are fixed upon the Sublime Vision, it is no secret that I have been, most of the days of My life, even as a slave, sitting under a sword hanging on a thread, knowing not whether it would fall soon or late upon him. And yet, notwithstanding all this We render thanks unto God, the Lord of the worlds.39
390

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


39. ibid. p. 94.