Baha'u'llah in the Prison Barracks of Akka
Updated: Apr 30
During Baha'u'llah's imprisonment in the barracks, visitors were rigidly excluded making some pilgrims arduous travels even more bitter sweet.
Several of the Bahá'is of Persia came all the way on foot for the purpose of seeing their beloved leader, but were refused admittance within the city walls. They used to go to a place on the plain outside the third moat, from which they could see the windows of Bahá'u'lláh's quarters. He would show Himself to them at one of the windows and after gazing on Him from afar, they would weep and return to their homes, fired with new zeal for sacrifice and service.
“His arrival at the penal colony of Akká, far from proving the end of His afflictions, was but the beginning of a major crisis, characterized by bitter suffering, severe restrictions, and intense turmoil, which, in its gravity, surpassed even the agonies of the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán, and to which no other event, in the history of the entire century can compare, except the internal convulsion that rocked the Faith in Adrianople. 'Know thou,' Bahá'u'lláh, wishing to emphasize the criticalness of the first nine years of His banishment to that prison-city, has written, that upon Our arrival at this Spot, We chose to designate it as the "Most Great Prison." Though previously subjected in another land (Tihrán) to chains and fetters, We yet refused to call it by that name. Say: Ponder thereon, O ye endued with understanding. 1
“Though previously subjected in another land (Tihrán) to chains and fetters, We yet refused to call it by that name. Say: Ponder thereon, O ye endued with understanding.” - Baha'u'llah
"Having, after a miserable voyage, disembarked at 'Akká, all the exiles, men women and children, were, under the eyes of a curious and callous population that had assembled at the port to behold the 'God of the Persians,' conducted to the army barracks, where they were locked in, and sentinels detailed to guard them. The first night,' Bahá'u'lláh testifies in the Lawh-i-Ra'is, all were deprived of either food or drink ...They even begged for water, and were refused." 2
"To the galling weight of these tribulations was now added the bit a sudden tragedy-the prematue loss of the noble, the pious Mirzá Mihdi, the Purest Branch, Abdul-Bahá's twenty two year old brother, an amanuensis to Bahá u'lláh and a companion of His exile from the days when, as a child brought from Tihrán to Baghdád to join his Father after His return from Sulaymáníyyih. He was pacing the roof of the barracks in the twilight, one evening wrapped in his customary devotions, when he fell through the unguarded skylight onto a wooden crate, standing on the floor beneath, which pierced his ribs, and caused, twenty-two hours later, his death, on the 23rd of Rabíul-Avval 1287 A.H. (June 23. 1870). His dying supplication to a grieving Father was that his life might be accepted as a ransom for those who were prevented from attaining the presence of their Beloved." 3
Baha'u'llah wrote of this time:
"At this very moment... My son is being washed before My face, after Our having sacrificed him in the Most Great Prison. Thereat have the dwellers of the Abhá Tabernacle wept with a great weeping, and such as have suffered imprisonment with this Youth in the path of God, the Lord of the promised Day, lamented. Under such conditions My Pen hath not been prevented from remembering its Lord, the Lord of all nations. It summoneth the people unto God, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful. This is the day whereon he that was created of the light of Baha has suffered martyrdom, at a time when he lay imprisoned at the hands of his enemies." "Lauded be Thy name, O Lord my God! Thou seest me in this day shut up in my prison, and fallen into the hands of Thine adversaries, and beholdest my son (The Purest Branch) lying on the dust before Thy face. He is Thy servant, O my Lord, whom Thou hast caused to be related to Him Who is the Manifestation of Thyself and the Day-Spring of Thy Cause. At his birth he was afflicted through his separation from Thee, according to what had been ordained for him through Thine irrevocable decree. And when he had quaffed the cup of reunion with Thee, he was cast into prison for having believed in Thee and in Thy signs. He continued to serve Thy Beauty until he entered into this Most Great Prison. Thereupon I offered him up. O my God, as a sacrifice in Thy path. Thou well knowest what they who love Thee have endured through this trial that hath caused the kindreds of the earth to wail, and beyond them the Concourse on high to lament. "I beseech Thee, O my Lord, by him and by his exile and his imprisonment, to send down upon such as loved him what will quiet their hearts and bless their works. Potent art Thou to do as Thou willest. No God is there but Thee, the Almighty, the Most Powerful." 4
1. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 185
2. Ibid, pp. 186-187
3. Ibid, pp. 188
4. Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditation, section XXX