Islamic Black Standard Prophecy Answered In Persia In Mid-1800s

Black Standard (1)
Unfurling the Black Standard. © Ivan Lloyd of

“Should your eyes behold the Black Standards proceeding from Khurasan, hasten ye towards them, even though ye should have to crawl over the snow, inasmuch as they proclaim the advent of the promised Midhi, the Vicegerent of God.” ~ Prophet Muhammad

That is an Islamic prophecy uttered by The Prophet Muhammad Himself. However, the answer to that prophecy will not occur in the future, because it took place in what was then known as Persia (now Iran).

It began with The Báb (Arabic for “The Gate.”)

“In {1844}, He announced that He was the bearer of a message destined to transform humanity’s spiritual life,” according to a history of The Báb provided by the Bahá’í International Community. “With His call for spiritual and moral reformation, and His attention to improving the position of women and the lot of the poor, The Báb’s prescription for spiritual renewal was revolutionary. At the same time, He founded a distinct, independent religion of His own, inspiring His followers to transform their lives and carry out great acts of heroism.

“The Báb announced that humanity stood at the threshold of a new era. His mission, which was to last only six years, was to prepare the way for the coming of a Manifestation of God Who would usher in the age of peace and justice promised in all the world’s religions: Bahá’u’lláh.”

Shrine of The Báb photo by Dennis Jarvis via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.

Bahá’u’lláh was the Founder-Prophet of the Bahá’í Faith.

“When the news of The Bab’s declaration, and the excitement it generated throughout Persia, reached the Royal Court in Tehran, his Imperial Majesty Muhammad Shah appointed Siyyid Yahyay-i-Darabi, the most learned and influential of his subjects, to travel to Shiraz and interview The Báb in order to ascertain the validity of His claims,” according to Ivan Lloyd’s excellent summary on Bahá’í history on his beautifully rendered site, titled “On his journey Siyyid Yahyay compiled a list of questions which he intended to present to the Bab in order to judge His response, but The Bab addressed the questions before Siyyid Yahyay was able to speak. Overwhelmed with awe and humility, he immediately pledged his allegiance to the Bab’s Cause and from that moment became known as Vahid.

“Vahid was a wealthy man who owned property in several cities including a luxurious mansion in Yazd. There he prepared a great feast and invited all the governors and dignitaries of the region to announce the glad tidings of the new revelation. The celebration was even more festive because Naw-Rúz coincided with the anniversary of the declaration of The Báb.”

It didn’t take long before the Islamic religious authorities in Persia began organizing opposition to The Báb’s claims. They apparently felt threatened by The Báb’s popularity. As a result, He and His followers were soon to be classified as threats to the stability of Persia.

Hundreds of His followers marched through the province of Mazindaran. They proclaimed The Promised One had appeared.

Battle of Ft Tabarsi (3)
Battle of Fort Tabarsi pitted several hundred Bábís against thousands of trained soldiers procured by the state to eliminate the followers of the new Bábí Faith. Painting © by Ivan Lloyd of

“The group was denounced as heretical by the local clergy who aroused the population of several villages to attack them,” according to the BIC. “The new prime minister ruled that the Bábís must be crushed and armed forces were dispatched to support the campaign of the local mullas.”

In 1848, Mullá Husayn — a celebrated Bábí — and his companions, as proof of the Islamic prophecy, hoisted the Black Standard and set out from Mashhad to join other Bábís at Badasht.

“On their way, they were ambushed at the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi,” according to Mr. Lloyd. “The Bábís built a fort around the shrine and for almost six months 313 of the Báb’s devoted followers, including several descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, fearlessly defended themselves against attacks from 12,000 men from Nasirid-Din Shah’s army.”

“The audacity of Mullá Husayn who, at the command of The Báb, had attired his head with the green turban worn and sent to him by his Master, who had hoisted the Black Standard, the unfurling of which would, according to the Prophet Muḥammad, herald the advent of the vicegerent of God on earth, and who, mounted on his steed, was marching at the head of two hundred and two of his fellow-disciples to meet and lend his assistance … — his audacity was the signal for a clash the reverberations of which were to resound throughout the entire country. The contest lasted no less than eleven months,” wrote Shoghi Effendi in “God Passes By.”

Mullá Husayn teaching in Isfahan. © Ivan Lloyd of

Shoghi Effendi wrote of the historic battle.

“Its heroes were the flower of the Báb’s disciples,” he said. “Its martyrs comprised no less than half of the Letters of the Living, not excluding Quddús and Mullá Ḥusayn, respectively the last and the first of these Letters. The directive force which however unobtrusively sustained it was none other than that which flowed from the mind of Bahá’u’lláh. It was caused by the unconcealed determination of the dawn-breakers of a new Age to proclaim, fearlessly and befittingly, its advent, and by a no less unyielding resolve, should persuasion prove a failure, to resist and defend themselves against the onslaughts of malicious and unreasoning assailants. It demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt what the indomitable spirit of a band of three hundred and thirteen untrained, unequipped yet God-intoxicated students, mostly sedentary recluses of the college and cloister, could achieve when pitted in self-defense against a trained army, well equipped, supported by the masses of the people, blessed by the clergy, headed by a prince of the royal blood, backed by the resources of the state, acting with the enthusiastic approval of its sovereign, and animated by the unfailing counsels of a resolute and all-powerful minister. Its outcome was a heinous betrayal ending in an orgy of slaughter, staining with everlasting infamy its perpetrators, investing its victims with a halo of imperishable glory, and generating the very seeds which, in a later age, were to blossom into world-wide administrative institutions, and which must, in the fullness of time, yield their golden fruit in the shape of a world-redeeming, earth-encircling Order.”

“The siege at the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi was an unexpected humiliation for the opponents of The Báb,” the BIC adds. “For several months, one army after another, numbering thousands of men, was sent to overcome the Bábís. These untrained, unequipped, ‘God-intoxicated’ students defended themselves heroically against a coordinated army supported by the local population, blessed by the clergy and backed by the resources of the state.

“Eventually, the Bábís, weakened by starvation and the loss of a large percentage of their members — including The Báb’s first disciple Mullá Husayn — were enticed to surrender under a solemn oath, taken on a copy of the Qur’án, that they would be freed. No sooner did they step out of the fortress, however, then they were set upon. Many were killed outright, and others were captured and tortured to death; of those who survived, some were stripped of their possessions and sold into slavery.

“Two other major locations witnessed similar scenes. In Nayriz and Zanjan, armed forces of the state came to the support of mobs that had been stirred into a state of frenzy. In Nayriz not even the leadership of a figure as preeminent as Vahid succeeded in calming the rage of the local authorities and the angry mob they incited. Vahid perished in the massacre that followed the capture of the small fort in which the beleaguered Bábís had taken refuge. At Nayriz, as at Tabarsi, the surrender of the Bábí defenders was secured by false pledges of peace and friendship signed and sealed on a copy of the Qur’an. Shortly thereafter, the prisoners were slaughtered.”

The Shrine of The Báb on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel — one of the holiest places in the world for Bahá’ís. Image © Bahá’í International Community.

Persian Prime Minister Amir Kabir targeted the Báb’ís and The Báb, who was forcefully taken to to Tabríz. It was there that leading Islamic scholars were asked to decide the to The Báb’s fate. The Báb would be judged on religious, not civil, law.

“As the Prime Minister had anticipated, the clergy readily cooperated in signing a formal death warrant, based on a charge of heresy,” according to the BIC. “The Báb was publicly executed in extraordinary circumstances at noon on July 9, 1850.”

With The Báb martyred, Persian authorities may have thought they had rid themselves of His followers, but His message could not be contained.

“The Bábís had continuously emphasized that their sole concern was to proclaim the new spiritual and social teachings revealed by The Báb,” according to the BIC. “At the same time, they believed that it was their duty to defend themselves and their families, provided they did not engage in acts of aggression. Once the guiding hands of those who understood The Báb’s message were withdrawn by such brutal repression, it was predictable that volatile elements among the Bábís might prove unable to maintain the original discipline.”

On Aug. 15, 1852, two Bábís fired a pistol at the Shah, who was able to escape serious injury because the gun was loaded only with birdshot.

“The attempt on the monarch’s life triggered a new wave of persecutions on a scale far surpassing anything the country had yet witnessed,” the BIC notes. “Thousands of men, women and children were put to death in circumstances of horrible cruelty. Advised that the property of the ‘apostates’ was forfeit, many local authorities joined in hunting down followers of The Báb. In Tehran the different trade guilds — bakers, butchers, carpenters and others — seized groups of Bábís and vied with each other to devise the cruelest forms of tortures. Many historians and commentators — some of whom were eyewitnesses to events — have written about the persecution of The Báb’s followers, of the stirring deeds of valor which He inspired, and of His own charm and radiance.

The House of the Báb, where The Báb declared His mission on 23 May 1844 in Shiraz, Iran, before its destruction in 1979. © BIC.

“The new wave of persecutions also emboldened those who wished to silence the resolute and ever more outspoken Tahirih. And yet, when advised that she had been condemned to death, Tahirih is reported to have said to her jailer: ‘You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women.’

“The boundless cruelty of these leaders left the followers of the Báb broken and exhausted, deprived of all resources and of the counsel of their leaders. But their sacrifices were not in vain. Unlike those seers of old who could but look to the far future for the time when ‘the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,’ The Báb — by His very appearance — signified that the dawn of the ‘Day of God’ had at last arrived, setting the stage for an even greater Revelation that was about to be released through Bahá’u’lláh.”

It is worth noting that Bahá’u’lláh abolished holy war for Bahá’ís when He wrote, “The first Glad-Tidings which the Mother Book hath, in this Most Great Revelation, imparted unto all the peoples of the world is that the law of holy war hath been blotted out from the Book. Glorified be the All-Merciful, the Lord of grace abounding, through Whom the door of heavenly bounty hath been flung open in the face of all that are in heaven and on earth.”

The room in the House of the Báb where The Báb declared His Mission in Shiraz, Iran, before its destruction in 1979. © BIC.

Bahá’u’lláh also encouraged His followers to find kinship with other religions, when He wrote: “The second Glad-Tidings: It is permitted that the peoples and kindreds of the world associate with one another with joy and radiance. O people! Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship. Thus hath the daystar of His sanction and authority shone forth above the horizon of the decree of God, the Lord of the worlds.”

(This post is a personal post by the writer, a Bahá’í, and is not to imply that it is the viewpoint of the Bahá’í International Community. The use of images does not imply the endorsement of the artist, in the case of Mr. Ivan Lloyd, or of the Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’í International Community, or Bahá’ís in general.)


The Promised One Is Come!

Shrine of The Báb photo by Dennis Jarvis via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.

“This Revelation,” Mullá Husayn has further testified, “so suddenly and impetuously thrust upon me, came as a thunderbolt which, for a time, seemed to have benumbed my faculties. I was blinded by its dazzling splendor and overwhelmed by its crushing force. Excitement, joy, awe, and wonder stirred the depths of my soul. Predominant among these emotions was a sense of gladness and strength which seemed to have transfigured me. How feeble and impotent, how dejected and timid, I had felt previously!

“Then I could neither write nor walk, so tremulous were my hands and feet. Now, however, the knowledge of His Revelation had galvanized my being. I felt possessed of such courage and power that were the world, all its peoples and its potentates, to rise against me, I would, alone and undaunted, withstand their onslaught. The universe seemed but a handful of dust in my grasp. I seemed to be the voice of Gabriel personified, calling unto all mankind: ‘Awake, for, lo! the morning Light has broken. Arise, for His Cause is made manifest. The portal of His grace is open wide; enter therein, O peoples of the world! For He Who is your promised One is come!’

Mullá Husayn teaching in Isfahan, Persia. © Ivan Lloyd.

“Mullá Husayn (1813–1849), also known by the honorific Jináb-i Bábu’l-Báb (‘Gate of the Gate’), was a Persian religious figure in 19th century Persia and the first Letter of the Living of the Bábí Faith,” according to Bahaikipedia.

“He was the first person to profess belief in The Báb (Arabic, ‘The Gate’) as the promised Mahdi of Islam and a Manifestation of God founding a new independent religion. The title of Bábu’l-Báb was bestowed upon him by the Báb in recognition of his status as the first Bábí.”

Excerpt Source: U.S. Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979 second printing. P. 6. Author: Shoghi Effendi. © Bahá’í International Community. Shrine of The Báb photo by Dennis Jarvis via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0. The Shrine is located in Haifa Israel at the end of Ben Gurion Boulevard. Biographical information about Mullá Husayn is from Bahaikipedia. Image use does not imply Mr. Jarvis’ endorsement or non-endorsement of my use. Mullá Husayn teaching in Isfahan, Persia. © Ivan Lloyd. Image use does not imply Mr. Lloyd’s endorsement of such use. Images and quote used with permission.


Shoghi Effendi Warned Believers To Avoid Complicity In Backbiting


It is obvious that if we listen to those who complain to us about the faults of others we are guilty of complicity in their backbiting. We should therefore, as tactfully as possible, but yet firmly, do our utmost to prevent others from making accusations or complaints against others in our presence.
~ Shoghi Effendi

Source: From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles on Feb. 11, 1925. Lights of Guidance, p. 94. © Bahá’í International Community.