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Ruhu'llah was a prodigy

Ruhu'llah Varqa
Ruhu'llah Varqa and his father, Mirza Ali-Muhammad (Varqa)

The name "Ruhu'llah" literally means "Spirit of God" and is the title by which Jesus Christ is known in much of the Arabic-speaking world.

Ruhu'llah, the child-martyr of the Bahá'í Faith, was a prodigy. At the age of twelve, his knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, his powerful arguments in defense of his beloved Faith in the presence of the dreaded religious authorities of Persia, the beautiful poetry he wrote and his sweet, saintly nature won him admirers everywhere he went. Many of the noted enemies of the new Faith were charmed by his eloquence, while others came to look upon him as a living miracle.

At the time when Ruhu'llah, his father and Mirza Husayn had been arrested because of their beliefs and were being taken to Tihran in chains, the soldiers in charge were so attracted by the charm of this child of twelve that they wished to take the heavy chains from round his neck, but he would not have it so. "I am quite happy with these chains," he assured them, "besides, you must be faithful to your trust. You were given orders to take us to Tihran in chains, and it is your duty to obey those orders." He was never heard to complain of the discomforts of that long and arduous journey, but seemed to derive great happiness from the many odes and prayers he chanted to himself as they rode along.

In the prison of Tihran, the Bahá'ís were treated with extreme cruelty. There were four of them there, all chained together with the "black pearl" which was put round their necks. This chain was so heavy that it was difficult for the men to keep their heads up. Ruhu'llah collapsed under its weight and two supports had to be put under the chain on each side of him to keep him in a sitting position.

The account of the incident is recorded by Mirza Husayn, who was chained with Varqa and Ruhu'llah in the prison. The summary of a part of this chronicle is as follows:

". . . Hajibu'd-Dawlih entered the prison with a number of executioners clad in their scarlet clothes, and gave orders that all the prisoners should be chained to their places. No one knew what he had in mind and a terrible fear seized everyone. Then the jailer came to us Bahá'ís and said: 'Come with me. You are wanted in court.' We got up to follow him, though we did not believe what he said. 'It is not necessary to put on your 'abas,' he told us, but Ruhu'llah insisted on wearing his. As we came out into the prison yard, we were surprised to see armed soldiers standing everywhere and wondered if they had come to shoot us. The executioners too were standing in a row, and Hajibu'd-Dawlih had a savage look in his eyes. But there was not a sound from anyone, and the silence was terrifying. At last Hajibu'd-Dawlih asked the jailer to open the locks on our chains and send us two by two. The jailer's hands were trembling so badly that he could not open the locks, so another man stepped forward and unlocked our chains. Varqa and Ruhu'llah were the first to be taken away. . . .

". . . Later on I saw one of the jailers who had shown us some kindness before. I caught hold of him and begged him to tell me what had happened. I made him swear by the martyred saints of Islam that he would tell me the truth as he had seen it take place. This is what he recounted: '. . . Hajibu'd-Dawlih said to Varqa: "Which shall I kill first, you or your son?" Varqa replied: "It makes no difference to me." Then Hajibu'd-Dawlih drew his dagger and thrust it into Varqa's heart saying: "How do you feel now?" Varqa's words before he died were: "I am feeling much better than you are. Praise be to God!" Hajibu'd-Dawlih ordered four executioners to cut Varqa's body into pieces. The sight of so much blood was horrible to see. Ruhu'llah was watching all the time, overcome with grief. He kept on repeating: "Father, father, take me with you!" Hajibu'd-Dawlih came to him and said: "Don't weep. I shall take you with me and give you a proper salary. I shall ask the Shah to give you a position!" But Ruhu'llah replied: "I want neither a salary from you, nor a position from the Shah! I am going to join my father." Hajibu'd-Dawlih asked for a piece of rope, but no one could find any rope so they brought the bastinado and put Ruhu'llah's neck in it. Two of the jailers lifted the bastinado from either side and held it while Ruhu'llah gasped for breath. As soon as his body was still, they put him down and Hajibu'd-Dawlih called for the two other Bahá'ís to be brought in. But just then, the child's body made a sudden movement, raised itself from the floor and feel several feet away. Then it was still again. This incident shook Hajibu'd-Dawlih so badly that he did not have the nerve to carry on with any more killings.'

"You can imagine how we felt after hearing the details of the martyrdom of Varqa and Ruhu'llah. The picture came to life, and I could not put it out of my mind. My heart would not be consoled, and I wept for my beloved friends all through the night. Finally I fell asleep and had a dream. I saw Ruhu'llah coming towards me, looking extremely happy. He said: 'Did you see how 'Abdu'l-Bahá's promise came true?' Ruhu'llah had often told me with great pride that when he was saying farewell to 'Abdu'l-Bahá after visiting Him in the Holy Land, the Master had patted him on the shoulder and said: 'If God so ordains . . . He will proclaim His Cause through Ruhu'llah.'"

- Faizi, Fire on the Mountain Top 86, 88—91

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