25

Epistle to the Son of the Wolf


(continued)

The Machinations of the Azalís in Constantinople

The sufferings Bahá'u'lláh endured through the acts of His enemies, though very severe, were insignificant when compared with the manifold acts of treachery and misrepresentation perpetrated by the followers of Mírzá Yahyá, or the shameful behaviour of those who were reckoned among His own followers but who dishonoured His Name through their misdeeds. These men of evil inflicted far greater sufferings upon Him than His enemies who persecuted Him physically. In one of His Tablets He testifies to this:

I sorrow not for the burden of My imprisonment. Neither do I grieve over My abasement, or the tribulation I suffer at the hands of Mine enemies. By My life! They are My glory, a glory wherewith God hath adorned His own Self. Would that ye knew it!...

My sorrows are for those who have involved themselves in their corrupt passions, and claim to be associated with the Faith of God, the Gracious, the All-Praised.1

In several parts of the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf Bahá'u'lláh refers to the machinations of the followers of Mírzá Yahyá who together with a few so-called Bahá'ís unfaithful to Him created a series of disgraceful scandals in Constantinople (Istanbul) with the aim of tarnishing the good name of the Faith. Their shameful activities, which continued for about a decade, brought great
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1. Gleanings, XLVI.


Epistle to the Son of the Wolf
pain and suffering to the heart of Bahá'u'lláh. The following is a reference in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf to this episode.

Gracious God! This is the day whereon the wise should seek the advice of this Wronged One, and ask Him Who is the Truth what things are conducive to the glory and tranquillity of men. And yet, all are earnestly striving to put out this glorious and shining light, and are diligently seeking either to establish Our guilt, or to voice their protest against Us. Matters have come to such a pass, that the conduct of this Wronged One hath, in every way, been grossly misrepresented, and in a manner which it would be unseemly to mention. One of Our friends hath reported that among the residents of the Great City (Constantinople) he had heard with the greatest regret someone state that, each year, a sum of fifty thousand túmáns was being despatched from his native land to 'Akká! It hath not, however, been made clear who had disbursed the sum, nor through whose hands it had passed!

Briefly, this Wronged One hath, in the face of all that hath befallen Him at their hands, and all that hath been said of Him, endured patiently, and held His peace, inasmuch as it is Our purpose, through the loving providence of God--exalted be His glory--and His surpassing mercy, to abolish, through the force of Our utterance, all disputes, war, and bloodshed, from the face of the earth. Under all conditions We have, in spite of what they have said, endured with seemly patience, and have left them to God.2

In another passage He refers to this episode again:

O Shaykh! We have time and again stated that for a number of years We have extended Our aid unto His Majesty the Sháh. For years no untoward incident hath occurred in Persia. The reins of the stirrers of sedition among various sects were held firmly in the grasp of power. None hath transgressed his limits. By God! This people have never been, nor are they now, inclined to mischief. Their hearts are illumined with the light of the fear of God, and adorned with the adornment of His love. Their concern hath ever been and now is for the betterment of the world. Their purpose is to obliterate
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2. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 33-5.
differences, and quench the flame of hatred and enmity, so that the whole earth may come to be viewed as one country. On the other hand, the officials of the Persian Embassy in the Great City (Constantinople) are energetically and assiduously seeking to exterminate these wronged ones. They desire one thing, and God desireth another. Consider now what hath befallen the trusted ones of God in every land. At one time they have been accused of theft and larceny; at another they have been calumniated in a manner without parallel in this world.3
He further states:

God alone--exalted be His glory--is cognizant of the things which befell this Wronged One. Every day bringeth a fresh report of stories current against Us at the Embassy in Constantinople. Gracious God! The sole aim of their machinations is to bring about the extermination of this servant. They are, however, oblivious of the fact that abasement in the path of God is My true glory. In the newspapers the following hath been recorded: 'Touching the fraudulent dealings of some of the exiles of 'Akká, and the excesses committed by them against several people, etc....' Unto them who are the exponents of justice and the daysprings of equity the intention of the writer is evident and his purpose clear. Briefly, he arose and inflicted upon Me divers tribulations, and treated Me with injustice and cruelty. By God! This Wronged One would not barter this place of exile for the Most Sublime Habitation. In the estimation of men of insight whatsoever befalleth in the path of God is manifest glory and a supreme attainment...

Such abasement hath been inflicted that each day they spread fresh calumnies.4

The background to all this is as follows: from the early days of the Faith the city of Constantinople had been a centre of Bahá'í activity. It all began with the exile of Bahá'u'lláh to that city. When Bahá'u'lláh went to Adrianople, He made arrangements for one or two faithful believers to remain in Constantinople to act as a channel of communication between Him and His followers. Constantinople being the capital of the Ottoman
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3. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 122-3.

4. ibid. pp. 125-6.

empire and an important centre for trade and business, other individuals soon arrived, some of whom were faithful believers and some followers of Mírzá Yahyá or trouble-makers. In this way Constantinople became a nest of conspiracy and intrigue against the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.

The situation grew worse as the years went by, and the campaign of hostility and vilification reached such proportions as to become a cause of distress to Bahá'u'lláh during the last ten years of His life.

Two prominent followers of Mírzá Yahyá in Constantinople were a certain Shaykh Muhammad-i-Yazdí and Muhammad 'Alíy-i-Tabrízí. In one of His Tablets5 Bahá'u'lláh describes the former as the most wicked of all men. The latter was expelled from the Holy Land by Bahá'u'lláh because of gross misconduct and shameful behaviour. He went to Constantinople and joined hands with the former, and together they used every possible means at their disposal to undermine the unity of the Bahá'ís and to destroy the good name of the Faith.

Around the year 1880 some prominent members of the Afnán family, including Hájí Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí and his brother Hájí Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí,* maternal cousins of the Báb, decided to establish a trading company in Constantinople. They already had several such establishments in various parts of Asia and Egypt. They obtained permission from Bahá'u'lláh for the project and invited a very experienced Bahá'í merchant of Qazvín to join them in this enterprise. He was Shaykh Muhammad-'Alí, entitled by Bahá'u'lláh Nabíl ibn-i-Nabíl (Nabíl son of Nabíl). He was the younger brother of Shaykh Kázim-i-Samandar,† one of the Apostles of Bahá'u'lláh. Nabíl was an enthusiastic, devoted and pious believer. When Bahá'u'lláh issued permission, Nabíl went to Constantinople and started a business there which quickly became successful. This was in 1882. He applied

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* see above, pp. 120-24.

† see vol. 3, pp. 88-91.


5. Unpublished compilation, National Archives Committee, no. 19, p. 455.
standards of honesty and fairness in all his business transactions and soon became known as one of the most trustworthy merchants in the city. This aroused the jealousy and antagonism of the Azalís who began a campaign of vilification and slander against Nabíl in high circles. At first their activities were trivial and unimportant, until a new figure arrived on the scene. This was a certain Muhammad-'Alíy-i-Isfahání, a so-called Bahá'í who was a trouble-maker and had been sent from 'Akká to Constantinople by Bahá'u'lláh. He was a small tradesman and had settled in the city before the arrival of Nabíl. The full story of the conspiracy and mischief which ensued over the years is given in full by Mírzá 'Abdu'l-Husayn-i-Samandar, a nephew of Nabíl who was personally a witness to it all. It is a complex story and only a summary of it is given here.

From the start Muhammad-'Alí, the mischief-maker, began causing difficulties for the Afnán's trading establishment. Eventually, in order to contain him, Nabíl, with the approval of the Afnáns, invited Muhammad-'Alí to become a partner in the business. For some years the affairs of the company went smoothly, and Muhammad-'Alí became the recipient of huge profits. However, during these years he involved himself secretly with the Azalís, especially his namesake Muhammad-'Alíy-i-Tabrízí and Shaykh Muhammad-i-Yazdí. Hand in hand with the Azalís, Muhammad-'Alí began a campaign of defamation against the followers of Bahá'u'lláh. Their lies and calumnies reached such proportions that Nabíl could no longer bear them. One evening he attempted suicide by throwing himself into the sea, but he was rescued in the nick of time.

During this time another believer, Abu'l-Qásim-i-Názir, arrived on his way to 'Ishqábád. Muhammad-'Alíy-i-Isfahání befriended Názir and persuaded him to postpone his journey. Soon after his attempted suicide, Nabíl was invited by Bahá'u'lláh to go to 'Akká. This was in the spring of 1889. In the meantime Muhammad-'Alíy-i-Isfahání stole four hundred pounds in cash from the coffers of the trading house and accused Názir of stealing it. This accusation he circulated throughout the city, and

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with the help of the Azalís brought a case against Názir to the Persian Ambassador who, after questioning, relieved him of the charges. He then brought the case to the Ottoman court which declared the innocence of Názir once again.

Being defeated, Muhammad-'Alí found no other option but to attack the Faith. Supported by the Azalís, he published a statement in the newspaper Akhtar in which he falsely accused Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Hasan,* known as the Afnán-i-Kabír, of having robbed him of his profits, imputed to him dishonesty and deceitfulness, announced that he was severing relations with the trading house, warned people to beware of the treachery of the Bahá'ís and hinted that some of the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh had been responsible for the whole affair.

This was not, however, the end of the story. Although the company had by then been wound up by Mírzá Muhsin-i-Afnán (the son of the Afnán-i-Kabír) and the son of Samandar, and both men had returned to the Holy Land, it was necessary to refute the misrepresentations of Muhammad-'Alí. Three people were sent by Bahá'u'lláh to clear up the affair. These were Siyyid Ahmad-i-Afnán (another son of Afnán-i-Kabír), Hájí Amín and Názir. Later it was necessary for Nabíl to join them as well. This was the autumn of 1889. Their mission was successful insofar as Nabíl was able to prove in the Ottoman court the falsity of the claims of Muhammad-'Alí and the innocence of the Bahá'ís. A document was signed by the leading merchants of the city, testifying that Muhammad-'Alí had lied all the way through and that he owed the Afnáns a considerable sum of money. However, the mission failed to force Muhammad-'Alí to pay his debts to the Bahá'ís.

In the meantime Muhammad-'Alí and his infamous associates intensified their campaign of slander and calumny against the Bahá'ís. Nabíl, who was to return to Persia on the orders of Bahá'u'lláh, was, alas, engulfed again in the mesh of their conspiracy and intrigues. He could not endure this any more. This time he succeeded in putting an end to his own life by

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* He was a brother of the wife of the Báb, see below, pp. 402-6.

poisoning himself. Bahá'u'lláh describes his fate in Epistle to the Son of the Wolf:

In this connection it is necessary to mention the following occurrence, that haply men may take fast hold of the cord of justice and truthfulness. Hájí Shaykh Muhammad 'Alí--upon him be the glory of God, the Ever-Abiding--was a merchant of high repute, well-known unto most of the inhabitants of the Great City (Constantinople). Not long ago, when the Persian Embassy in Constantinople was secretly engaged in stirring up mischief, it was noticed that this believing and sincere soul was greatly distressed. Finally, one night he threw himself into the sea, but was rescued by some passers-by who chanced to come upon him at that moment. His act was widely commented upon and given varied interpretations by different people. Following this, one night he repaired to a mosque, and, as reported by the guardian of that place, kept vigil the whole night, and was occupied until the morning in offering, ardently and with tearful eyes, his prayers and supplications. Upon hearing him suddenly cease his devotions, the guardian went to him, and found that he had already surrendered his soul. An empty bottle was found by his side, indicating that he had poisoned himself. Briefly, the guardian, while greatly astonished, broke the news to the people. It was found out that he had left two testaments. In the first he recognized and confessed the unity of God, that His Exalted Being had neither peer nor equal, and that His Essence was exalted above all praise, all glorification and description. He also testified to the Revelation of the Prophets and the holy ones, and recognized what had been written down in the Books of God, the Lord of all men. On another page, in which he had set down a prayer, he wrote these words in conclusion: 'This servant and the loved ones of God are perplexed. On the one hand the Pen of the Most High hath forbidden all men to engage in sedition, contention or conflict, and on the other that same Pen hath sent down these most sublime words: "Should anyone, in the presence of the Manifestation, discover an evil intention on the part of any soul, he must not oppose him, but must leave him to God." Considering that on the one hand this binding
397

command is clear and firmly established, and that on the other calumnies, beyond human strength to bear or endure, have been uttered, this servant hath chosen to commit this most grievous sin. I turn suppliantly unto the ocean of God's bounty and the heaven of Divine mercy, and hope that He will blot out with the pen of His grace and bounteousness the misdeeds of this servant. Though my transgressions be manifold, and unnumbered my evil-doings, yet do I cleave tenaciously to the cord of His bounty, and cling unto the hem of His generosity. God is witness, and they that are nigh unto His Threshold know full well, that this servant could not bear to hear the tales related by the perfidious. I, therefore, have committed this act. If He chastise me, He verily is to be praised for what He doeth; and if He forgive me, His behest shall be obeyed.'

Ponder, now, O Shaykh, the influence of the word of God, that haply thou mayest turn from the left hand of idle fancy unto the right hand of certitude...We beseech God--blessed and glorified be He--to forgive the aforementioned person (Hájí Shaykh Muhammad 'Alí), and change his evil deeds into good ones. He, verily, is the All-Powerful, the Almighty, the All-Bounteous.6

After the death of Nabíl, Hájí Amín and Názir left Constantinople, but Siyyid Ahmad-i-Afnán remained there, and when it became necessary for him to go to 'Ishqábád, Bahá'u'lláh sent 'Azízu'lláh-i-Jadhdháb,* a dedicated believer and a capable businessman, to relieve the Afnán, take over the management of his affairs in Constantinople and expedite the departure of Siyyid Ahmad-i-Afnán to the Holy Land and then to 'Ishqábád.

The night before Siyyid Ahmad's departure for 'Akká, Muhammad-'Alí came up with another of his lies. He announced that a servant of the Afnán had broken into his premises and stolen a large sum of money. He circulated the allegation far and wide, saying that the stolen money was being taken to 'Akká. Jadhdháb proved to the Persian Consul that the whole episode was a mere fabrication. In this way the perfidy and dishonourable conduct of this unscrupulous man from Isfahán, who was a tool in

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* see vol. 3, pp. 168-73.


6. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 108-10.
the hands of the Azalís, were once again revealed for all to see.

In a Tablet7 revealed in October 1890 (18 Safar 1308) Bahá'u'lláh states that on several occasions the Azalís have stolen some money and accused the believers directly and Himself indirectly of being the perpetrators of the crime. He cites the example of Názir, and then Siyyid Ahmad-i-Afnán, the latter being accused of stealing ninety pounds in cash together with valuable papers and taking them to 'Akká. Bahá'u'lláh in this Tablet asserts that all these calumnies originated from Mírzá Yahyá in Cyprus and were then made effective through the machinations of Shaykh Muhammad-i-Yazdí.

Two of the chief instigators of the mischief were Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ruhi and Áqá Khán-i-Kirmání. Both men were from the province of Kirmán. They collaborated for many years to discredit Bahá'u'lláh. They arrived in Constantinople in about 1888 and soon went on a visit to Cyprus to meet their leader Mírzá Yahyá. This visit resulted in the marriage of the two to his daughters, marriages which soon broke up.

Mírzá Áqá Khán and Shaykh Ahmad were both highly intelligent, erudite and talented writers. They were the elite in the group of Azalís in Constantinople. In many of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh has condemned these two as the embodiments of evil and the source of all sedition. Long before their activities against the Faith were noticed, Bahá'u'lláh had remarked in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas the existence of the foreboders of evil in the land of Kirmán, stated that there existed an undercover situation displeasing to God which was hidden from the eyes of men, and promised that God would raise up men 'endued with mighty valour' in that city who would make mention of Him. No one could guess who the perpetrator of evil was until Shaykh Ahmad embarked upon his notorious activities against the Faith. Later, in several of Bahá'u'lláh's Tablets, it was made clear that the ominous remarks in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas referred to Shaykh Ahmad-i-Rúhí. He was the son of Mullá Ja'far-i-Kirmání, an Azalí and an inveterate enemy of Bahá'u'lláh.

In a Tablet8 revealed in 1880 Bahá'u'lláh, in the words of His

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7. Unpublished compilation, National Archives Committee, no. 15, pp. 404-5.

8. ibid. no. 27, pp. 343-4.


[Kirmán] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶164
amanuensis, describes how in earlier times Shaykh Ahmad used to consider himself a believer while committing vile and contemptible deeds. When his wretched conduct became public knowledge he sent several letters to Bahá'u'lláh through a certain believer, repenting of his actions and expressing deep regret. In these letters he demonstrated such submissiveness and loyalty that a reader might become convinced of his sincerity. In another Tablet9 revealed around the same time, Mírzá Áqá Ján states that Bahá'u'lláh responded to his letters by saying that God would forgive him provided he remained steadfast in the Cause. Yet notwithstanding all this he broke his own promises, joined hands with Mírzá Yahyá, distributed false accusations against the Faith and caused great pain and suffering for Bahá'u'lláh. He thus brought about the fulfilment of the warnings of Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas concerning the 'land of Kirmán'.

As to his accomplice, Mírzá Áqá Khán, he used to befriend the believers in Constantinople, and through them he gained a good deal of information about Bahá'u'lláh and the activities of the Bahá'ís in various parts. He even asked permission to visit Bahá'u'lláh and, when he did, it was obvious that his intentions were dishonourable. In one of His Tablets10 'Abdu'l-Bahá recalls that when Mírzá Áqá Khán went to 'Akká he indicated that his intention in coming was to ask some questions so as to find the truth. Bahá'u'lláh intimated that Áqá Khán's aim was otherwise and that soon he would show his true colours. Áqá Khán did not ask any questions while in 'Akká, but on his return to Constantinople he published an account saying that he was not satisfied with the answers, whereas Mírzá Yahyá had already resolved his questions.

In one of His Tablets11 referring to Mírzá Áqá Khán Bahá'u'lláh states that when a person rejects the proofs of the truth of the Cause which are demonstrated to him, he will receive his punishment. As we shall see, this perfidious man was executed in a most brutal fashion about four years after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh.

One of the weapons in the hand of Áqá Khán was the Persian

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9. Unpublished compilation, National Archives Committee, no. 31, p. 32.

10. Má'idiy-i-Ásamání, vol. 5, pp. 18-19.

11. Asráru'l-Áthár, vol. 1, p. 21.


[Kirmán] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶164
newspaper Akhtar published in Constantinople. At some point he gained control of the newspaper and for several years published false and injurious statements about the Faith, its Author and the believers, such as the accusation against Afnán-i-Kabír described above (p. 396). This is the same newspaper mentioned by Bahá'u'lláh in Epistle to the Son of the Wolf (see above, p. 393). He refers again to this newspaper when he states:

...Briefly, they have incited a great many such as Akhtar and others, and are busying themselves in spreading calumnies. It is clear and evident that they will surround with their swords of hatred and their shafts of enmity the one whom they knew to be an outcast among men and to have been banished from one country to another. This is not the first time that such iniquity hath been perpetrated, nor the first goblet that hath been dshed to the ground, nor the first veil that hath been rent in twain in the path of God, the Lord of the worlds. This Wronged One, however, remained calm and silent in the Most Great Prison, busying Himself with His own affairs, and completely detached from all else but God. Iniquity waxed so grievous that the pens of the world are powerless to record it.12
Shaykh Ahmad and Mírzá Áqá Khán found another outlet in Constantinople to further their sinister designs. This was the Pan-Islámic movement led by Jamálu'd-Dín-i-Afghání, a deceitful person who was intent upon dethroning Násiri'd-Dín Sháh of Persia. Inwardly he was against the Bábís, but he was playing politics, and so the three men had no difficulty in pooling their talents and resources to make mischief everywhere. This union suited the two Azalís very well, because they too were pursuing the policy of overthrowing the government of Persia, which was the policy of Mírzá Yahyá and his supporters. The intrigues and conspiracies created by these three knew no bounds. Jamálu'd Dín wrote an account against the Faith in an Arabic encyclopaedia published in Beirut about which Bahá'u'lláh states in the Lawh-i-Dunyá that 'the well-informed and the learned were astonished'. Jamálu'd-Dín then went to Paris and published a newspaper by the name 'Urvatu'l-Vuthqá (The Sure Handle).

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12. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 108.
Being a two-faced man, he used to send a copy to the Master on a weekly basis as a friendly gesture, and offered to publish any statement that the Master might wish to make, an offer which was totally ignored.

In 1896 one of Jamálu'd-Dín's supporters in Persia succeeded in assassinating Násiri'd-Dín Sháh. From then on events moved very fast. Three men, including Shaykh Ahmad and Mírzá Áqá Khán, were sent back to Persia by order of the Sultán of Turkey, and were mercilessly beheaded in Tabríz by order of the Crown Prince, Muhammad-'Alí Mírzá, for committing acts of treason against their country. Thus the machinations of the Azalís in Constantinople received their death blow. Jamálu'd-Dín escaped the net and died a year later.

Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Hasan (Afnán-i-Kabír)

The sufferings and pain that this lengthy episode, stretching over almost a decade, inflicted upon Bahá'u'lláh is evident from the contents of many of His Tablets. For instance, the accusations against Afnán-i-Kabír described above are mentioned by Bahá'u'lláh in the following passages from Epistle to the Son of the Wolf:

...In the Great City (Constantinople) they have roused a considerable number of people to oppose this Wronged One. Things have come to such a pass that the officials in that city have acted in a manner which hath brought shame to both the government and the people. A distinguished siyyid, whose well-known integrity, acceptable conduct, and commercial reputation, were recognized by the majority of fair-minded men, and who was regarded by all as a highly honored merchant, once visited Beirut. In view of his friendship for this Wronged One they telegraphed the Persian Dragoman informing him that this siyyid, assisted by his servant, had stolen a sum of money and other things and gone to 'Akká. Their design in this matter was to dishonor this Wronged One...This Wronged One, however, beseemeth the one true God to graciously assist every one in that which beseemeth these days.13

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13. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 106.

SHAYKH MUHAMMAD-'ALÍ, KNOWN As NABÍL SON OF NABÍL

SHAYKH MUHAMMAD-'ALÍ, KNOWN AS NABÍL SON OF NABÍL

A devoted believer from Qazvín, he became a victim
of the attacks by the Azalís in Constantinople

HÁJÍ MÍRZÁ SIYYID HASAN, AFNÁN-I-KABÍR

HÁJÍ MÍRZÁ SIYYID HASAN, AFNÁN-I-KABÍR

'The Great Afnán', a brother of the wife of the Báb

And in another instance He states:

Moreover, many are now engaged in spreading lies and calumnies, and have no other intention than to instill distrust into the hearts and souls of men. As soon as some one leaveth the Great City (Constantinople) to visit this land, they at once telegraph and proclaim that he hath stolen money and fled to 'Akká. A highly accomplished, learned and distinguished man visited, in his declining years, the Holy Land, seeking peace and retirement, and about him they have written such things as have caused them who are devoted to God and are nigh unto Him to sigh.14
The 'distinguished Siyyid' and 'highly accomplished, learned and distinguished man' mentioned in these passages are both references to Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Hasan known as the Afnán-i-Kabír, a brother of the wife of the Báb. He was also a paternal cousin of the mother of the Báb. He was very much attracted to the person of the Báb, and became a believer in Yazd through the teaching efforts of Hájí Muhammad-Ibráhím, entitled by Bahá'u'lláh 'Muballigh' (Bahá'í teacher). It was to this teacher of the Cause that Bahá'u'lláh revealed the Tablet quoted in the Tablet of Ishráqát (Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 117-19) and in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 131-4.

Afnán-i-Kabír was a pillar of strength to his sister Khadíjih Bagum, the wife of the Báb, during her days of loneliness and bereavement. Later in life he rejoiced when one of his sons Siyyid 'Alí was given the honour of marrying Fúrúghíyyih, a daughter of Bahá'u'lláh. But he did not live to see the downfall of these two who became Covenant-breakers and perished spiritually.* The Afnán had a great love for Bahá'u'lláh and in the latter part of his life he was permitted to go to the Holy Land and spend the rest of his days there. He lived very close to the Mansion of Bahjí, and passed away about a year after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh. 'Abdu'l-Bahá has paid tribute to him in Memorials of the Faithful. This is part of the short biography by the Master:

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* see vol. 2, pp. 386-7.


14. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 67-8.
Among the most eminent of those who left their homeland to join Bahá'u'lláh was Mírzá Hasan, the great Afnán, who during the latter days won the honor of emigrating and of receiving the favor and companionship of his Lord. The Afnán, related to the Báb, was specifically named by the Supreme Pen as an offshoot of the Holy Tree. When still a small child, he received his portion of bounty from the Báb, and showed forth an extraordinary attachment to that dazzling Beauty. Not yet adolescent, he frequented the society of the learned, and began to study sciences and arts. He reflected day and night on the most abstruse of spiritual questions, and gazed in wonderment at the mighty signs of God as written in the Book of Life. He became thoroughly versed even in such material sciences as mathematics, geometry, and geography; in brief, he was well grounded in many fields, thoroughly conversant with the thought of ancient and modern times.

A merchant by profession, he spent only a short period of the day and evening at his business, devoting most of his time to discussion and research. He was truly erudite, a great credit to the Cause of God amongst leading men of learning. With a few concise phrases, he could solve perplexing questions. His speech was laconic, but in itself a kind of miracle.15

The Supreme Manifestation of God

One of the major themes of the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf is the unveiling of Bahá'u'lláh's station as the Supreme Manifestation of God. In the early days when He was cast into the darksome dungeon of Tihrán which witnessed the birth of His Revelation, Bahá'u'lláh alluded in His Rashh-i-'Amá, a celebrated ode,* to the advent of the Day of God. From that time on He announced these glad-tidings in innumerable Tablets, and as the sun of His Revelation mounted to its zenith, He unceasingly proclaimed this theme to mankind and identified Himself as the Revealer of the Most Great Spirit of God whose advent had been promised by the Prophets of the past.

It is because of the immensity of this claim that the enemies of

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* For further information see vol. 1, pp. 45-6.


15. Memorials of the Faithful, pp. 21-2.
the Faith had misrepresented His statements and accused Him of claiming to be the Essence of Divinity itself. Bahá'u'lláh refutes this in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. Addressing the Shaykh He states:

Either thou or someone else hath said: 'Let the Súrih of Tawhíd be translated, so that all may know and be fully persuaded that the one true God begetteth not, nor is He begotten. Moreover, the Bábís believe in his (Bahá'u'lláh's) Divinity and Godhood.' 16
The Súrih of Tawhíd is one of the shortest chapters of the Qur'án and proclaims the unity of God:

Say, God is one God; the eternal God: He begetteth not, neither is He begotten and there is not anyone like unto Him.17
Bahá'u'lláh explains the meaning of divinity in great detail, demonstrates that the appearance of the Lord has been prophesied by the Prophets of old, quotes from the sayings of the Prophet of Islám and the Holy Imáms passages in support of His argument,* and poses questions such as this for the Shaykh to resolve:

What explanation can they give concerning that which the Seal of the Prophets (Muhammad)...hath said: Ye verily, shall behold your Lord as ye behold the full moon on its fourteenth night'?18
Bahá'u'lláh further states:

Men have failed to perceive Our purpose in the references We have made to Divinity and Godhood. Were they to apprehend it, they would arise from their places, and cry out: 'We, verily, ask pardon of God!' The Seal of the Prophets--may the souls of all else but Him be offered up for His sake--saith: 'Manifold are Our relationships with God. At one time, We are He Himself, and He is We Ourself. At another He is that He is, and We are that We are." 19
407

* see Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 41-4.


16. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 41.

17. Qur'án, 112.

18. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 41-2.

19. ibid. p. 43.

Bahá'u'lláh in this Epistle unveils the glory of His station to the Shaykh and through him to all mankind. He imparts the glad-tidings that the Day promised by the Prophets of old, when mankind shall behold the face of God and attain His presence, is now come. We cite below a few out of several prophecies which Bahá'u'lláh quotes in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf.*

From the Qur'án: 'To him who hopeth to attain the presence of God, the set time of God will surely come. And He is the Hearer, the Knower.' 20

From Isaiah: 'Get thee up into the high mountain, O Zion, that bringest good tidings; lift up Thy Voice with strength, O Jerusalem, that bringeth good tidings. Lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah: "Behold your God! Behold the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him".' 21

From Amos: 'Prepare to meet Thy God, O Israel, for, lo, He that formeth the mountains and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness,† and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, the Lord, the God of Hosts, is His Name.' 22

From the Writings of the Báb:‡ 'In the year nine {AH 1269, AD 1852-3} ye will attain unto the Presence of God.' 'He, verily, is the One Who, under all conditions, proclaimeth, "I, in very truth, am God!"' 23

In many of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh has explained the meaning of the presence of God in this day, and while claiming to represent Him on this earth, He unequivocally dissociates Himself from the Divine Being. We observe that on the one hand, Bahá'u'lláh proclaims, "I verily am God', and on the other, He declares to the Shaykh, 'This Servant, this Wronged One, is

408

* For these prophecies see Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 115-19, 140-47, 151-60.

† To 'make the morning darkness' is an allusion of Mírzá Yahyá, who was entitled Subh-i-Azal (Morn of Eternity). (A.T.)

‡ For more information about the utterances of the Báb concerning the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, see vol. 1, ch. 18, and above, pp. 127-8.


20. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 116.

21. ibid. pp. 144-5.

22. ibid. pp. 145-6.

23. ibid. pp. 141, 142.

abashed to claim for Himself any existence whatever, how much more those exalted grades of being!' This apparent contradiction and the true station of Bahá'u'lláh have both been explained in this* and previous volumes in great detail.

Once again in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf Bahá'u'lláh explains this important subject:

In all the Divine Books the promise of the Divine Presence hath been explicitly recorded. By this Presence is meant the Presence of Him Who is the Day-spring of the signs, and the Dawning-Place of the clear tokens, and the Manifestation of the Excellent Names, and the Source of the attributes, of the true God, exalted be His glory. God in His Essence and in His own Self hath ever been unseen, inaccessible, and unknowable. By Presence, therefore, is meant the Presence of the One Who is His Viceregent amongst men. He, moreover, hath never had, nor hath He, any peer or likeness. For were He to have any peer or likeness, how could it then be demonstrated that His being is exalted above, and His essence sanctified from, all comparison and likeness?24
Bahá'u'lláh's Summons to the Shaykh

Throughout the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf Bahá'u'lláh admonishes the Shaykh to heed His message and examine His Cause. In a language at once moving and compassionate, He urges one of the greatest enemies of His Faith, this bloodthirsty mujtahid, to mend his ways and turn to his God. The following passages gleaned from this mighty Epistle testify to God's loving-kindness and mercy, which are shown even to His bitterest enemy:

O Shaykh! We have learned that thou hast turned away from Us, and protested against Us, in such wise that thou hast bidden the people to curse Me, and decreed that the blood of the servants of God be shed...25
409

* see above, pp. 125-39.


24. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 118-19.

25. ibid. p. 17.

O Shaykh! Verily, I say, the seal of the Choice Wine* hath, in the name of Him Who is the Self-Subsisting, been broken; withhold not thyself therefrom.26

O Shaykh! I swear by the Sun of Truth Which hath risen and shineth above the horizon of this Prison! The betterment of the world hath been the sole aim of this Wronged One.27

O Shaykh! No breeze can compare with the breezes of Divine Revelation, whilst the Word which is uttered by God shineth and flasheth as the sun amidst the books of men.28

O Shaykh! Every time God the True One--exalted be His glory--revealed Himself in the person of His Manifestation, He came unto men with the standard of 'He doeth what He willeth, and ordaineth what He pleaseth.' None hath the right to ask why or wherefore, and he that doth so, hath indeed turned aside from God, the Lord of Lords.29

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.30

O Shaykh! We had seized the reins of authority by the power of God and His Divine might, as He alone can seize, Who is the Mighty, the Strong. None had the power to stir up mischief or sedition. Now, however, as they have failed to appreciate this loving-kindness and these bounties, they have been, and will be, afflicted with the retribution which their acts must entail.31

In other passages Bahá'u'lláh summons the Shaykh to embrace His Cause and arise to promote it among the peoples of the world. No one except the Supreme Manifestation of God can address a wicked enemy in these words:

O Shaykh! This Wronged One beseecheth God--blessed and glorified by He--to make thee the one who will open the door of justice, and reveal through thee His Cause among His servants. He, verily, is the All-Powerful, the Almighty, the
410

* see Appendix III


26. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 18.

27. ibid. p. 36.

28. ibid. p. 42.

29. ibid. p. 67.

30. ibid. p. 76.

31. ibid. pp. 105-6.

All-Bounteous.32
And again He says:

O Shaykh! Seek thou the shore of the Most Great Ocean, and enter, then, the Crimson Ark* which God hath ordained in the Qayyúm-i-Asmá † for the people of Bahá. Verily, it passeth over land and sea. He that entereth therein is saved, and he that turneth aside perisheth. Shouldst thou enter therein and attain unto it, set thy face towards the Kaaba of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting, and say: 'O my God! I beseech Thee by Thy most glorious light, and all Thy lights are verily glorious.'‡ Thereupon, will the doors of the Kingdom be flung wide before thy face, and thou wilt behold what eyes have never beheld, and hear what ears have never heard.33
In several passages Bahá'u'lláh invites the Shaykh to attain His presence and witness for himself the revelation of the verses of God which are sent down upon Him. In one of these passages He thus addresses the Shaykh:

O Shaykh! Ponder upon the things which have been mentioned, perchance thou mayest quaff the Sealed Wine through the power of the name of Him Who is the Self-Subsisting, and obtain that which no one is capable of comprehending. Gird up the loins of endeavor, and direct thyself towards the Most Sublime Kingdom, that haply thou mayest perceive, as they descend upon Me, the breaths of Revelation and inspiration, and attain thereunto. Verily, I say: The Cause of God hath never had, nor hath it now, any peer or equal. Rend asunder the veils of idle fancies. He, in truth, will reinforce thee, and assist thee, as a token of His grace. He, verily, is the Strong, the All-Subduing, the Almighty. While there is yet time, and the blessed Lote-Tree is still calling aloud amongst men, suffer not thyself to be deprived. Place
411

* see Appendix III.

† see Appendix III.

‡ This short prayer is part of a special prayer in Islám, in which the Greatest Name (Bahá) is featured. For more details see vol. 1 , p. 117.


32. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 96.

33. ibid. pp. 139-40.

thy trust in God, and commit thine affairs unto Him, and enter then the Most Great Prison, that thou mayest hear what no ear hath ever heard, and gaze on that which no eye hath ever seen. After such an exposition, can there remain any room for doubt? Nay, by God, Who standeth over His Cause! 34
Although the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf was addressed to Shaykh Muhammad-Taqí, many of Bahá'u'lláh's utterances in it are directed towards humanity in general, and some to particular individuals. In addition to the references to historical events and the presentation and expounding of His teachings, considerable space is given to the unfaithfulness of Mírzá Yahyá and his followers, who are referred to as the 'People of the Bayán'; the machinations of Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahání; the activities of Mírzá Hádíy-i-Dawlat-Ábádí and several others. An attempt to elaborate on all these subjects would fill a large volume in itself, and in fact they have already been considered in this and the preceding volumes of this series. To assist the reader in the study of this last major work of Bahá'u'lláh, some notes are given as Appendix III of this volume.

412


34. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 113-14.