On the 26th of March in 1863, Bahá’u’lláh was informed that He was invited to meet the governor of Baghdád. The governor, reluctant but obliged by his duty, conveyed the “invitation”, issued by the Ottoman Empire, for Bahá’u’lláh to re-locate” in Istanbul. This event took place just after the Tablet of the Holy Mariner had been revealed and can, perhaps be a prelude to Ridván and an example of the dynamics of crisis and victories in our Faith.

At the time that the companions of Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdád were basking in the sunshine of His presence and the fortunes of the Faith had begun to rise, a campaign of opposition and enmity towards its Author was mounting. … Letters of calumny and accusation against Bahá’u’lláh, …, were influencing the tyrannical Násiri’d-Dín Sháh.

The Persian Ambassador in Constantinople, “ was instructed to proceed without delay in presenting the case to the Sultán’s Grand Vizir and his Foreign Minister, putting before them two possible solutions. The one which the Persian government favoured was an extradition order, instructing Námiq Páshá, the Governor of Baghdád, to hand over Bahá’u’lláh and some of His followers to the Persian authorities in Kirmánsháh. In this way the Persian government could keep them in custody in a suitable place and prevent them from spreading their Cause. Should this suggestion prove to be unacceptable to the Sultán’s government, the ambassador proposed an alternative, which was to transfer Bahá’u’lláh from Baghdád to a remote part of the Ottoman territory where He could be confined far from the borders of Persia.

But reports of Bahá’u’lláh’s outstanding qualities and attributes had from time to time reached the Sultán, who had been so impressed by these accounts that he resolutely refused to accede to the demands of the Persian government for the extradition of Bahá’u’lláh from his territory. Instead, through ‘Álí Páshá he issued orders that Bahá’u’lláh proceed to Constantinople as a guest of the Ottoman government.

On Naw-Ruz of 1863, Bahá’u’lláh had pitched “His tent in a field on the outskirts of Baghdád”. “Bahá’u’lláh was celebrating this festival with a number of His companions, who were likewise living in tents in the open countryside.”

On the fifth day of Naw-Rúz (26th of March 1863), the Lawh-i-Malláhu’l-Quds (Tablet of the Holy Mariner) was revealed. Mírzá Áqá Ján, Bahá’u’lláh’s amanuensis, emerged from the tent of Bahá’u’lláh, gathered the believers around him and chanted that mournful Tablet to them. Nabíl, who was present, has recorded the following:

Oceans of sorrow surged in the hearts of the listeners when the Tablet of the Holy Mariner was read aloud to them…It was evident to every one that the chapter of Baghdád was about to be closed, and a new one opened, in its stead. No sooner had that Tablet been chanted than Bahá’u’lláh ordered that the tents which had been pitched should be folded up, and that all His companions should return to the city. While the tents were being removed He observed: ‘These tents may be likened to the trappings of this world, which no sooner are they spread out than the time cometh for them to be rolled up.‘ From these words of His they who heard them perceived that these tents would never again be pitched on that spot.

The “tents had not yet been taken away when an emissary of Námiq Páshá, the Governor of Baghdád, arrived and handed to Bahá’u’lláh a communication inviting Him to come for interview with the Governor at his headquarters. Bahá’u’lláh accepted the invitation, but not wishing to visit the authorities in government headquarters”, “he would meet Him in the mosque, opposite the Government House.

One day, late in the afternoon as arranged, Baha’u’llah came out of His house attended by Aqa Muhammad-Rida, a Kurdish youth well versed in Turkish, to visit the Vali in the mosque. He permitted no one else to accompany Him. The news was conveyed to Namiq Pasha, who was delighted, but” “feeling ashamed to meet Him face to face on that fateful occasion, the Governor sent his deputy, Amín Effendi, to the mosque to deliver the message.

It was an invitation to come to Istanbul that was presented to Baha’u’llah, definitely not a command, and He accepted in the spirit and the way it was offered.

Aqa Rida writes that on that first night, after Baha’u’llah’s meeting with the Deputy-Governor and His return from the mosque, when the news of the migration to Istanbul spread, the Babis of Baghdad were so stricken by sorrow and the thought of their impending separation from Baha’u’llah that sleep departed from all eyes. Many of them, Aqa Rida says, made up their minds to die rather than suffer the disaster of separation. Gradually, with His counsel and tender care, Baha’u’llah calmed their fears, assuaged the pain of their bruised hearts and imbued them with strength to face the unknown future with hope and determination. Throughout those weeks, until the time of departure, Aqa Rida reports, meetings were held in the homes of the companions which Baha’u’llah attended, and there He spoke to them with love, compassion and authority. Not only were the Babis sad, anxious and forlorn, but, according to Aqa Rida, the whole populace of Baghdad were feeling the pangs of separation.

 

The above historical account is from the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh Volume 1, Chapter 12 & 13 (by Taherzadeh) and Bahá’u’lláh, The King of Glory (by H.M. Balyuzi) page 155.

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