By Ustád Muhammad-'Alíy-i Salmání, the Barber; Translated by Marzieh Gail
When Bahá'u'lláh was banished from Baghdad in 1863,
a few steadfast companions were chosen to accompany Him in this
new exile. Among these was Ustád Muhammad-'Alíy-i
Salmání, who served as his barber. In this short memoir
Salmání tells his story and gives us a precious and
intimate glimpse of the beginnings of the Bahá'í Faith.
He begins with his early conversion to the Bábí Faith
in Isfahan, his persecution in that city, and his discovery of Bahá'u'lláh
in Baghdad. He tells us of the march from Baghdad to Istanbul, and
of the life of the exiles in the Ottoman capital. He recounts the
story of the further banishment to Edirne (Adrianople), and the
troubles experienced there. Sent to Istanbul by his Lord, Salmání
was arrested and returned to Iran in chains. But his love for Bahá'u'lláh
could not be contained. He immediately made his way on foot to 'Akká
to share the imprisonment there.
Salmání was a rough and simple man. His memories
of life with Bahá'u'lláh wander from episode to episode,
and should be understood to be nothing more than his own fascinating
pilgrim notes. Together they give us a powerful appreciation of
his devotion to his Beloved. The selection of the barber's poems,
translated at the end of the book, allows us to experience something
of the joy of nearness that he knew.
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