Monday, November 12, 2018

We Make Our Plans...

As many of you know, this is the year leading up to the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab. Just a few days ago was His 199th birthday, and I thought for this upcoming celebration to try to publish one story a week about either His life or that of one of His early followers. Of course, to me, the importance of a story is not just its entertainment value, but its relevance to our lives today. And so, with each of these stories, I will talk a little bit about how I see them as relevant to us today.

To start, I would like to share one of my favorite simple stories. It's not a complex one, and in fact, I'm going to tell it even more simply by leaving out many of the names, which could be confusing to some of my readers.

This story is one of Sulayman Khan.

Sulayman Khan was an interesting man. His father was an attendant of Muhammad Shah, the ruler of Persia for a number of years. He, himself, was destined for a life at court, but this court life held no interest for him. He was far more interested in the things of the spirit. And so, at a fairly young age, he left Persia and settled in Karbila in Iraq, to be in the shadow of the Shrine of the Imam Husayn, the great martyred leader of the Shia Muslims.

While Sulayman Khan was living in Karbila, he became attracted to the teachings of Siyyid Kazim, one of the two forerunners of the Babi Faith, as well as the Baha'i Faith. Many people speak of the Bab as the "John the Baptist" of the Baha'i Faith, but this is really not quite correct. The Bab was a Messenger of God in His own right. It was actually Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim who more accurately fit that role.

Well, Sulayman Khan was attracted to these teachings, and when he later heard about the advent of the Bab, he became a follower of the Bab almost immediately.

A few years later he had the incredible bounty of actually meeting the Bab while He was incarcerated in the prison in the castle of Chihriq.

A little while later, when he was in Tehran, he heard about the Bab's trial in Tabriz, and decided to try and rescue Him from His oppressors. As he knew many people in Tabriz, he thought that he might have a chance at rescuing his Beloved.

As fate would have it, though, he arrived one day too late. The Bab had been executed, with one of His followers, just a day earlier.

Now if it was me, I would have been completely downcast, shattered. My grief would likely have known no bounds, and I would have turned around in despair.

But not Sulayman Khan.

He knew that the Mullas had decided to throw their bodies on the edge of the moat outside the town, with soldiers on guard to prevent the Babis from retrieving the precious remains and give them a proper burial. The hope was that wild animals would devour the bodies, thus proving that the Bab was not a holy man at all.

Sulayman Khan, a day late, changed his plans and decided to try to rescue the bodies himself. He had decided to try a surprise-attack on the guards that evening, and carry away the bodies. He went to his long-time friend, the mayor of the city, and told him of his plans. The mayor, though, had a better idea. He told Sulayman Khan that he knew someone who might actually be able to secret away the bodies in a much safer and more reliable manner.

And so, that evening, the mayor and Sulayman Khan hired this other man to try and steal away the bodies, which, as you may know, was actually successful.

Sulayman Khan took the remains to a silk factory in Milan, in Persia, not Italy, and had them enshrouded and concealed in a wooden casket. From there, they were moved from location to location until such a time as they were able to make their way to the Holy Land and be interred on Mount Carmel.

It is because of the dedication of Sulayman Khan that today we have the incredible bounty of being able to visit the Shrine of the Bab when we go on Pilgrimage.

So, besides visiting the Shrine, what does this have to do with us today? Well, quite simply, it seems to me a great story to show what can happen when we are flexible in our plans. No matter how great our plans may be, things don't always go our way. But quite often God has greater plans for us, if only we're open to them.

But what relevance does this story hold for you, dear Reader? Please post your comments below. Thanks.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mead - I did not know the back story to the rescue of the remains of The Bab (and His disciple Anis Zunuzi).
    So thrilling to hear it. I look forward to ur next post.