As mentioned in a previous article, it was not so easy for Bahá’u’lláh’s letters to reach their intended audiences. How did they make their way from the various points of exile and imprisonment Bahá’u’lláh endured? The answer is a man named Salman who was born in South-West Iran.
Salman had become a follower of the Bab and later a follower of Bahá’u’lláh. From the time when Bahá’u’lláh was living in Iraq, Salman took up a life’s work of being the means of communication between Bahá’u’lláh and his followers. The distances involved were vast, and by the time Bahá’u’lláh was exiled to Akka required journeys on foot of over 2000 kilometres. Salman entire life was given over to this task making each year a long circuit to reach Bahá’u’lláh, deliver his letters to Baha’is in Iran and then return with their letters for him. It was a role requiring discretion and wisdom, and involving considerable danger.
Salman was so competent at this task that he undertook this work for most of his life, continuing to deliver letters, for Abdu’l Baha, after Bahá’u’lláh had passed away. Abdu’l Baha pays tribute to his life in the collection of short biographies he wrote known as “Memorials of the Faithful”. Here is some of Abdu’l Baha’s account.
When Bahá’u’lláh arrived in Iraq, the first messenger to reach His holy presence was Salmán, who then returned with Tablets addressed to the friends in Hindíyán. Once each year, this blessed individual would set out on foot to see his Well-Beloved, after which he would retrace his steps, carrying Tablets to many cities, Iṣfahán, Shíráz, Káshán, Ṭihrán, and the rest.
From the year 69 [1852/1853] until the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh … Salmán would arrive once a year, bringing letters, leaving with the Tablets, faithfully delivering each one to him for whom it was intended. Every single year throughout that long period, he came on foot from Persia to Iraq, or to Adrianople, or to the Most Great Prison at ‘Akká; came with the greatest eagerness and love, and then went back again.
He had remarkable powers of endurance. He traveled on foot, as a rule eating nothing but onions and bread; and in all that time, he moved about in such a way that he was never once held up and never once lost a letter or a Tablet. Every letter was safely delivered; every Tablet reached its intended recipient. Over and over again, in Iṣfahán, he was subjected to severe trials, but he remained patient and thankful under all conditions, and earned from non-Bahá’ís the title of “the Bábís’ Angel Gabriel.”
Throughout his entire life, Salmán rendered this momentous service to the Cause of God, becoming the means of its spread and contributing to the happiness of the believers, annually bringing Divine glad tidings to the cities and villages of Persia. He was close to the heart of Bahá’u’lláh, Who looked upon him with especial favor and grace. Among the Holy Scriptures, there are Tablets revealed in his name.
Bahá’u’lláh gave Salman the title “Messenger of the Merciful”. He was himself the intended recipient of some of the letters he received from Bahá’u’lláh.
Abdu’l Baha, Memorials of the Faithful
Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, Volume 1, pp 109-113
(This article is the 166th in a series of what I hope will be 200 articles in 200 days for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh. The anniversary is being celebrated around the world on 21 and 22 October 2017. The articles are simply my personal reflections on Bahá’u’lláh’s life and work. Any errors or inadequacies in these articles are solely my responsibility.)
Image: Salman would have typically travelled with a group of other travellers who formed a caravan. It may have looked something like this image. Edwin Lord Weeks, Arrival of a Caravan Outside the City of Morocco