Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Single Ray of Light

Ahh, Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi. What a fascinating life he led.

As you know, dear Reader, I'm trying to write a story a week in remembrance of the upcoming 200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab. And in doing so, I am hoping to not only share some of my favorite stories, but show how they are relevant to us at this time in human history. In other words, what can we learn from them that is applicable today?

Well, Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, as you may recall, had that marvelous beverage with both his teacher, Siyyid Kazim, and a strange Youth.

It was only a few days later that he found himself back at Siyyid Kazim's lecture when he noticed that same Youth enter the room, quietly, humbly. He sat down as Siyyid Kazim continued his discourse, completely focused on the talk.

But as soon as Siyyid Kazim noticed Him, he suddenly fell silent.

As you can imagine, this puzzled some of the students. I mean, just imagine that you are at a university lecture listening to your amazing teacher. This is probably one of your favorite teachers, even though you don't quite understand all that he is saying, And then, suddenly, out of the blue, he just stops talking. Possibly in the middle of a sentence.

Can't you just imagine the reaction? "Professor", you might hear someone ask, "are you ok?"

Well, that's exactly what happened. Some of the students encouraged him to continue his talk.

But Siyyid Kazim merely asked, "What more shall I say? ...The Truth is more manifest than the ray of light that has fallen upon that lap." And with that, he indicated a ray of sunlight was illuminating the lap of that same Youth.

Shaykh Hasan was very puzzled by this.

At that moment, though, one of the students asked Siyyid Kazim why he wouldn't just tell them Who the promised One was, if it was so obvious. Now, he probably didn't say with any sort of rudeness. He was likely very humble and sincere in his tone, but even then, Siyyid Kazim merely pointed to his own throat, indicating that were he to do so, they would both be put to death.

This confused Shaykh Hasan even more.

He himself had heard Siyyid Kazim lament the perversity of his generation, saying that even were he to point to the promised One and say, "He indeed is the Beloved, the Desire of your hearts and mine", they would still fail to recognize Him. And there, in that very room, Shaykh Hasan had seen him point to that ray of light that had fallen on that lap, and none understood his meaning. Even Shaykh Hasan didn't understand it at that time. He was convinced that the young Siyyid, for that Youth was wearing the turban indicating His descent from the Prophet Muhammad, could never be the promised One. But he was certain that a mystery lay concealed in the person of that Youth.

Later on, Shaykh Hasan tried to approach the Bab and understand that mystery, but every time he did, he found he was unable to do so. Instead, he watched Him. When the Bab would go to the shrine of the Imam Husayn, Shaykh Hasan would watch. He saw the depth of love with which the Bab prayed, witnessed the tears that fell from His eyes, and heard those words of devotion and praise that surpassed even the Qur'an in power and beauty. How many times did he hear the Bab utter those words, "O God, my God, my Beloved, my heart's Desire"?

But all he could learn about Him was that He was a merchant from Shiraz. He knew that His uncles were admirers of Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim, but that was about it.

When the Bab eventually went to Najaf, on His way back to Shiraz, Shayh Hasan was haunted by His memory.

It is no wonder that when he heard the Call from Shiraz, that he immediately became a Babi.

So what does this have to do with us today?

Well, as usual, I'm not really sure, but I have my own thoughts on it.

Today, what with computers and the internet, we expect things to happen immediately. If we have a question, we just type it into our phone and, bam, we have an answer.

But this doesn't happen with the deep questions, the important things in life. This is mostly good only for trivia.

Shaykh Hasan had to wrestle with his questions for months, possibly even a couple of years. And even that is not too long a time.

A second point, for me, is that we often overlook the completely obvious. Or, to be more fair, we often laugh at others who overlook the obvious. This story is blindingly evident to us, we who have the luxury of hindsight. But would I have recognized the Bab at that moment? Would I even have recalled such an event a few years later? Probably not. So, for me, the fact that Shaykh Hasan recognized the Bab later, and still put it together with this story, is little short of a miracle.

A third point has to do with the previous story, the one with the silver cup. There is a level of trust there that I find admirable. Drinking from this cup was forbidden, but when Siyyid Kazim was offered it by the hand of the Bab Himself, he understood that "He doeth as He willeth". Anything that the Bab offered him was, by its very nature, allowed.

Shaykh Hasan, however, didn't recognize the Bab at that time. Why did he drink from a forbidden vessel? Because he trusted his teacher. This was not a blind trust, though. Siyyid Kazim had earned the trust of his student, and this is something that I think we often overlook. We have learned, in our modern age, to question authority, but we often fail to discern when that trust is warranted. Shaykh Hasan gives us a good example of knowing when to trust.

Today, we seem to have forgotten patience in our search for Truth, and we have also forgotten to take the time needed to come to understanding. In addition to this, it seems that we often forget to allow others that same time that is needed for them to arrive at their own understanding, too. Many people in society laugh when they see someone trusting someone else, and that, too, is a sad thing that we need to learn to overcome. Patience, compassion, discernment, trust: these are only some of the virtues I see in these stories of Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi.

But how about you, dear Reader? What truths do you glean from these last couple of stories?

1 comment:

  1. Stunning story there. What occurred after?
    Take care!