Anniversary of the
His Brief Ministry Ends
Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers
pp. 510 – 517
Sám Khán was, in the meantime, finding himself increasingly affected by the behaviour of his Captive and the treatment that had been meted out to Him. He was seized with great fear lest his action should bring upon him the wrath of God. “I profess the Christian Faith,” he explained to the Báb, “and entertain no ill will against you. If your Cause be the Cause of Truth, enable me to free myself from the obligation to shed your blood.” “Follow your instructions,” the Báb replied, “and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you from your perplexity.” Sám Khán ordered his men to drive a nail into the pillar that lay between the door of the room that Siyyid Husayn occupied and the entrance to the adjoining one, and to make fast two ropes to that nail, from which the Báb and His companion were to be separately suspended. Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí begged Sám Khán to be placed in such a manner that his own body would shield that of the Báb. He was eventually suspended in such a position that his head reposed on the breast of his Master. As soon as they were fastened, a regiment of soldiers ranged itself in three files, each of two hundred and fifty men, each of which was ordered to open fire in its turn until the whole detachment had discharged the volleys of its bullets. The smoke of the firing of the seven hundred and fifty rifles was such as to turn the light of the noonday sun into darkness. There had crowded onto the roof of the barracks, as well as the tops of the adjoining houses, about ten thousand people, all of whom were witnesses to that sad and moving scene.
As soon as the cloud of smoke had cleared away, an astounded multitude were looking upon a scene which their eyes could scarcely believe. There, standing before them alive and unhurt, was the companion of the Báb, whilst He Himself had vanished uninjured from their sight. Though the cords with which they were suspended had been rent in pieces by the bullets, yet their bodies had miraculously escaped the volleys. Even the tunic which Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí was wearing had, despite the thickness of the smoke, remained unsullied. “The Siyyid-i-Báb has gone from our sight!” rang out the voices of the bewildered multitude. They set out in a frenzied search for Him, and found Him, eventually, seated in the same room which He had occupied the night before, engaged in completing His interrupted conversation, with Siyyid Husayn. An expression of unruffled calm was upon His face. His body had emerged unscathed from the shower of bullets which the regiment had directed against Him. “I have finished My conversation with Siyyid Husayn,” the Báb told the farrásh-báshí. “Now you may proceed to fulfil your intention.” The man was too much shaken to resume what he had already attempted. Refusing to accomplish his duty, he, that same moment, left that scene and resigned his post. He related all that he had seen to his neighbour, Mírzá Siyyid Muhsin, one of the notables of Tabríz, who, as soon as he heard the story, was converted to the Faith.
I was privileged to meet, subsequently, this same Mírzá Siyyid Muhsin, who conducted me to the scene of the Báb’s martyrdom and showed me the wall where He had been suspended. I was taken to the room in which He had been found conversing with Siyyid Husayn, and was shown the very spot where He had been seated. I saw the very nail which His enemies had hammered into the wall and to which the rope which had supported His body had been attached.
Sám Khán was likewise stunned by the force of this tremendous revelation. He ordered his men to leave the barracks immediately, and refused ever again to associate himself and his regiment with any act that involved the least injury to the Báb. He swore, as he left that courtyard, never again to resume that task even though his refusal should entail the loss of his own life.
No sooner had Sám Khán departed than Áqá Ján Khan-i-Khamsih, colonel of the body-guard, known also by the names of Khamsíh and Nasiri, volunteered to carry out the order for execution. On the same wall and in the same manner, the Báb and His companion were again suspended, while the regiment formed in line to open fire upon them. Contrariwise to the previous occasion, when only the cord with which they were suspended had been shot into pieces, this time their bodies were shattered and were blended into one mass of mingled flesh and bone. “Had you believed in Me, O wayward generation,” were the last words of the Báb to the gazing multitude as the regiment was preparing to fire the final volley, “every one of you would have followed the example of this youth, who stood in rank above most of you, and willingly would have sacrificed himself in My path. The day will come when you will have recognised Me; that day I shall have ceased to be with you.”
The very moment the shots were fired, a gale of exceptional severity arose and swept over the whole city. A whirlwind of dust of incredible density obscured the light of the sun and blinded the eyes of the people. The entire city remained enveloped in that darkness from noon till night. Even so strange a phenomenon, following immediately in the wake of that still more astounding failure of Sám Khán’s regiment to injure the Báb, was unable to move the hearts of the people of Tabríz, and to induce them to pause and reflect upon the significance of such momentous events. They witnessed the effect which so marvellous an occurrence had produced upon Sám Khán; they beheld the consternation of the farrásh-báshí and saw him make his irrevocable decision; they could even examine that tunic which, despite the discharge of so many bullets, had remained whole and stainless; they could read in the face of the Báb, who had emerged unhurt from that storm, the expression of undisturbed serenity as He resumed His conversation with Siyyid Husayn; and yet none of them troubled himself to enquire as to the significance of these unwonted signs and wonders.
The martyrdom of the Báb took place at noon on Sunday, the twenty-eighth of Sha’bán, in the year 1266 A.H., thirty-one lunar years, seven months, and twenty-seven days from the day of His birth in Shíráz.