Bahá'í Epistolary

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Meditation on the Martyrdom of the Báb: And a Provisional Translation

This was a meditation I wrote many years ago on this tender subject. It contains a provisional translation of one of the most tender passages in any prayer I have read, written by the Báb .

Dear friends of my heart, we had a beautiful commemoration today, adorned, at the end of a tearful recitation of the Tablet of Visitation by a dear Baha'i friend, with an improvised and deeply touching Negro Spiritual a capella lamenting the Bab's martyrdom. It will stay with me.In the spirit of this holy occasion commemorating His Remembrance, I remember you all dear brothers and sisters who are mirrors turning unto Him, and share with you some faltering meditations which came to me last year on the subject of this tragic yet triumphant day. I also enclose a translated extract of a deeply moving prayer by the Bab, without any academic pretentions or considerations. May the spirit of the Exalted of the Most Exalted kindle in your hearts the fire of His Remembrance, that we may all return to the Point whence our spirits were created and re-created.

In a tablet to Ibn-i Asdaq, Apostle of Bahá'u'lláh and Hand of His Cause,who had begged for the gift of martyrdom in His path, the Abha Pen declared:"God willing, he shall be seen in utmost purity and saintliness, as befitteth the Day of God, and attain the station of the most great martyrdom. This martyrdom is not confined to the destruction of the body and the shedding of blood. A person enjoying the bounty of life may yet be recorded a martyr in the Book of the Sovereign Lord." (Cited in the noble Hasan Balyuzi's Eminent Baha'is in the Time of Baha'u'llah)

It was the Bab Himself who first disclosed this glorious station in this Dispensation. Long before the fatal evening which sealed His fate and that of His faithful Anis, the Bab bore witness to His living martyrdom in the impassioned pages of the Risalih Dhahabbiyyih, where He likened His sacrifice in the course of the public humiliation He was made to endure before the assembled people of Shiraz, to the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn on the plains of Karbila. It was not, therefore, in the muskets of an ill-fated regiment that the bullets that felled Him first started their flight, but in the faithless response that welcomed His call from the very dawn of His ministry. That last hail of bullets that tore through His heart on the 9th of July 1850 was thus but one dot, one final black mark in the book of His sorrows.

A full stop concluding, not the life of the spirit, but the long martyrdom of a young Shirazi Merchant, called to bear witness, before all in heaven and earth, to the manifestation of His own Self, the Exalted, the Most High.

Below, in His remembrance on this sacred day, I enclose a small token, a brief excerpt from a heart rending commune of the Bab found in the preface to the first volume of ALM Nicolas' French translation of the Persian Bayan (p.xvii-xviii). It is an example of worshiping God without the desire for paradise or the fear of hellfire as enjoined by the Bab in that same Holy Book. It is provisionally translated from the French for personal and not academic purposes, and without reference to the original manuscripts.


O my God! Dost Thou wish for my blood? Wouldst Thou withdraw from me as I strive to draw nigh unto Thee? Yet should I seek to flee Thy might, Thou wouldst assuredly punish me. I know not the road that leads to Thy habitation, that I might seek Thee there, nor do I know in what tongue to call on Thee. Nay, I swear by Thy might, I do not flee Thy nearness, even shouldst Thou condemn me to remoteness from Thee! Nay, by Thy blessed threshold, I fear not Thy wrath even shouldst Thou cast me to the flames! Nay, I swear by Thy greatness, I place my hope in none other except Thee. Wert Thou to abandon me, I would yield praise for God's decree. None is there to be seen more patient than me, and no sovereign is more exalted than He whose dominion ruleth over my heart, chasing away the love of all else but Him. If like a child I seek to flee from Him, He impedes my flight. He places sugar between my lips to stop me from crying; then brings His breast to my mouth and suckles me to sleep.

1 comment:

Barmak Kusha said...

So heart-rending... so beautiful.., thank you brother Ismael.

your brother across the ocean....