Bahá'u'lláh's Declaration (Ridván) Sources

- Travellers Narrative (Abdu'l-Bahá)

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1886 - Travellers Narrative (Abdu'l-Bahá)

xxxx - Memorials of the Faithful (Abdu'l-Bahá)

Baghdad to Constantinople


Bahá'u'lláh and His retinue then left Baghdad, the "Abode of Peace," for Constantinople, the "City of Islam." After His departure, Nabil put on the dress of a dervish, and set out on foot, catching up with the convoy along the way. In Constantinople he was directed to return to Persia and there teach the Cause of God; also to travel throughout the country, and acquaint the believers in its cities and villages with all that had taken place.


When this mission was accomplished, and the drums of "Am I not your Lord?" were rolling out -- for it was the "year eighty" [1863] --  34  Nabil hurried to Adrianople, crying as he went, "Yea verily Thou art! Yea verily!" and "Lord, Lord, here am I!"

He entered Bahá'u'lláh's presence and drank of the red wine of allegiance and homage. He was then given specific orders to travel everywhere, and in every region to raise the call that God was now made manifest: to spread the blissful tidings that the Sun of Truth had risen. He was truly on fire, driven by restive love. With great fervor he would pass through a country, bringing this best of all messages and reviving the hearts. He flamed like a torch in every company, he was the star of every assemblage, to all who came he held out the intoxicating cup.


He journeyed as to the beat of drums and at last he reached the 'Akká fortress.


He found himself a corner to  58  live in, close beside the house of the Blessed Beauty, and mornings and evenings would enter the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. For a time he was supremely happy.

Baghdad to Constantinople, Adrianople

When Bahá'u'lláh and His retinue left Baghdad for Constantinople, Aqa Muhammad-'Ali was of that company, and fevered with the love of God. We reached Constantinople; and since the Government obliged us to settle in Adrianople we left Muhammad-'Ali in the Turkish capital to assist the believers as they came and went through that city. We then went on to Adrianople. This man remained alone and he suffered intense distress for he had no friend nor companion nor anyone to care for him.

After two years of this he came on to Adrianople, seeking a haven in the loving-kindness of Bahá'u'lláh. He went to work as a peddler, and when the great rebellion [1] began and the oppressors drove the friends to the extreme of adversity, he too was among the prisoners and was exiled with us to the fortress at 'Akká.

[1 The rebellion of Mirza Yahya, who had been named provisional chief of the Bábí community. The Báb had never appointed a successor or viceregent, instead referring His disciples to the imminent advent of His Promised One. In the interim a virtual unknown was, for security reasons, made the ostensible leader. Following His declaration in 1863 as the Promised One of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh withdrew for a time, in Adrianople, to allow the exiles a free choice as between Him and this unworthy half brother, whose crimes and follies had threatened to destroy the infant Faith. Terrified at being challenged to face Bahá'u'lláh in a public debate, Mirza Yahya refused, and was completely discredited. As Bahá'í history has repeatedly demonstrated, this crisis too, however grievous, resulted in still greater victories for the Faith -- including the rallying of prominent disciples to Bahá'u'lláh, and the global proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh's mission, in His Tablets to the Pope and Kings. Cf. God Passes By, p. 28, Chapter X and passim.


He was the leader, among all the friends in Iraq, and after the great separation, when the convoy of the Beloved left for Constantinople, he remained loyal and staunch, and withstood the foe. He girded himself for service and openly, publicly, observed by all, taught the Faith.

As soon as Bahá'u'lláh's declaration that He was "He Whom God Shall Manifest" had become known far and wide, Muhammad-Mustafa -- being among those souls who had become believers prior to this Declaration, and before the call was raised -- cried out: "Verily, we believe!" Because, even before this Declaration, the very light itself pierced through the veils that had closed off the peoples of the world, so that every seeing eye beheld the splendor, and every longing soul could look upon its Well-Beloved.

1890 - Nabil's Narrative Vol 2 (Nabil-i-Zarandi)

(See God Passes By; also quoted in Adib Taherzadeh, Revelation of Baha'u'llah v 1, p. 275)

1903 - Life and Teaching of Abbas Effendi / Master in Akka (Myron Phelps)

(Quoted in Days of Ridvan)


In December 1902, Myron Phelps, an American Lawyer, journeyed to Akka to investigate the Baha'i teachings. There he met Abdu'l-Baha and was able, through intermediaries, to interview the Greatest Holy Leaf, Abdu'l-Baha's sister. The following is her account of Baha'u'llah's declaration in Baghdad:

Baghdad, Governor

"The Governor of Baghdad at this time was a relative of my father [Baha'u'llah], but his enemy on account of differences in religious opinion and family misunderstandings*. This man, rendered uncomfortable by the sight of my father's increasing fame and influence, exerted himself to effect his removal from Baghdad. He caused representations to be made to the Shah of Persia that, whereas Bahá'u'lláh had been driven out of Persia because of the harm threatened by his presence to the Muhammadan religion in

* This information may not be accurate. See The Master in Akka, p. 149, n. 7; God Passes By, pp. 131, 142, 149-50; Baha'u'llah: The King of Gloiy, pp. 480, 482-83.-ED.

that country, now he was injuring the religion even more in Baghdad, and still exerting his evil influence in Persia; and that therefore he ought to be removed to a place at a greater distance from that country, and one where he could do less harm.

Order of Exile

"These representations and suggestions he sent repeatedly to the Court of Persia, until at length the shah was moved to use his influence with the Sultan of Turkey to have the Bábis transferred from Baghdad to Constantinople. An order to this effect was at length made by the sultan.

"When this news came to us, from which we inferred that my father would again be made a prisoner, we were thrown into consternation, fearing another separation. He was summoned before the magistrates. My brother imperiously declared that he would go in his stead; but this our father overruled, and went himself. Great numbers of his followers had assembled about our house, and these witnessed his departure with many demonstrations of grief, feeling that it was possible that he might not return.

"The magistrates expressed great sorrow to my father; they said that they respected and loved him, that they had not instigated the order, but that they were powerless to suspend or modify it, and must proceed with its execution. My father remained in conference with them nearly all day, but could do nothing to avert the catastrophe. When he
returned, he told us that we must prepare to set out for Constantinople in two weeks.

Reaction of Followers

"This report was like a death-knell to his followers, who were still gathered about the house. Many of them were Arabs; their fierce natures rebelled and they gave way to violent remonstrances. They implored the Blessed Perfection not to desert them. 'You are our shepherd,' they said; 'without you we must die.'

Decision for Garden, Reactions

"The next day they so overran the house that we could not prepare for the journey. Then the Blessed Perfection proposed to go with 'Abbas Effendi to the garden of one of our friends and live there in a tent till the time of departure, that the family might be able to proceed with the packing. This remark was repeated and misunderstood, and the rumour circulated among the believers that the Blessed Perfection was to be taken away alone. Then they came pouring in by hundreds, so wild with grief that they could not be pacified; and when my father started to leave the house with my brother they threw themselves upon the ground before him. One man who had an only child, which had come to him late in his life,
stripped the clothes from the child's body and placing it at my father's feet cried, 'Naked I give you my child, my precious child, to do with as you will; only promise not to leave us in distress. Without you we cannot live.'

Ridvan Garden

"Then, as the only way in which to soothe his followers, the Blessed Perfection took all his family to the garden, leaving to friends the preparation of his household goods for the journey. Here we pitched tents and lived in them for two weeks. The tents made, as it were, a little village, that of my father, which, he occupied alone, in the centre.

"Four days before the caravan was to set out, the Blessed Perfection called 'Abbás Effendi into his tent and told him that he himself was the one whose coming had been promised by the Báb — the Chosen of God, the Centre of the Covenant. A little later, and before leaving the garden, he selected from among his disciples four others, to whom he made the same declaration. He further said to these five that for the present he enjoined upon them secrecy as to this communication, as the time had not come for a public declaration; but that there were reasons which caused him to deem it necessary to make it at that time to a few whom he could trust. These reasons he did not state; but they are to my mind suggested by the subsequent events which I shall narrate farther on and which I think he at that time anticipated, and in view of which he felt that he needed special protection.

"Many of the Blessed Perfection's followers decided to abandon Baghdad also, and accompany him in his wanderings. When the caravan started, our company numbered about seventy-five persons. All the young men, and others who could ride, were mounted on horses. The women and the Blessed Perfection were furnished wagons. We were accompanied by a military escort. This journey took place in 1863, about eleven years after our arrival in Baghdad.

"From the time when the declaration was made to him at Baghdad, Abbas Effendi seemed to constitute himself the special attendant, servant, and body-guard of his father. He guarded him day and night on this

journey, riding by his wagon and watching near his tent. He thus had little sleep, and, being young, became extremely weary. His horse was Arab and very fine, and so wild and spirited that no other man could mount him, but under my brother's hand as gentle and docile as a lamb. In order to get a little rest, he adopted the plan of riding swiftly a considerable distance ahead of the caravan, when, dismounting and causing his horse to lie down, he would throw himself on the ground and place his head on his horse's neck. So he would sleep until the cavalcade came up, when his horse would awake him by a kick and he would remount.

"The march to Constantinople occupied four months [left Baghdad 3 May 1863, arrived Constantinople 16 Aug 1863]. Much of the weather vas inclement and during many whole days we were without proper food. In our company were many small children, upon whom and the women the journey was very hard. On one occasion during a long and cold march, my brother having obtained some bread, rice, and milk, my father made up with his own hands a sort of pudding by boiling these together with a little sugar, which was then distributed to all. The preparation of this food was a reminiscence of my father's two-years' sojourn in the mountains, where he was dependent on what might be given him, and this dish - which he sometimes made for himself - was the only warm food he had.

"Such times as these were moments of pleasure; but there was always present a feeling of apprehension - as though a sword were hanging over our heads.

"Arrived in Constantinople we found ourselves prisoners.12 We were put into a small house, the men below and the women above. My father and his family were given two rooms. The weather was very cold and damp, and we had no fires or proper clothing. Because of the crowding the atmosphere was foul. We petitioned for better quarters, and were given another house, which was to some extent an improvement.

"While we were here the Blessed Perfection was advised by persons of prominence who came to see him to appeal to the sultan, state his case, and demand justice, in accordance with the Turkish custom. To these suggestions he replied that he was a man whose only concern was the spiritual welfare of men; that he had never interfered in any way with worldly affairs, nor should he ever do so, even in his own behalf; that the sultan had commanded his presence in Constantinople, and for that reason alone he had come; that in like manner he should in the future comply with the wishes of the sultan; that he saw no reason why he, a spiritual man, should initiate the trouble, argument, and commotion incident to an appeal; and that if the government wished to investigate the truth of the matter, it would itself institute an inquiry.

"I have heard that these words were repeated to the

sultan and did not please him, perhaps because a different construction had been put upon them by the narrator than the meaning which the Blessed Perfection intended to convey. However that may be, it being a matter about which I cannot speak with certainty, my father was not called upon to appear at any inquiry. An order was, however, made, about two months after our arrival in Constantinople, directing our transfer to Adrianople [Edirne] a town in eastern European Turkey of notoriously bad climate, to which criminals were often sent.13

"Before we set out a threat was made of separating us - of sending the Blessed Perfection to one place, his family to another, and his followers elsewhere. This overwhelmed us with apprehension, which hung over us and tormented us during the whole of the journey and long after. The dread of this or of the execution of my father was the greatest of our trials - a horrible fear of unknown danger always menacing us. Such threats were frequently repeated after this time also. Had it not been for them we could have borne our sufferings with greater resignation; but these kept us always in a heart-sickening suspense.

"The journey to Adrianople, although occupying but nine days, was the most terrible experience of travel we had thus far had.14 It was the beginning of winter, and very cold; heavy snow fell most of the time; and destitute as we were of proper clothing or food, it was a miracle that we survived it. We arrived at Adrianople

all sick - even the young and strong. My brother again had his feet frozen on this journey.

"Our family, numbering eleven persons, was lodged in a house of three rooms just outside the city of Adrianople.15 It was like a prison; without comforts and surrounded by a guard of soldiers. Our only food was the prison fare allowed us, which was unsuitable for the children and the sick.

"That winter was a period of intense suffering, due to cold, hunger, and, above all, to the torments of vermin, with which the house was swarming. These made even the days horrible, and the nights still more so. When they were so intolerable that it was impossible to sleep, my brother would light a lamp (which somewhat intimidated the vermin) and by singing and laughing seek to restore the spirits of the family.

"In the spring, on the appeal of the Blessed Perfection to the governor, we were removed to somewhat more comfortable quarters within the city. Our family was given the second story of a house, of which some of the believers occupied the ground floor.16

"We remained for five years in Adrianople [12 December 1863-12 August 1868]. The Blessed Perfection resumed his teaching and gathered about him a large following. We were very poor and always in great privation, but had become so inured to suffering that we should have lived in tolerable contentment had it not been for two things - the feeling of

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