April 24, 2011

Baha’u’llah revealed the Suriy-i-Sabr (Surih of Patience) on the first day upon arrival in the garden of Ridvan

In God Passes By Shoghi Effendi explains that Baha’u’llah revealed “the "Suriy-i-Sabr" (Surih of Patience) … on the first day of Ridvan” in 1863, “on … His arrival in the garden of Ridvan”. In it He affirms "God hath sent down His Messengers to succeed to Moses and Jesus, and He will continue to do so till 'the end that hath no end'; so that His grace may, from the heaven of Divine bounty, be continually vouchsafed to mankind." In the Suriy-Sabr Baha’u’llah “extols Vahíd and his fellow-sufferers in Nayriz”. (Shoghi Effendi, ‘God Passes By’, p. 140 and ‘The World Order of Baha'u'llah’, p. 116).

In the ‘Revelation of Baha’u’llah’, vol. 1, Adib Taherzadeh provides a very interesting explanation about this Tablet, its recipient, Haji Muhammad-Taqi, a native of Nayriz, and the circumstances culminating in the horrendous events that transpired in the town of Nayriz, Persia, during the Ministry of the Bab. Bahá'u'lláh bestowed the title of Ayyub (Job) to Haji Muhammad-Taqi in this Tablet. This Tablet is also known as Lawh-i-Ayyub (Tablet of Job). It is in Arabic and is equal in length to almost one-quarter of the Kitáb-i-Íqán. 

A provisional translation of this Tablet is available at Baha'i Tablets - provisional translations

A brief account of Haji Muhammad-Taqi’s life – the recipient of this Tablet

Haji Muhammad-Taqi, the recipient of this Tablet, was a man of wealth and culture, highly respected by his fellow citizens, who reposed such trust in him that they would deposit their savings with him and often exchange his receipts instead of money. When in 1850 Vahid arrived in Nayriz, awakening a spiritual turmoil far-reaching in its consequences, a considerable number of devoted souls were deeply affected, rallied around Vahid and embraced the Faith of the Báb. Foremost among these was Haji Muhammad-Taqi, who offered to provide the means for the propagation of the Cause in that area.

Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan, the Governor of Nayriz, was alarmed by the tumultuous reception accorded to Vahid by the people of the town, and was shocked and angered when he saw that great numbers were entering the Faith within the span of a few days. He decided to take immediate action, and ordered the army to wipe out the newly-formed community and kill its leader. Soon there was a great upheaval and the followers of the Báb were forced to take refuge in an old fort outside the town. Though vastly outnumbered by the army, and in spite of their lack of training, these defenders of the fort of Khajih fought with such courage and heroism that their enemies suffered humiliating defeat and were forced to withdraw in terror.

Having realized the futility of his armed intervention, Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khan resorted to deception and treachery. Cunningly, he raised the cry of peace, sent a message in writing to the defenders of the fort to invite Vahid and other leaders to visit him in the army camp, and pledged his word to investigate the truth of the Cause of the Báb and to end all bloodshed and strife. In order to beguile those simple and pure-hearted men, he and his staff affixed their seal to the Qur'án and sent it with this message as a testimony of their honesty and truthfulness. Vahid knew their treachery, but to honour the Qur'án he emerged from the fort and went to the camp, where he was at first ceremoniously received. There he rebuked the authorities for their tyranny and blindness and called on them to investigate and embrace the new-born Faith of God. So penetrating were his words that the Governor and his men were confounded by the force of his argument. Recognizing the profundity of his knowledge and the sincerity of his beliefs, the Governor became apprehensive lest some of his men transfer their allegiance to Vahid. Within three days, through deceit and treachery, the Governor succeeded in evacuating the fort. But its heroic defenders walked into a trap, and most were massacred by the army. Vahid was shamefully put to death and his body was dragged through the streets and bazaars of Nayriz to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals, while men and women danced merrily around him.

Vahid's martyrdom shed an imperishable lustre upon the Faith of God. The story of his life adorns the pages of the history of the Cause and the example he has left will guide and inspire countless generations throughout the ages. He was peerless in the realm of learning and knowledge, indomitable in his faith, challenging in his public discourse, heroic in the defence of the Cause of God and unsurpassed in his love for the Báb.

While Haji Muhammad-Taqi, was in prison, it was reported that daily he was conducted to the Governor's mansion where, stripped of his clothes, he was flung into the pool. A number of men, placed around and armed with long sticks, would administer severe blows upon his body. The standing order was that the beating should be continued until the water around him turned reddish with blood.

Eventually the mighty Hand that had raised up and reared such a wondrous human being faciliatated their release. It was the Governor's wife who, as the result of a dream, was prompted to secure their freedom. She approached her husband with an earnest appeal to release these unfortunate victims, but her intercession proved of no avail. Moreover, she was rebuked for being too soft and sentimental. Undismayed by her husband's ruthless attitude, she decided to work secretly towards that end. With the goodwill and support of a few trusted persons at her disposal she worked out a plan and made the necessary arrangements with utmost caution. Then, late one evening the prison door was opened and the pitiable figures of Haji Muhammad-Taqi along with his companion, Aqa Siyyid Ja'far, were taken out, propped up on donkeys and entrusted to a muleteer with the express order to carry them at full speed to Harat -- a small town beyond the area of jurisdiction of the Governor of Nayriz. Eventually, when these oppressed souls reached Harat they were utterly exhausted. The sight of their appalling condition presented a study in grief and aroused the sympathy of the headman of the village who received and treated them with the utmost kindness.

They remained in Harat for a number of months to recuperate and heal their terrible wounds. Afterwards they travelled to Yazd. When the friends came to know about the banishment of Bahá'u'lláh to Iraq, Haji Muhammad-Taqi set out on foot on a journey of no less than 1,500 kilometres to Baghdad, where he attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh and received His abundant blessings.

When Haji Muhammad-Taqi travelled to Baghdad, he was accompanied by his wife, son and daughter. This son, Mohammad-'Ali, while still a youth, was killed in Baghdad. He himself died a few years later in that city and Bahá'u'lláh honoured him by attending his funeral. Knowing that Haji Muhammad-Taqi's wife was grief-stricken at the tragic loss of both son and husband, Bahá'u'lláh arranged for a certain Ahmad Ali, a youth of beautiful character, to go with her to Nayriz and live there as an adopted son.

Adib Taherzadeh’s explanation of this Tablet

Like many Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, the Suriy-i-Sabr may be described as an ocean containing wonderful gems of knowledge and wisdom. Revealed on the momentous occasion when its Author had just disclosed His station to His loved ones, when the hopes and visions of countless Prophets throughout the ages had been fulfilled, and when the sorrows and agonies of His companions had been turned into blissful joy, this Tablet stands out as an eternal monument to that Day of Days.

A few passages in this Tablet allude to Bahá'u'lláh's Declaration and reveal glimpses of the unveiling of His glory in the Garden of Ridvan. In one of these He calls upon Himself to tear asunder the veils which had hitherto hidden His beauty from the eyes of men, to shed abroad the fragrances of the spirit which had remained sealed from the beginning of time, and to manifest His glory through the power of the Almighty. In another passage, referring to suffering which had been inflicted upon Him, He designates His own person as the 'Manifestation of God Himself'. He extols the day, the hour and the moment of His Declaration, and asserts that in that very instant He addressed the whole of creation from the city of Baghdad, so that each being might receive that share of God's glory which God had decreed for him. He further affirms that on that day all created things were illumined by the rising of the Sun of Truth from Iraq.

In the Suriy-i-Sabr Bahá'u'lláh describes the proclamation of the Faith by Vahid and the circumstances which led to the upheaval in Nayriz. He recounts, at some length, the events which led to the incarceration of the believers and lauds their heroism, self-sacrifice, and eventual martyrdom. He portrays the agony and sufferings which were inflicted upon the survivors, mainly women and children, who were forced to accompany the heads of the martyrs which were carried aloft on lances to Shiraz and paraded in the streets and bazaars of that city. He severely condemns the perpetrators of such atrocities and warns them not to rejoice in their actions, but to fear the wrath of an almighty God who will justly, in the next world, punish them for the cruelties they have inflicted upon His loved ones.

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh extols the station of Vahid in words no pen can befittingly describe. He pays glowing tribute to the staunchness of his faith and the loftiness of his vision, declares that he had remained faithful to the Covenant of God and affirms that he had fulfilled his pledge to his Lord. He bids him rejoice among the 'Concourse on high' for being remembered in this Tablet, a Tablet so exalted that the Holy Books of the past had derived their essence from it.

Bahá'u'lláh also addresses the believers of Nayriz in this Tablet, with words of encouragement and praise. He asks them to recall their earlier days of heedlessness and ignorance, when God showered His favours upon them through the person of Vahid, enabled them to recognize His Manifestation, and guided them to the Ocean of Knowledge. He urges them to appreciate this wonderful gift, to thank the Almighty for having been made the recipients of His grace and to rejoice at the lofty station which He has conferred upon them. Should this station be revealed to the eyes of men, He states, they would unhesitatingly offer up their lives to attain it. The wisdom of its concealment is that men may be tested, that good may be distinguished from evil and the righteous from the wicked. With great love Bahá'u'lláh exhorts the believers of Nayriz to manifest in their lives the attributes of God, to sanctify their souls from the dross of this world, and to be firm in faith and steadfast in the face of opposition.

In the Suriy-i-Sabr, Bahá'u'lláh pays glowing tribute to Haji Muhammad-Taqi. He recalls the major role he played in the upheaval of Nayriz, the material help he extended to Vahid, the fortune he expended in defense of the fort and the sufferings he bore with resignation and self-sacrifice. When the believers took refuge in the fort of Khajih, their food and other necessities were provided by Haji Muhammad-Taqi. Without his material aid, the Bábís would not have been able to defend themselves against the army. Haji Muhammad-Taqi was one of the survivors of the siege. The Governor of Nayriz, knowing that he was one of the key figures responsible for the spread of the Faith in that town, confiscated all his properties and imprisoned him, intending to torture him to death, with a few others. Referring to the spirit of resignation and forbearance shown by him during the massacre of Nayriz, Bahá'u'lláh states that the Almighty will always assist those who willingly sacrifice their possessions to promote the Cause of God, and who patiently endure trials in His path. Such souls, He states, never complain when afflicted with calamities; rather, they welcome hardships and persecution in the path of their Lord.

In the Suriy-i-Sabr Bahá'u'lláh recounts in great detail the story of Job, one of the Prophets of Israel. He states that God conferred upon Job the mantle of prophethood. He was wealthy, owned a vast area of land, and lived with his wife and family in great luxury and comfort. Having been entrusted by God to guide the people to righteousness and truth, he dedicated his life to fulfilling this mission among his community. He summoned them all to the Cause of God, but they became jealous and accused him of insincerity, saying that his devotion to God was due solely to his wealth and material possessions.

In order to manifest his truthfulness to the eyes of men, God surrounded him with tribulations. Every day a fresh calamity descended upon him. First, his sons were taken from him, all his possessions were removed and his crops burnt. Then he was taken ill and his body was afflicted with disease and covered with boils. In spite of all these calamities, he remained thankful to his Lord and patiently endured hardships with a spirit of resignation and detachment. Yet his afflictions did not end there, for he was forced out of his village with no one to help him except his wife, who believed in him and did all she could to alleviate his pain. In the end he became destitute and was without food for many days.

Bahá'u'lláh asserts that Job was so patient and resigned to the will of God that his thankfulness and devotion to his Lord increased with his trials. At last, having proved his detachment from earthly possessions, God again bestowed upon Job all that was taken from him. His teachings spread and his words penetrated into the hearts of the sincere, enabling them to recognize and acknowledge his station.

With this story in the Suriy-i-Sabr, Bahá'u'lláh throws light upon patience, one of the most important virtues which God has bestowed on man. He extols the station of those believers who endured hardships and calamities with patience and resignation. Through their fortitude and constancy, their forbearance and long-suffering, these souls attained to such a lofty position that the Concourse on high seek their companionship and long for their blessings.

Bahá'u'lláh urges the people of the Bayan to do likewise, counselling them to adorn their beings with the mantle of resignation, to be steadfast in the Cause of God, and never to be dismayed or disheartened by adversity. And He reminds them that, whereas God rewards every good deed in accordance with its merit, in the case of patience and long-suffering, as attested in the Qur'án, the recompense is limitless.[ 'Those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure.' (Qur'án xxxix. 10. Translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali] (Adapted from the ‘Revelation of Baha’u’llah’, vol. 1, by Adib Taherzadeh, pp. 139-141, and 263-272)