Since I was a child, I have heard many stories about the courageous people who lived in my city, the city of Babol, formerly Barfurush, in Mazandaran Province. Babol is familiar to Bahá’ís because it is on the road to the Shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi. When we were young, we used to talk about the bravery of the Bábís in our children’s classes, and I always admired those brave souls for the part they played in history.
It was not until I was eleven that I was told that my great-great-grandfather, Agha Muhammad, was a very well-known Bábí. His father was a dedicated man who received the title of ‘Kolahduz’ from Bahá’u’lláh. Along with his father and his brother, he fought in the battle of Shaykh Tabarsi. While he and his brother managed to survive, their father died in the battle. After the battle, my great-great-grandfather’s brother traveled to Gilan to spread the Word of God and later came back — as instructed by Bahá’u’lláh — to Barfurush, where eventually he passed away.
My great-great-grandfather was very dedicated to spreading the Word of God, even though he faced many difficulties in doing so. He was followed everywhere he went and suffered much persecution from the people of Babol. My mother said that her grandmother sometimes recalled those sad days, and told stories about how the people of Babol threw stones at her family and rubbed feces on their doors. Agha Muhammad was a slight man and when he was attacked, he was often beaten so hard by the people of Babol that he lost consciousness. But as soon as he recovered, he was back on the streets, continuing his mission of spreading the Word of God.
The doors of Agha Muhammad’s house were always open to travel teachers who came to spread the Bahá’í teachings. Through his words and actions, many people in the city converted to the Bábí and Bahá’í religions, not only in Babol but in Mazandaran province as a whole. My mother used to say that her grandmother once told her that the suffering they endured was a hundred times worse than martyrdom. At some point during his glorious life, Agha Muhammad Kolahduz received a tablet from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. In the tablet, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá praised him for his efforts and dedication. The tablet was passed down to my mother, and, when I was younger, I had the privilege of seeing it.
I always loved hearing stories about the brave acts of those honorable people, heroic people who held fast to their beliefs and offered their lives for their faith in their dedication to making the world a better place. When I was very young, even though I did not understand the difficult words in those books, I tried to read their stories. And when I learned that someone from our family had lived such a heroic life, I was filled with joy and felt so proud! I always remind myself that I have the precious gift of faith now because of what my ancestors endured in the generations before me.