Baha’u’llah’s years in Adrianople followed a trajectory similar to that of the years spent in Baghdad. Despite the ill will of some Persian and Ottoman officials, and notwithstanding the treachery of his own half-brother and his handful of colleagues, Baha’u’llah’s reputation among the populace steadily grew. Before long his spiritual power and ascendancy were recognized by high and low, Muslim and Christian.
The governor of the province himself would visit Baha’u’llah regularly to pay his respects. The public esteem Baha’u’llah came to enjoy, however, was as nothing in comparison to the love his followers had for him. By now the word of his mission had reached the Babi believers in Persia, and virtually all of them gave him their unqualified allegiance. Many of the believers, now known as Baha’is, set out on the arduous and perilous journey from Persia in the hope of attaining Baha’u’llah’s presence.
Those who arrived in Adrianople were welcomed by Baha’u’llah and, in that corner of the Ottoman Empire, enjoyed the honor and blessing of being with him and hearing his teachings directly. After a suitable interval most were instructed to return home and to spread the glad tidings. All of this provoked the envy of Azal, who had effectively cut himself off from the Baha’i community and now found himself rejected by the vast majority. Stirred to fresh intrigues, he and a few others plotted to discredit Baha’u’llah in the eyes of the authorities.
They accused Baha’u’llah, among other things, conniving with Bulgarian leaders and other European powers to capture the capital and overthrow the sultan. These “reports,” although completely baseless, caused the authorities great fear. As a result, a new exile was ordered—this time to a place where, the authorities were certain, Baha’u’llah and his Cause would be doomed to oblivion. At this point, Baha’u’llah and his companions had lived in Adrianople for about five years.
Then one morning, without warning, Baha’u’llah’s house was surrounded by soldiers. He and his followers were informed that they must prepare to depart the city immediately. Baha’u’llah later wrote:
The loved ones of God and His kindred were left on the first night without food . . . The people surrounded the house, and Muslims and Christians wept over Us . . . We perceived that the weeping of the people of the Son (Christians) exceeded the weeping of others—a sign for such as ponder.
One of the companions who would share the exile described the consternation that overcame the citizens of the town:
A great tumult seized the people. All were perplexed and full of regret… Some expressed their sympathy, others consoled us, and wept over us… Most of our possessions were auctioned at half their value.
A few of the foreign consuls offered assistance to Baha’u’llah, but he did not take advantage of their overtures. The governor of the province, who knew and admired Baha’u’llah, was aghast at his own government’s decision. He could not bring himself to carry it out and instead deputized another official to inform Baha’u’llah.
Before long Baha’u’llah and several dozen followers were on the way to yet another place of exile in the company of Turkish escorts.
Azal, caught in the web that he himself had spun, would also suffer exile, but not to the same destination as Baha’u’llah. He and a few others were sent to the island of Cyprus, where Azal would spend the rest of his days. The scene of Baha’u’llah’s departure was very much like what had occurred in Baghdad years before as masses of people turned out to bid Him farewell for the last time. The date was August 12, 1868.