Produced by Jack Lenz
This incredible story was produced on cassette many years ago and sadly was long out of print, but before my cassette wore out, I transcribed the story and present it here exactly as I heard it. I’m thrilled to announce that Jack has just re-released it, and it’s available on CD and as an instant download. Jack’s powerful voice and the voices of the people portrayed will send shivers down your spine and draw you closer to the Bab. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
The Mother of the Báb
I knew him well. He was my son. He was born on October 20, 1819 in the city of Shiraz.
From the time He was a baby I remember thinking that there was something different about him. As a child He was always very serene, and had a dignified manner.
My husband died when the Báb was very young, and my brother became His guardian. When it came time for him to go to school, my brother took him, but His teacher brought Him back to His uncle the following day saying that he had nothing to teach this gifted child. He said, “He stands in no need of a teacher such as I.” My brother was determined that the Báb should continue to attend school, and so He did, but as time went on, the schoolmaster became even more convinced of the Báb’s superior intelligence. He said that he felt that in his relationship to the Báb, he was the one who was being instructed.
But my son’s intelligence was not the only characteristic which made him stand out from other children. The character of His devotion to God was very unique. The Báb spent a great deal of time praying, and was often late for school, because, as He said: “He had been in His grandfather’s house.” You see, we were direct descendents of the prophet Mohammed, and this is an expression that we sometimes used for prayer. Sometimes His teacher would tell him that a 10 year old boy did not need to spend so much time praying. But the Báb would say, “I wish to be like my grandfather”.
When the Báb was 17, He went to Buchir with His uncle, where He worked as a merchant for 5 years. My brother told me that He won the esteem of all the merchants He met because of His honesty and trustworthiness. During that time, He continued to devote a large amount of time to prayer.
When the Báb returned from Buchir, He was 22. I arranged His marriage to our neighbor’s daughter, Khadíjih. These were happy days. They were so perfect for each other.
Although I did not understand it, there seemed to be a change in my son’s behaviour. I mean, He was always extremely courteous, and very mild, but a new radiance seemed to surround him. Other people must have recognized that there was something very special about him too, for many young religious students would come to visit him in the evenings.
Before long, I realized that Khadíjih was going to have a baby. In due time, she went into labour, but it was a very difficult labour and I feared that at one point she was going to die. When I hurried to tell my son about the grave condition of His wife, He picked up a mirror which was beside Him and He wrote a prayer on it. He instructed me to hold the mirror in front of Khadíjih. I did this immediately and the child was soon born, but its life was short. He was a boy and the Báb named him Ahmad. When Ahmad died, I was very angry at my son. I demanded that He tell me why it was, if He possessed such powers, that He had not attempted to save the life of His own child. He answered very quietly that He was not destined to have any children.
It was soon after this that the heart of the storm entered our lives. My son went on pilgrimage, and when He returned, the religious authorities summoned Him to the mosque. They told him that He must stop His teaching. After that we did have a few quiet months before my son moved to my brother’s house. He told Khadíjih that it was for our safety that He was leaving us.
You know, women were not allowed to be a part of religious affairs in those days and it was very difficult for us to learn what the religious talk of the day was. Sometimes we heard rumours of my son’s claim to be the Promised One, but at the time I personally was not able to investigate this claim. It was toward the end of my life, when Bahá’u’lláh, the One that the Báb had said He had come to prepare the way for, sent two of His followers to teach me about the wonderful station and mission of my son.
It was soon after the Báb moved to my brother’s house, that Halijeh and I heard of His arrest. You can imagine the grief and despair that we felt. We worried about him all of the time, but it was not until one year after His death that we heard about His execution. After all these years, I still can’t begin to tell you how this news pained me. On that day in Tabriz, I was not with him.
Gunshots and noise of crowds
“He claims to be the Promised One of Islam, and many of our best religious students are now sitting at His feet.” “We must put a stop to this heresy.”
The Wife of the Báb
I also knew Him well. I am Khadíjih, the Báb’s wife. We were childhood friends, and as our houses were beside each other, the Báb would often visit us with His family. Usually He wouldn’t join in our games, but when He did He was always very kind and considerate.
After He went to Buchir with His uncle, I had a very vivid dream in which I saw him standing in a field of beautiful flowers. He was facing toward (Natay?) in an attitude of prayer and He was wearing a beautiful coat, which was embroidered in gold thread with verses from the Koran. His face was radiant. When I told this dream to His mother and grandmother, they assured me that it was my friend, the Báb’s, assiduous attention to His prayer that had brought this vision to me. He was 17 at that time.
After He returned from Buchir to live in Shiraz again, I had another dream which puzzled me. I dreamed that Fatimeh, the daughter of Mohammad, had come to ask for my hand in marriage to her son, the Imam Hussein. When I woke up, I told my mother, and she said that this dream foretold good fortune for me. That same day the Báb’s mother and grandmother came to visit my mother. I served them some fruit and tea, and then I left the room. Before our company left, the Báb’s mother kissed my forehead. My mother told me that this kiss signified that the Báb’s mother was asking for my hand in marriage to her son. She said, “you see, the dream you had last night came true”.
From that day I felt a great stirring in my heart. I felt immeasurably proud of my coming union. We were married in His home two months later. It was August 1842. I remember the first few months as the happiest days of my life. His care and kindness towards me were indescribable. Both He and His mother showered me with kindness and consideration.
Not long after, however, I dreamt one night, that a fiercesome lion was standing in the courtyard of our house and I had my arms around His neck. The beast dragged me twice around the entire perimeter to our courtyard and once again around half of it. I woke up alarmed and trembling with fright. I told my husband about it. He said, “You awoke too soon”. Your dream foretells that our life together will not last more than two and a half years. I was greatly distressed, but His affection and words of comfort consoled me. It must have helped to prepare me to accept the adversity which lay ahead.
First came the death of our son. I so wanted a child, and when Ahmad died, the Báb again gave me comfort and solace. He said that Ahmad was with Fatimeh, the daughter of Mohammed, in the sanctified paradise.
One day in the late afternoon He came home earlier than usual. That evening He said He had a particular task to attend to, so we had an early dinner with the family in His mother’s room and He retired for the night. An hour later, when the house was quiet and all were asleep, He rose from His bed and left the room. At first, I took no particular notice to His absence, but when it lengthened to more than an hour, I felt some concern. I looked for him, but He was nowhere to be found. Then I walked to the western side of the house, looked up at the roof top, and saw that the upper chamber was well lit. So with some trepidation, I went up the steps at the northern side of the courtyard. There I saw him standing in that chamber, His hands raised heavenward, intoning a prayer in a most melodious voice, with tears streaming down His face. And His face! His face was luminous. Rays of light radiating 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 verge 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. Sleep was impossible and the coming dawn was foreboding.
At sunrise, He went to His mother’s room for tea. I followed Him there, and as soon as my eyes fell on Him that same attitude of majesty that I had seen the night before took shape before me. He raised His face to me and with great kindness, asked me to sit beside him. Then He passed to me what was left of the tea in His own cup, which I drank. He gently asked what was troubling me, to which I replied, “You are no longer the same person I knew in our childhood. We grew up together and we have been married for two years, living in this house and now I see a different person before me. You have been transformed and it makes me anxious and uneasy.”
He smiled at me and said that although He wished I had not seen him in the previous condition of last 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 know with absolute certitude that I am the Manifestation of God, whose advent has been invoked 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 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 myself ever intruding.
It is very difficult for me to talk about what came after. Fierce, fierce opposition. As His claim became known; as many people became attracted to him, the greater the denial of the priests and government leaders. They arrested him one night, and it was rumored that they would put him to death. That same night, a cholera epidemic suddenly struck Shiraz taking a heavy toll of lives. Many people fled the city, including the governor. The Báb’s life was spared. They said He saved the life of the son of the man who was to put him to death.
One day, to our incredible joy, He came home and stayed three days. These were the last days of my life with him. On the last night, He said He was leaving the city. We were happy that He might reach a place of safety. The family kept us informed of His whereabouts. Unfortunately, He was arrested again. He was taken to various prisons and then to Tabriz. Before He left Shiraz, He had confided to me the secret of His future sufferings and unfolded to my eyes, the significance of the events that were to transpire in this day.
He gave me a special prayer, revealed and written by Himself. He said: “In the hour of your perplexity, recite this prayer, ere you go to sleep. I myself will appear to you, and will banish your anxiety.” I found this to be absolutely true. Every time I turned to Him in prayer, the light of His unfailing guidance illumined my path, and resolved my problems.
My greatest happiness came when I recognized the Great One that my husband had given His life for; Bahá’u’lláh. I believed that the Báb guided me to see this truth.
So you see, those years with Him were so wonderful. The rest is history. How I wish that I could have been with him, on that day in Tabriz . . .
Gunshots and noise of crowd
“He is a blasphemer against God.” “A blasphemor against the religion of God.” “We can no longer tolerate His lies.” “We must warn the Shah and put an end to this.”
My name is Dr. Cormick. I met the Báb a few times in the Central Prison of Tabriz, where I worked as a physician in the court of the Shah. A fellow colleague of mine, Dr. Larraby, wrote to me and asked me to tell him the details of my interview with the prisoner. I will read to you my reply.
You have asked me in your letter for some particulars of my interview with the Founder of the sect known as Bábis. Nothing of any importance transpired in this interview, as the Báb was aware of my having been sent with two other Persian doctors, to see whether He was of sane mind or merely a madman, to help decide the question of whether to put him to death or not. With this knowledge, He was loath to answer any question put to him. To all inquiries, He merely regarded us with a mild look, chanting in a melodious voice, some hymns, I suppose. Two other Siyyids, descendents of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed, His intimate friends, were also present, besides a couple of government officials.
He only deigned to answer me on my saying that I was not a Muslim and was willing to learn something about His religion as I might, perhaps, be inclined to adopt it. He regarded me very intently, on my saying this, and replied that He had no doubt that all Europeans coming over to His religion. Our report to the Shah at that time was of a nature to spare His life. He was put to death some time after, by order of the Prime Minister.
On our report, He merely got the bastinado, basically a beating on the feet by two sticks, one on each end of a leather rope, and which an Operational (Feroche?), or Guard, whether intentionally or not, struck him across the face with a stick destined for His feet.
On being asked whether a Persian surgeon should be brought to treat him, He expressed a desire that I should be sent for, and I accordingly treated him for a few days. But in interviews consequent to this, I could never get him to have a confidential chat with me, as some government people always being present, He being a prisoner. He was very thankful for my attentions to him.
He was a very mild and delicate looking man, rather small in stature and very fair for a Persian, with a melodious, soft voice, which struck me very much. Being a descendant of Mohammed, He was dressed in the habit of that lineage, as were also His two companions. In fact, His whole look and deportment went far to dispose one in His favor.
Of His doctrine, I heard nothing from His own lips, although the idea was that there existed in His religion, a certain approach to Christianity. He was seen by some Armenian carpenters, who were sent to make some repairs to His prison, reading the bible, and He took no pains to conceal it, but on the contrary, told them of it. Most assuredly, the Moslem fanaticism does not exist in His religion as applied to Christians, nor is there that restraint of females that now exists.
This concludes my impressions. I hope you find them helpful.
Yours sincerely, Dr. Cormack
Drums and music
My name is Mullah Hussein. I was the first to believe in the Báb. I had been a student of two great teachers in Persia, whose mission had been to prepare as many people as possible for the coming of the Promised One. After their deaths, I fasted and prayed for 40 days to prepare myself to find the Promised One. I felt drawn, as if by a magnet, first to the city of Bouchir and then to the city of Shiraz.
As I approached the gate of that city, a youth of radiant countenance, wearing a green turban, advanced toward me with a smile of loving welcome. He embraced me with tender affection, as though He had been my intimate and lifelong friend. He invited me to His house and there He showed me the greatest hospitality. With no prompting, He asked me what signs my teachers had told me to look for in my search for the Promised One.
I told him that I was looking for someone between the ages of 20 and 30, of medium height, who was a direct descendant of Mohammed, abstained from smoking, was free of bodily deficiency, and most important, was endowed with innate knowledge.
There was a silence, after which He spoke these words: “Behold, all these signs are manifest in me.” I was stunned! He then considered each of the aforementioned signs separately and conclusively demonstrated that each and all were applicable to His person.
I politely observed: “He whose advent we await is a man of unsurpassed holiness, and the Cause He is to reveal, a Cause of tremendous power. My own knowledge is but a drop compared to that which He has been endowed. All my attainments are but a speck of dust in the face of the immensity of His knowledge.” As soon as I said these words, a sense of fear and remorse came over me. I resolved to take a more humble approach.
The Báb then took up His pen, and chanting the words as He wrote them, He revealed all the answers to the questions I had been unable to resolve. The overpowering effect of the manner in which He wrote, was heightened by the gentle intonation of His voice, which accompanied His writing. Not for one moment did He interrupt the stream of the verses which flowed from His pen. I sat in rapture, by the magic of His voice and the sweeping force of His revelation. When He finished writing, it was 2 hours and 11 minutes after sunset, on May 22nd, 1844. I had no further need of proof. Can you imagine my feelings? After this long and arduous search, I had found the Promised One!
He then addressed me in these words: “O Thou who art the first to believe in me! Verily I say, I am the Báb, the Gate of God, and thou are the gate of that Gate. Eighteen souls must in the beginning, spontaneously and of their own accord, must accept me and recognize the truth of My Revelation. Unwarned and uninvited, each of these must seek independently to find me. We should appoint unto each of the eighteen souls, a special mission. He asked me to go to Tehran, where I would find a great mystery and a source of great knowledge. All that He spoke to me that night came true. The eighteen souls, whom He called Letters of the Living, discovered him, and He sent us out throughout Persia to teach His Cause.
The opposition was unbelievable! The power of our Faith was greater. Thousands of people accepted His teachings, and thousands died at the hands of the government and clergy. At a place called Fort Tabarsi, I and 313 of my companions tried to defend our faith and our lives. The Shah sent 6000 soldiers against us. We held our ground for 9 months, and then, on Feb 1, 1849, I gave my life for the Báb’s Cause. I only wish that I could have been with him on that day in Tabriz . . .
Gunshots and noise of crowds
“We have just received news that the most learned among us, Vahid, was sent by the Shah to investigate the claims of this Báb and he never returned. He has been fooled by this, this upstart from Shiraz. He is now copying the verses of this mischief-maker.”
I am named Tahireh, the Pure One. Another of my names is Qurratu’l-Ayn, Consolation of the Eyes. I was considered beautiful in this world, but I was interested in a higher beauty, the beauty of the spiritual world. Of the eighteen Letters of the Living, I am the only woman. I recognized the Báb in a dream.
(Sung) “The effulgence of Thy face flashed forth, and the rays of Thy visage arose on high. “Am I not thou Lord?” “Yea, that thou art,” let us make reply. At the gates of my heart I behold the feet and the (tents?) of calamity.
God’s great gift to me was my inner sight. I knew the Báb’s teachings were true. I knew that He and His teachings were from God. When I became a follower of the Báb, my husband tried to poison me. He divorced me and took my three children away from me.
The Shah of Persia desired me for a bride. “I like her looks. Leave her and let her be”, he said. He wanted me for a bride on the condition that I deny my faith. I refused him, saying: “I worship not that which ye worship, and ye do not worship that which I worship. I shall never worship that which ye worship. Neither will ye worship that which I worship. To you, be your religion. To me, my religion.”
I was born into a time and place where women were shut up, behind veils and behind walls like voiceless ghosts, deprived of food for their minds and souls. It was believed that women did not possess souls. It seemed insanely absurd to me that half the human race should be thus imprisoned, when I knew that women were as intelligent as men, and in the qualities of mercy and intuition, superior. I spent my short life dedicated to their education. Inspired by the Báb, I taught groups of women in their households, the lessons of the mind, the spirit and the heart. When men were present, I spoke from behind a curtain.
One day, before an assemblage of men, I removed my veil. The shock was so great, that one man slit his own throat! In removing my veil, I removed the veil for all women, for all time. It was a spiritual as well as a physical act. Now the doors leading to the valley of fulfillment are opened. Not just for women, but for all humanity. Those doors can never be closed. God has destined it.
I was always persecuted and finally imprisoned. I knew the day I was to die. I adorned myself in a gown of pure white. I fasted and chanted away the pain and ecstasy of that day. It was painful because I am human, and ecstatic because my love for the Báb drew me upwards towards Himself.
I was strangled by a drunken man and thrown into a dark well. Now I shall be a well for you; inspire you with the right thought, the right words, the right decision at the right moment. All you need to do is sincerely ask.
My last words on earth were these: “You can kill me as soon as you like, but you may not stop the emancipation of women!” Alas, that I could not have been with my beloved, when His soul ascended to God on that day in Tabriz . . .
I was with him. I was with him. I am Anis Zanuzi , and I was living in Tabriz when they brought the Báb there. You see, when I was in my teens I had heard about the Báb and I was so attracted to His teachings, that I became His follower. But my stepfather would not allow me to meet Him, or voice my allegiance to the Báb. He even locked me up as a prisoner in my own home, so that I could not see Him. But my fortunes changed, and that is why I am so happy.
One day, as I lay confined in my cell, my room, I turned my heart towards him and prayed. These were the words of my prayer: “O God, you can see my captivity and my helplessness, and you know how eager I am to see your face. Dispel this gloom that oppresses my heart with the light of your radiant face.” Then I shed tears and tears and more tears. I was so overcome with emotion that I seemed to have lost consciousness.
Suddenly I heard a voice. I knew it was the voice of the Báb. He was calling me. “Anis Zanuzi, arise”. I saw the majesty of His face, as He appeared before me. He smiled as He looked into my eyes. I rushed toward Him and flung myself at His feet. “Be happy,” He said: “The hour is approaching, when, in this very city of Tabriz, I shall be suspended before the eyes of the multitude. I shall fall victim to the fire of the enemy. I shall choose no one, except you, to share the cup of martyrdom. Rest assured, that this promise which I give you, shall be fulfilled.
On July the 8th, I escaped from my stepfather’s house, and barefoot, I ran to the center of Tabriz, confident that I would find the Báb. The streets were full of people, and the commotion surrounding him, incredible. The whole city was in turmoil. The Báb’s death warrant had been announced, and people were trying to get a glimpse of him. He was being escorted by soldiers from the House of the Governor to the Central Square when I found Him. I broke through the ranks of the soldiers and just as in my dream, flung myself at His feet. I cried out: “Send me not out from thee, O Master. Wherever you go, let me follow you.” He said, “Anis Zanuzi , arise. Rest assured. You will be with me. Tomorrow, you shall witness what God hath decreed”.
That night, we were taken to a room on the edge of the Central Square in Tabriz. There were the Báb, His secretary, Siyyed Hussein, and I in the small room. Many soldiers guarding the door. The atmosphere in that room I shall never forget. The Báb was so happy. He knew that He would be executed the next day. He spoke about knowing that His mission on earth had been accomplished, despite the opposition of the Divines and the government. No power had succeeded in quenching the flame of faith that His word had set ablaze.
The coming of Bahá’u’lláh had been His constant theme, and He addressed Him in these words: “O thou Remnant of God, Bahá’u’lláh. I have sacrificed myself wholly for thee. I have accepted curses for Thy sake, and yearned for naught but martyrdom in the path of Your love.
Noise of Crowd
Just before noon, July 9th, the Báb was giving His last instructions to His secretary, when the attendant came to take him to His execution.
“What are you still doing here? You have been waiting around here since yesterday! We have business with your friend here. Get out!” When the attendant interrupted the Báb’s conversation with His secretary, the Báb said to him: “Not until I have said all these things that I wish to say, can any earthly power silence me. Though all the world be armed against me, yet they shall be powerless to deter me from filling, to the last word, my intention.”
Music and crowd noise
I am Sam Khan, and I profess the Christian Faith. I have orders to execute you, but I have no ill will against you. If your cause be the cause of Truth, then free myself of the obligation to shed your blood. The Báb replied: “Follow your instructions, and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you of your perplexity.”
Music and crowd noise
Regiment One. Ready. Fire. Gunshots
Regiment Two. Ready. Fire. Gunshots
Regiment Three. Ready. Fire. Gunshots
Music and long silence
As soon as the smoke cleared away, an astounded multitude were looking upon a scene that their eyes could scarcely believe. There, standing before them was Anis Zanuzi, while the Báb had vanished from their sight. The ropes by which their bodies had been suspended were severed by the bullets, yet their bodies had escaped the fire of the three regiments.
“The Báb has gone from our sight”, shouted the voices of the bewildered onlookers. The guards began a frenzied search for the Báb, and they found him sitting with His secretary, in the cell He had occupied the night before, calmly continuing His previously interrupted conversation. There was an expression of unruffled calm on His face. His body had emerged unscathed from the shower of bullets which had been fired at him. “I have finished my conversation with Siyyid Hussein”, the Báb told the attendant. “Now you may proceed to fulfill your intention.” The attendant was too shaken to resume what He had already attempted. Refusing to continue, He left the scene and resigned His post.
Sam Khan was likewise stunned by the force of this moment, and ordered His regiment to leave the barracks. He refused His superior’s command to continue and left.
Aga Jan Hani Hamsai, head of the bodyguard, volunteered to carry out the execution, and a new regiment was brought in.
On the same wall, and in the same manner, the Báb and Anis Zanuzi were suspended.
Just before the order to fire, the Báb spoke to the gazing multitude. “O Wayward Generation! Had you believed in me, every one of you would have followed the example of this youth, Anis Zanuzi, who stood in rank above most of you, and willingly would have sacrificed yourself in my path. The day will come when you will have recognized me. That day, I shall have ceased to be with you.”
Aga Jan Hani Hamsai gave the command to fire.
Regiment One. Ready. Fire. Gunshots
Regiment Two. Ready. Fire. Gunshots
Regiment Three. Ready. Fire. Gunshots
Music and Wind
The very moment the shots were fired, a gale of exceptional severity rose up and swept over the whole city. A whirlwind of dust, of incredible density, obscured the light of the sun, and this continued until dusk. The bodies were then taken and dumped unceremoniously by a moat, outside the gates of the city. Soldiers guarded them throughout the night.
On the morning following the day of the martyrdom, the Russian Consul in Tabriz, accompanied by an artist, went to that spot and ordered that a sketch be made of the remains as they lay beside the moat. It was such a faithful portrait of the Báb. No bullet had struck His forehead, His cheeks, or His lips. A smile seemed to still be lingering upon His countenance. His body, however, had been severely mutilated. You could recognize the arms and head of His companion, who seemed to be holding him in His embrace.