Beloved of the Wife of the Bab
In the Kitáb-i-Badí Bahá'u'lláh extols the virtues and exalted station of Fátimih-Bagum, the mother of the Báb, and His wife Khadíjih-Bagum, designates them both as the Khayru'n Nisá' (The Most Virtuous among Women) and enjoins on His loved ones to venerate and honour them.
Khadíjih-Bagum was of noble lineage. She was a paternal cousin of the mother of the Báb. Her marriage with the Báb took place almost two years before His declaration. Through the purity of her heart, Khadíjih-Bagum recognized the station of her beloved Husband and acknowledged the truth of His Cause in the early days of His ministry. She was an eye-witness to that transforming power which emanated from the person of the Báb, a power which revolutionized the lives and conduct of His early disciples and the heroes of the Bábí Faith. Concerning Khadíjih-Bagum, Nabíl-i-A'zam writes in his narrative:
The wife of the Báb, unlike His mother, perceived at the earliest dawn of His Revelation the glory and uniqueness of His Mission, and felt from the very beginning the intensity of its force. No one except Táhirih, among the women of her generation, surpassed her in the spontaneous character of her devotion nor excelled the fervour of her faith. To her the Báb confided the secret of His future sufferings, and unfolded to her eyes the significance of the events that were to transpire in His Day. He bade her not to divulge this secret to His mother and counselled her to be patient and resigned to the will of God. He entrusted her with a special prayer, revealed and written by Himself, the reading of which, He assured her, would remove her difficulties and lighten the burden of her woes. 'In the hour of your perplexity,' He directed her, 'recite this prayer ere you go to sleep. I Myself will appear to you and will banish your anxiety.' Faithful to His advice, every time she turned to Him in prayer, the light of His unfailing guidance illumined her path and resolved her problems.
Khadíjih-Bagum recognized the station of Bahá'u'lláh from the early days in Baghdád and remained one of His most devoted followers.
In his narratives, the late Hájí Mírzá Habíbu'lláh-i-Afnán (A devoted follower of Bahá'u'lláh who for some time was custodian of the House of the Báb in Shíráz.) writes the following account concerning the wife of the Báb.
...The Blessed Beauty after His arrival in Baghdád sent many Tablets, with His own signature, 152, (which signifies Bahá) to various parts of Persia. These were taken to their intended destinations by some trustworthy individuals. Among these was a Tablet revealed in honour of the Exalted Leaf, the wife of the Báb. At that time no one among the family of the Afnán§ had embraced the Faith, and therefore the wife of the Báb had no close friend in whom she could confide. For this reason, she entered into conversation about the Faith with the father of the writer, Jináb-i-Afnán, Áqá Mírzá Áqá, who was her nephew (her sister's son), and was then thirteen years of age
....Because of the purity of her heart, Áqá Mírzá Áqá was deeply attracted to the Cause of God, recognized its truth and was filled with such enthusiasm that he was unable to withhold himself from teaching it, and proceeded to do so with courage and steadfastness. First he succeeded in teaching his own father...and then his own mother, the sister of the Báb's wife.
When Bahá'u'lláh summoned Munírih Khánum to 'Akká He instructed Shaykh Salmán to accompany her. The party started from Isfahán for Búshihr via Shíráz. Arrangements were made for her to stay a short while in Shíráz in the home of Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad, the uncle of the Báb. She arrived in the month of Dhi'l-Q'adih 1288 A.H. (January-February 1872) and had the privilege of meeting the wife of the Báb several times. The following is taken from Munírih Khánum's memoirs concerning one of her interviews with Khadíjih-Bagum:
...I asked the wife of the Báb to recount for me some reminiscences of her association with the Báb, of attaining His presence and of her marriage with Him. She said, 'I do not remember every detail but will tell you what I can remember...
'We were three sisters.† One night I dreamt that Fátimih [the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, the holiest woman in Islám] came to our house as a suitor to propose‡ marriage. With great joy and ecstasy my sisters and I went to her. She then came forward to me and kissed my forehead. I understood in the dream that she had chosen me. When I woke up in the morning I felt very happy and joyous, but I felt too shy to share my dream with anybody. In the afternoon of the same day, the mother of the Báb came to our house. My
sister and I went to her. Exactly as I had dreamt, she came forward, kissed my forehead and embraced me. She then left. My eldest sister said to me, 'The mother of the Báb came to propose and has asked for your hand in marriage [with her son].' I replied, 'This is a great felicity for me.' I recounted my dream and expressed the happiness of my heart because of its implications.
'After a few days...they sent some gifts as a token of engagement,* and the Báb went to Búshihr on business in company with His uncle. Although the mother of the Báb and I were cousins, yet, because of my dream every time I met her, I showed great courtesy and respect towards her. I cannot recall the duration of the Báb's journey.
'When He was in Búshihr, I dreamt one night that I was sitting in the presence of the Báb. It appeared as though it was the evening of our wedding. The Báb was dressed in a green cloak around the borders of which were inscribed the verses of the Qur'án...and light was emanating from Him. Seeing Him in this way, I was filled with such joy and gladness that I woke up. After this dream I was assured in my heart that the Báb was a distinguished personage. I cherished a love for Him in my heart, but did not disclose my feelings to anybody. Eventually He returned from Búshihr and His uncle arranged the wedding.
'After the wedding, I entertained no thought of earthly things in my mind. My heart was entirely attracted to the person of the Báb. From His words and conduct, His magnanimity and solemnity, it became clear to me that He was a distinguished person. But the thought never occurred to me that He could be the Qá'im, the Promised One. Most of the time He was engaged in praying and reading verses...As was customary among merchants, He would ask in the evenings for His business papers and account books. But I noticed that they were not business papers. Sometimes I used to ask Him what the papers were. He once said 'It is the Book of the accounts of all the peoples of the world.' Should any visitor suddenly arrive, He would spread a handkerchief over the papers. All close relatives such as His uncles and aunts were fully conscious of His exalted personality. They revered Him and showed the utmost respect towards Him, until the fateful night of the 5th of Jamádíyu'l-Avval 1260 A.H. (22 May 1844) arrived. It was the night that Jináb-i-Bábu'l-Báb, Mullá Husayn-i-Bushrú'í attained the presence of the Báb and acknowledged the truth of His Cause. That was indeed a memorable evening. The Báb intimated that we were having a guest who was dear to Him. He was as if on fire and in the utmost excitement. I was very eager to hear His blessed words, but He bade me go to bed. Although I was lying awake the whole night, I remained in bed as I did not wish to disobey Him. I could hear His voice until morning as He conversed with Jináb-i-Bábu'l-Báb. He was reading the verses of God and adducing proofs. Later I observed that every day a strange guest would arrive and the Báb would engage in similar talks.
'If I attempt to describe the sufferings and persecutions of those days, I will not be able to endure talking about them, neither will you have the fortitude to listen to them...
'One night, I woke up about midnight to find that the...Chief Constable 'Abdu'l-Hamíd had entered the house from the roof with his men and, without giving any reasons, took the Báb with him.† I never attained His presence again...'
Munírih Khánum describes in her memoirs how eager the wife of the Báb was for her to prolong the visit, but Shaykh Salmán had instructions from Bahá'u'lláh to proceed to 'Akká in company with the caravan which was taking the Muslim pilgrims to Mecca and time was running out.
After we bade farewell to her, the wife of the Báb said, 'Please supplicate the Blessed Perfection to grant two wishes of mine. One, that one of the exalted Leaves of the blessed Family may be permitted to join in wedlock with a member of the family of the Báb, so that the two holy trees may be outwardly knit together. The other, to grant me permission to attain His presence.' I conveyed this message when I attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh; He readily assented to both her requests.
The person whom the wife of the Báb had in mind for this marriage was Hájí Siyyid 'Alíy-i-Afnán, a son of her brother, the 'Great Afnán', Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Hasan. Bahá'u'lláh granted the wish of the wife of the Báb, and Hájí Siyyid 'Alí was joined in wedlock with Fúrúghíyyih Khánum, a daughter of Bahá'u'lláh.
As to the second wish, however, circumstances prevented the wife of the Báb from attaining the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. This was a grievous blow to her and she could not be consoled. It is reported that she wept so much that her health was seriously impaired. Grief-stricken, she passed away a few months afterwards, on the evening of the 29th day of Dhi'l-Qa'dih 1299 A.H (11 November 1882). Strangely on the same evening her maid (Fiddih) who had served her since the days of the Báb also passed away.
The news of the passing of the wife of the Báb brought sadness to Bahá'u'lláh. He revealed a special Tablet of Visitation for her and later He composed a verse to be inscribed on her tombstone. During her lifetime too, Bahá'u'lláh had revealed many Tablets in her honour.
- Excerpted from the Revelation of Baha'u'llah by Adib Taherzadeh