The scene of woeful tribulations was now shifted to the south, to the province of Fars, not far from the city where the dawning light of the Faith had broken.
Nayriz and its environs were made to sustain the impact of this fresh ordeal in all its fury. The Fort of Khajih, in the vicinity of the Chinar-Sukhtih quarter of that hotly agitated village became the storm-center of the new conflagration. The hero who towered above his fellows, valiantly struggled, and fell a victim to its devouring flames was that "unique and peerless figure of his age," the far-famed Siyyid Yahyay-i-Darabi, better known as Vahid.
Foremost among his perfidious adversaries, who kindled and fed the fire of this conflagration was the base and fanatical governor of Nayriz, Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan, seconded by Abdu'llah Khan, the Shuja'u'l-Mulk, and reinforced by Prince Firuz Mirza, the governor of Shiraz.
Of a much briefer duration than the Mazindaran upheaval, which lasted no less than eleven months, the atrocities that marked its closing stage were no less devastating in their consequences. Once again a handful of men, innocent, law-abiding, peace-loving, yet high-spirited and indomitable, consisting partly, in this case, of untrained lads and men of advanced age, were surprised, challenged, encompassed and assaulted by the superior force of a cruel and crafty enemy, an innumerable host of able-bodied men who, though well-trained, adequately equipped and continually reinforced, were impotent to coerce into submission, or subdue, the spirit of their adversaries.
It was instigated by a no less sustained and violent outburst of uncompromising ecclesiastical hostility. It was accompanied by corresponding manifestations of blind religious fanaticism. It was provoked by similar acts of naked aggression on the part of both clergy and people. It demonstrated afresh the same purpose, was animated throughout by the same spirit, and rose to almost the same height of superhuman heroism, of fortitude, courage, and renunciation.
It revealed a no less shrewdly calculated coordination of plans and efforts between the civil and ecclesiastical authorities designed to challenge and overthrow a common enemy. It provided a no less convincing testimony to the restraint and forbearance of the victims, in the face of the ruthless and unprovoked aggression of the oppressor.
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It exposed, as it moved toward its climax, and in hardly less striking a manner, the cowardice, the want of discipline and the degradation of a spiritually bankrupt foe. It was marked, as it approached its conclusion, by a treachery as vile and shameful. It ended in a massacre even more revolting in the horrors it evoked and the miseries it engendered. It sealed the fate of Vahid who, by his green turban, the emblem of his proud lineage, was bound to a horse and dragged ignominiously through the streets, after which his head was cut off, was stuffed with straw, and sent as a trophy to the feasting Prince in Shiraz, while his body was abandoned to the mercy of the infuriated women of Nayriz, who, intoxicated with barbarous joy by the shouts of exultation raised by a triumphant enemy, danced, to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals, around it.
This turmoil, so ravaging, so distressing, had hardly subsided when another conflagration, even more devastating than the two previous upheavals, was kindled in Zanjan and its immediate surroundings. Unprecedented in both its duration and in the number of those who were swept away by its fury, this violent tempest that broke out in the west of Persia, and in which Mulla Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Zanjani, surnamed Hujjat, one of the ablest and most formidable champions of the Faith, together with no less than eighteen hundred of his fellow-disciples, drained the cup of martyrdom, defined more sharply than ever the unbridgeable gulf that separated the torchbearers of the newborn Faith from the civil and ecclesiastical exponents of a gravely shaken Order.
The chief figures mainly responsible for, and immediately concerned with, this ghastly tragedy were the envious and hypocritical Amir Arslan Khan, the Majdu'd-Dawlih, a maternal uncle of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, and his associates, the Sadru'd-Dawliy-i-Isfahani and Muhammad Khan, the Amir-Tuman, who were assisted, on the one hand, by substantial military reinforcements dispatched by order of the Amir-Nizam, and aided, on the other, by the enthusiastic moral support of the entire ecclesiastical body in Zanjan.
A brief reference to certain outstanding features of this mournful episode, endowing the Faith, in its infancy, with measureless potentialities, will suffice to reveal its distinctive character. The pathetic scenes following upon the division of the inhabitants of Zanjan into two distinct camps, by the order of its governor -- a decision dramatically proclaimed by a crier, and which dissolved ties of worldly interest and affection in favor of a mightier loyalty; the reiterated exhortations addressed by Hujjat to the besieged to refrain from aggression and acts of violence; his affirmation, as he recalled the tragedy of Mazindaran, that their victory consisted solely in sacrificing their all on the altar of the Cause of the Sahibu'z-Zaman, and his declaration of the unalterable intention of his companions to serve their sovereign loyally and to be the well-wishers of his people; the astounding intrepidity with which these same companions repelled.
We recall, likewise, the contrast between the disorder, the cursing, the ribald laughter, the debauchery and shame that characterized the camp of the enemy, and the atmosphere of reverent devotion that filled the Fort, from which anthems of praise and hymns of joy were continually ascending. Nor can we fail to note the appeal addressed by Hujjat and his chief supporters to the Shah, repudiating the malicious assertions of their foes, assuring him of their loyalty to him and his government, and of their readiness to establish in his presence the soundness of their Cause; the interception of these messages by the governor and the substitution by him of forged letters loaded with abuse which he dispatched in their stead to Tihran; the enthusiastic support extended by the female occupants of the Fort, the shouts of exultation which they raised, the eagerness with which some of them, disguised in the garb of men, rushed to reinforce its defences and to supplant their fallen brethren, while others ministered to the sick, and carried on their shoulders skins of water for the wounded, and still others, like the Carthaginian women of old, cut off their long hair and bound the thick coils around the guns to reinforce them; the foul treachery.
It originated in the orders and was perpetrated under the very eyes of the irate and murderous Amir-Nizam, supported by Mahmud Khan-i-Kalantar, and aided by a certain Husayn, one of the ulamas of Kashan. The heroes of that tragedy were the Seven Martyrs of Tihran, who represented the more important classes among their countrymen, and who deliberately refused to purchase life by that mere lip-denial which, under the name of taqiyyih, Shi'ah Islam had for centuries recognized as a wholly justifiable and indeed commendable subterfuge in the hour of peril.
For no less than six months the Prisoner of Chihriq, His chronicler has recorded, was unable to either write or dictate. Crushed with grief by the evil tidings that came so fast upon Him, of the endless trials that beset His ablest lieutenants, by the agonies suffered by the besieged and the shameless betrayal of the survivors, by the woeful afflictions endured by the captives and the abominable butchery of men, women and children, as well as the foul indignities heaped on their corpses, He, for nine days, His amanuensis has affirmed, refused to meet any of His friends, and was reluctant to touch the meat and drink that was offered Him.
Tears rained continually from His eyes, and profuse expressions of anguish poured forth from His wounded heart, as He languished, for no less than five months, solitary and disconsolate, in His prison. The pillars of His infant Faith had, for the most part, been hurled down at the first onset of the hurricane that had been loosed upon it. Hujjat, another champion of conspicuous audacity, of unsubduable will, of remarkable originality and vehement zeal, was being, swiftly and inevitably, drawn into the fiery furnace whose flames had already enveloped Zanjan and its environs.
No less than half of His chosen disciples, the Letters of the Living, had already preceded Him in the field of martyrdom. Tahirih, though still alive, was courageously pursuing a course that was to lead her inevitably to her doom.
A fast ebbing life, so crowded with the accumulated anxieties, disappointments, treacheries and sorrows of a tragic ministry, now moved swiftly towards its climax. The most turbulent period of the Heroic Age of the new Dispensation was rapidly attaining its culmination. The cup of bitter woes which the Herald of that Dispensation had tasted was now full to overflowing.
Indeed, He Himself had. In His interpretation of the letter Ha, He had voiced His craving for martyrdom, while in the Qayyumu'l-Asma' He had actually prophesied the inevitability of such a consummation of His glorious career. While the convulsions of Mazindaran and Nayriz were pursuing their bloody course the Grand Vizir of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, anxiously pondering the significance of these dire happenings, and apprehensive of their repercussions on his countrymen, his government and his sovereign, was feverishly revolving in his mind that fateful decision which was not only destined to leave its indelible imprint on the fortunes of his country, but was to be fraught with such incalculable consequences for the destinies of the whole of mankind.
Gravely perturbed, he bitterly condemned the disastrous leniency of his predecessor, Haji Mirza Aqasi, which had brought matters to such a pass. A more drastic and still more exemplary punishment, he felt, must now be administered to what he regarded as an abomination of heresy which was polluting the civil and ecclesiastical institutions of the realm.
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Nothing short, he believed, of the extinction of the life of Him Who was the fountain-head of so odious a doctrine and the driving force behind so dynamic a movement could stem the tide that had wrought such havoc throughout the land. Fearing lest the infliction of such condign punishment in the capital of the realm would set in motion. Confronted with a flat refusal by the indignant Prince to perform what he regarded as a flagitious crime, the Amir-Nizam commissioned his own brother, Mirza Hasan Khan, to execute his orders.
The usual formalities designed to secure the necessary authorization from the leading mujtahids of Tabriz were hastily and easily completed. Though all the world be armed against Me, yet shall it be powerless to deter Me from fulfilling, to the last word, My intention. Sam Khan accordingly set out to discharge his duty. A spike was driven into a pillar which separated two rooms of the barracks facing the square.
The firing squad ranged itself in three files, each of two hundred and fifty men. Each file in turn opened fire until the whole detachment had discharged its bullets. So dense was the smoke from the seven hundred and fifty rifles that the sky was darkened. As soon as the smoke had.
Only his companion remained, alive and unscathed, standing beside the wall on which they had been suspended. The ropes by which they had been hung alone were severed. A frenzied search immediately ensued. He was found, unhurt and unruffled, in the very room He had occupied the night before, engaged in completing His interrupted conversation with His amanuensis. Aqa Jan-i-Khamsih, colonel of the body-guard, volunteered to replace him. This time, however, their breasts were riddled with bullets, and their bodies completely dissected, with the exception of their faces which were but little marred.
The day will come when you will have recognized Me; that day I shall have ceased to be with you. Nor was this all.
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The very moment the shots were fired a gale of exceptional violence arose and swept over the city. From noon till night a whirlwind of dust obscured the light of the sun, and blinded the eyes of the people. In Shiraz an "earthquake," foreshadowed in no less weighty a Book than the Revelation of St.
John, occurred in A. To insure that none of them had survived, they were riddled with a second volley, after which their bodies, pierced with spears and lances, were exposed to the gaze of the people of Tabriz. Four companies, each consisting of ten sentinels, were ordered to keep watch in turn over them. On the following morning the Russian Consul in Tabriz visited the spot, and ordered the artist who had accompanied him to make a drawing of the remains as they lay beside the moat.
Meanwhile the mullas were boastfully proclaiming from the pulpits that, whereas the holy body of the Immaculate Imam would be preserved from beasts of prey and from all creeping things, this man's body had been devoured by wild animals. Thus ended a life which posterity will recognize as standing at the confluence of two universal prophetic cycles, the Adamic Cycle stretching back as far as the first dawnings of the world's recorded. Indeed it can be rightly acclaimed as unparalleled in the annals of the lives of all the Founders of the world's existing religious systems.
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So momentous an event could hardly fail to arouse widespread and keen interest even beyond the confines of the land in which it had occurred. Il s'est sacrifie pour l'humanite: pour elle il a donne son corps et son ame, pour elle il a subi les privations, les affronts, les injures, la torture et le martyre. Il a scelle de son sang le pacte de la fraternite universelle, et comme Jesus il a paye de sa vie l'annonce du regne de la concorde, de l'equite et de l'amour du prochain.
In countries as. We wrote poems about Him.
Sarah Bernhardt entreated Catulle Mendes for a play on the theme of this historic tragedy. It would indeed be no exaggeration to say that nowhere in the whole compass of the world's religious literature, except in the Gospels, do we find any record relating to the death of any of the religion-founders of the past comparable to the martyrdom suffered by the Prophet of Shiraz. He, as affirmed by Himself, "the Primal Point from which have been generated all created things," "one of the sustaining pillars of the Primal Word of God," the "Mystic Fane," the "Great Announcement," the "Flame of that supernal Light that glowed upon Sinai," the "Remembrance of God" concerning Whom "a separate Covenant hath been established with each and every Prophet" had, through His advent, at once fulfilled the promise of all ages and ushered in the consummation of all Revelations.
He the "Qa'im" He Who ariseth promised to the Shi'ahs,. The "Second Woe," spoken of in the Apocalypse of St. John the Divine, had, at long last, appeared, and the first of the two "Messengers," Whose appearance had been prophesied in the Quran, had been sent down.
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The first "Trumpet-Blast", destined to smite the earth with extermination, announced in the latter Book, had finally been sounded. The "clear tokens" had been "sent down," and the "Spirit" had "breathed," and the "souls" had "waked up," and the "heaven" had been "cleft," and the "angels" had "ranged in order," and the "stars" had been "blotted out," and the "earth" had "cast forth her burden," and "Paradise" had been "brought near," and "hell" had been "made to blaze," and the "Book" had been "set," and the "Bridge" had been "laid out," and the "Balance" had been "set up," and the "mountains scattered in dust.
The "day whose length shall be a thousand years," foretold by the Apostle of God in His Book, had terminated. The "forty and two months," during which the "Holy City," as predicted by St. John the Divine, would be trodden under foot, had elapsed. The "time of the end" had been ushered in, and the first of the "two Witnesses" into Whom, "after three days and a half the Spirit of Life from God" would enter, had arisen and had "ascended up to heaven in a cloud. The "Man Child," mentioned in the Book of Revelation, destined to "rule all nations with a rod of iron," had released, through His coming, the creative energies which, reinforced by the effusions of a swiftly succeeding and infinitely mightier Revelation, were to instill into the entire human race the capacity to achieve its organic unification, attain maturity and thereby reach the final stage in its age-long evolution.
The clarion-call addressed to the "concourse of kings and. The laws which were designed, on the one hand, to abolish at a stroke the privileges and ceremonials, the ordinances and institutions of a superannuated Dispensation, and to bridge, on the other, the gap between an obsolete system and the institutions of a world-encompassing Order destined to supersede it, had been clearly formulated and proclaimed. The Covenant which, despite the determined assaults launched against it, succeeded, unlike all previous Dispensations, in preserving the integrity of the Faith of its Author, and in paving the way for the advent of the One Who was to be its Center and Object, had been firmly and irrevocably established.
The light which, throughout successive periods, was to propagate itself gradually from its cradle as far as Vancouver in the West and the China Sea in the East, and to diffuse its radiance as far as Iceland in the North and the Tasman Sea in the South, had broken.