Fool’s Gold

One day in the outer part of the Blessed House (in Baghdad), one of the travelers from Tehran respectfully asked the Presence (Baha’u’llah), “How large of a stipend and expenditure does the Sadr A`zam (chancellor) allot you every month such that all the expenses which arise are completely taken care of?” (Baha’u’llah) said, “I should give the likes of the Sadr A`zam a salary, not them bestow it on me.  My affairs are with God and not in the trust of others.”

Someone else among the Tehran friends said, “During the days of your stay in Tehran you gave liberally and generously to all kinds of people. How is it possible that you do not give these kinds of gifts to the souls that are (now) around you?”  In answer, (Baha’u’llah) said, “If I behaved as I did previously, all would say that these souls are turning to the world because of this Cause and some would think that they possess the process of the elixir [i.e. that they know alchemy].”

Among those souls was Zayn al-`Abidin Khan.   Even though he had a lot of wealth, he lost his riches in search of the elixir in past years.   Those days he was in Baghdad and, greedy to take the elixir from the Blessed Beauty, he acted sincere and was friendly with Aqa Mirza Musa Kalim [Baha’u’llah’s brother].  Whatever Kalim tried, it was not possible to dissuade him. Zayn al-`Abidin Khan believed that the carpet of the glory of Abha was unfolded on account of the aforementioned work [alchemy] and that Kalim came to know the terminology (of the alchemical process) when he was a child in the presence of his father, who had conversed with those learned in this science. Because of (Kalim’s reticence), Zayn al-`Abidin Khan swore and said to him, “You know this process and are hiding it from me!”  Kalim knew the aforementioned process was impossible and jokingly said so to him.

(Zayn) became more obstinate in his belief until one day he showed Kalim the treatise of Jabir, which was written about the specification of the philosopher’s stone, and swore, “The smallest parts of this process are not hidden and I have made all of the symbols plain.” He swore that the symbols of the book were manifest to him.   Kalim, one day in the afternoon, obtained the treatise.   Unexpectedly, he heard the Blessed voice (Baha’u’llah) ask, “What are you busying yourself with, Kalim?” He arose, saying, “(I’m busy) with something that is sheer fancy and fiction.”   (Baha’u’llah) said, “Perhaps Zayn al-`Abidin Khan gave you the treatise of Jabir so that you would inform him of the hidden stone.” He said, “Yes, that is so.” The Abha Beauty set forth a detailed exposition on that process.

From that time, many questions have arisen from all sides and for each one there issued a Tablet concerning the aforementioned science. One time he said to Kalim, “Each person that says, ‘I have this process,’ his own soul proves his loss and lies.” By virtue of this, he prohibited busying oneself with it and working with these kinds of sciences, including divination (jafr) and geomancy (raml), was forbidden in most of the Tablets. (This was done) so that a deceiving person could not display himself in the cloth of trustworthiness and not exceed the limitations of himself, like Karim (Khan Kirmani), as addressed to him in the Iqan:  “We cherish the hope that either a king or a man of preeminent power may call upon him to translate this science from the realm of fancy to the domain of fact…”

Nabil Zarandi’s unpublished history, excerpted in Mazandarani, Zuhur al-Haqq, 4: 227-8.

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