Exile: A Prophet, Banished from His Country

During the four months of his imprisonment in the Black Pit, Baha’u’llah’s family and friends pleaded for his release to end the looming threat of his execution. Each time the government denied their pleas.

But the Russian Prince Dimitri Dolgorukov, who served as an ambassador to the Shah’s court in Tehran, knew Baha’u’llah and his family personally. He appealed for an end to Baha’u’llah’s imprisonment at the Shah’s court, declaring that he was extending the protection of Russia to Baha’u’llah. Because of Prince Dolgorukov’s intervention, soon the Shah reluctantly issued an order to release Baha’u’llah from prison. 

Before his release from the Black Pit, Baha’u’llah was mercilessly interrogated one more time, before an envoy was sent to retrieve him. Tears came to the envoy’s eyes when he saw the horrible conditions in which this noble and innocent man had been imprisoned. He took off his own cloak to place it over the tattered clothing of Baha’u’llah for his appearance at the court. However, Baha’u’llah refused the covering offered him and presented himself at the court as he was. 

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The Shah’s Grand Vizier addressed Baha’u’llah with the admonition that if he had stopped associating himself with the Faith of the Bab, as the Vizier had advised him previously, Baha’u’llah would not have had so much suffering. If the powers of the state had hoped that prison would break his spirit and diminish his resolve, they soon found out that the opposite had occurred. Baha’u’llah answered boldly: “Had you, in your turn, followed my counsels, the affairs of the government would not have reached so critical a stage.” 

At that point the Vizier recalled a conversation that took place after the execution of the founder of the Babi movement in which Baha’u’llah had told him, “The flame that has been kindled will blaze forth more fiercely than ever.” Realizing that this is exactly what had happened, the Vizier asked Baha’u’llah what he should do next. Baha’u’llah requested that he: 

Command the governors of this realm to cease shedding the blood of the innocent, to cease plundering their property, to cease dishonoring their women and injuring their children. Let them cease the persecution of the Faith of the Bab.

RELATED: The Twelfth Day of Ridvan: Baha’u’llah’s Exile Continues

Remarkably, the Vizier did order a halt to the oppression of the Babis – for a time. It was only a short interruption, though, in a series of persecutions that would last for over 150 years, and that are still occurring today in Iran.

Recalling that terrible period of imprisonment, poisoning and torture, one modern historian, Adib Taherzadeh, later recounted Baha’u’llah’s release from the Black Pit:

By the time Baha’u’llah was released … He had been already stripped of His vast possessions, His health impaired by the ill-treatment and hardships of life in the dungeon, His neck badly injured and His back bent by the weight of heavy chains; but His soul was in the utmost joy.

Baha’u’llah’s release had one very onerous condition: that he leave his homeland forever. Baha’u’llah’s son and successor Abdu’l-Baha said:

… the Persian government had decided that as long as He remained in Persia the peace of the country would be disturbed; therefore, He was exiled in the expectation that Persia would become quiet. His banishment, however, produced the opposite effect. New tumult arose, and the mention of His greatness and influence spread everywhere throughout the country.

Today the Faith of Baha’u’llah has spread around the entire planet.

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