This post, the fifth one, continues the series of stories from the life of the Báb that show signs of His Greatness from early childhood, long before He openly declared His Mission. Here are some stories from when He worked as a merchant in Búshihr. Maybe these stories will be conducive to a more spiritual celebration of this Holy Day.

It seems to be unclear when the Báb left school to join his uncles as a merchant. According to Nabil (The Dawn Breakers), the Báb showed “superhuman wisdom” until His uncle “was induced to take Him away from the school of Shaykh Abid, and to associate Him with himself in his own profession.” He remained in Shiraz for a short while before moving to the city of Búshihr. The Báb continued to show signs of His “superhuman wisdom”. He associated with all kind of people, from ‘ulamás to shopkeepers in such manner that caused all to praise His qualities. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá once recounted the following story of the Báb when in Búshihr (as conveyed by Mírzá Habíbu’lláh Afnán);

 During His stay in Búshihr, the Báb achieved extraordinary things and thoroughly demolished the foundation of people’s corrupt practices. The merchants of Búshihr had a custom that after a deal had been concluded they would renege and barter to receive a considerable discount.

Some of them came to His Holiness, negotiated purchase of indigo dye, and bought a very large quantity. After they had sealed the bargain and moved the lots of indigo to their own office, they returned to renege and bargain. His Holiness did not accept and said, “You made a bargain, signed papers, and the transaction has been completed. I will not give a discount and will not renegotiate.” They insisted. He replied, “What I said is final.” They pleaded, “It is the custom of the country.” He responded, “Many of these customs are wrong and will soon be abolished.” No matter how much they insisted, He would not agree. The merchants were obstinate, and at last He said, “[If] the price is high, return the merchandise as I will not barter.” They insisted, “It is the custom here.” He replied, “I wish to put an end to this custom.” They insisted, “If a merchant has bought commodities and moved them to his warehouse, and then returns them, he will forfeit his standing with merchants.” “It is your choice,” He told them, “accept the terms and refrain from re-negotiation.” Again they insisted, “But this is the custom of the realm.” Yet again, He reminded them, “I am ending this custom.” Eventually, He [the Báb] ordered the merchandise brought back to His shop and did not yield to their efforts at bargaining. He changed many of their unseemly practices during the period He was a merchant in Búshihr. 

Soon thereafter, one of His maternal uncles arrived at Búshihr, and the same merchants who had returned the indigo dye came to see the uncle and complained about His behavior, saying, “He has ruined our reputation. We had a deal on dyes, however, as customary, we wished to renegotiate, but He did not comply. He arranged for the goods to be brought back from our store. This is a great insult to us as merchants. You should counsel Him not to repeat such offenses.”

The maternal uncle approached the Báb advising Him, “Why do You refuse to yield to people’s wishes and disrupt the established customs of the realm?” He told him,

“Even now, if they should wish to bargain after a transaction is completed, I would refuse again.”

That was a very blissful day. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá smiled unceasingly and repeated several times, “Prior to His declaration, the Báb announced that He would change many of the accepted ways.”

Having lived in Búshihr for six years, the Báb, wished to move to Atabat. Atabat is a name of a region where the cities Kázimayn and Sámarrá are located. These cities are famous as the Shrines of Imám ‘Alí, Imám Husayn, and four more are located there. The Báb wrote several times to His uncles informing them that He wished to visit Atabát and asking one of them to come to Búshihr to take over the businesses. Mírzá Habíbu’lláh Afnán tells the story.

The uncles procrastinated and did not comply with His wish. When the time for His departure arrived, He settled His accounts with everyone, prepared a detailed ledger, sealed the books, and left them in the office. He then sealed the entrance to the office and entrusted the key to the custodian of that building with the instructions that whichever of His maternal uncles should arrive first from Shíráz to Búshihr should be allowed to enter. Thereupon, He wrote to Shíráz “Though I wrote you repeatedly asking that one of you come to Búshihr as I have a journey to the ‘Atabát in mind, you have not come. Therefore, I have sealed the door of the shop and entrusted the key to the custodian and have left for the ‘Atabát.” So, after six years in Búshihr, He left for the ‘Atabát. 

Once His blessed letter was received in Shíráz, [His eldest maternal uncle,] Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad became deeply worried and perturbed, complaining, “What manner of conduct is this? Our good name in the commercial community will be ruined, and the chain of our business transactions will be broken! What will happen to our accounts with the people?” To this, the illustrious uncle, Hájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí, responded, “Rest assured! I know Him, and our Nephew does not do anything wrong. [I am certain that] He has arranged people’s accounts before leaving.” The uncle, Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad, set out for Búshihr. Upon his arrival, he secured the key from the custodian of the caravansary, noted the seal on the door of the room, opened the door, and began a careful examination of the books. He found that the accounts relating to every person were most satisfactory and accurate. Relieved, he wrote to his brothers, “the accounts and record books are in order” and expressed praise and gratitude for their Nephew. (Accounts of Mírzá Habíbu’lláh Afnán)