The mission of Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa’i
The year 1753 saw the birth of Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa’i in the town of Bahrain, in the the northeast of the Arabian Peninsula. Shaykh Ahmad lived at a time when the Faith of Muhammad had lost all its former glory and had divided into innumerable sects.
Shaykh Ahmad was extremely distressed at the disunity in the Shi’ah sect of Islam and decided to appeal to all of the followers of Muhammad to prepare the way for Him who would soon be made manifest.
When he was forty years old he proceeded to Najaf and Karbila in Iraq, wherein a few years he came to be recognised as an authority on Islamic Scriptures. Later, he went to the city of Shiraz. It was from this city that Herald of a new Manifestation was to proclaim his voice ere long.
From Shiraz Shaykh Ahmad set out for Yazd. Another divine soul Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti, in response to a dream beckoning him to put himself under the spiritual guidance of Shaykh Ahmad, came to visit him.
Shaykh Ahmad felt the promise hour was fast approaching and from the direction of in the province of Nur, in the province of Mazindaran, he was able to perceive the first glimmerings that heralded the dawn of the promise dispensation. He therefore proceeded to Tihran accompanied by Siyyid Kazim. The Shah of Persia commanded his court to go out and extend a very cordial welcome on his behalf and declared him to be “ the glory of his nation and an ornament of his people.”
In those days Tihran was born a child to Mirza Buzurg of Nur, a favoured minister of the Shah. That child was Baha’u’llah, who was born on the 12th November 1817. Shaykh Ahmad realised the importance of this event and before leaving Tihran he prayed to God that Baha’u’llah would be preserved and cherished by His countrymen that they may recognise His glory.
Shaykh Ahmad stressed the importance of the references that the Imams of the Faith had made regarding the coming of the Promised One. He constantly referred Husayn and Ali meaning Baha’u’llah and the Bab. In the very year the Bab was born, Shaykh Ali, the son of Shaykh Ahmad, passed passed away. To his disciples he said:
“Grieve not, O my friends, for I have offered up my son, my own Ali, as a sacrifice for the Ali whose advent we all await. To this end I have reared and prepared him.”
The Bab was born in Shiraz on the 20th October 1819. He was born of a family renowned for its nobility which traced its origin to Muhammad himself. The date of His birth confirmed the truth of the saying attributed to Imam Ali: “I am two years younger than my Lord.” The mystery of this was revealed to those who accepted the new Revelation.
Siyyid Kazim pleaded to be allowed to accompany Shaykh Ahmad on his later journeys but was refused the request. Shaykh Ahmad addressed him thus: You have no time to lose. Every fleeting hour should be fully and wisely utilized. You should gird up the loins of endeavour and strive day and night to fend asunder, by the grace of God and by the hand of wisdom and loving kindness, those veils of heedlessness that have blinded the eyes of men. For verily I say, the Hour is drawing nigh, the Hour I have besought God to spare me from witnessing, for the earthquake of the Last Hour will be tremendous. You should pray to God to be spared the overpowering trials of the Day, for neither of us is capable of withstanding its sweeping force. Others of greater endurance and power, have been destined to bear this stupendous weight, men whose strength is reinforced by the potency of His Power.”
Having spoken thus, Shaykh Ahmad said goodbye and left. Siyyid Kazim stayed on in Karbila and continued with his master’s work. But with the departure of Shaykh Ahmad, the envious and ignorant from the disciples started to rebel and made all kinds of accusations against Siyyid Kazim. He wrote to Shaykh Ahmad explaining the situation and begged to be told when the Promised One was to appear. Shaykh Ahmad replied: “Be assured of the grace of God. Be not grieved at their doings…I can say no more, I can value appoint no time. His cause will be known after Hin (numerical value is 68. In 1268 A.H.-1852 A.D." Baha’u’llah, whilst confined in the Siyah Chal prison in Tihran, received the first intimations of His Divine Mission.
Shaykh Ahmad died soon after in the year 1826 A.D. at the age of eighty one, in the vicinity of the holy city of Medina.