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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.
The Blessed Beauty was a source of great bounty and mercy for all, but particularly for the poor to whom He gave special attention. Always He bestowed gifts upon the disabled, the orphans and the needy whom He met during His walks in the city.
One of these was a woman of eighty who lived in a deprived area through which Bahá’u’lláh often passed. Each day, as He walked from His house towards the coffee-house of Sar-i-jisr, she would wait for him in the roadway. Bahá’u’lláh was exceedingly kind to her and always asked after her health. Although He would not let her kiss His hands, whenever she wanted to kiss His cheeks, because she was bent with age and short of stature, He would bend down so that she could realize her wish. Often He remarked, ‘Because I love this old woman so much, she also loves Me.’ Throughout His time in Baghdad, He showered her with kindness, and before leaving for Constantinople, He arranged an allowance for her to the end of her days.
From A.A. Furutan, Stories of Bahá’u’lláh, nr. 33
During the life time of Bahá’u’lláh, there has been a number of plots and attempts to have Bahá’u’lláh killed. By plots and attempts is meant any action taken with the intention to have Bahá’u’lláh assassinated, killed or executed. There might be more attempts but there are some that have been recorded. All the plots and attempts have failed. I don’t think I have gathered them all and I am not even sure if they happened in the order presented below, please bear this in mind. If you prefer to download a pdf document, click Plots and attempts on the life of Bahaullah
1. The earliest attempt seems to be made by Muhammad Shah in 1848.
While I was living in Mosul (in Iraq) I had been afflicted with indigestion and vowed at that time that I would never touch watermelon again unless Bahá’u’lláh Himself told me to. One afternoon I was in Mazra’ih. The Blessed Beauty, seated near the small pool, had just mentioned that ‘Muhammad Shah issued Our death warrant, but instead his own life came to an end’. Then, turning towards me, He said: “Go; have some watermelon.’ (Furutan, Stories of Bahá’u’lláh, nr 70)
2. The second attempt seems to be when Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned in Siah Chal.
Abbas, the servant of the influential Haji Sulayman Khan [who was martyred with candles burning in holes cut in his flesh] had accepted the Bab but then betrayed his master, and would accuse people of being followers of the Bab, whether he knew them or not. He had only to say that he had seen someone in the house of his master for that person, whether or not the accusation was true, to be required either to pay over a large sum for his freedom, or be executed.
At the insistence of the government, Abbas was sent to the dungeon (the Siah-Chal) where Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned to testify that He had played a part in the attempt on the life of Nasirid-Din Shah. He was assured that by doing so he would be rewarded by the mother of the Shah with a robe of honour and appointment as her private trustee.
Abbas was conducted to the prison several times. Whenever he was ushered into the presence of the Blessed Beauty, however, he could only rub his eyes, gaze briefly on His countenance, and then swear that he had never laid eyes upon this personage before. (Furutan, Stories of Bahá’u’lláh, nr. 18)
3. Having failed with the attempts, they tried to poison Bahá’u’lláh while imprisoned in Siah Chal.
Urged by Mirza Majid-i-Ahi, the secretary of the Russian Legation – as previously noted, he was married to a sister of Bahá’u’lláh – Prince Dolgorouki, the Russian Minister, also pressed the Government to come soon to a decision and release Bahá’u’lláh. On the other hand, enemies were doing their utmost to bring about His death, particularly those who desired to obtain the patronage of the vengeful mother of Násiri’d-Dín Sháh. Having failed in their attempt to gain an admission from the page-boy of Haji Sulayman Khan, they tried to poison Bahá’u’lláh. Some noxious substance was introduced into the food brought from His home, but the effect of that poison became so noticeable that Bahá’u’lláh ceased to partake of that food. (H.M. Balyuzi, Baha’u’llah – The King of Glory, p. 99)
4. Several attempts were made while Bahá’u’lláh was living in Bagdad and unfortunately, I don’t know in which order they took place.
The following incident was related to Nabil by Aqay-i-Kalim, the faithful brother of Bahá’u’lláh:
At the instigation of a few highly-prejudiced opponents of Bahá’u’lláh, a large group of Kurds of Shi’ih belief went to His house in Baghdad one night with the purpose of stirring up mischief. Upon entering the courtyard, and without uttering a word, they stood near the wall, ready at a moment‘s notice to unsheathe their swords.
The Blessed Beauty addressed one of them, asking: ‘In your estimation, where those who surrounded the Prince of Martyrs (The Imam Husayn) in the desert of Karbila, intending to slay him and his followers, believers in God and in His Messenger?’ ‘It is evident’, came the reply, ‘that they were unbelievers, for had they been Muslims and believers in God and the Prophet, they would not have put to death the kindred of the Prophet and His followers, and would not have led into captivity the family of the Prophet of God.’
Thereupon Bahá’u’lláh invited them to enter His house and be seated, had refreshments served, and undertook to explain in detail the tragic story of the Imam Husayn and his martyrdom. One by one the Kurds seated themselves, and the Ancient Beauty related to them the history of the opposition of Yazid, who had succeeded his father as the second Umayyad Caliph. He recalled to them the names of those who commanded the 4000-strong army sent against Husayn with only two hundred members of his family and devoted followers, and the startling change of the heart of the cavalry commander, Hurr, who crossed over to Husayn’s side.
‘And so,’ Bahá’u’lláh concluded, ‘with the utmost cruelty they martyred the Imam Husayn, and then proclaimed: “Verily, Husayn trespassed against the religion of his grandfather, and was killed by the sword of his grandfather.”’
Deeply moved, the Kurds were weeping as they arose from their seats and kissed the robe of Bahá’u’lláh. ‘We can be likened to Hurr,’ they asserted, ‘who at first was intent upon killing the Prince of Martyrs, but repented and became the first to yield up his life in his path.’ With the utmost sincerity and humility, they asked Bahá’u’lláh’s permission to take their leave. (Furutan, Stories of Bahá’u’lláh, nr 29)
5. Another attempt was made while Bahá’u’lláh lived in Bagdad using an hired assassin.
During Bahá’u’lláh’s stay in Baghdad, Shaykh Abdu-l-Husayn-i-Tihrani [an implacable enemy of Bahá’u’lláh who had been commissioned to the Shah to supervise repairs to the holy shrines] incited various persons to attempt His murder. One of these was a Turk named Rida, who stood waiting one day for the Blessed Beauty, weapon in hand. But the instance his eyes fell upon Bahá’u’lláh, he was confounded, his pistol dropped from his hand and he was unable to move. “Return his gun to him, and show him the way to his home,’ said Bahá’u’lláh to His brother, Aqay-i-Kalim. ‘It seems he has lost his way.’ (Furutan, Stories of Bahá’u’lláh, nr 34)
6. Several attempts were made to end the life of Bahá’u’lláh in Adrianople. Mirza Yahya was behind them all. The first one occurred (to the best of my knowledge) about one year after Bahá’u’lláh arrived in Adrianople. The attempts of Mirza Yahya are known as one if his wives temporarily left him and told of the attempts.
Desperate designs to poison Bahá’u’lláh and His companions, and thereby reanimate his own defunct leadership, began, approximately a year after their arrival in Adrianople, to agitate his mind. Well aware of the erudition of his half-brother, Aqay-i-Kalim, in matters pertaining to medicine, he, under various pretexts, sought enlightenment from him regarding the effects of certain herbs and poisons, and then began, contrary to his wont, to invite Bahá’u’lláh to his home, where, one day, having smeared His tea-cup with a substance he had concocted, he succeeded in poisoning Him sufficiently to produce a serious illness which lasted no less than a month, and which was accompanied by severe pains and high fever, the aftermath of which left Bahá’u’lláh with a shaking hand till the end of His life.  So grave was His condition that a foreign doctor, named Shishman was called in to attend Him. The doctor was so appalled by His livid hue that he deemed His case hopeless, and, after having fallen at His feet, retired from His presence without prescribing a remedy. A few days later that doctor fell ill and died. Prior to his death Bahá’u’lláh had intimated that doctor Shishman had sacrificed his life for Him. To Mirza Aqa Jan sent by Bahá’u’lláh to visit him, the doctor had stated that God had answered his prayers, and that after his death a certain Dr Chupan, whom he knew to be reliable, should, whenever necessary, be called in his stead. [In the International Archives of the Bahá’í Faith on Mount Carmel, a blood-stained handkerchief is preserved with which Bahá’u’lláh used.] (H.M. Balyuzi, Baha’u’llah – The King of Glory, p. 225)
7. Mirza Yahya, having failed, made a new attempt at poisoning Bahá’u’lláh.
On another occasion this same Mirza Yahya had, according to the testimony of one of his wives, who had temporarily deserted him and revealed the details of the above-mentioned act, poisoned the well which provided water for the family and companions of Bahá’u’lláh, in consequence of which the exiles manifested strange symptoms of illness. (H.M. Balyuzi, Baha’u’llah – The King of Glory, p. 225)
8. Mirza Yahya tried to persuade Ustad Muhammad-‘Aliy-i Salmani (the barber of the Blessed Beauty) to kill Bahá’u’lláh. He himself relates the story in his memoirs.
When the bath day arrived, Azal came in first. He washed his head and body and used the henna. I sat beside him to help. He began to talk, and to give me advice. He said: “There was at one time a Mirza Na’im who was the governor of Nayriz. He persecuted the believers, and killed them, and greatly harmed the Cause.” Next, he began to extol the virtues of boldness and courage. He said that some are courageous by nature, and that when the moment came, they would prove themselves brave. Then he went back to the story of Mirza Na’im: he said that of all the Nayriz believers’ children, one had survived — a boy of eleven or twelve. One day Mirza Na’im went into the bath and this boy went there as well, and had brought along a knife with a handle made of horn. When the governor started to come up out of the water tank, the boy plunged the knife into his stomach and ripped it open. Mirza Na’im cried aloud. His servants ran in from outside and saw the knife in the boys’s hand. They beat the boy within an inch of his life, and then went to see how their master was faring. Wounded as he was, the child got to his feet and once again drove his knife into Mirza Na’im.
Having said this, Azal started in again, praising the virtue of courage. “How fine a thing it is,” he said, “for a man to be brave. Now see what they are doing to the Cause of God! Every one harming the Faith. Every one risen up against me! Even my own brother! And I, never allowed a moment’s peace! Never a tranquil breath!”
He managed his tones in such a way as to say: “I, the appointee; I, the helpless victim — and my brother (God forgive me for repeating this!) a tyrant, a usurper!”
“How wonderful is courage,” he went on. “How much needed now, to save the Cause of God!”
Taken all together — the tone of his voice, the story of Mirza Na’im, the praise of courage, the urging me onward — all this meant only one thing: “Kill my brother!” That is, kill the Blessed Beauty.
When these words were uttered I was overcome by nausea, and sicker than I had ever been in my whole life. I felt as if the walls of he bath were falling in on me. I was unhinged. Not able to speak, I went away outside the bath, and sat down on a bench. And in my awful inward turmoil, I thought to myself, I will go back into the bath, and I will cut off his head. Then let whatever happens, happen. Then I thought: It would be easy enough to kill him. But suppose when I stood before the Blessed Beauty I should be condemned? Coming before Him in that condition? I went on, thinking it out: After murdering this fellow, if I should go and stand in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, and if He should say to me, “Why did you kill him?” what answer could I give? It was this thought that stopped me.
Well, I reentered the bath, and violently angry, raging, I said to him, “Get up and get out. God send you to hell!”
“Pour water over me,” he wailed as he approached me. I poured one container of water on him and, washed or not washed, in a panic, he went; and I have never laid eyes on him since, from that day to this.
I was in a terrible state and nothing could calm me down. It happened that the Blessed Beauty did not come to the bath that day, but Mirza Musa did, and I told him: “Today Azal made a bonfire of me,” and I repeated what he had said.
Mirza Musa replied, “He has had such a plan for many years. Pay no attention to him. The fellow has always had this in mind.” He counseled me, and left.
Well, I finished with the bath, and I closed it up, and went to see the Master, and said, “Today Azal said thus and so. I was in a fury and wanted to kill him. But in the end, I did nothing.”
The Master replied, “You discovered this matter for yourself. Do not make any mention of it. Best that it should remain hidden.”
Then I went and told the story to Mirza Aqa Jan, and asked him to report it to Bahá’u’lláh. He soon came back. Bahá’u’lláh had said to him: “Go and advise my devoted Usta Muhammad-‘Ali to say nothing of this anywhere.”
I went and gathered up all of Azal’s letters and other writings, and that night I took them to the coffee room in Bahá’u’lláh’s house and burned them all in the charcoal brazier. But first I showed them around to everyone, so they could see that they were the writings of Azal. There were seven or eight of the friends present, and they all strongly objected and said, “What have you done? Why this?”
I told them, “Until today, I have always worshipped the house of this Azal. Today, so far as I am concerned, he is less than a dog!” (Ustad Muhammad-‘Aliy-i Salmani, My Memories of Baha’u’llah, p. 52)
9. The final attempt was made by Shaykh Mahmud in Akka. Noteworthy is that he became an ardent believer.
An example of those who had spiritual perceptiveness to recognize the station of Bahá’u’lláh without being taught or approached by the Bahá’ís was Shaykh Mahmud-i-‘Arrabi, a native of ‘Akká. Shaykh Mahmud was one of the religious leaders of ‘Akká when Bahá’u’lláh was exiled to that city. He was born into a family of devout Muslims. When he was about ten years of age, an old Shaykh, a religious man revered by Mahmud’s father, had a vision of the coming of the Person of the ‘Promised One’ to ‘Akká. He intimated this to Mahmud in the presence of his father and told him that his father and himself were old men and would not live to see that day. But he assured Mahmud that he would then be a grown-up person and bade him watch out for the coming of the Lord. He even indicated to Mahmud that He would speak in the Persian tongue and reside in an upper room at the top of a long flight of stairs.
Some years passed and the young boy grew up into a strong man, learned and pious, well respected by the community and known as Shaykh Mahmud. But he seldom thought of the vision, and when Bahá’u’lláh came to ‘Akká it never occurred to him that He might be the One foretold by the old Shaykh. On the contrary, he deeply resented the action of the Government in sending Bahá’u’lláh, whom the authorities had described as an evil man and the ‘God of the Persians’, to the city of ‘Akká. For some time he was in a state of agitation, wanting to do something to rid the city of such a person. It must be remembered that soon after the imprisonment of Bahá’u’lláh in the barracks, the prison authorities relaxed some of the restrictions which had at first been imposed and strictly adhered to. For instance, they agreed to allow a small party of Bahá’í prisoners to visit the city daily for shopping. At times ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went out with them and this is how the people of ‘Akká came into contact with His magnetic personality and began to unbend towards the company of exiles.
Shaykh Mahmud was very perturbed one day to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the Mosque. He is reported to have grabbed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá by the hand and exclaimed, ‘Are you the son of God?’ The Master with His characteristic charm pointed out that it was he who was saying it, and not ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He then reminded him of the injunction of Islam as stated in one of the Traditions: ‘Be charitable toward the guest even though he be an infidel.’
The impact of these words and the loving personality of the Master affected Shaykh Mahmud and he changed his attitude of aggressiveness towards Him. But being a religious leader, he could not remain indifferent to the presence of the group of exiles whom he considered ungodly. He therefore decided to put an end to all this by himself. One day he hid a weapon under his cloak and went straight to the barracks with the intention of assassinating Bahá’u’lláh. He informed the guards at the prison gate that he wished to see Bahá’u’lláh. Since he was an influential personality in ‘Akká, the guards complied with his request and went to inform Bahá’u’lláh of the identity of the visitor. ‘Tell him’, Bahá’u’lláh is reported to have said, 67 ‘to cast away the weapon and then he may come in'(These are not the exact words of Bahá’u’lláh, but convey the message he is reported to have given). On hearing this Shaykh Mahmud was astounded, for he was sure that no one had seen the weapon under his cloak. In a state of utter confusion he returned home, but his agitated mind could not be at rest. He continued in this state for some time until he decided to go to the barracks again, but without any weapons this time. Being a strong man he knew he could take Bahá’u’lláh’s life by the mere strength of his hands.
So he went again to the prison gate and made the same request to visit Bahá’u’lláh. On being informed of Shaykh Mahmud’s desire to meet Him, Bahá’u’lláh is reported to have said: ‘Tell him to purify his heart first and then he may come in.’- Perplexed and confused at these utterances, Shaykh Mahmud could not bring himself to visit Bahá’u’lláh that day. Later he had a dream in which his father and the old Shaykh appeared to him and reminded him of their vision regarding the coming of the Lord. After this dream Shaykh Mahmud went to the barracks again and attained the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The words of the Master penetrated his heart and he was ushered into the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. The majesty and glory of His countenance overwhelmed the Shaykh and he witnessed the fulfilment of the prophecy of the coming of the Lord to ‘Akká. He prostrated himself at His feet and became an ardent believer. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 3, p. 66)