Khadijih Bagum - 'Only Tahirih Surpassed Her'
Among the many heroes of the Bábí era was a woman closer than anyone to the Báb - his devoted wife, Khadíjih Bagum. She was witness to the very moment when God revealed His Station to Him.
Khadíjih Bagum, the wife of the Báb, was not only the first person to recognise the Station of her husband but also instantly recognised Bahá'u'lláh as a Manifestation of God.
As Hand of the Cause of God Hasan Balyuzi wrote in his book about her life (George Ronald, 1981), she was a
"heroic, steadfast woman - ennobled by her instant recognition of both the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh".
The Báb and Khadijih Bagum were neighbours in Shiraz. She was His cousin. She had two portentous dreams. In one the Báb, then 16 was facing the Qiblih praying and in the other Fátimih, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, came to ask for Khadijih Bagum's hand in marriage to the Imám Husayn, son of Fátimih.
Khadijih's mother, on hearing of the second dream, rejoiced at the good fortune that awaited her daughter and when the Báb's mother kissed Khadíjih Bagum on the forehead, she further told her daughter: "That kiss implied that she has asked for your hand in marriage to her son. You see, the dream you had last night has come true."
They were married in August 1842 and lived with the Báb's mother. Khadíjih Bagum gave birth to a son, Ahmad, in 1843 but he died a few months later. another dream of Khadíjih Bagum's, she was dragged twice around the courtyard of their house by a lion and once around half of it. The Báb said the dream portended that their life together would not last more than 2 and a half years.
One night in 1844, before the Báb revealed His mission, He got up and was gone for more than an hour. His wife found him in an upper chamber.
"There I saw him standing in that chamber, His hands raised heavenwards, intoning a prayer in a most melodious voice, with tears streaming down His face," she recalled. "And His face was luminous; rays of light radiated from it. "He looked so majestic and resplendent that fear seized me, and I stood transfixed where I was trembling uncontrollably. I could neither enter the room nor retrace my steps. My willpower was gone and I was on the point of screaming when He made a gesture with His blessed hands, telling me to go back. "This movement of His hands gave me back my courage and I returned to my room and my bed. But all that night long I remained deeply disturbed...I kept asking myself what grave event had come to pass to evoke such sorrow and such tears, inducing prayer and supplication of such intensity."
Next morning He asked what was troubling her. "I boldly replied that it was the change in Him which weighed heavily on my mind. 'You are no longer, I told Him, 'the same person I knew in our childhood... you have been transformed."
"He smiled and said that although He had not wished to be seen by me in the condition of the previous night, God had ordained otherwise.
"'It was the will of God,' He said, 'that you should have seen Me in the way you did last night, so that no shadow of doubt should ever cross your mind, and you should come to know with absolute certitude that I am that Manifestation of God Whose advent has been expected for a thousand years. This light radiates from My heart and from My Being.'
"As soon as I heard Him speak these words I believed in Him. I prostrated myself before Him and my heart became calm and assured. From that moment I lived only to serve Him, evanescent and self-effacing before Him, no thought of self ever intruding."
Nabíl-i-A'zam, in The Dawn-breakers, says of Khadíjih Bagum that "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".
But she was to endure great suffering. The Báb was taken away one night and arrested. It was rumoured that He would be executed if He didn't repent His claim. He came home for two or three days-the last days of their life together-and then left Shiraz.
Her brother, Hájí Mírzá Abu'l-Qásim, was arrested as the Governor, Husayn Khán, tried to find out where the Báb was. Driven almost to the point of death, her brother was told to produce the Báb in 15 days or be heavily fined. He was taken home in a terrible state and dumped there unceremoniously.
Fortunately, a letter from the Governor of Isfahán, Manúchihr Khan, disclosed that the Báb was his guest and insisted that no member of his family be molested.
Husayn Khán reduced the fine drastically. News of the martyrdom of the Báb's uncle, Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, and that of the Báb Himself were kept from the women of the family for a year. They only found out after a third death in the family, that of Khadíjih Bagum's 18-year- old cousin, Mírzá Javád.
These deaths were too much for the Báb's mother who went to live in Karbila for the rest of her life. Khadíjih Bagum, bereft of "a comforter whose love and sympathy and care has sustained me over the years", moved to her sister's.
When Mullá Muhammad-i-Zarandi, Nabíl-i-A'zam, travelled to Shiraz on behalf of Bahá’u'lláh to announce His Mission to the people of the Bayan, Khadíjih Bagum "experienced the same feeling" as she had when she saw the Báb in prayer in the upper chamber.
"I immediately put my forehead on the ground in adoration and thanksgiving. Then I could only whisper, 'Offer at His sacred threshold my most humble devotion.' I did not hesitate for a moment and my submission was instantaneous and total."
Khadíjih Bagum asked three things of Bahá'u'lláh:
To repair the house of the Báb so she might live there again.
For Bahá’u'lláh's daughter, Furúghíyyih Khánum, to be given in marriage to Khadíjih Bagum's nephew, Hájí Siyyid 'Alí.
Permission to travel to Akka so she might attain His presence.
He granted all three requests. The house was repaired and Khadijih moved back. The nephew had promised to take her to Bahá'u'lláh if He granted the marriage request but he broke his promise and she knew that her chance to travel to the Holy Land was lost forever. She was heart-broken and died two months later in the house of the Báb on 15 September 1882.