The Dawn of a New Day
Shaykh Ahmad, Siyyid Kazim & Mullá Husayn
This is a story of a search for truth in a time of world-wide darkness and confusion.
In times of injustice & oppression, good people search for truth trying to understand what’s happening in the world and what they can do to help. People of strong faith also notice that their society seems to have forgotten the Teachings of God. So, they search for a way out of the darkness of confusion, injustice, prejudice and disunity by trying to rediscover the essential truth and all-powerful love at the heart of every religion.
One such pure-hearted seeker, who lived in the land of Persia (today called Iran) in the early 19th Century, was Shaykh Ahmad. He was anguished by the extremely oppressive and corrupt condition of his society, and he knew from religion that in such times God does not leave the people to themselves, but sends a new Prophet or Messenger to guide them. Thus, when Shaykh Ahmad was 40 years old, he set out to study his religion’s holy book, the Koran, intensely and to look for clues in the book about when and how God’s New Messenger would appear. From his studies, he became certain that the Promised One would soon appear, and he began teaching others about what he was realizing.
A large number of people at that time became attracted to his teaching and sought him out to learn from him. These followers of Shaykh Ahmad came to be called Shaykhis. One of these was a man named Siyyid Kazim. He was guided through a dream to seek out & learn from Shaykh Ahmad. When Shaykh Ahmad was approaching his death, he told his followers that, after he passed away, they should continue to learn from Siyyid Kazim, for only Siyyid had truly understood what Shaykh Ahmad had tried to teach. Thus, when Shaykh Ahmad passed away in 1834, Siyyid Kazim became the leader of the Shaykhi movement. He continued to teach his followers with even more urgency that the Promised One would appear very soon, and they needed to prepare themselves so they would be able to recognize Him and respond with all their hearts to His Message. As the end of Siyyid Kazim’s life drew near, it was expected that he might appoint a new leader of the Shaykhis, but instead he said the time for preparation was over. When he died it would be time to leave the place of study and dedicate themselves to seeking the Promised One!
Beware, beware, lest after me the world’s fleeting vanities beguile you. Beware lest you wax haughty and forgetful of God. It is incumbent upon you to renounce all comfort, all earthly possessions and kindred, in your quest of Him who is the Desire of your hearts and of mine. Scatter far and wide, detach yourselves from all earthly things, and humbly and prayerfully beseech your Lord to sustain and guide you. Never relax in your determination to seek and find Him who is concealed behind the veils of glory.
Similar to his master, Shaykh Ahmad, when Siyyid Kazim approached his death, he too said only one of his pupils had truly understood his teachings. His name was Mullá Husayn. When Siyyid Kazim passed away, Mullá Husayn urged the other Shaykhis to do as their master had told them, to leave the religious school in which they studied for so long and urgently and prayerfully search for the Promised One. Some listened to Mullá Husayn and joined him in his search, while others chose not to change the lives and roles they had become comfortable with.
So, Mullá Husayn “went to a mosque and spent 40 days in prayer & meditation during which time he opened his heart to God’s inspiration.” When this 40-day retreat was finished, following the inspired he had received, he left with two companions and traveled north in search of the Promised One. He went first to Bushihr [a city in Persia/Iran], but did not remain there long, for something seemed to pull him further northwards to the city of Shiraz. When they came to the gate of that city, he instructed his two companions to go into the city to a mosque where they could stay and wait for him to join them there later.
A few hours before sunset, while walking outside the gate, Mullá Husayn saw a Young Man with a radiant face approaching him. This young man warmly greeted and embraced Mullá Husayn as if they had been life-long friends, and invited him to come to his home in the city to refresh himself after his long journey. At first Mullá Husayn objected, saying he had to go meet his two companions. To which the Youth replied, “Commit them to the care of God. Surely He will surely protect and watch over them.” Mullá Husayn was deeply impressed by the gentle yet compelling manner in which this Youth spoke to him, and so agreed to follow Him to His home in the city.
The Declaration of the Báb & the Letters of the Living
This is a story of a search which ended in finding the Promised One.
Mulla Husayn followed the Young Man to his modest house, where they sat together in a room for guests. There, he was offered a jug of water to wash away the dust from his journey, as the gracious Young Man prepared tea for His guest. After these expressions of hospitality, the mysterious Young Man began to speak.
“Whom after Siyyid Kazim, do you regard as his successor and your leader?”, He asked. Mullá Husayn explained that, instead of appointing a successor, his master had told his followers it was time to scatter far and wide in search of the Promised One. The gentle Young Man continued questioning, “Has your teacher given you any detailed indications of the distinguishing features of the Promised One?”, to which Mullá Husayn replied that Siyyid Kazim had indeed given them signs to look for. He had told them the Promised One would
be “of pure lineage” (i.e. descended from the Prophet Muhammed)
be between 20 and 30 years of age
possess innate knowledge
be of medium height
refrain from smoking
be “free from bodily deficiency”
After hearing Mullá Husayn recount these signs, the Young Man declared with a vibrant voice, “Behold, all these signs are manifest in me!”, and went on to demonstrate how each of those signs were true of His own Self.
Mulla Husayn was startled and, at first, politely objected, saying, “He whose advent we await is a Man of unsurpassed holiness, and the Cause He is to reveal a Cause of tremendous power.” But, no sooner had these words come out of his mouth than he felt overwhelmed by a sense of fear and regret. Therefore, he resolved to humble himself before his Host and, with an open mind and heart, listen to what He had to say.
To test the Young Man’s claim, Mullá Husayn first humbly asked Him if He would read and comment on some of Mullá Husayn’s own writings about certain mysteries in his master’s teachings. These mysteries the Young Man was quickly able to explain with amazing insight. One thing Mullá Husayn did not ask his Host was connected to something Siyyid Kazim had told him when he was still alive. Siyyid Kazim had told him that one of the ways he would be able to recognize the new Prophet of God when he met Him was that, without being asked, He would reveal God’s Word in the form of a commentary on a specific chapter of the Koran called the Surih of Joseph. So, Mullá Husayn was even more amazed when, without being asked, the Young Host said, “Now is the time to reveal the commentary on the Surih of Joseph.” Soul-stirring words of the greatest power and beauty poured from the Young Man’s lips and streamed from His pen without pause. Mullá Husayn later wrote, “I sat spellbound by His utterance… All the delights…of Paradise…I seemed to be experiencing that night.” When the Young Man finished revealing these words from God, He addressed an overwhelmed and transformed Mullá Husayn saying, “O thou who art the first to believe in me! … I am the Báb, the Gate of God, and thou art the Bábu’l-Báb, the gate of that Gate.’” He explained to Mullá Husayn that He was the Gate through which a New Day was dawning for humanity, and, at the same time, had come to prepare the way for One greater than Himself, whose Message would eventually unite and transform the whole world.
“This Revelation,” Mullá Husayn later wrote, “came as a thunderbolt… Excitement, joy, awe and wonder stirred the depths of my soul… I felt possessed of such courage and power that were the world, all its peoples … to rise against me, I would, alone…, withstand their onslaught. The universe seemed but a handful of dust in my grasp. I seemed to be the Voice of Gabriel … calling unto all mankind: ‘Awake, for lo! The morning Light has broken. Arise … O peoples of the world! For He who is your promised One is come!’”
Their conversation continued throughout the night, until, as the hour of dawn approached, the Báb instructed Mullá Husayn to return to his companions but to tell no one what he had seen and heard. Seventeen other souls, the Báb explained, needed to recognize Him of their own accord.
As the Báb foretold, 17 others, through their own prayerful search, and in some cases guided by dreams and visions, discovered and recognized the Báb as God’s Messenger. Two of these deserve special mention. One was an extraordinary woman named Tahirih, to whom the Báb appeared in a dream. Another, and the youngest of these first 18 believers, was named Quddús. He arrived in Shiraz dirty and disheveled from his journey and recognized the Báb as soon as he saw Him walking with Mullá Husayn in the street. As he approached them, Mullá Husayn tried to restrain and calm him down, but Quddús responded, “Why do you seek to hide Him from me? I can recognize Him by His gait. I confidently testify that none besides Him, whether in the East or in the West, can claim to be the Truth. None other can manifest the power and majesty that radiate from His holy person.”
With Quddús’ arrival, all 18 souls the Báb awaited had now found Him. The Báb named these 18 the “Letters of the Living.” Like the disciples of Jesus two thousand years earlier, these souls were given a special station. Their mission, the Báb said, was to spread throughout the land the good news that God was revealing Himself again, as was promised would occur in the Last Days with a message to transform the world! In these words, He addressed them:
“O My beloved friends! You are the bearers of the name of God in this Day… The very members of your body must bear witness to the loftiness of your purpose, the integrity of your life, the reality of your faith… Ponder the words of Jesus addressed to His disciples, as He sent them forth… ‘Ye are even as the fire which in the darkness of the night has been kindled upon the mountain-top. Let your light shine before the eyes of men”… I am preparing you for the advent of a mighty Day… The secret of the Day that is to come is now concealed… The newly born babe of that Day excels the wisest … men of this time… Scatter throughout the length and breadth of this land, and … prepare the way for His coming… Arise in His name, put your trust wholly in Him, and be assured of ultimate victory.”