Posted by: samandal | July 13, 2009

The Báb, II

Díyáfat-i-Kalimát, the Feast of Words

On the night of 22 May 1844, Mullá Husayn Bushrú’í, the leader of a circle of Shaykhís who held messianic expectations, accepted the claims of ‘Alí-Muhammad to be the Báb, the Gate of both God and of the Hidden Imám. This event, which marked the start of Bábism as a distinctive religious movement, coincided with the declaration by Samuel Snow, an American Baptist preacher, that Christ would return on that specific date. The conversion of the Letters of the Living (the disciples of the Báb) and the composition by ‘Alí-Muhammad of the Qayyúmu’l-asmá’ (his commentary on the Qur’án) designated the proclamation of his mission.

The Báb then directed his disciples to announce his sacred cause and, together with his servant Mubárak and the Bábí leader Quddús, left Shíráz for Mecca in September 1844. He made a public proclamation of his mission in fulfillment of the Shí‘í Islámic prophecy of the return of the Imám Mahdí, the Shí‘í messianic figure expected to deliver the world from oppression. His proclamation in Mecca went unheeded and his emissary to the Shí‘í shrines, Mullá ‘Alí Bastámí, met with fierce opposition from the clerics and was imprisoned by the Ottoman authorities. In consequence, the Báb announced a change in the divine decree (badá) and returned to Búshihr.

“Say, God indeed is the Sovereign Truth.”                                                          (The Báb: Selections from the Writings of the Báb, page 154)

The emissaries of the Báb in Shíráz had caused such commotion that its governor, Husayn Khán, dispatched a detachment of troops to arrest him en route from Búshihr. He then returned to Shíráz in 1845 for an interrogation at the court of the governor, after which he was released to his uncle and required to recant his claim to be the Gate of the Hidden Imám. In September 1846 he was arrested yet again, but in the confused conditions that followed an outbreak of cholera, he left Shíráz and moved to Isfáhán. He remained there until March 1847 as a guest of its governor, the eunuch Manúchihr Khán, who became a Bábí and promised him access to the Sháh.

“The most acceptable prayer is the one offered with the utmost spirituality and radiance; its prolongation hath not been and is not beloved by God. The more detached and the purer the prayer, the more acceptable is it in the presence of God.”                                                                                                               (The Báb: Selections from the Writings of the Báb, page 78)