Abdu’l-Baha on Baha’i Persecutions in 1903 (part 2)

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BSRAbdu’l-Baha’s Treatise

A synopsis of the sorrowful events of the [Baha’i] martyrs in Yazd and Isfahan

He is God!

In this enlightened age, which is the century of the Almighty God, by the effulgence of the Sun of Reality, the lights of civilization are diffused over all horizons, and human attainments and divine virtues, just as dawn swells in the morning, are so spread in the East and the West that ferocity and bloodshed among mankind are abandoned; nay, rather, in civilized countries they are entirely forgotten. Religious contentions are completely eradicated and the prejudices of the dark ages are abolished. Among diverse groups and tribes no conflicts, discords or hostilities have remained save national conflicts and political ambitions. All peoples and nations, reposing in the cradle of security and safety, are well protected against the cruelty of tyrants.

In Iran, when the Divine Call was raised, the radiant morn appeared and the Sun of Truth arose, many people were delivered from the lowest depths of ignorance, attained the highest human perfections, became the centre of heavenly virtues, spirit incarnate and righteousness embodied – appearing in the world of humanity with spiritual qualities and holy attributes.

However, the adherents of the old religions still held fast to their former teachings and traditions, and day by day became more ignorant until they degenerated into ferocious wolves and rabid dogs, even outdoing the ravenous man-eating beasts. Thus, they began to oppose those holy souls, each day instigating persecution, every hour causing new oppressions, each moment kindling the fires of destruction, burning the sanctified ones in the flames of hatred and malice, setting their heads upon spears, torturing their children, plundering houses and property, looting wealth and possessions, and banishing women and children from their native land. The honourable were debased, the revered were despised, and the virtuous were taken captive.

Among such outrages are numbered the recent events of Yazd and Isfahan, which caused the hearts to burn and quake, and the people of equity to shed tears of blood and beat their breasts. Although the Baha’is are brave and courageous, and in the field of combat each able to battle a large number of opponents, and when war ensues they manifest such valour as would quickly break the ranks of their foes,[3] and it has been proven that in bravery they have no equal or like, yet, by the divine and firm decree of God, they are commanded to maintain universal peace and entrusted with absolute meekness. When tyrants extend to them the hand of cruelty, attacking them like blood-thirsty wolves, the Divine friends must submit like lambs before them, without offering the least resistance, accepting the wounds of daggers and swords as babes accept the honey and milk [from their mother’s breasts], kissing the hand of the killer while receiving a stab to the heart; and, while yielding their lives in the path of God, begging His forgiveness for the oppressors and asking for remission of their sins.

This approach and behaviour, however, has caused those ferocious animals and malicious snakes and scorpions to increase their repression day by day, staining their hands with the blood of their victims, taking the path of tyranny and never showing any mercy. In such wise these recent events of cruelty and violence have added to the manifold events of the past, and indeed eclipsed those afflictions and sufferings of former times.

In summary, this is what occurred. In these days, the ‘ulama of the Shi’ite sect, that is, the old religion of Iran, saw that the Divine Call was raised and that the peoples of the East and of the West were moved. The effulgence of the Sun of Reality beamed forth so radiantly that all eyes were brightened, the standard of God’s Cause was hoisted, and the people flocked in multitudes under the tent of God’s Words. Shi’ites were converted to the Baha’i Faith, and even the Jews were overtaken with such enthusiasm and fervour that, ere long, none may be found in Iran who has not accepted this divine guidance. So with the Zoroastrians – Iran’s ancient religion – who had rejected all the prophets from Abraham to Moses as well as Christ and the Messenger of God [Muhammad], but now a majority of whom have come to accept, believe and confess to all Holy Scriptures and books of the prophets of God, and they are also recognized as Baha’is in all sincerity and faithfulness.

The witnessing of all these things caused the wicked ‘ulama to be so filled with hatred and jealousy that patience became exhausted, and at every moment they kindled a new fire of animosity, instigating and compelling by all possible means the ignorant rabble and vicious idlers to shed the blood of these wronged ones. One of the wicked ‘ulama (Aqa Najafi[4]), living at present in Isfahan, whose father[5] stained his hands with the blood of Sultan ush-Shuhada and Mahbub ush-Shuhada[6] and was denounced by Baha’u’llah as the ‘Wolf’, was himself denounced as the ‘Son of the Wolf’. Everyone wondered concerning the significance of these titles and what harm would come from them, until recently the wisdom of these names was revealed, as the following will testify.

The beginning of this turmoil, caused by the wicked ‘ulama and their ignorant followers in Iran, took place in the city of Rasht in the month of March (1903), corresponding to the month of Muharram (1321 [AH]).[7] At first the ignorant ‘ulama enticed the common people, vagabonds and idlers to loot and rob the friends [Baha’is], and incited them to persecution and oppression, and these, filled with greed, assaulted like wolves and attacked the lambs of God.

One of their deeds was the disinterment of the body of a believer who had recently died, after which they cut it to pieces before setting it alight. During his life this man had shown great sincerity and kindness to all the people, who, including the enemies and even the ignorant ‘ulama, testified to his moral character, rectitude, trustworthiness and great love. They said, ‘This is a just, honourable and faithful man, but he is a Baha’i.’ His only sin was that ‘he was a Baha’i!’ That is, from earthly he became heavenly, from material he became spiritual, from worldly he became holy.

Praise unto God! How astonishing! They peruse the Qur’an, perceiving the counsels and exhortations of God, still they are fierce and bloodthirsty, and consider oppression to be one of the requirements of the sacred Shari’at [Islamic Law], thus defaming and denigrating Islam in the sight of all nations. The just King of Iran endeavoured to restrain these thugs and vagabonds from their oppression, but found himself unable to do so. They plundered and pillaged the property of the Baha’is, and bitterly tortured the friends [of God]. This caused the ‘ulama to incite the rabble to commit the same acts in other cities of Iran.

 

[3] Reference to the conflicts faced by the Babi community of Iran during the upheavals of 1848-53.

[4] A reference to Aqa Muhammad Taqi Najafi

[5] A reference to Shaykh Muhammad Baqir, for whom the Lawh Burhan was revealed, a portion of which is cited at the conclusion of this Tablet.

[6] The martyrdom of these two brothers, the King of Martyrs and the Beloved of Martyrs, took place on 17 March 1879. For details see: ‘Abdu’l-Hamid Ishraq Khavari, Nurayn Nayyirayn (Tehran: Mu’assisih Milli Matbu’at Amri, 123BE/1966); ‘Izzatu’llah Nur, Khatirat Muhajiri az Isfahan dar Zaman shahadat Sultan ash-Shuhada va Mahbub ash-Shuhada (Tehran: Mu’assisih Milli Matbu’at Amri, 128 BE/1972); Mazandarani, Tarikh Zuhur al-Haqq, vol. 5 (mss.), 242-8; and in English, Hasan M. Balyuzi, Eminent Baha’is at the Time of Baha’u’llah: With Some Historical Background (Oxford: George Ronald, 1972) 33-51.

[7] 1 Muharram 1321 AH corresponded to 30 March 1903.

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3 Responses

  1. FE

    July 29, 2009 4:04 am

    100 years has passed and this treatise is as fresh as has been written now to describe the behavior of the wicked and ignorants doing harm to the lovers of God.

    Reply
  2. farzin barazandeh

    July 29, 2009 11:29 am

    Thank you for all the good work. Would you it be possible to share where the original tablet could be found? Thanks.

    Reply
  3. Jean

    July 30, 2009 3:53 pm

    When will Mankind wake up and recognize Baha’u’llah as God’s Holy Messenger for this Day of God? His Holy Laws and Teachings, when put to practice, will turn this Planet into Paradise. The above Tablet of His Son, Abdu’l-Baha, shows that submission to those Laws by Believers in God, may cause them physical suffering today, but the future of this Heavenly Faith is Glorious. The early Christians suffered horrible torture and death by the religious leaders in their day, but Christ’s Message of Love eventually went around the World.

    Reply

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