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Our View of Sacrifice

Our Spiritual Ancestor: Sulayman Khan

We have included in this Baha’i Treasurers Bulletin an account of the martyrdom of Sulayman Khan. As we know, we are the spiritual descendants of the Dawn-Breakers. Let us reflect on what it means in our lives today, in a tangible and accountable way, to sacrifice of our time and resources as they sacrificed their lives:

"Another victim of the frightful tortures inflicted by an unyielding enemy was the high-minded, the influential and courageous Haji Sulayman Khan. So greatly was he esteemed that the Amir-Nizam had felt, on a previous occasion, constrained to ignore his connection with the Faith he had embraced and to spare his life. The turmoil that convulsed Tihran as a result of the attempt on the life of the sovereign, however, precipitated his arrest and brought about his martyrdom. The Shah, having failed to induce him through the Hajibu'd-Dawlih to recant, commanded that he be put to death in any way he himself might choose. Nine holes, at his express wish, were made in his flesh, in each of which a lighted candle was placed. As the executioner shrank from performing this gruesome task, he attempted to snatch the knife from his hand that he might himself plunge it into his own body. Fearing lest he should attack him the executioner refused, and bade his men tie the victim's hands behind his back, whereupon the intrepid sufferer pleaded with them to pierce two holes in his breast, two in his shoulders, one in the nape of his neck, and four others in his back -- a wish they complied with. Standing erect as an arrow, his eyes glowing with stoic fortitude, unperturbed by the howling multitude or the sight of his own blood streaming from his wounds, and preceded by minstrels and drummers, he led the concourse that pressed round him to the final place of his martyrdom. Every few steps he would interrupt his march to address the bewildered bystanders in words in which he glorified the Bab and magnified the significance of his own death. As his eyes beheld the candles flickering in their bloody sockets, he would burst forth in exclamations of unrestrained delight. Whenever one of them fell from his body he would with his own hand pick it up, light it from the others, and replace it. "Why dost thou not dance?" asked the executioner mockingly, "since thou findest death so pleasant?" "Dance?" cried the sufferer, "In one hand the wine-cup, in one hand the tresses of the Friend. Such a dance in the midst of the market-place is my desire!" He was still in the bazaar when the flowing of a breeze, fanning the flames of the candles now burning deep in his flesh, caused it to sizzle, whereupon he burst forth addressing the flames that ate into his wounds: "You have long lost your sting, O flames, and have been robbed of your power to pain me. Make haste, for from your very tongues of fire I can hear the voice that calls me to my Beloved." In a blaze of light he walked as a conqueror might have marched to the scene of his victory. At the foot of the gallows he once again raised his voice in a final appeal to the multitude of onlookers. He then prostrated himself in the direction of the shrine of the Imam-Zadih Hasan, murmuring some words in Arabic. "My work is now finished," he cried to the executioner, "come and do yours." Life still lingered in him as his body was sawn into two halves, with the praise of his Beloved still fluttering from his dying lips. The scorched and bloody remnants of his corpse were, as he himself had requested, suspended on either side of the Gate of Naw, mute witnesses to the unquenchable love which the Bab had kindled in the breasts of His disciples."

(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 77)

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