More Books by H.M. Balyuzi

'Abdu'l-Baha - The Centre of the Covenant of Baha'u'llah
Baha'u'llah The King of Glory
Edward Granville Browne and The Baha'i Faith
Eminent Baha'is in the Time of Baha'u'llah
Khadijih Bagum - Wife of the Bab
Muhammad and the Course of Islam
The Bab The Herald of the Day of Days
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H.M. Balyuzi : Khadijih Bagum - Wife of the Bab
"The Wife of the Báb"
By H. M. Balyuzi
This etext is based on:

"Khadijih Bagum (The Wife of the Báb)" by H. M. Balyuzi

George Ronald, Publisher
46 High Street, Kidlington, Oxford, OX5 2DN
Copyright (c) Mary Balyuzi 1981
All Rights Reserved
ISBN 0-85398-100-0

Availability of this etext in no way modifies the copyright status of the above publication.

This etext is freely available through anonymous internet file-sharing.

"'O well-beloved!...Thou shalt not be
"a woman, like other women, if thou
"obeyest God in the Cause of Truth...'
The Báb

My father died on 12 February 1980. This publication commemorates the first anniversary of his passing.

Within a few weeks of his death the first volume of his projected four-volume work on the life of Bahá'u'lláh was published, with the title, "Bahá'u'lláh, The King of Glory . The second volume was largely written, with only a few incompleted chapters, and this will be published. The format and contents of the third and fourth volumes had also been discussed, and the introduction to volume three written.

In November of the previous year he had suffered a heart attack. As he recovered from that illness, so he seemed to gain a physical strength such as had been denied him through many long years of crippling ill health. With this renewed vitality there came a surge of creative energy that saw him laying plans for several more books. Such was his eagerness to progress, that even whilst still in hospital recovering, he commenced a translation into Persian of his "Muhammad and the Course of "Islam ; he had by then completed a revision, this time written in Persian, of "Edward Granville Brown and the Bahá'í Faith , incorporating much new material not included in the first, English-language version.

Further archival material was constantly being made available to him, stimulating him to still greater ambitions in the pursuit of Bahá'í scholarship, his great passion. His life of 'Abdu'l-Bahá he would rewrite, in a much expanded form to the present volume. Biographies of his kinsmen, members of the Afnan family, were planned, as was a biography of his father; all this, and much more. But it was not to be.

With the same suddenness that this new lease of life had been granted him, it was taken away, and his pen stilled. Yet it had not been in vain. For it was during these last four months of my father's life that he made his legacy to the Bahá'í World and, in so doing, sowed the seeds for the fruition of his most dear wish: that his work should continue and that the study of the history of the Faith should grow to its recognition as a major scholastic discipline.

In letters dated 10 November and 20 November 1979 he has left instructions that all his books and documents are to be kept together perpetually, 'for the benefit of all who seek knowledge', and that they are to form the nucleus of the 'Afnan Library', founded in the name of his father, Muvaqqari'd-Dawlih, and dedicated to Khadijih Bagum, the wife of the Báb. Once established, the Library will be made available to all students and scholars wishing to research the history of the Faith.

It is this dedication of the Library to Khadijih Bagum that lends to this small volume a special significance amongst my father's writings; for it testifies to his deep love and admiration for this noble soul. Khadijih Bagum, through the lineage of her brother, Haji Mirza Hadi, the father of Shoghi Effendi, and likewise of my father's maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother, and also, through the lineage of her younger brother, Haji Mirza Siyyid Hasan (known as Afnan-i-Kabir--the Great Afnan), the aunt of his maternal grand- mother. After the martyrdom of her Husband, Khadijih Bagum removed to the house of the widow of Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, the uncle who had reared the Báb from his infancy; and this house was close to the house in Shiraz where my grandfather was born and grew up. My grandfather would have related to my father how as a child he had played with Aqa Mirza Hadi at the feet of Khadijih Bagum, receiving instructions from her in the teachings of the Báb and of Bahá'u'lláh; and how later, as a young man, my grandfather came to act as amanuensis for the wife of the Báb, writing letters on her behalf to Bahá'u'lláh.

On hearing of the death in Karbila of Fatimih Bagum, the mother of the Báb, my grandfather was sent by his uncle, Haji Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan, to that city, to attend to the affairs of his aunt, Bibi Gawhar, who had remained with Fatimih Bagum ever since her departure from Shiraz that the death occurred of Khadijih Bagum, and this sorrowful news was conveyed to him in a letter from Haji Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan in which he writes:

'What a grievous loss! What a heart-rending event! May God be my witness! She was a Princess of her Age, a rare gem in her Era, a saintly soul. In her lifetime, none could value her worth.'

Thus it is clear how, from his earliest years, my father would have come to share the reverence of his family for the wife of the Báb; and the reader will appreciate why this amongst all his unpublished writings was chosen to mark the first anniversary of his death.

In the forewords to his books my father always made sure that all who had assisted in their preparation and publication were acknowledged and thanked. Here I would beg the grace of all who helped with this booklet, in allowing me to defer my own thanks to a later occasion, so that I may the greater emphasize my boundless gratitude to one person, whose absolutely selfless devotion to the welfare of my father I have no means of adequately describing: his cousin, Abu'l-Qasim Afnan. The story told in this booklet is largely based on the written narrative of Abu'l-Qasim Afnan, the true custodian in this age of the traditions of the Afnan family. Suffice it to mention, as a small illustration, that much of the unique archival material which Abu'l-Qasim had in his possession, and which he unhesitatingly and without qualification made available to my father, he could equally readily have chosen to use himself in his own writings. No man could ever have desired a finer, truer friend.

Finally, it may prove useful if I refer the reader to two of my father's other books, "The Báb and "Bahá'u'lláh, The King of Glory. For in these are to be found many of the persons and incidents mentioned in this essay, but in their wider context. The reader's path may also be eased if, whilst reading the essay, reference is made to the Genealogy of the Báb prepared by the Guardian of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi, to be found in Nabil's Narrative, "The "Dawn Breakers.

Robert Balyuzi
London, November 1980
The Wife of the Báb

In the long years after the martyrdom of the Báb, His wife, Khadijih Bagum, would at times recount the story of her glorious but tragic life to the younger members of her family. Decades later, a niece, Maryam-Sultan Bagum, daughter of Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, recalled all that she had heard from her saintly aunt; her grandson, Abu'l-Qasim Afnan, has now put on paper these recollections. Here is this invaluable account, in part purported to be a narration of Khadijih Bagum herself.

The Báb and His wife were not widely separated in age. The

house of

Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, the maternal uncle of the Báb--who became

His guardian when His father died--and that of Mirza 'Ali, the

father of

Khadijih Bagum, adjoined each other; and so the Báb and Khadijih


were neighbours and playmates in their childhood. Mirza Siyyid

(the Great

Afnan of future years), a brother of Khadijih Bagum, was about the


age. Whenever the children of the two households came together to


usually Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad (the Báb) chose not to join in their


although He occasionally did, and was always kind and considerate.


later, when Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad had gone to Bushihr (Bushire),


Bagum had a vivid dream in which she saw her young Cousin in a

verdant plain,

with flowers in profusion, facing towards the Qiblih (Mecca) in an

attitude of

prayer. He wore a "labbadih" (an outer coat) on which Qur'anic

verses were

embroidered with threads of gold. His face was radiant,. She

related that

dream to her mother, and to the mother and grandmother of Siyyid

'Ali-Muhammad. They assured her that it was her Cousin's assiduous

attendance to His prayers which had vouchsafed her that splenderous

vision. At

this time Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad could not have been more than

sixteen years

Still some years later, when Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad had returned


Shiraz from His visit to the holy cities of 'Iraq, Khadijih

Bagum dreamt that Fatimih, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad,

had come

to ask for her hand in marriage to the Imam Husayn.\* Her mother,


+F1 The martyred third Imam, who was a son of Fatimih.

told of this dream, rejoiced at the good fortune that awaited her


That very day, Khadijih Bagum recalled, the mother of Siyyid

'Ali-Muhammad came to call on her mother, and His grandmother was


there. Whenever His grandmother came on a visit, Siyyid


stated, all would hurry to greet her, would kiss her shoulders, and

then wait

at the threshold of the room for her permission to enter and take

a seat. Only

Khadijih Bagum's mother and the mother of Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad


first be seated with her. And in her presence all would keep

silent until she
addressed them.

To continue the story of that day, so auspicious in her life,


Bagum recounted: 'After they were all seated I took *Sh(arbat (a

fruit syrup) to

them and left the room. Then my sisters, one of whom was married

to Haji
Mirza Zaynu'l-'Abidin\*

+F2 Her name was Zahra Bagum; her husband was a cousin of the

father of the

+F2 Báb and great-grandfather of Abu'l-Qasim Afnan.

and the other to Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, came and went into the

room. Not long after, they all rose to go.' To Khadijih Bagum's


the mother of Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad kissed her on the forehead


leaving. Seeing her puzzled look, her mother hastened to explain:

'That kiss

implied that she has asked your hand in marriage to her Son. You

see, the

dream you had last night has come true.' Khadijih Bagum, hearing

the news and

being reminded of her wondrous dream, was greatly elated. The


respect and consideration which all the members of the family gave

to Siyyid

'Ali-Muhammad, and the accounts of His demeanour and bearing which

she had

heard from her elders, had already convinced Khadijih Bagum that

her young

Cousin stood head and shoulders above them all. She recalled:

'From that day I

felt a great stirring within my heart. It seemed that the gate of

God's mercy

and abundant bounty had been flung open before my face. I felt

proud of my coming union.'

Some two months passed before the wedding could be arranged.


feasts were held in the house of Mirza 'Ali, the father of Khadijih

Bagum, and in the house of the uncle of Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad who

had been

His guardian. Shaykh Abu-Turab, the Imam-Jum'ih of Shiraz,


over the ceremony and read the usual oration. As it was customary

for a

relative of the bridegroom to respond, His uncle Haji Mirza Siyyid

'Al'ai, accepted the suit. Later, the bride and the Groom were

joined in

wedlock in the house of Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad Himself.\*

+F3 The marriage took place in August 1842.

Khadijih Bagum recalled: 'His kindness towards me and His care

for me

were indescribable. He and His mother alike showered me with

kindness and

consideration.' The household in that small dwelling, destined to

be the scene

of the birth of a World Faith, consisted of the married couple, the

mother of

Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad, and two black servitors: Fiddih, the woman,

Mubarak, the man.

Remembering those halcyon days preceding sorrows and

suffering, Khadijih

Bagum would say: 'No words can ever convey my wonderful feeling of


fortune.' But, not long after her marriage, she dreamt one night

that a

fearsome lion was standing in the courtyard of their house, and she

herself had

her arms around the neck of the lion. The beast dragged her twice

round the

whole perimeter of the courtyard, and once round half of it. She

woke up,

alarmed and trembling with fright, and related her dream to her

Husband. His

comment was: 'You awoke too soon. Your dream portends that our

life together

will not last more than two-and-a-half years.' Khadijih Bagum was


distressed, but her Husband's affection and His words of comfort

consoled her

and prepared her to accept every adversity in the path of God.

Before long it was realized that Khadijih Bagum was with

child. And whe

the time came, her accouchement was exceedingly difficult and

fraught with

danger. Her mother-in-law reported to Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad that

His wife wa

on the point of death. There was a mirror beside Him, on which He

wrote a

prayer, and instructed His mother to hold the mirror in front of

His wife. That done, the child was safely delivered; but its life

was short.

Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad's mother was both grieved and angry. She


her Son that if He had such powers, why had He not made an attempt

to preserve

the life of the child, and spare His wife so much suffering?


'Ali-Muhammad replied with a smile that He was not destined to

leave any

progeny, an answer which infuriated His mother; but to her

reproaches He said
no more.

The child, a son who was named Ahmad by his Father, was buried

under a

cypress tree in the compound of the tomb of Bibi-Du"kh taran.\*

+F4 No one knows for certain who Bibi-Du"kh taran was. It is said


+F4 she was a member of the Royal House of the Atabaks of


+F4 Salghurids (1148-1270)--while others have claimed that since


+F4 Du"kh taran means the matron or the Mistress of the Maidens,

it is

+F4 possible that she was the Abbess of a Christian order of nuns.

In the "Suratu'l-Qarab" (The Chapter of Kinship) of His mighty


the "Qayyumu'l Asma' , the Báb speaks of Ahmad: 'O concourse of


Hear My call from the point of Fire in this ocean of snow-white

water on this
crimson earth. Verily, I am

God, besides Whom there is no other God. On the exalted throne a

beloved noble

woman, bearing the same name\* as the beloved of the First

Friend,\* was wedded
+F5 Khadijih.
+F6 The Prophet Muhammad

to this Great Remembrance;\* and verily I caused the angels of

Heaven and the

+F7 The term 'Dhikr', here translated as 'Remembrance, was

frequently used by
+F7 the Báb to refer to Himself.

denizens of Paradise, on the day of the Covenant, to bear witness,

in truth, to
God's Remembrance.

'O well-beloved! Value highly the grace of the Great

Remembrance, for it

cometh from God, the Loved One. Thou shalt not be a woman, like

other women,

if thou obeyest God in the Cause of Truth, the greatest Truth.

Know thou the

great bounty conferred upon thee by the Ancient of Days, and take

pride in

being the consort of the Well-Beloved, Who is loved by God, the

All-Wise, the

All-Praised. Be patient in all that God hath ordained concerning

the Báb and
His Family. Verily, thy son,

Ahmad, is with Fatimih,\* the Sublime, in the sanctified Paradise.'

+F8 The daughter of the Prophet Muhammmad.
There is this further reference to Ahmad in the
"Suratu'l-'Abd" of the

same mighty Book: 'All praise be to God Who bestowed upon the

Solace of the

Eyes,\* in His youth, Ahmad. We did verily raise him up unto

God...O Solace

+F9 The Báb oftentimes refers to Himself in the "Qayyumu'l-Asma'

+F9 Qurratu'l-'Ayn-the Solace of the Eyes.

of the Eyes! Be patient in what thy God hath ordained for thee.

Verily he

doeth whatsoever He willeth. He is the All-Wise in the exercise

of His

justice. He is thy Lord, the Ancient of Days, and praised be He

in whatever He

During those years of their marriage, Khadijih Bagum related,


Husband had no definite occupation. He spent most of His time in

the upper

chamber of the house, engaged in devotions. At times, He went in

the morning

to His uncle's trading-house in the Saray-i-Gumruk (Customs Serai).

And some

afternoons He would go for a walk in the fields ouside the city and

come home

sunset. It was His wont to write His letters or His meditations

in the early

part of the evening, after performing the obligatory prayers

pertaining to
that period of the night.

Khadijih Bagum recalled that one day in the late afternoon He

came home

earlier than usual. That evening, He said, He had a particular

task to attend

to, and asked that dinner be served earlier. Fiddih, the servant

who did

the cooking, was so informed, and the family had their evening meal

in the room

of the mother of Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad. Then He retired for the


Speaking of the events of that memorable night, which,

according to

recollections of members of the Afnan family, occurred some time

before the

Báb declared His mission, Khadijih Bagum related: 'An hour later,

when the

house was quiet and its occupants had gone to sleep, He rose from

His bed and

left the room. At first I took no particular notice of His

absence, but when

it lengthened to more than an hour I felt some concern. Then I

went out to
look for Him, but He was nowhere to be found.

Perhaps, for some reason, He had left the house, I thought; but,

trying the

street door I found it locked from within, as usual. Then I walked

to the

western side of the house, looked up at the roof-top, and saw that

the upper

chamber was well lighted. This added to my surprise, because I had

never known

Him to go to that part of the house at that hour of the night,

unless He had

guests. And He always told me when a visitor was expected. He had

not said

that He was to have a guest that night. So, with both astonishment


trepidation, I went up the steps at the northern side of the

courtyard. There

I saw Him standing in that chamber, His hands raised heavenwards,

intoning a

prayer in a most melodious voice, with tears streaming down His

face. And His

face was luminous; rays of light radiated from it. He looked so

majestic and

resplendent that fear seized me, and I stood transfixed where I

was, trembling

uncontrollably. I could neither enter the room nor retrace my

steps. My

will-power was gone, and I was on the point of screaming, when He

made a

gesture with His blessed hands, telling me to go back.

This movement of His hands gave me back my courage, and I returned

to my room

and my bed. But all that night long I remained deeply disturbed.

In my fitful

moments of sleep that scene in the upper chamber would present

itself to my

mind, adding to my consternation. I kept asking myself what grave

event had

come to pass to evoke such sorrow and such tears, inducing prayer


supplication of such intensity. Sleep was impossible that night,

and then came

the dawn, so foreboding, and I heard the muezzin's call to prayer.

'At sunrise Fiddih took the samovar and tea-things to the room

of my

mother-in-law and, as usual, He went to His mother's room to take

tea. I

followed Him there, and as soon as my eyes alighted on Him, that

attitude and

that majesty which I had witnessed the night before took shape

before me. I

paled and shuddered involuntarily. His mother had, at that moment,

gone out of

the room, and He was quietly drinking His tea. He raised His face

to me, and

received me with great kindness and affection, bidding me be

seated. Then He
passed to me what was left of the tea in His

own cup, which I drank. His kindness restored my courage, and when

He asked me

what it was that troubled me, I boldly replied that it was the

change in Him

which weighed heavily on my mind. "You are no longer", I told

Him,"the same

person I knew in our childhood. We grew up together, we have been

married for

two years, living in this house, and now I see a different person

before me.

You have been transformed." I further remarked that this had made

me anxious

and uneasy. He smiled and said that although He had not wished to

be seen by

me in the condition of the previous night, God had ordained

otherwise. "It

was the will of God", He said, "that you should have seen Me in the

way you did

last night, so that no shadow of doubt should ever cross your mind,

and you

should come to know with absolute certitude that I am that

Manifestation of God

Whose advent has been expected for a thousand years. This light

radiates from
My heart and from My Being."\* As soon as

+F10 These are the words of the Báb as recalled by Khadijih Bagum

in later

+F10 years, and recorded decades after, and should not be taken

as His exact
+F10 words on that occasion. (Ed.)

I heard Him speak these words I believed in Him. I prostrated

myself before

Him and my heart became calm and assured. From that moment I lived

only to

serve Him, evanescent and self-effacing before Him, no thought of

self ever

The degree of Khadijih Bagum's faith and the rank she attained


attested by Nabil:\* 'The wife of the Báb...perceived at the

earliest dawn

+F11 Nabil-i-A'zam, "The Dawn Breakers , p. 191 (U.S. edn.).

of His Revelation the glory and uniqueness of His Mission and felt

from the

very beginning the intensity of its force. No one except Tahirih,


the women of her generation, surpassed her in the spontaneous

character of her

devotion nor excelled the fervour of her faith.' In the prayer

of visitation

which Bahá'u'lláh revealed for Khadijih Bagum after her death, He


her in these: 'Thou art she, who, before the creation of the world

of being,

found the fragrance of the garment of the Merciful.'

Whenever Khadijih Bagum spoke of the days of her marriage and


enforced separation from her Husband, and related the sufferings

of the Báb,

grief would so overwhelm her as to deprive her, for a while, of the

power of

speech. Her grief was felt, and shared by all who heard her.

Not many months after His declaration to Mulla

Husayn-i-Bushru'i,\* the Báb left Shiraz to go on pilgrimage to

Mecca. The letter which He wrote to Khadijih Bagum from Bushihr

(the port

of embarkation) shows His degree of attachment to her. His letter

opened with

these words: 'My sweet love, may God preserve thee.'

The return of the Báb from His pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina


the commencement of fierce denials and persecutions which reached

their climax

with the martyrdom of the Báb Himself. His wife's sufferings and

agonies of

mind and soul, although not under public gaze, can well be

imagined. There
was, for example, the

incident of the raid by the emissaries of the Darughih (Chief

Constable) of

Shiraz, which she particularly recalled in later years:

'It was summer-time in the month of Ramadan. We slept on the


and my mother-in-law slept in the courtyard. (Farra*sh(es \* of

the Governor
+F12 Footman, lictor, attendant.

made their way to our home from a neighbour's roof. That Blessed

Being rose

up and told me to go downstairs. The intruders took away every

book and every

piece of writing that they found in the upper chamber. To Him they

said, "You

have to come with us to the house of 'Abdu'l-Hamid Khan (the

Darughih)." Down below, I could hear Him expostulating with the

(Farra*sh(es , demanding to know why they had broken into and

forced their way

into our house, in the dead of night. "It has been reported to

us", they

replied,"that some people have assembled in this house." Since

they had by

then discovered the untruth of this report, He asked if they would

now go away

in peace. But they were not satisfied and took Him away. God

knows what His
mother and I

suffered that night. We were thankful that His grandmother, an

elderly lady,

was not there. It was close to dawn when He came home. They had


money and, as He had no cash with Him, they had laid hands on the


shawl round His waist and cut it up. 'Abdu'l-Hamid Khan had kept

half of
the shawl for himself.'

Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, a brother of Khadijih Bagum, wrote

the full story of that night in a letter to Haji Mirza Siyyid

Muhammad, a maternal uncle of the Báb, who at that time resided in

Bushihr. This letter is extant.

Not long after that night when the privacy of His home had

been stealthily

invaded, the authorities arrested the Báb and detained Him, under

lock and

key, in the house of the Darughih. And it was rumoured in the city

that he

would be put to death in the same house. Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali,

the uncle of the Báb who had been His guardian in His childhood,

did his

utmost to provide comfort and relief. He himself had been beaten

up and was

ailing, yet he was ceaseless in his efforts. And so was the sister

Khadijih Bagum, whose

name was Zahra Bagum. At this time, when no male member of the

family dared

come to their house, Khadijih Bagum recalled, it was only her

sister who

would come, dressed as a beggar. The famous mosque of Shiraz,

known as

Masjid-i-Naw (the New Mosque), was close by. Here, in a secluded

spot in the

mosque, her sister would change her own *ch(adur \* for one

tattered and

+F13 An outer garment which envelops a woman from head to foot,

like a sack.

patched, and would then go to the house of the Báb to bring any

news there was
of Him to His mother.

Amongst the notables of Shiraz, the one man ever ready to


assistance was Shaykh Abu-Turab, the Imam-Jum'ih. Zahra Bagum,

together with the wife of Haji Abu'l-Hasan-i-Bazzaz (the Mercer),\*

+F14 Haji Abu'l-Hasan was a fellow-pilgrim of the Báb, on the boat

+F14 that took them from Bushihr to Jiddah. He was greatly

impressed by the

+F14 mien and bearing of Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad, his


+F14 Later, in Shiraz, he learned of the claim and the mission of


+F14 'Ali-Muhammad, the Báb, and gave Him his unswerving


+F14 which never faltered in the face of life-long persecution.

Many were the

+F14 hardships that he bore resolutely in His path and for His


+F14 Haji Abu'l-Hasan was the father of Mirza Muhammad-Baqir

+F14 Khan Dihqan, a distinguished and greatly devoted Bahá'í of


+F14 period which covered the Ministry of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

who was closely related to the Imam Jum'ih, visited regularly the

house of thi

benevolent divine to obtain news and seek his intercession on

behalf of the

Bab. The Imam-Jum'ih would reply that he was powerless in the face

of the

open and relentless enmity of their own relative, and his advice

was to try and

calm down that vociferous man. he was referring to Haji

'Abdu'l-Husayn, a brother of the wife of Haji Mirza Siyyid

Muhammad, who was foremost in denouncing, insulting, and

persecuting the

Bab. But when the divines of Shiraz passed the verdict of death

on the

Bab, and had their infamous sentence confirmed by Husayn Khan, the

Nizamu'd-Dawlih and Governor-General of the province of Fars, the

Imam-Jum'ih refused to add his signature to theirs. Three of those

divines--Shaykh Husayn, the Nazimu'sh-Shari'ah (known as Zalim,


Tyrant), Shaykh Mihdiy-i-Kujuri, and Shaykh Muhammmad-'Aliy-i-

Mahallati--presented themselves at the house of the Imam-

Jum'ih in an effort to win him over to their side. Shaykh


rejected their plea, censured their reprehensible conduct, and

turned them out

of his house. By now Zahra Bagum, the mother of the Báb, and the

wife of

Haji Abu'l-Hasan had together persuaded the Imam-Jum'ih to find a


out of the impasse. And so, as well as declining to be associated

with the

death verdict pronounced by the divines, he made them agree to

summon the Báb

to Masjid-i-Vakil (the Vakil's Mosque),\* and there give Him the

chance to

+F15 It was built by Karim Khan-i-Vakil (reigned 1750-79), the

founder of
+F15 the short-lived Zand dynasty.

repudiate His claim. One day, heralds were sent through the

streets to call,

in the name of the Governor, on the people of Shiraz to assemble,

in the

afternoon of a certain Friday, in Vakil's Mosque to hear the Báb's


And now to continue with Khadijih Bagum's recollections: 'We

were all

apprehensive lest something untoward should happen, but it was

being said that

once He had declared His repentance, He would be allowed to come

home. This

was comforting to us. On that Friday afternoon, we wished

to send a woman to the mosque, to bring us news of the happenings

there. But

it was found to be impossible. Women were not admitted. However,

news was

brought to us that (farra*sh(es had taken Him to the mosque, where

He had

ascended the pulpit and spoken words which had kindled once again

the wrath of

the Governor and the divines, whereupon they had led Him back to


Soon after, a cholera epidemic suddenly struck Shiraz, taking a

heavy toll

of lives. The people fled from the city and very few were left


'One day, to our indescribable joy, He came home and stayed

two or three

days. Only Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali and two others of the believers

knew of His release. But these were the last days of my life with

Him. A few

days before the arrival of the month of Ramadan, He announced that


sojourn in Shiraz was no longer advisable and that He would leave

the city

that very night. We, who had known how much He had suffered in


were happy and contented that He could now reach a place of safety.

In the

afternoon He called on Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali and Haji Siyyid

'Ali and Haji Mirza Zaynu'l-

'Abidin and his wife, who was my sister, to bid them farewell,


home about sunset, and two hours later, all alone, left the house.

His clothes

and the necessities for the journey had been sent out of the city


Accompanied by one of the believers He took the road to Isfahan.\*

+F16 In the last days of September 1846. A somewhat different

account of this

+F16 episode is given in Browne (ed.), "A Traveler's Narrative ,

p. 9 (U.S.

+F16 edn.), and "The Dawn-Breakers , pp. 197-8 (U.S. edn.).

'Now, we were most of the time in the house of Haji Mirza

Siyyid 'Ali, expecting the arrival, any minute, of a messenger with

news of

Him. The cholera epidemic was over and the Governor had returned


Shiraz. As soon as Husayn Khan was back, he sent his (farra*sh(es


seek Him. We pleaded ignorance of His whereabouts. 'Abdu'l-Hamid


the Darughih, who had on his own authority allowed Him to depart


Shiraz, likewise denied having any knowledge of His destination.

Then the

(farra*sh(es of the Governor came to arrest my brother, Haji Mirza

Abu'l-Qasim, who was ill in bed and unable to walk. So they threw

him over
their shoulders and carried him to

the residence of the Governor. Of course he knew nothing, but

Husayn Khan

would not believe him, and began to remonstrate so vehemently that

my brother

could not withstand that torrent of abuse and lost consciousness.

Indeed, he

was driven almost to the point of death. Finally, Husayn Khan told


that he should produce his Brother-in-Law within fifteen days or

pay a fine of

15,000 tumans.\* Whatever my brother said had no effect on the

+F17 A substantial sum in those days.

Governor. Then Haji Muhammad-Sadiq-i-Isfahani, a friend and

business associate of my brother, intervened to stand surety for

him. The

Governor's men once again hoisted Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim on to

their shoulders and brought him home. He was thrown

unceremoniously into the

forecourt of the house and abandoned there. God knows what my

brother and we

went through during those two or three hours. One result of this


was an affliction of the eyes. The pain was severe and my brother

could not

open his eyes, whilst tears streamed from them the whole time.

'Upon the expiration of fifteen days, the (farra*sh(es came

again. They

would not allow my brother even to mount his donkey, but took him

away in the

same manner as before. God be praised that just as Husayn Khan was

demanding menacingly his 15,000 tumans from Haji Muhammad-Sadiq

and my brother, a letter was brought to him from the Governor of


Manu"ch ihr Khan, who had written that the Person whom Husayn Khan


seeking was in Isfahan, an honoured Guest of the Governor himself,

and that

no member of His family should be molested in any way. Husayn Khan


perforce to moderate his demand, and exacted 1,500 tumans instead.


Farrash-Bashi (Chief of the (farra*sh(es ) and his men all demanded

and had to be satisfied.'
Haji Mirza Hasan-'Ali, a younger brother of Haji

Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, lived in Yazd. Once every few months he would

send a

messenger to Shiraz with a letter for his sister, the mother of the


to console and comfort her, and give her whatever news he had of

the Báb. At

times there was a letter from the Báb Himself, addressed to

His wife, mother and grandmother. Haji Mirza Siyyid Hasan (later

known as Afnan-i-Kabir), a brother of Khadijih Bagum, was in


during those years, but he never wrote to her a line about her


Indeed, at that time Haji Mirza Siyyid Hasan was hostile to his

Kinsman, the Báb.\*

+F18 A half-brother of Khadijih Bagum, Haji Muhammad-Mihdi--a

+F18 poet of distinction whose soubriquet was Hijab, had gone to

+F18 for commercial pursuits

And now to continue with Khadijih Bagum's recollections: 'Then

Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali left for Yazd. Of the young members of the

family, Haji Mirza Javad\* and Haji Mirza Muhammad-

+F19 Son of Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali.

'Ali\* came to see us oftentimes and provided us with our means of

+F20 Son of Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad.

livelihood. They were exceedingly kind. Whenever they met my


they invariably kissed her hand and spoke such words as would bring

her peace
of mind.

'A few months passed, until news reached us that He, the Qa'im

of the
House of

Muhammad, had been taken to Tihran,\* and then to Tabriz. These

+F21 Although summoned by the Shah to Tihran, an order from the


+F21 Minister countermanded this, when the Báb was within thirty

miles of the
+F21 capital. (Ed.)

fragmentary pieces of news caused us great distress. My

mother-in-law appealed

to her brother, Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, to do something. Thus it

was that he went from Yazd to Maku and in the end met a martyr's

death in

'Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali's martyrdom in Tihran, and the

martyrdom of that Blessed Person [the Báb] in Tabriz were concealed

from the

women of the family, and whenever we mentioned rumours that had

come to our

ears, the men would hotly deny them--all lies they would say.'

Of course the men of the family knew what had happened. Even

before those

dire events had come to pass, Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, the brother

of Khadijih Bagum, had found it impossible to stay in Shiraz, and


taken Mirza Javad, the eighteen-year-old son of Haji Mirza

Siyyid 'Ali, with him to go on pilgrimage to Mecca. Mirza Javad

had, only a year before, married his cousin, Khadijih Sultan-Bagum,


daughter of Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad. On the way back, the

youthful Mirza Javad (now a Haji) fell ill and died at Jiddah,

where he was buried.\* Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, now alone, visited

+F22 A receipt exists, from a reciter of the Qur'an in Karbila,


+F22 lists the clothing and other belongings of Haji Mirza Javad.

+F22 They had been given to him by Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, and in

+F22 return, he was to recite in public verses of the Qur'an on

behalf of
+F22 the deceased.

the holy shrines of 'Iraq before returning home. More than a year

had passed

since the martyrdom of the Báb and that of His uncle, when Haji

Mirza Abu'l-Qasim reached home with the sad news of the death of

Haji Mirza Javad. The announcement of this youth's lamentable

death perforce revealed the fact that his father was dead,


beheaded in Tihran. And the martyrdom of the Báb Himself could no


be kept a secret. Now, all three were mourned together.

The mother of the Báb was inconsolable. The spiteful attitude

and the

lashing, wounding tongues of some members of the family, who were

bitterly hostile, inten-

sified her agonies, until she could not bear any longer the

injuries inflicted

upon her and decided to take herself away from Shiraz. At first


wished to go to Mashhad--the most sacred city of Iran, where the

remains of

the Eighth Imam, 'Ali Ibn Musa'r-Rida, repose--and have her mother


her. But she changed her mind, leased the house of the Báb to


Muhammad-Husayn-i-Bazzaz, and, accompanied by Bibi Gawhar\*--a

+F23 A great-aunt of the present writer.
of Haji Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Balyuz--and Haji

Mubarak, the faithful black servant of the Báb, went to Karbila and

resided there for the rest of her life. Later, Mirza 'Abdu'l-Majid


his wife, both believers, went to live in the same holy city. The

wife of

Mirza 'Abdu'l-Majid served the mother of the Báb with exemplary


Khadijih Bagum, recalling those days of desolation and

distress, would

say: 'Her departure from Shiraz added greatly to my burden of

sorrow and

deepened the sadness of my heart. I had no longer by my side a

comforter whose

love and sympathy and care had sustained me over the years. I went

to live with my sister, the widow of Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali. She

herself had lost both her husband and her only son within the space

of one

year. As great as was my sorrow, hers was even greater and I had

to comfort
her. The loyal, faithful Fiddih was with me.

'Of the servants and the maids whom we had in the house, no

one knew of

the martyrdom of that Blessed Being and the martyrdom of His uncle.

It was not

possible to talk of such matters with anyone. In Karbila, Haji

Mubarak had purchased a broom with a green handle to sweep every

day the

courtyard of the Shrine of Imam Husayn. Since green is the colour

of the

House of Muhammad, Haji Mubarak meant to keep alive the hope that


day he would see again, with his own eyes, the luminous face of his


Master in this world. In Shiraz we told Fiddih and others that the

Master and His uncle had gone to Bombay for the purposes of trade.

When our

house was being repaired Fiddih was so happy, saying all the time

that the

Master was on His way home, and the house was being repaired in

for His home-

coming. The joy of this faithful soul was wonderful to behold and

overwhelming. We were all deeply affected.

'When the captives of Nayriz and Zanjan were brought to


they could not approach us nor could we approach them. But after

a while the

daughters of Hujjat and some ladies from Nayriz visited us in the

house of

Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali. Thereafter we were able to visit one


'Years passed, and Mirza Aqa\* grew up. He was greatly

attached to

+F24 The son of Haji Mirza Zaynu'l-Abidin and Zahra Bagum,

+F24 sister of Khadijih Bagum.

The Blessed Beauty [Bahá'u'lláh] was in Baghdad. Mirza Aqa wrote

to Him on my behalf and I was honoured with a reply. Then came a

day when

Mulla Muhammad-i-Zarandi, Nabil-i-A'zam, travelled to Shiraz

with a mandate from the Blessed Beauty to announce His Mission to

the People of

the Bayan\* in this city. In the house of Mirza Aqa he told the

+F25 Followers of the Báb.

believers gathered there that the Promised One of the Bayan had

come, and

they, one and all, pledged their loyalty. One day I asked him to

come. I was

behind a curtain, and as soon as I heard him say that the Blessed

Beauty was

"He Whom God shall manifest", promised in the "Bayan , I

experienced the same

feeling as I had that night, standing at the threshold of the upper

chamber of

our home, and became certain that what God had promised for the

"Year Nine" had

come to pass. I immediately put my forehead on the ground in

adoration and

thanksgiving. Then, I could only whisper: "Offer at His sacred

threshold my

most humble devotion." I did not hesitate for a moment and my

submission was
instantaneous and total.

'Again, years passed, and one day a letter came from Mirza


Hasan, my brother in Isfahan, announcing that Aqa Siyyid Yahya

and his sister,\* accompanied by Shaykh Salman,\* were coming to


+F26 Munirih Khanum, who was to become the wife of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

+F27 The celebrated courier of Bahá'u'lláh.

on their way to the Holy Land. Believers travelling to Shiraz

always came

to pay me a visit and I received them in the home of Mirza Aqa, my

nephew. Women amongst the believers in Shiraz, who were few in

number, used to call at the house of Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali to see

me. I lived in that house and had it prepared to receive the

travellers from

Isfahan. But I heard that on their arrival they had gone to the

house of

Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad, which was close by. I went there

myself and brought them to this house. My nephew, Haji Siyyid

+F28 The son of Haji Mirza Siyyid Hasan.

was also in Shiraz at this time. They stayed for fifteen days, and

were some of the happiest days of my life.'

Here ends the story of Khadijih Bagum, as told by her to the

members of her family.

Shaykh Salman visited Shiraz often, and whenever he came from

'Akka, he brought a Tablet from Bahá'u'lláh addressed to Khadijih


and presents and tokens as well. Once he brought her a book in the


of Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin--a gift from Bahá'u'lláh; another time a ring


shirts which Bahá'u'lláh had worn, with handkerchiefs and

turban-cloths used
round His "taj"--His headgear.

Munirih Khanum carried to the presence of Bahá'u'lláh three


from Khadijih Bagum. She longed for the house of her Husband to

be repaired

so that she might live there. She asked for the hand of


Khanum, a daughter of Bahá'u'lláh, on behalf of her nephew, Haji

Siyyid 'Ali. And she begged for permission to travel to 'Akka and

have the

bounty of attaining the presence of her Lord, in Whose path her

Husband had

gladly offered His life. Bahá'u'lláh granted all her requests.

The house of

the Báb received the repairs needed, and Khadijih Bagum transferred


residence there. But, before long, the succession of visitors to

that house

aroused the wrath of the adversaries. Haji Farhad Mirza, the

Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih, an uncle of Nasiri'd-din Shah, who, at the


was Governor-General of the province of Fars, decided to have the


demolished. Mirza Abu'l-Hasan, the Munshi-Bashi (Chief Secretary),

and Mirza Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khn-i-'Ali-Abadi, both of whom

were Bahá'ís and members of the retinue of the Prince-Governor,

close to his
person, managed to avert that catastrophe.

For a while Khadijih Bagum had to live once again in the house of


sister, but eventually returned to the house of her Husband.

As for her second request, the marriage of her nephew to


daughter was to cause Khadijih Bagum untold sorrow. For Haji


'Ali had promised her, should her request be granted and he be

accepted as

Bahá'u'lláh's son-in-law, that he would come from Yazd, where he

resided and

traded, and would take Khadijih Bagum with him to the Holy Land,

that her

eager desire to attain the presence of Bahá'u'lláh might be

fulfilled. But

when news of Bahá'u'lláh's consent to the marriage was recieved,

this fickle

nephew broke his promise and sent word that conditions prevented

his coming to

Shiraz, and that he was proceeding to the Holy Land via 'Ishqabad


hoped to arrange for her journey as soon as he could. Khadijih

Bagum sensed

that her chance to travel to the Holy Land was now gone forever;

in those days

a woman travelled only in the company of a close relative and such

opportunities were rare.

Khadijih Bagum was heart-broken. Her health deteriorated and


the attentions of several physicians, within two months of the

receipt of that

distressing intelligence, she passed away in the house of her

glorious Husband,

three hours before sunset on Monday, 2 Dhi'l-Qi'dih 1299 A.H. (15


1882). And strangely, the faithful servitor, Fiddih died two hours


the death of her mistress, in the same house. As her brother, Haji

Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, has recorded, Khadijih Bagum's body was taken


night to the public bath, known as Hammam-i-Guldastih, which was


to the Masjid-i-Naw, to be washed and prepared for interment. That

same night

she was buried within the Shrine of Shah-Chiragh,\* in the section

known as

+F29 The tomb of Mir Siyyid Ahmad, a son of the Seventh Imam,

+F29 Kazim.

Sadru'l-Hifaz (to the north of the tomb of Mir Siyyid Ahmad), which

was called Masjid-i-Zananih (Women's Mosque).

It was then forty years since that auspicious and joyous day

of the

marriage of the Báb to Khadijih Bagum. 'Be patient in all that God


ordained concerning the Báb and His Family,' he had counselled her,

and to His

counsel she had clung faithfully to her last hour. Their life

together in this

world had lasted but two brief years, when there befell them a

separation best

described in the Báb's own words written during His journey to

Mecca: 'My

sweet love,...God is my witness that since the time of separation

sorrow has
been so intense that it cannot be described...'

As we contemplate the life of this heroic, steadfast

woman--ennobled by

her instant recognition of both the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh--sadness

gives way

to pride and praise, and to the tranquillity of the words with

which her

beloved Husband closed His letter to her: "'Peace be upon thee and

the mercy of
"God and His blessings.'
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