The first believer converted to the Faith from the Jewish
community of Persia
The first of the Jewish community to recognize the truth of the Mission of Bahá'u'lláh in Persia was a notable physician named Masíh (Messiah) referred to as Hakím Masíh.* Being highly skilled in his profession, he was appointed as a physician to the court of Muhammad Sháh, and when the Sháh made a journey to 'Iráq, Hakím Masíh accompanied him. When in Baghdád, he learnt that Táhirih was staying in the home of one of the early believers, and was holding discussions with the divines in the city. He went there to see what was being said. No sooner
* The title of Hakím was given to people who were skilled physicians and were endowed with wisdom and divine knowledge.
had he heard the utterances of Táhirih addressed to the company of divines, and witnessed their helplessness to refute her proofs in support of her newly found Faith, than he was captivated by her powerful arguments and sheer personality. Although he was not allowed to enter into any discussions, Hakím Masíh was very curious to find out how Táhirih had acquired such eloquence and powers which bordered on the supernatural.
Shaykh Kázim-i-Samandar* has recorded the following in his memoirs:
I met Hakím Masíh who was of Jewish descent. He was the first among the Jews to enter the community of the friends (i.e. Bahá'ís). It surprised me when I discovered that he was friendly, faithful, full of enthusiasm and love; and so said to him, 'There is a large gap between the Faith of Moses and this great Cause, how did you make this long and glorious journey and arrive at this abode?' He said, 'My visit to Baghdád coincided with the time that Táhirih was in that city. Through some circumstances I was present at some of the meetings where she conversed with the divines. I was astonished and awestruck by the way she talked, by the manner in which she conducted her conversations, and by the power of her utterances. I became attracted and began to meditate and decided to investigate this Cause and deepen my knowledge of it. I made some enquiries in Baghdád and later in other places, until I attained my heart's desire.7
Some years after meeting Táhirih in Baghdád, Hakím Masíh met Ismu'lláhu'l-Asdaq, a meeting brought about by Providence. The Ismu'lláh had been arrested because of his allegiance to the Faith, put in chains and brought to Tihrán under escort. This cruel act was carried out by order of the Governor of Khurásán who was enforcing an edict issued by no less than eighteen divines of Islám in that province. The Ismu'lláh was forced to take with him his youngest son, Ibn-i-Asdaq, who was a mere child at the time. Two other believers
* see pp. 88, 257.
7. Táríkh-i-Samandar, p. 348.
were also chained and taken to Tihrán with him.
The intention was to execute them in the capital city. Instead, the Government ordered that they be imprisoned in the Síyáh-Chál. Father and child were chained together and kept in that terrible dungeon for about two years and four months.
The hardships of prison life took their toll and the young child became seriously ill. The chief gaoler, a certain Mashhadí 'Alí, was a kind person and he sent for a physician. But no physician could be found who would be willing to treat a patient who was a Bábí. In desperation he called on Hakím Masíh who was Jewish. He accepted and immediately went to the prison.
For a period of two months he regularly attended the child until he recovered from his illness. At the same time, having been so deeply impressed by Táhirih, this gave him the opportunity to learn about the Faith from an illustrious believer. Even after his patient had fully recovered he used to spend hours in the prison, sitting at the Ismu'lláh's feet and learning about the Faith. Soon after, he became a believer fully aware that the Promised One of the Old Testament, the 'Everlasting Father', the Lord of Hosts, had manifested Himself. When Bahá'u'lláh was informed of His conversion, He revealed an exalted Tablet in his honour. He has revealed other Tablets for him too, but unfortunately most of these were destroyed. This is because in those days the believers used to protect their Bahá'í materials by hiding them underground or inside the walls, so that they might not fall into the hands of the enemy. Sadly, when unearthed, the Tablets of Hakím Masíh were found to have been destroyed by moisture.
In one of these Tablets,8 Bahá'u'lláh urges Hakím Masíh to be steadfast in the Cause of God so that he may not be shaken by the winds of opposition which were blowing from the direction of the enemies. He states that the people were following the dictates of their passions and corrupt desires,
and directs him to counsel such people to abandon their evil ways and turn to their God. Bahá'u'lláh, in this Tablet, showers His favours upon Hakím Masíh and affirms that He has bestowed upon him a great station. Hakím Masíh taught the Faith to his family who became ardent believers. Notable among his descendants was Dr Lutfu'lláh Hakím, his youngest grandson, who served the Master and Shoghi Effendi with exemplary devotion and was elected to the Universal House of Justice in 1963 when that Supreme Body of the Faith came into being for the first time.
The light of the new Faith of God which shone forth in the heart of Hakím Masíh illumined many more among his coreligionists in Persia. At first, a few embraced the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh in Hamadán and Káshán and soon great numbers from the Jewish community joined the Faith and swelled the ranks of the believers in Persia. There are many Tablets revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in honour of the believers of Jewish background.