Submitted by translator



Whilst He was in Suleymaniah

Extracts from the memoirs of Nabil Zarandi on the conduct of the Babis in Iraq

introduced and trans. Sepehr Manuchehri

Introduction

Fadil Mazandarani (Tarikh-i Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol.4 pp 155-170) writes that during Baha'u'llah's self-imposed exile at Suleymaniah a number of prominent Babi leaders resided in Iraq. These included Shaykh Abu-Torab Ishtehardi who worked as a scribe and teacher in Sahn-Abbassi, Shaykh Hassan Zunuzi who worked there as a scribe and Haji Siyyid Javad Karbalai, Shaykh Sultan and Haji Mirza Hassan Rashti who stayed in Karbilla. They lived a life of extreme caution and practiced Taqiyyah (dissimulation). They met secretly in fear of their lives and discussed the affairs of this Cause.

At the same time the family of the Blessed Beauty had moved from their place of residence - the house of Ali Madad - to a newly refurbished house owned by Suleyman Qanam. Nabil Zarandi writes:

"I arrived in Baghdad at a time when six months had lapsed from the departure of the Blessed Beauty. I met with Jinab-I Kalim in secret and he took me to the Holy House (the house owned by Ali Madad) where I had the bounty to meet Abdu'l-Baha. I requested Jinab-i Kalim to arrange a meeting with Azal.

He advised: "Azal will not meet any visitors. I have informed him of your arrival and he instructs you to leave Baghdad immediately and stay with Siyyid Muhammad Isfahani in Karbila."

Kalim further elaborated that "If the Blessed Beauty were here, I would not have allowed you to go anywhere. Let me see what I can do. For the time being remain in Karbila and I will invite you back to Baghdad in winter as to work as my scribe."

Nabil in Karbila

During his stay in Karbila Nabil suffered a great deal of depression because of the martyrdom of the Bab and prominent Babi's, and observing the negative activities of Siyyid Muhammad Isfahani and Mirza Yahya. He even contemplated suicide and was talked out of it by Abdu'l Javad the son of Haji Mirza Hassan Rashti. He writes:
"I then saw my Mahdi in a new world and became revitalised. I wrote a number of pages without pause and invited Siyyid Muhammad Azali[1] to myself using my own verses. He shared some of these verses with other friends. Everyone admitted that they appear superior to Azal's writings. Jinab-i Sayyah[2] who was an adherent of Dayyan became influenced and interested. Then I started to attract whomever I could to myself. I even wrote to Azal thus:
O Vahid:
you and Us both decadents from the Lord,
Two mirrors reflecting the one Sun,

I am to discover the inner meanings,
You are to promote the worldly,

Whether Azal does accept or refuse,
I am the creator of a hundred thousand Azals

Later when I met the Abha Beauty, the first sentence He said was: "We observed your writings. I liked the Persian verses because its contents were mystical." He instructed me to return to Karbila and be cordial to Siyyid Muhammad. On my return however as I discovered his poor level of knowledge and those around him, I became convinced that I am an ocean compared to drops.
My predicament was such that every time I met Baha'u'llah, I became infatuated and did not realise my own existence. And then when I met persons other than Him, I assumed a position for myself. As a result they conspired against me and wrote letters of complaint to Baghdad. I returned to Baghdad. However, I remained embarassed about my conduct in Karbila which was in clear breach of Baha'ullah's wishes. For this reason I did not attend His presence. I wrote a letter requesting permission to travel to Iran. Baha'u'llah summoned me to His presence and advised: "Travelling to Iran is acceptable provided that your words do not provide an excuse to others once again. Understand that this will be detrimental to you and the Cause of God."

Nabil's Poetry

Fadil Mazandarani quotes the following verses revealed by Nabil during this period:
He who considers himself the Mirror of Bayan,
Who has deviated from the intent of Bayan,

Will issue Fatwa against the life of whomever,
That dares to use this title again,
Or call to be He Whom God Shall Make Manifest,

He will capture, slaughter and murder,
Read his book entitled "Mustiqaz",[3]
It proves my point of view in clear,

Orders recorded in the book of Devil,
To murder several innocent souls,

His honour Dayyan who enjoyed,
Significant respect, vigour and glory,
What praise is written in his regard,
From the Pen of his Primal Beloved,[4]

Even one hundreth of that praise,
Is not directed to that jinxed mirror,[5]
He commanded Dayyan thus,
In His religion Kitab-I Panj Sh'an,

That this young bird has just flown,[6]
In the air of melodious joy he is thrown,
Train him in flying per your competence,

He counselled others in this regard,
To Vahid Akbar and Name of Azim,[7]
To Name of Asdaq and Name of Karim,[8]

He commanded all to be his mentors,
So that his poison may convert to good,
A person with such regard and such place,
How soon has become arrogant and crude,

Dayyan was killed per his command,
His body swamped in his blood,
For this injustice committed by that mirror,
Black storm began on that very hour,[9]

The world darkened to a cyclonic night,
Though the sun was shining at noon that hour,

And Ali Akbar, his devoted companion,[10]
Was murdered in Baghdad merciless,
His crime was devotion to Dayyan,

Likewise Abul-Qasim and others,[11]
Not secure from orders to kill,

He ordered the wife of the Bab,[12]
To arrive in Baghdad from land of Sad,[13]
With hundred treachery and contempt,
He took her for one full month,

Afterwards he gave her away,
To that bastard Dajjal from land of Sad,
Whose descendents are from the Devil,
Whose name is the same as mine,[14]

Although known as a thief and a beggar,
He claims God-hood and even beyond,
He is a shame not the Lord of heavens,
Shame is never the beloved Lord of the world,

How respected is the honour of the Bab,
He donated her fully to that Bastard !
Soon she had a son from that tramp,[15]
She was disgraced and abandoned grand,

Woman, If you were related to the Bab,
You would rush to Shiraz in the calm,
Sought refuge in the house of His grace,[16]
Maintain decent morals and your face


References:

  1. Siyyid Muhammad Isfahani
  2. Haji Mirza Ali Sayyah - the infamous traveller who was used as a courier between Maku and Tehran during the final months of the life of the Bab. He later became a Bahai and was exile by the Ottoman authorities to Cyprus.
  3. Reference to the book written by Mirza Yahya Subh-I Azal entitled "Mustaqiz" where he predicts that a number of claimants will be destroyed in the near future. Within months at least two claimants were found killed.
  4. Reference to the high esteem in which Mirza Asadullah Khoyee was held by the Bab. He was entitled Dayyan (abjad equivalent to Asad). A number of tablets exist from the Bab showering him with gifts, compliments and instructions.
  5. Mirza Yahya Azal referred to himself as the "Mirror of God" in his writings at this time
  6. Mirza Yahya was reportedly only 14 years of age when he declared his faith in the Bab.
  7. Reference to Mirza Yahya Darabi (Vahid-I Akbar) and Shaykh Ali Torshizi (Azim) both respected figures within the Babi community.
  8. Reference to Mulla Sadiq Muqaddas Khurassani (Ism'ullah-I Asdaq) and Mulla Abd'ul Karim Qazvini (scribe) - both early believers in the Bab.
  9. Refer to Baha'u'llah - Epistle to the Son of Wolf where occurrence of this event is described in detail
  10. Mirza Ali Akbar Tabrizi - He was also subject to death threats. However he managed to escape Iraq and live the rest of his life in anomynity in Azarbayijan.
  11. Mirza Abu'l-Qasim Kashani was the Azal's right-hand man and advisor in the early Baghdad years. The two had a fall out later and Azal ordered his death in "Mustaqiz".
  12. Fatimah Khanum, the sister of Mulla Rajab-Ali Qahir. She was the temporary (Siqah) of the Bab in Isfahan.
  13. Means the city of Isfahan in Babi terminology
  14. Siyyid Muhammad Isfahani and Shaykh Muhammad Zarandi share the name Muhammad.
  15. This is the only reference to a child from the union of Fatimah Khanum and Siyyid Muhammad Isfahani
  16. Grace is meant to reflect the conduct of Khadijeh Khanum - the first wife of the Bab


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