This is the tenth post in a series of posts telling the life story of Zaynu’l-Muqarrabín.

In ‘Akká, Jináb-i-Zayn lived on the upper floor of the caravanserai named Khan-i-Avamid. He stayed there from when he moved to ‘Akká (around 1886) until he passed away in 1903. He had two rooms next to the pilgrim rooms. He lived in one of these rooms used the other for receiving and meeting with friends and for transcribing Holy Writings. The Khan-i-Avamid has about 40 rooms. Families residing there would usually have two rooms. One would be used for living in and the other for storage. The rooms were quite large so those living there would divide the room into three sections. The first section, closest to the entrance, functioned like a kitchen. The middle section would be for sleeping and the third section, furthest in and also commonly referred to as the head of the room, was a bit elevated and would be used as living room or for having guests.

Living at Khan-i-Avamid was not easy. Taherzadeh writes the following.

“The rooms in the Khan-i-‘Avamid were damp and filthy. ‘Abdu’l-Baha sold a certain gift which had been given to Him in Baghdad and with the proceeds began to repair the rooms for the companions of Baha’u’llah. He left the repair of His own room to the last. The money ran out and as a result His room remained unrepaired and in very bad condition. Not only were its walls damp but the roof leaked and the floor was covered with dust. He sat and slept on a mat in that room. His bed cover was a sheepskin. The room was infested with fleas and when He slept under the sheepskin, fleas gathered and began biting.”

Dr Muayyad also testifies to the inhospitable conditions of Khan-i-Avamid. He writes the followings in his memoirs.

“The congestion of ‘Akká’s fleas is well beyond the imagination of those that have not experienced it. I recall that while in Khán-i ‘Umdán, my feet were covered with them, much like wearing a black boot” and “These fleas are renowned and until a person has experienced them, one finds it hard to believe how terribly plentiful and bothersome they are. I remember that once I walked into a room and immediately my two feet were covered by them to near my knees, much like wearing a pair of black socks.”

A Master Transcribe

Jináb-i-Zayn occupied himself with transcribing the Holy Writings. He was not only very productive but also put great effort making sure that the transcriptions were accurate. In fact, transcriptions in the handwriting of Jináb-i-Zayn are considered as accurate. That is why he is considered as the most eminent of transcribes of Bahá’u’lláh’s Writings.


A page of A Travellers Narrative in the handwriting of Jináb-i-Zayn

Taherzadeh writes in the first volume of Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh that, “He was meticulous in transcribing the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and took great pains to ensure that they were correctly recorded. Any Tablet in the handwriting of Zaynu’l-Muqarrabín is considered accurate. He has left to posterity, in his exquisite hand, many volumes comprising most of Bah’u’lláh’s important Tablets; today Bahá’i publications in Persian and Arabic are authenticated by comparison with these”.

Jináb-i-Zayn transcribed several volumes of the Holy Writings and put together as a gift to the Blessed Beauty. Bahá’u’lláh kept these volumes near where He sat and at times, He would use them for recitation when He had visitors. Jináb-i-Zayn also transcribed a copy of “A Travellers Narrative” written by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. In fact, E.G. Brown received a copy transcribed by Jináb-i-Zayn when he visited Bahjí in 1890.

Questions and Answers

Jináb-i-Zayn was honoured with the task of asking questions regarding the laws of the Kitab-i-Aqdás. Bahá’u’lláh says (provisional translation) to Jináb-i-Zayn, “God Willing, you will be covered by the Bounty of God in all the worlds of God. Your questions in My presence are acceptable because mankind will benefit from them. We have especially commanded you to ask questions about the laws and verses of God. We have made you a source of good for the peoples of the world.”

Taherzadeh explains that he “being a mujtahid and thus highly qualified in the application of Islamic laws, Zaynu’l-Muqarrabín received permission from Bahá’u’lláh to ask any questions he might have regarding the application of the laws revealed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdás. The answers given by Bahá’u’lláh provide further elucidation and expansion of His laws and this book is regarded as a supplement to the Kitáb-i-Aqdás”.

In The Presence of the Blessed Beauty

During the spring, summer and parts of autumn, the Blessed Beauty would stay at the Mansion of Bahjí. During the rest of the year, He would stay in ‘Akká. The Blessed Beauty had a donkey that He named “barq” (meaning lightning) as it was very fast, and which He would use when visiting the Ridvan Garden, the Mansion of Mazra’ih, Junayn Garden or when travelling between ‘Akká and Bahjí. After some time, this donkey died and a new one was brought from Iran for the Blessed Beauty. This donkey brayed with a bad voice and therefore, the Blessed Beauty named it “Rád” (meaning thunder).

While the Blessed Beauty stayed in Bahjí, Jináb-i-Zayn would never request to be granted permission to visit Him. He never asked. He only went when invited by the Blessed Beauty. Oftentimes he would be in the presence of the Blessed Beauty at Bahjí and spent those days in utter joy and bliss. He would return to ‘Akká with such exceeding joy and inspiration. As he was so loved by the Blessed Beauty, he was invited to Bahjí quite frequently.

One day in 1891 the Blessed Beauty came down from the Mansion in Bahji and went to Nahariya with His carriage. Among those present were Jináb-i-Zayn and Mishkín Qalam. When they arrived, a tent was pitched and the Blessed Beauty and the friends stayed there from morning to late afternoon. The Blessed Beauty began revealing The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf at this place. As for food for that pic-nic, the son of Jináb-i-Zayn recounts the following story.

A sheep had previously been slaughtered, but all were worried about how they were going to cook and feed those gathered there. Eventually they gave the responsibility for organising the cooking and preparing the food to my father (Jináb-i-Zayn). He called for cooking utensils to be brought from the nearby village and he began to prepare two sorts of kebab. One was the sort known as Husayni, but which from that day on became known as Kabab Zayni, the other Kabab Barg. All of this was done in a spirit of joy and happiness. When it came to eat, a portion of the food was taken to Bahá’u’lláh and it was said to Him: ‘This is what Zayn has cooked’. He replied: ‘Although it has been some time that I have not partaken of meat, because Zayn has put himself to a lot of trouble, I will take a small portion to eat.’

It is interesting to note that Jináb-i-Zayn was present, in a state of utter joy and happiness, when the Blessed Beauty started Revealing the Epistle to the son of the same wolf who so hated Jináb-i-Zayn and tried so hard to have him arrested and most likely executed.

His Sense of Humour

Jináb-i-Zayn was known to be very witty. He often used to remark that, “Me and my son always follow two of the laws of the Aqdás to the letter. I follow the law “Whensoever ye be invited to a banquet or festive occasion, respond with joy and gladness”. Every time I am invited, I will attend with exceeding joy. My son, follows “for were a man to read a single verse with joy and radiance it would be better for him than to read with lassitude all the Holy Books of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.” Every time, in any meeting, they start reading the scriptures, after one or two minutes, he reminds the reader that it is enough.”

It is reported that once, Hájí Mírzá Haydar ‘Alí, Jináb-i-Zayn and Mishkín Qalam were in the presence of the Blessed Beauty when Bahá’u’lláh asked them, “Do you want Me to send you to the Abhá Kingdom?”

Mírzá Haydar ‘Alí response was in line with his life philosophy that, “I surrender to whatever is Thy holy will.”

Mishkín Qalam then said, “No, my Beloved; I want to be here in Thy presence.”

Jináb-i-Zayn, not really wishing to think of death and such matters, turned to Hájí Mírzá Haydar ‘Alí and said: “Tell the Blessed Beauty that I am hard of hearing and can’t hear Him.”

Jináb-i-Zayn occupied himself with transcribing the Holy Writings. He was not only very productive but also put great effort making sure that the transcriptions were accurate. In fact, transcriptions in the handwriting of Jináb-i-Zayn are considered as accurate. That is why he is considered as the most eminent of transcribes of Bahá’u’lláh’s Writings.