Part 7. And into a new age

"Let your vision be world embracing...."

On the 9th July, 1850 ten thousand people crowded into the barrack square of the city of Tabríz, in Persia, and onto its surrounding roofs, to witness the execution of Mirzá Ali-Muhammad, the Báb. The Báb and one of His followers, named Anis, were suspended by a rope from one of the pillars surrounding the square and were waiting for Sám Khán, the colonel of an Armenian Christian regiment, to carry out the orders of the Persian authorities to execute them. At the colonel's command, 700 rounds were fired, in three waves, at the two prisoners, filling the square with smoke so thick that it blotted out the sun.

Before the execution, Sám Khán had expressed to the Báb his uneasiness at being responsible for His death and wished to be relieved of the burden. The Báb assured him that if that was his real desire then he need have no fear. And it soon became clear that Sám Khán's wish had been granted, for when the smoke finally cleared, the Báb was nowhere to be seen and Anis was standing there bewildered but unhurt. The ropes had been shattered by the bullets yet the two men were untouched.

Sám Khán immediately withdrew his regiment, refusing to have any more to do with anything that would hurt the Báb, Whom he admired and respected. After a search, the Báb was found back in His cell, finishing off a conversation with His secretary that had been cut short earlier. He was, once again, suspended, with Anis, from the pillar in the barrack square. A Muslim regiment took over the task of executing them and this time the two bodies were riddled with bullets, though the two faces were left untouched and were serene.

As the shots rang out, a ferocious gale swept over the city and a whirlwind of dust obscured the sun, enveloping the city from noon till night. Within a few years the instigators of the execution were both dead, two thirds of the members of the regiment were executed, the remaining third having been killed in an earthquake near Shiráz.

The years both previous to and following this event saw the extraordinary fulfillment of prophecy as sought by such visionaries as Miller and Wolff; their great misfortune, and that of all those who so eagerly followed them, was that they were unable to see it for themselves.

But the Báb, like John the Baptist and others before him, had declared Himself to be the Herald of One even greater than Himself, of Whom He wrote,

"Of all the tributes I have paid to Him Who is to come after me, the greatest is this, My written confession, that no words of mine can adequately describe Him, nor can any reference to Him in My Book ... do justice to His Cause." [from The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, 1980, cited by Sears in Thief in the Night]

The Person to Whom He referred was Bahá'u'lláh, Who also came out of Persia, and Whose life completed the fulfillment of prophecy.

The declaration of the Báb in the evening of 22nd May, 1844 signalled the birth of a new age for humanity everywhere, millennial zeal ending where the new age began. It is ironic that, due to poor communications at that time, those who were seeking were unable to find and that the very event they sought happened as their search ended. Reports of events were generally restricted to the area where they occurred, unless the were about war or the rumours of war. Modern communications, if even imagined were no more than flights of fancy. And so, the year 1844 passed into history as the year of the Great Disappointment, leaving millennial zeal behind it in books and papers.

In Persia, the despotic clergy and corrupt government had no idea that by endeavouring to erase the new born Faith, they had helped to fulfil prophecy, letter by letter. Tens of thousands of people lost their lives while unnumbered others risked theirs in order to become followers.

This is a story of such magnitude that all who learn of it are affected by it in one way or another – the choice is theirs. It has changed the course of history despite its apparent quiet presence, for it is, without doubt, the best kept secret of our age.