He hath moreover deposited within the realities of all created things the emblem of His recognition, that everyone may know of a certainty that He is the Beginning and the End, the Manifest and the Hidden, the Maker and the Sustainer, the Omnipotent and the All-Knowing, the One Who heareth and perceiveth all things, He Who is invincible in His power and standeth supreme in His Own identity, He Who quickeneth and causeth to die, the All-Powerful, the Inaccessible, the Most Exalted, the Most High. Every revelation of His divine Essence betokens the sublimity of His glory, the loftiness of His sanctity, the inaccessible height of His oneness and the exaltation of His majesty and power. His beginning hath had no beginning other than His Own firstness and His end knoweth no end save His Own lastness.
- The Báb - Selections From the Writings of The Báb, "IN the Name of God, the Most Exalted, the Most Holy. - p111-112

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Báb’s First Disciples – The Letters of the Living

• They were seventeen men and one woman.

• The first to believe in the Báb was Mulla Husayn Bushrú’í.

• The second to believe in the Báb was Mulla Ali Bastamí.

• Two of them were brothers, a third a nephew of them.

• Two were cousins.

• Ten of them were Muslim clerics before becoming Bábis.

• One of them was referred to by the Báb, in allegorical language, as the return of the Imam Ali.

• One of them was instrumental in bringing the news of the Advent of the Báb to the attention of Tahirih who was in Karbala, Iraq at the time – before she became a Babi.

• One of them didn’t personally meet the Báb .

• One of them became known as the First Babi martyr.

• One of them was the son of a famous Persian mujtahid (a prominent religious scholar).

• One of them visited Baha’u’llah in Baghdad.

• One of them became the Báb’s secretary -- His amanuensis.

• One of them went to India, another to Iraq, proclaimed the Advent of the Báb, was arrested and tried in Baghdad, and sentenced to work for life in the imperial naval dock in Istanbul.

• One became the Báb’s intermediary to deliver His correspondence and some other items to Baha’u’llah.

• One became a Baha’i after visiting Baha’u’llah in Baghdad. He then received permission from Baha’u’llah to spend the rest of his life in Istanbul and became the last surviving Letter of the Living.

• One of them was an accomplished poet and a scholar. She became instrumental in announcing the dawn of a new era in religion.

• One accompanied the Báb on His pilgrimage to Mecca.

• One brought the News concerning the Declaration of the Báb to Baha’u’llah.

• Five of them participated in the historic Conference of Badasht.

• Eight of them were killed at Fort Tabarsi.

• One was designated by the Báb as the “Primal Mirror” of His Dispensation and acclaimed by Baha’u’llah in the Kitab-i-Iqan as “the one but for whom ‘God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor ascended the throne of eternal glory;’” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 49)

• One was immortalized by the Báb as “Ismu'llahi'l-Akhir (the Last Name of God)” and on whom Baha’u’llah “later conferred the sublime appellation of Nuqtiy-i-Ukhra (the Last Point)” and elevated him in another Tablet to “a rank second to none except that of the Herald of His Revelation”. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 49). He was designated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha as the “Moon of Guidance” and his “appearance the Revelation of St. John the Divine anticipated as one of the two ‘Witnesses’ into whom, ere the ‘second woe is past,’ the ‘spirit of life from God’ must enter.” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 49)

• Some of them were noted for their roles in shaping the evolution of the Babi history.

• A few chose not to remain in the forefront of the Babi Faith.

• Three of them were executed – one savagely tortured before his death, “a death which even Jesus Christ, as attested by Bahá'u'lláh, had not faced in the hour of His greatest agony.” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 49)

Within approximately two months following the private Declaration of the Báb to Mulla Husayn, His first believer, sixteen men and one woman found themselves drawn to Him and became His first followers. Each of the eighteen recognized Him independently, gave Him allegiance, and agreed not to reveal His identity until the appointed time. The Báb gave each of these first disciples the title "Letter of the Living." Below is the list of these eighteen Disciples of the Báb according to the historian Nabíl:

 Mullá Husayn Bushrú’í (c. 1814–49): the first to declare his belief in the Báb (in Shiraz on 23 May 1844). He was given the title Bábu’l-Báb (Gate of the Gate) by the Báb. He was killed on 2 February 1849 at Fort Tabarsi.

 Mullá ‘Alí Bastamí (d. 1846): the second to recognize the Báb. According to Nabil, twelve of his companions, each independently, also recognized the Báb soon after him and became among the Letters of the Living. The Báb gave Mullá ‘Alí the title "the Second Who Believed" and identified him in His Persian Bayan, in allegorical language, as the return of the Imam Ali – indicative of his high station. Mulla ‘Ali was directed by the Bab to go to the twin cities of Najaf and Karbala in Iraq and announce the Advent of the Promised One. Tahirih (the Pure One), then known as Fátimih Umm-Salamih Baraghání, was in Karbala at that time and therefore heard about the claims of the Báb from Mulla ‘Ali. Mulla ‘Ali was subsequently arrested and tried in Baghdad in January 1845 and later sentenced to work for life in the imperial naval docks, where he died in an Istanbul prison. He is known to be the first Bábí martyr.

 Mullá Husayn’s younger brother, Mírzá Muhammad Hasan Bushrú’í (d. 1849). He accompanied Mullá Husayn on his travels and became badly wounded in Fort Tabarsi at the same time that his brother was killed. According to some accounts, he then served as leader of the Bábí forces and was subsequently killed at Shaykh Tabarsí.

 Mulla Husay’s nephew, Mírzá Muhammad Báqir Bushrú’í (d. 1849). He is reported to have led the forces at Shaykh Tabarsí after his uncle Mullá Mírzá Muhammad Hasan was wounded. He was subsequently killed at Shaykh Tabarsí.

 Mullá Khudá-Bakhsh Qúchání (later named Mullá ‘Alí Rází): returned to Karbala from Shiraz and is reported to not have actively participated in the Bábí community.

 Mullá Hasan Bajistání: While active at first in propagating the Bábí Cause, he later retired to Karbala and considered himself unworthy of the station conferred on him by the Báb as one of the Letters of the Living. He later visited Baha’u’llah in Baghdad, sometime between 1853 and 1863.

 Siyyid Husayn Yazdí (d. 1852): He accompanied the Báb as His secretary during His imprisonment in Mákú and Chihríq and became known as Kátib (the Amanuensis). He was later executed during an outbreak of persecutions in 1852 that followed an unsuccessful attempt on the life of the shah by a small group of Bábís seeking revenge for the execution of the Báb.

 Mírzá Muhammad Rawdih-Khán Yazdí (or Dhákir-i-Masá’ib): He returned from Shiraz to Yazd and chose not to reveal his beliefs because of the intense persecution of the Bábís in his hometown. He continued, however, to teach the Bábí Faith covertly to the end of his life.

 Sa’íd Hindí: He went to India and converted one or two persons there before contact with him ceased.

 Mullá Mahmúd Khú’í (d. 1849): Was killed at Shaykh Tabarsí.

 Mullá Jalíl Urúmí (d. 1849): He taught the Bábí Faith especially in the province of Azerbaijan and the town of Qazvin and was later killed at Shaykh Tabarsí.

 Mullá Ahmad Abdál Marághi’í (d. 1849): He was present at the Conference of Badasht, and was subsequently killed at Shaykh Tabarsí.

 Mullá Báqir Tabrízí (d. c. 1881): Earlier in his life while he was in Karbala he assisted Táhirih and traveled to Iran with her. He was present at the Conference of Badasht and later visited the Báb while He was in prison in Azerbaijan, acting as an intermediary to carry His correspondence and other items that He wished to be delivered to Bahá’u’lláh. He then became a follower of Bahá’u’lláh after visiting Him in Baghdad and traveled twice to Acre and with Bahá’u’lláh’s permission, spent his last years in Istanbul. He was the last surviving Letter of the Living.

 Mullá Yúsuf Ardibílí (d. 1849): noted for his learning and eloquence; played an active and prominent role among the Bábís; killed at Shaykh Tabarsí.

 Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alí Qazvíní (d. 1849): He was the cousin and brother-in-law of Táhirih and the son of a famious mujtahid (i.e., a preeminent religious scholar) in Qazvin by the name of Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb. He was closely associated with Tahirih while both were in Karbala Tahirih entrusted him with a sealed letter and a verbal message to be delivered to the Promised One whom they both sought. He was present at the Conference of Badasht and was later killed at Shaykh Tabarsí.

 Táhirih (c. 1814–52) (the Pure One), the title given to Fátimih (Fatima) Baraghání, also known as Umm-Salamih. She is also known by the titles Qurratu’l-‘Ayn (Solace of the Eyes) and Zarrín-Táj (Crown of Gold). She was a prominent Shaykhí and an accomplished poet, who became the only woman among the Letters of the Living. She is the only Letter of the Living who didn’t meet the Báb personally and was accorded the distinction of becoming a Letter of the Living on the basis of a message she sent via her brother-in-law to the Bab. She was a very active participant at the Conference of Badasht, appearing there without her veil to signal the dawn of a new era in religion and humanity. During the persecutions that decimated the Bábí ranks after the unsuccessful attempt to assassinate the shah she was executed in September 1852.

 Mullá Muhammad-‘Alí Bárfurúshí (circa 1822–49), was the last Letter of the Living. The Bab gave him the title of Quddús, which means the Most Holy. He, accompanied the Báb on His pilgrimage to Mecca during 1844 to 1845). He was present at the Conference of Badasht and played a very active role. He was subsequently arrested and detained in Sárí for more than three months but was eventually released through the efforts of Mullá Husayn. Quddus joined the Bábí forces at Shaykh Tabarsí in late 1848 and played a leading role in the Bábí defense. He was taken prisoner on 10 May 1849, following the final siege at Shaykh Tabarsí, savagely tortured, and killed on 16 May 1849 in Barfurush (Babul), the town of his birth. According to Bahá’u’lláh he ranked second only to the Báb, and is described by Shoghi Effendi as the first in rank among the Letters of the Living. (Adapted from ‘God Passes By’, by Shoghi Effendi; and the Baha’i Encyclopedia site at: http://www.bahai-encyclopedia-project.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=65:letters-of-the-living&catid=38:history)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The episode of a roving Bedouin who stole the Bab’s saddlebag while He was on His way to Mecca

One day, when the Báb had dismounted close to a well in order to offer His morning prayer, a roving Bedouin suddenly appeared on the horizon, drew near to Him, and, snatching the saddlebag that had been lying on the ground beside Him, and which contained His writings and papers, vanished into the unknown desert. His Ethiopian servant set out to pursue him, but was prevented by his Master, who, as He was praying, motioned to him with His hand to give up his pursuit. "Had I allowed you," the Báb later on affectionately assured him, "you would surely have overtaken and punished him. But this was not to be. The papers and writings which that bag contained are destined to reach, through the instrumentality of this Arab, such places as we could never have succeeded in attaining. Grieve not, therefore, at his action, for this was decreed by God, the Ordainer, the Almighty." Many a time afterwards did the Báb on similar occasions seek to comfort His friends by such reflections. By words such as these He turned the bitterness of regret and of resentment into radiant acquiescence in the Divine purpose and into joyous submission to God's will. (Nabil , The Dawn-Breakers, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi, p. 132)

The Shah Sent His Special Envoy to Meet With the Bab and Investigate the Truth of His Claims

Before long, news about the young man Who called Himself the Bab --"the Gate” -- traveled as far as the court of Persia's ruler, Muhammad Shah. The fact that so many of his people were drawn to the Cause of the Bab made the shah both curious and concerned. He decided he must find out more about the Bab and His claims. To investigate on his behalf, he called on the one man acknowledged throughout the land as the most brilliant of religious scholars. At whatever gathering he spoke, no matter how learned the participants, all others would choose to sit in respectful silence and listen to him. Knowledgeable and wise beyond all others, he was also a man of integrity, truthful and trustworthy. His name was Siyyid Yahya, but he would become known as Vahid, meaning "the Peerless One."

The shah commanded Vahid to meet with the Bab in Shiraz and there investigate the truth of His claims, then return to Tehran and report his findings. Vahid was pleased to obey. He, too, had heard of the Bab and His Cause and wished to satisfy his own desire for more information. On the journey from Tehran to Shiraz, he thought of the many questions with which he would test the Bab. Vahid did not plan to make the interview easy, but thorough and demanding. The truth deserved no less. Little did the brilliant Vahid know that nothing in his previous experience had prepared him for what lay ahead.

As it turned out, Vahid did not have one interview with the Bab, but three --each one more remarkable than the one before. At their first meeting Vahid presented each of his questions. He made certain to reveal, as well, something of his own vast range of religious knowledge. The Bab listened patiently to all that he said, then began to address Vahid's questions briefly but persuasively. As Vahid listened to the Bab's answers, each one clear and concise, he felt suddenly embarrassed at his own display of self-importance. Though he had more questions, Vahid asked the Bab if he might continue the interview a little later and resolved to himself to return with a more humble attitude.

Vahid's second interview with the Bab, however, did not go at all as he had intended. As soon as he entered the Bab's presence, Vahid forgot all of the questions he had planned to ask. They were as thoroughly erased from his memory as though written in sand at the water's edge and washed away by the tide. Yet to his surprise, as Vahid conversed with the Bab, the Bab answered every question that Vahid had temporarily forgotten. Still Vahid could not quiet the small, doubting voice that whispered within him, "Might not this, after all, have been an accidental coincidence?"

For his third interview with the Bab, Vahid decided on a different strategy. He would keep his next request a secret and hold it silently in his heart. This request, which Vahid would tell no one, was for the Bab to reveal a commentary on the spiritual truths in the Shrih of Kawthar (Paradise), a chapter of the Koran. IF the Bab could, of His own volition, detect Vahid’s secret request and reveal a commentary unlike any other, then Vahid would be convinced that the Bab was of God. If not, Vahid decided, he would refuse to acknowledge the Bab.

This time, when Vahid came before the Bab, he was overcome suddenly with feelings of fear and awe and began to tremble so that he could barely stand. Why should he be so affected in the presence of the Bab? He wondered. How many times had he been in the presence of the shah, whose power gave reason to fear, yet had never felt timid or afraid in his presence? Why now should he stand trembling, unable to take a step or to utter a word?

When the Bab saw Vahid's predicament, He got up from His seat and took Vahid gently by the hand, leading the scholar to sit next to Him. "Seek from Me whatever is your heart's desire," the Bab told Vahid. "I will readily reveal it to you." But Vahid could say nothing. "Were I to reveal for yon the commentary on the Surih of Kawthar," said the Bab, "would you acknowledge that My words are born of the Spirit of God? Would you recognize that My utterance can in no wise be associated with sorcery or magic?" Vahid could say nothing except to recite averse of the Koran: "O our Lord, with ourselves have we dealt unjustly: if Thou forgive us not and have not pity on us, we shall surely be of those who perish.""

With that, the Bab asked for His pen-case and paper and began at once to reveal His commentary. It was early afternoon when the Bab began to write. He continued to write for the rest of the day, rapidly and without pause, intoning the verses as He wrote them. Vahid listened, enraptured not only by the beauty of what he heard, but also by the inexpressible majesty of the Bab. Not until sunset did the Bab lay down His pen and ask for tea. The commentary – two thousand verses-was complete.

Also complete was Vahid's transformation. Vanished was every trace of his former sense of superiority. In its place was the humble acknowledgement and deep certitude that the Bab was indeed the promised Qa’im. "If all the powers of the earth were to be leagued against me," declared Vahid, "they would be powerless to shake my confidence in the greatness of His Cause." So did Persia's most learned and respected religious scholar declare himself a Babi. It was the Bab Himself who gave to Vahid - known until then as Siyyid Yahya-his new name…

Vahid wrote his report about the Bab and sent it to the shah, telling in detail the truth he had discovered, but he did not return to Tehran. Instead, like Husayn-'Ali [Baha’u’llah] and the Letters of the Living, Vahid set out to share the news of his discovery with people in every town. When the shah received Vahid's letter and learned that he had become a Babi, he commented, "If this be true, it behoves us to cease belittling the Cause of that Siyyid”[meaning the Bab].
(Druzelle Cederquist, The Story of Baha’u’llah, pp. 43-46)

The youth who was given the inestimable privilege of sharing “the cup of martyrdom” with the Manifestation of God

While the Bab was confined in the Castle of Chihriq in northwestern Iran, a youth in the nearby city of Tabriz by the name of Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Zunuzi learned about Him from a traveling teacher. The youth became so spiritually inflamed by what he heard, that he wanted to immediately hasten to the castle and attain the presence of the Bab. This youth was later surnamed Anis by the Bab, a title that literally means “close companion”, because he was subsequently martyred with Him in Tabriz in 1850. This was an inestimable privilege that Anis received --never before anything like it had happen in the history of religion.

This is how it happened.

Hearing the circumstances pertaining to the Bab’s incarceration at Chihriq from the traveling teacher, Anis felt so kindled that he felt an irrepressible longing to sacrifice himself in the path of his Beloved. Anis’ stepfather, Siyyid Aliy-i-Zunuzi, was a notable of Tabriz. He strenuously objected to his son leaving the city and going to the Castle of Chihriq, but his words seem to have no effect on him. His stepfather was at last induced to confine him to his house and strictly watch over him.

During those days, the Bab had instructed his secretary, Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, to collect the Tablets that He had revealed during His incarceration in the Castles of Mah-Ku and Chihriq. He was to deliver them into the hands of a certain believer, by the name of Siyyid Ibrahim-i-Khalil, who was then living in Tabriz, and urge him to conceal and preserve them with the utmost care.

Having delivered his special assignment, the Bab’s secretary visited Anis’ stepfather who was related to him. He later recalled how Anis’ stepfather deplored the sad fate of his son. “He seems to have lost his reason,” he bitterly complained. “He has, by his behaviour, brought reproach and shame upon me. Try to calm the agitation of his heart and induce him to conceal his convictions.” The Bab’s secretary noticed that every day he visited Anis he witnessed tears continually raining down from his eyes.

In July of 1848, the Bab was brought to the city of Tabriz for trial, where He proclaimed His station in the presence of the heir to the throne and the leading clerics. After His trial, He was bastinadoed and then returned to the Castle of Chihriq.

After the Bab had departed from Tabriz, His secretary remained in town and went to visit Anis who languished in confinement in his house. “I was surprised to note the joy and gladness which had illumined his countenance. His handsome face was wreathed in smiles as he stepped forward to receive me. 'The eyes of my Beloved,' he said, as he embraced me, 'have beheld this face, and these eyes have gazed upon His countenance.' 'Let me,' he added, 'tell you the secret of my happiness. After the Bab had been taken back to Chihriq, one day, as I lay confined in my cell, I turned my heart to Him and besought Him in these words: ‘Thou beholdest, O my Best-Beloved, my captivity and helplessness, and knowest how eagerly I yearn to look upon Thy face. Dispel the gloom that oppresses my heart, with the light of Thy countenance.’ What tears of agonising pain I shed that hour! I was so overcome with emotion that I seemed to have lost consciousness. Suddenly I heard the voice of the Bab, and, lo! He was calling me. He bade me arise. I beheld the majesty of His countenance as He appeared before me. He smiled as He looked into my eyes. I rushed forward and flung myself at His feet. ‘Rejoice,’ He said; ‘the hour is approaching when, in this very city, I shall be suspended before the eyes of the multitude and shall fall a victim to the fire of the enemy. I shall choose no one except you to share with Me the cup of martyrdom. Rest assured that this promise which I give you shall be fulfilled.’ I was entranced by the beauty of that vision. When I recovered, I found myself immersed in an ocean of joy, a joy the radiance of which all the sorrows of the world could never obscure. That voice keeps ringing in my ears. That vision haunts me both in the daytime and in the night-season. The memory of that ineffable smile has dissipated the loneliness of my confinement. I am firmly convinced that the hour at which His pledge is to be fulfilled can no longer be delayed.'”

Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, the Bab’s secretary, exhorted Anis to be patient and to conceal his emotions. Anis promised him not to divulge that secret, and undertook to exercise the utmost forbearance towards Siyyid Ali [his stepfather]. “I hastened to assure the father of his determination, and succeeded in obtaining his release from his confinement. That youth continued until the day of his martyrdom to associate, in a state of complete serenity and joy, with his parents and kinsmen. Such was his behaviour towards his friends and relatives that, on the day he laid down his life for his Beloved, the people of Tabriz all wept and bewailed him." (Adapted from the Dawn-Breakers, p. 306)

The Bab’s Stay in Isfahan – the amazing initial reception by the clergy and the people

In September of 1846, the Bab, accompanied by one of His followers by the name of Siyyid Kazim-i-Zanjani, left Shiraz and proceeded north towards Isfahan – a distance of about 360 miles. As He approached the outskirts of the city, He wrote a letter to Manuchihr Khan, the governor of the province, in which He requested him to appoint a place where He should dwell with the sanction of the government. The letter was entrusted to His companion, Siyyid Kazim who delivered it to the governor prior to the Bab reaching the gate of the city of Isfahan. When the governor received the letter he became so touched by the expressions of courtesy that the Bab had exhibited and amazed at His exquisite penmanship that he felt moved to instruct the Imam-Jum'ih of Isfahan, the foremost ecclesiastical authority of that province, to receive the Bab in his own home and to accord Him a kindly and generous reception. The Imam-Jumi’h accordingly instructed his own brother to proceed with a number of his favorite companions to meet and escort the expected Visitor to the gate of the city. As the Bab approached, the Imam-Jum'ih went out to welcome Him in person, and conducted Him ceremoniously to his house. It should be noted that this Imam-Jum’ih, whose name was Mir Siyyid Muhammad, was acknowledged in Persia as the principle ecclesiastical dignitary of the entire country. The governor of Isfahan was reported to have been a man of vigor and courage who, about five years prior to the Bab’s coming to Isfahan, had completely crushed a rebellion by the a number of the tribes in the area and had secured peace and justice for the people of Isfahan.

“Such were the honours accorded to the Bab in those days,” the great historian Nabil writes, “that when, on a certain Friday, He was returning from the public bath to the house, a multitude of people were seen eagerly clamouring for the water which He had used for His ablutions. His fervent admirers firmly believed in its unfailing virtue and power to heal their sicknesses and ailments. The Imam-Jum'ih himself had, from the very first night, become so enamoured with Him who was the object of such devotion, that, assuming the functions of an attendant, he undertook to minister to the needs and wants of his beloved Guest. Seizing the ewer from the hand of the chief steward and utterly ignoring the customary dignity of his rank, he proceeded to pour out the water over the hands of the Bab.” (Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 201)

The Bab was a guest of the Imam-Jumi’h for 40 days. One night, after supper, when there were also some other high ranking clerics present, the Imam-Juumi’h, so touched by the extraordinary traits of the Bab’s character, ventured to request Him to reveal a commentary on one of the Surihs (chapers) of the Qur’an. The one he specifically requested was the Surih of Va'l-'Asr. [Time and Age]. This Surih is numbered 103 and is composed of only 3 verses:

“In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
I swear by the declining day!
Verily, man's lot is cast amid destruction,
Save those who believe and do the things which be right, and enjoin
truth and enjoin steadfastness on each other.” (translation by Rodwell)

This is how Nabil recorded this amazing incident:

“His request was readily granted. Calling for pen and paper, the Bab, with astonishing rapidity and without the least premeditation, began to reveal, in the presence of His host, a most illuminating interpretation of the aforementioned Surih. It was nearing midnight when the Bab found Himself engaged in the exposition of the manifold implications involved in the first letter of that Surih. … The Bab soon after began to chant, in the presence of His host and his companions, the homily with which He had prefaced His commentary on the Surih. Those words of power confounded His hearers with wonder. They seemed as if bewitched by the magic of His voice. Instinctively they started to their feet and, together with the Imam-Jum'ih, reverently kissed the hem of His garment.” (Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 201)

The verses that the Bab revealed on that occasion, explaining the first letter of a three-verse Surih in the Qur’an “equalled in number a third of the Qur'án..” itself.(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 14) This is really amazing, especially when one is reminded that the entire Qur’an was revealed by Prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years! (Adapted from: A Traveller’s Narrative by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, God Passes By written by Shoghi Effendi, and the Dawn-Breakers by Nabil)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Báb The King of Messengers

In The Kitab-i-Iqan, The Book of Certitude, Baha'u'llah answers questions posed by Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad, an uncle of the Bab. These are related to religious expectations surrounding the advent of the Bab. First Baha'u'llah explains certain realities pertaining to the history of various Manifestations of the past, and to the Manifestations of God collectively, (including some allusions to His own Station). Baha'u'llah then turns specifically, inThe Kitab-i-Iqan, to the truth of the Bab's identity with references such as these:

"God's wondrous Manifestation" (p.201, para.221)

"Gem of Immortality" (p.215, para.210)

"Him Who is the Source of Purity," "Cloud of divine mercy" (p.216, para.240)

"Revealer and Author," "Sun of divine bounty," "divine Soul," "holy Breath" (p.221, para.245)

"most mighty Sovereignty," "His divine Presence," "the Beloved" (p.222, para.247)

"Sun of divine Revelation" (two times, p.223, para.248 and para.249)

"Well-Beloved" (p.224, para.249)

"the All-Glorious" (two times, p.224, para.249 and p.226, para.251)

"resplendent Light," "First Leader of all mankind" (p.227, para.252)

"The Bab, the Lord, the most exalted," (p.229, para.256)

"eternal Beauty" (two times, p.230, para 257 and p.234, para.263)

"the Revealer" (p.232, para.260)

"Sadrih of the Ridvan of God," "Beauty of God" (p.233, para.262)

"Sadrih of Blessedness" (p.234, para.262)

"Revealer of Being," "Manifestation of the Adored," "Essence of Essences," "Sea of Seas," "divine Luminary," "eternal Sun," "Ocean of divine wisdom" (p.234, para.263)

"Beauty of the Merciful" (p.238, para.267)

"celestial Herald," "the Truth" (p.239, para.268)

"the Mihdi" (p.240, para. 269)

"Youth from Bani-Hashim," "Hashimite Light," "divine Manifestation" (p.241, para.270)

"the immaculate Essence of knowledge and of holy utterance," "the Essence of Truth" (p.242, para.270)

"Revealer of the divine mysteries," "Expounder of the hidden and ancient wisdom," "the Qa'im" (p.243, para.272)

"the Primal Point," "the most exalted Word" (p.252, para.279)

"Essence of divine virtue" (p.254, para.282)


In these two passages the Bab refers to His own birth:

Through the revelation of Thy grace, O Lord, Thou didst call Me into being on a night such as this,[1] and lo, I am now lonely and forsaken in a mountain. Praise and thanksgiving be unto Thee for whatever conformeth to Thy pleasure within the empire of heaven and earth. And all sovereignty is Thine, extending beyond the uttermost range of the kingdoms of Revelation and Creation.

Thou didst create Me, O Lord, through Thy gracious favour and didst protect Me through Thy bounty in the darkness of the womb and didst nourish Me, through Thy loving-kindness, with life-giving blood. After having fashioned Me in a most comely form, through Thy tender providence, and having perfected My creation through Thine excellent handiwork and breathed Thy Spirit into My body through Thine infinite mercy and by the revelation of Thy transcendent unity, Thou didst cause Me to issue forth from the world of concealment into the visible world, naked, ignorant of all things, and powerless to achieve aught. Thou didst then nourish Me with refreshing milk and didst rear Me in the arms of My parents with manifest compassion, until Thou didst graciously acquaint Me with the realities of Thy Revelation and apprised Me of the straight path of Thy Faith as set forth in Thy Book. And when I attained full maturity Thou didst cause Me to bear allegiance unto Thine inaccessible Remembrance, and enabled Me to advance towards the designated station, where Thou didst educate Me through the subtle operations of Thy handiwork and didst nurture Me in that land with Thy most gracious gifts. When that which had been preordained in Thy Book came to pass Thou didst cause Me, through Thy kindness, to reach Thy holy precincts and didst suffer Me, through Thy tender mercy, to dwell within the court of fellowship, until I discerned therein that which I witnessed of the clear tokens of Thy mercifulness, the compelling evidences of Thy oneness, the effulgent splendours of Thy majesty, the source of Thy supreme singleness, the heights of Thy transcendent sovereignty, the signs of Thy peerlessness, the manifestations of Thine exalted glory, the retreats of Thy sanctity, and whatsoever is inscrutable to all but Thee.

[1 Refers to the Báb's birthday on the first day of the month of Muharram, 1235 A.H. (October 20, 1819).]

(The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, pp. 173-174)

Thou art aware, O My God, that since the day Thou didst call Me into being out of the water of Thy love till I reached fifteen years of age I lived in the land which witnessed My birth [Shiraz]. Then Thou didst enable Me to go to the seaport [Bushihr] where for five years I was engaged in trading with the goodly gifts of Thy realm and was occupied in that with which Thou hast favoured Me through the wondrous essence of Thy loving-kindness. I proceeded therefrom to the Holy Land [Karbila] where I sojourned for one year. Then I returned to the place of My birth. There I experienced the revelation of Thy sublime bestowals and the evidences of Thy boundless grace. I yield Thee praise for all Thy goodly gifts and I render Thee thanksgiving for all Thy bounties. Then at the age of twenty-five I proceeded to thy sacred House [Mecca], and by the time I returned to the place where I was born, a year had elapsed. There I tarried patiently in the path of Thy love and beheld the evidences of Thy manifold bounties and of Thy loving-kindness until Thou didst ordain for Me to set out in Thy direction and to migrate to Thy presence. Thus I departed therefrom by Thy leave, spending six months in the land of Sad [Isfahan] and seven months in the First Mountain [Maku], where Thou didst rain down upon Me that which beseemeth the glory of Thy heavenly blessings and befitteth the sublimity of Thy gracious gifts and favours. Now, in My thirtieth year, Thou beholdest Me, O My God, in this Grievous Mountain [Chihriq] where I have dwelt for one whole year.

Praise be unto Thee, O My Lord, for all times, heretofore and hereafter; and thanks be unto Thee, O My God, under all conditions, whether of the past or the future. The gifts Thou hast bestowed upon Me have reached their fullest measure and the blessings Thou hast vouchsafed unto Me have attained their consummation. Naught do I now witness but the manifold evidences of Thy grace and loving-kindness, Thy bounty and gracious favours, Thy generosity and loftiness, Thy sovereignty and might, Thy splendour and Thy glory, and that which befitteth the holy court of Thy transcendent dominion and majesty and beseemeth the glorious precincts of Thine eternity and exaltation.

(The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, pp. 180-182)

The Bab’s Imprisonment in the Fortress of Chihriq

The fortress of Chihriq where the Bab was imprisoned for almost all of the last two years of His life is located in north-western Iran in the region of Urumiyyih of the province of Azerbaijan. This was the second fortress in which the Bab was imprisoned. The first one was called Maku. The Bab called Chihriq the ‘Grievous Mountain’ .. to differentiate it from Maku which He had called the ‘Open Mountain’ -- although the pattern of imprisonment was similar, with initial strictness eventually giving way to comparative freedom, as the warden, Yahya Khan, became devoted to his prisoner. The Bab received large numbers of visitors at Chiriq, more than He had received at Maku. He revealed many of His Writings in Chihriq, including the Arabic Bayan and His powerful Tablet of ‘Sermon of Wrath’ to the then Persian Prime Minister, Haji Mirza Aqas. It was during this period that a very knowledgeable Persian, whom the Bab later gave the title of Dayyan (Judge), became a believer. He is reported to have been unusual for his range of knowledge and learning which included Syriac and Hebrew and was the recipient of the Bab’s ‘Tablet of Letters’ (Lawh-i-Hurufat). It was also during this period that people in the town of Urumiyyih greeted the Bab very enthusiastically when He went to the public bath and vied with each other in taking the water after He had used it because the water was thus assumed to have acquired holiness. (Adapted and obtained from A Basic Baha’i Dictionary, by Wendi Momen; and A Concise Encyclopedia of the Baha’i Faith, by Peter Smith)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Birth of the Bab October 20, 1819

Birth of the Bab October 20, 1819

Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad, born in Shiraz, Iran on October 20, 1819.
He declared Himself to be the Báb, or “Gate of God,” on May 23, 1844;
this date marks the beginning of the Bahá’í Faith,
the Bahá’í Era (B.E.) and the Bahá’í calendar.

[while imprisoned in the fortress of Chihriq in 1849, the Báb wrote the following passage in which He briefly relates the events of His life from the time of His birth ]

Thou art aware, O My God, that since the day Thou didst call Me into being out of the water of Thy love till I reached fifteen years of age I lived in the land which  witnessed My birth [Shiraz]. Then Thou didst enable Me to go to the seaport [Bushihr] where for five years I was engaged in trading with the goodly gifts of Thy realm and was occupied in that with which Thou hast favoured Me through the wondrous essence of Thy loving-kindness. I proceeded therefrom to the Holy Land [Karbila] where I sojourned for one year. Then I returned to the place of My birth. There I experienced the revelation of Thy sublime bestowals and the evidences of Thy boundless grace. I yield Thee praise for all Thy goodly gifts and I render Thee thanksgiving for all Thy bounties. Then at the age of twenty-five I proceeded to thy sacred House [Mecca], and by the time I returned to the place where I was born, a year had elapsed. There I tarried patiently in the path of Thy love and beheld the evidences of Thy manifold bounties and of Thy loving-kindness until Thou didst ordain for Me to set out in Thy direction and to migrate to Thy presence. Thus I departed therefrom by Thy leave, spending six months in the land of Sad [Isfahan] and seven months in the First Mountain [Maku], where Thou didst rain down upon Me that which beseemeth the glory of Thy heavenly blessings and befitteth the sublimity of Thy gracious gifts and favours. Now, in My thirtieth year, Thou beholdest Me, O My God, in this Grievous Mountain [Chihriq] where I have dwelt for one whole year.
Praise be unto Thee, O My Lord, for all times, heretofore and hereafter; and thanks be unto Thee, O My God, under all conditions, whether of the past or the future. The gifts Thou hast bestowed upon Me have reached their fullest measure and the blessings Thou hast vouchsafed unto Me have attained their consummation. Naught do I now witness but the manifold evidences of Thy grace and loving-kindness, Thy bounty and gracious favours, Thy  generosity and loftiness, Thy sovereignty and might, Thy splendour and Thy glory, and that which befitteth the holy court of Thy transcendent dominion and majesty and beseemeth the glorious precincts of Thine eternity and exaltation.” (The Báb)

The mission of the Báb from His own writings

“I am the Mystic Fane which the Hand of Omnipotence     hath reared.
   I am the Lamp which the Finger of God hath lit within its niche
    and caused to shine with deathless splendour.  
      I am the Flame of that supernal Light that glowed upon Sinai
           in the gladsome Spot, and lay concealed in the midst 
               of the Burning Bush.”  (The Báb)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Devotion for 9Th July

1--The Bab’s spirit to the souls of martyrs of Islam, in the precincts of the shrine of Muhammad where Shaykh Ahmad also lay buried:  (DB 140-41)
“Fear not, I am come into this world to bear witness to the glory of sacrifice.  You are aware of the intensity of My longing; you realize the degree of My renunciation.  Nay, beseech the Lord your God to hasten the hour of My martyrdom and to accept My sacrifice.  Rejoice for both I and Quddus will be slain on the altar of our devotion to the King of Glory.  The blood which we are destined to shed in His path will water and revive the garden of our immortal felicity.  The drops of this consecrated blood will be the seed out of which will arise the mighty Tree of God, the Tree that will gather beneath its all-embracing shadow the peoples and kindreds of the earth.  Grieve not, therefore, if I depart from this land, for I am hastening to fulfill My destiny.”
2-Bab’s last words to Quddus in Bushihr, bidding Quddus to depart for Shiraz:  (DB 142-143)

“The days of your companionship with Me are drawing to a close.  The hour of separation has struck, a separation which no reunion will follow except in the Kingdom of God, in the presence of the King of Glory.  In this world of dust, no more than nine fleeting months of association with Me have been allotted to you.  On the shores of the Great Beyond, however, in the realm of immortality, joy of eternal reunion awaits us.  The hand of destiny will ere long plunge you into an ocean of tribulation for His sake.  I, too, will follow you; I, too, will be immersed beneath its depths.  Rejoice with exceeding gladness, for you have been chosen as the standard-bearer of the host of affliction, and are standing in the vanguard of the noble army that will suffer martyrdom in His name.  In the streets of Shiraz, indignities will be heaped upon you, and the severest injuries will afflict your body.  You will survive the ignominious behavior of your foes, and will attain the presence of Him who is the one object of our adoration and love.  In His presence you will forget all the harm and disgrace that shall have befallen you.  The hosts of the Unseen will hasten forth to assist you, and proclaim to all the world your heroism and glory.  Yours will be the ineffable joy of quaffing the cup of martyrdom for His sake.  I, too, shall tread the path of sacrifice, and will join you in the realm of eternity.”
The Bab 
Dignity and Detachment

When the Bab was given money from the government to use en route to Tabriz, “He refused to expend on Himself the funds provided by the government for the expense of that journey.  All the allowances that were given by the State He bestowed upon the poor and needy, and devoted to His own private needs the money which He, as a merchant, had earned in Bushihr and Shiraz.”

The Bab

 “His (Bab’s) alluring charm, combined with a compelling dignity and unfailing benevolence, had, by this time, completely disarmed and transformed His guards.  They seemed to have abdicated all their rights and duties and to have resigned themselves to His will and pleasure.”
Then, when the guards could not find the Bab one night, Muhammad Big, their leader, remonstrated them saying, “Why feel disturbed?  Are not His magnanimity and nobleness of soul sufficiently established in your eyes to convince you that He will never, for the sake of His own safety, consent to involve others in embarrassment?  He, no doubt, must have retired, in the silence of this moonlit night, to a place where He can seek undisturbed communion with God.  He will unquestionably return to His tent.  He will never desert us.”

The Bab

Thoughtfulness and Kindness:

The Bab met the escort sent by Husayn Khan to bring him to Shiraz, saying:  “The governor has sent you to arrest Me.  Here am I; do with Me as you please.  By coming out to meet you, I have curtailed the length of your march, and have made it easier for you to find Me.”
   When the escort did not want to bring him in, the Bab said, “I prefer to deliver Myself into your hands, rather than subject you and your companions to unnecessary annoyance for My sake.”
  The escort followed the Bab into Shiraz “in an attitude of respectful devotion.  By the magic of His words, He had disarmed the hostility of His guards and transmuted their proud arrogance into humility
Ages rolled away, until they attained their consummation in this, the Lord of days, the Day whereon the Day Star of the Bayán manifested itself above the horizon of mercy, the Day in which the Beauty of the All-Glorious shone forth in the exalted person of … the Báb. No sooner did He reveal Himself, than all the people rose up against Him. … "God," said He, "is My witness, O people! I am come to you with a Revelation from the Lord, your God, the Lord of your fathers of old. Look not, O people, at the things ye possess. Look rather at the things God hath sent down unto you. This, surely, will be better for you than the whole of creation, could ye but perceive it. Repeat the gaze, O people, and consider the testimony of God and His proof which are in your possession, and compare them unto the Revelation sent down unto you in this Day, that the truth, the infallible truth, may be indubitably manifested unto you..." The more He exhorted them, the fiercer grew their enmity, till, at the last, they put Him to death with shameful cruelty
-Bahá'u'lláh: Gleanings, Pages: 144-149



Tablet Concerning

the Day of the

Martyrdom of

His Holiness,

the Exalted One

Translated from the Persian into English byKhazeh Fananapazir

He is the All-Glorious!O thou honoured 'Alí Akbar!
This day is the day of the Martyrdom of His Holiness, the Exalted One, may our heart be sacrificed for His sanctified blood.
This Day is the day in which this "Sun of Truth" concealed itself behind the clouds of providence.
This Day is the day in which this luminous Orb did set!
This Day is the day in which that Body, pure and without blemish or spot fell upon and rolled onto the blood soaked earth
This Day is the day in which His chest and His heart, immaculate and pure like unto a spotless mirror, was riddled by thousands of bullets!
This Day is the day in which that "Divine Lamp" became severed from Its physical frame!
This Day is the day in which the cries and lamentations of the Concourse on high are raised
This Day is the day in which the inhabitants of the Kingdom of God weep and moan, the eyes in tears and their hearts torn!--Abdul-Baha

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Báb The King of Messengers

"O THOU Remnant Of God! I have sacrificed
myself wholly for Thee; I have accepted curses for
Thy sake, and have yearned for naught but
martyrdom in the path of Thy love. Sufficient
witness unto me is God, the Exalted, the Protector,
the Ancient of Days."
The Báb

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

ode to the Shrine of the Bab

This magnificent Edifice [the Shrine of the Bab]
stands facing Baha'u'llah's Most Great Prison,
extolled by the Pen of Glory as the "Heaven of heavens,"
and looks toward the Qiblih of the people of Baha,
that Spot within the Vale of Security and Peace,
the Plain of `Akka, round which circle in adoration the Concourse on high.
To her right are the hills of Galilee
in which nestles the childhood home of the beautiful Christ,
and the locality by the banks of the Jordan River
where He who is theSpirit [Jesus] was called to prophethood;
and on her left, on the crest of Carmel,
are to be found the Cave of Elijah
and the exalted Spot which was blessed
by the footsteps of the Most Holy Abha Beauty
and was ennobled through the revelation of the Tablet of Carmel
from the treasury of the Pen of Glory....
High, immeasurably high is this Shrine,
the lofty, the most great, the most wondrous.
Exalted, immeasurably exalted is this Resting-place,
the fragrant, the pure, the luminous, the transcendent.
Glorified, immeasurably glorified is this Spot,
the most august, the most holy, the most blessed, the most sublime....
Upon thee, O Queen of Carmel, be the purest, the most tender salutations,
the fairest, the most gracious blessings!
Glorified is He Whose footsteps have ennobled the spot whereon thou standest,
Who ordained thy Seat, and Who extolled thee in His Tablet and Book.
How great is the potency of thy might,
a might which has bewildered the souls of the favored ones of God and HisMessengers. Methinks I behold thee in my dreams established upon thy glorious throne,
attired in thy white raiment, crowned with thy golden crown,
resplendent with thelights shining within thee and around thee,
calling aloud inringing tones and raising thy voice between earth andheaven.
Methinks I perceive the souls of the holy ones and of the dwellers of the realms above hastening towardthee with utmost joy, eagerness and ecstasy,
pointing to thee, circling round thee, inhaling the perfume of thyflowers and roses,
seeking blessing from the earth of thy precincts,
bowing their foreheads to the ground before thee in recognition of the majesty and glory which surround the Holy Dust reposing within thee,
the Pearlwhich is enshrined in thy bosom.
Blessed, immeasurably blessed is the person who visits thee and circles around thee,
who serves at thythreshold, waters thy flowers, inhales the fragrance of holiness from thy roses, celebrates thy praise and glorifies thy station for the love of God, thy Creator, in this hallowed and radiant, this great, august andwondrous age.

This prayer, or ode to the Shrine of the Bab written by Shoghi Effendi, is a part of his Naw-Ruz 1955Message to the Baha'is of Persia.

The translation wasprepared by the Universal House of Justice, and excerpts from it are included in Hand of the CauseKhadem's article, "The Mountain of God and the Tablet of Carmel" published in U.S. Baha'i News in August, 1975.

The article is included as an appendix to JavidukhtKhadem's "Zikrullah Khadem, The Itinerant Hand of theCause of God," (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1990)pp. 282-286.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thursday, July 10, 2008


As you know, the prayer has been translated into English by the beloved Guardian and included in the Dawn-Breakers:

"O God, my God! Would that a thousand Ishmaels were given Me, this Abraham of Thine, that I might have offered them, each and all, as a loving sacrifice unto Thee. O my Beloved, my heart's Desire! The sacrifice of this Ahmad whom Thy servant Ali-Muhammad hath offered up on the altar of Thy love can never suffice to quench the flame of longing in His heart. Not until He immolates His own heart at Thy feet, not until His whole body falls a victim to the cruelest tyranny in Thy path, not until His breast is made a target for countless darts for Thy sake, will the tumult of His soul be stilled. O my God, my only Desire! Grant that the sacrifice of My son, My only son, may be acceptable unto Thee. Grant that it be a prelude to the sacrifice of My own, My entire self, in the path of Thy good pleasure. Endue with Thy grace My life-blood which I yearn to shed in Thy path. Cause it to water and nourish the seed of Thy Faith. Endow it with Thy celestial potency, that this infant seed of God may soon germinate in the hearts of men, that it may thrive and prosper, that it may grow to become a mighty tree, beneath the shadow of which all the peoples and kindreds of the earth may gather. Answer Thou My prayer, O God, and fulfil My most cherished desire. Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful." (The Dawn-Breakers, p. 76)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Celebrating the birth of the Bab, Baha’u’llah’s forerunner
On Saturday, Oct. 20, Baha’is around the world celebrate the Birth of the Bab, one of 11 Holy Days in the Baha'i calendar. The Bab is often referred to as the Herald of the Baha'i Faith, because it was His mission to prepare the way for Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha'i Faith.

Like John the Baptist some 2,000 years before, the Bab called on the people to purify themselves for the coming of the day of God. Unlike John the Baptist, however, He founded an independent religion and claimed equal station with Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Baha’is view the Bab and Baha’u’llah as Manifestations of God.

The similarities between the missions of Jesus and the Bab are often noted with awe. In Thief in the Night, William Sears lists a number of them. Both were known for their meekness. Both condemned the corruption present in religious and secular society. Their chief enemies were the religious authorities. Both were taken before the authorities and publicly interrogated, after which both were scourged. Both went first in triumph and then in suffering through the streets of the cities where they were to be killed. Both were suspended before a multitude as they were put to death. Both spoke words of comfort to one who was to die with them.

Yet in spite of the many similarities, there is one major difference: Almost nothing, it seems, is known about the circumstances attending the Bab’s birth.

We do know that He was born on Oct. 20, 1819, in Shiraz,Persia (now Iran). The Bab, whose name was Siyyid Ali-Muhammad, was the son of a merchant of Shiraz. Both parents were descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. When the Bab was young, his father died. Care of the child fell to a maternal uncle and the only relative of the Bab to openly espouse the Bab’s Cause during His lifetime.

Stories of His childhood bear remarkable resemblance (in spirit at least) to the stories told in the Gospels about the young Jesus. For example, when the Bab was sent to school, the schoolmaster was so astonished at His wisdom and intelligence that he sent the child back to His uncle, saying he had nothing to teach such a gifted student. The Bab’s uncle commanded Him to be attentive to His teacher, but as time progressed, the schoolmaster began to feel more like the student than the teacher.

Other accounts speak of the young Bab’s radiant character and the considerable time He spent in prayer. There can be little doubt He was an extraordinary child. Some who had known Him in those early years later became His followers. It seems many of them were hardly surprised by the way events played out.

Baha’is celebrate the birth of the Bab in a variety of simple and joyous ways.

This day is one of the nine Holy Days on which work is to be suspended. Baha’i communities gather for prayers and devotional readings followed by fellowship and celebration. However they are celebrated, these activities are open to all who would like to attend.

--By Dale E. Lehman, Planet Baha’i

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Tablet Concerning

the Day of the

Martyrdom of

His Holiness,

the Exalted One

Translated from the Persian into English by Khazeh Fananapazir

He is the All-Glorious!O thou honoured 'Alí Akbar!
This day is the day of the Martyrdom of His Holiness, the Exalted One, may our heart be sacrificed for His sanctified blood.
This Day is the day in which this "Sun of Truth" concealed itself behind the clouds of providence.
This Day is the day in which this luminous Orb did set!
This Day is the day in which that Body, pure and without blemish or spot fell upon and rolled onto the blood soaked earth
This Day is the day in which His chest and His heart, immaculate and pure like unto a spotless mirror, was riddled by thousands of bullets!
This Day is the day in which that "Divine Lamp" became severed from Its physical frame!
This Day is the day in which the cries and lamentations of the Concourse on high are raised
This Day is the day in which the inhabitants of the Kingdom of God weep and moan, the eyes in tears and their hearts torn!

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Báb, Forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh

"His life is one of the most magnificent examples of courage which it has been the privilege of mankind to behold..."1

The object of this tribute by the prominent French writer A.L.M. Nicolas was the nineteenth century prophetic figure known to history as the Báb.

Millenial fervor gripped many peoples throughout the world during the first half of the nineteenth century;

while Christians expected the return of Christ, a wave of expectation swept through Islam that the "Lord of the Age" would appear. Both Christians and Muslims envisioned that, with fulfillment of the prophecies in their scriptures, a new spiritual age was about to begin.

In Persia, this messianic ferment reached
a dramatic climax on May 23, 1844,

when a young merchant--the Báb--announced that He was the Bearer of a long- promised Divine Revelation destined to transform the spiritual life of the human race. "O peoples of the earth," the Báb declared, "Give ear unto God's holy Voice...Verily the resplendent Light of God hath appeared in your midst, invested with this unerring Book, that ye may be guided aright to the ways of peace..."2 Against a backdrop of widescale moral breakdown in Persian society, the Báb's declaration that spiritual renewal and social advancement rested on "love and compassion" rather "than force and coercion," aroused hope and excitement among all classes, and He quickly attracted thousands of followers.3
Although the young merchant's given name was Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad, He took the name "Báb," a title that means "Gate" or "Door" in Arabic. His coming, the Báb explained, represented the portal through which the universally anticipated Revelation of God to all humanity would soon appear. The central theme of His major work--the Bayan--was the imminent appearance of a second Messenger from God, one Who would be far greater than the Báb, and Whose mission would be to usher in the age of peace and justice promised in Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and all the other world religions.
The Shrine of the Báb, Haifa, Israel.
The Báb referred to this coming Divine Teacher as "Him Whom God shall make manifest" and stated that "no words of Mine can adequately describe Him, nor can any reference in My Book, the Bayan, do justice to His Cause."4 He clarified the central aim of His mission by explaining that "the purpose underlying this Revelation, as well as those that preceded it, has, in like manner, been to announce the advent of the Faith of Him Whom God will make manifest."5 The basis for all human accomplishment is to be found in the teachings of this promised universal Manifestation of God, and "the sum total of the religion of God is but to help Him."6 For the Báb, a climacteric in human history had been reached, and He was the "Voice of the Crier, calling aloud in the wilderness of the Bayan" announcing to humanity that it was entering the period of its collective maturity.7
Throughout His writings, the Báb warned His followers to be watchful, and as soon as the promised Teacher revealed Himself, to recognize and follow Him. The Báb exhorted them to see with the "eye of the spirit" rather than through their "fanciful imaginations."8 To be worthy of "Him Whom God shall make manifest" required entirely new standards of conduct, a nobility of character that human beings had theretofore not achieved: "Purge your hearts of worldly desires," the Báb urged His first group of disciples, "and let angelic virtues be your adorning...The time is come when naught but the purest motive, supported by deeds of stainless purity, can ascend to the throne of the Most High and be acceptable unto Him..."9
In several instances the Báb alluded to the identity of the Promised One: "Well is it with him who fixeth his gaze upon the Order of Bahá'u'lláh and rendereth thanks unto his Lord. For He will assuredly be made manifest."10 And: "When the Day-Star of Baha will shine resplendent above the horizon of eternity it is incumbent upon you to present yourselves before His Throne."11 Husayn-`Ali, a leading disciple of the Báb known to history as Bahá'u'lláh, assumed the title of "Baha" (Arabic for "glory" or "splendor") at a gathering of the Báb's followers in 1848, a title that was later confirmed by the Báb Himself.
In some respects, the Báb's role can be compared to that of John the Baptist in the founding of Christianity. The Báb was Bahá'u'lláh's herald: His principal mission was to prepare the way for Bahá'u'lláh's coming. Accordingly, the founding of the Bábi Faith is viewed by Bahá'ís as synonymous with the founding of the Bahá'í Faith--and its purpose was fulfilled when Bahá'u'lláh announced in 1863 that He was the Promised One foretold by the Báb. Bahá'u'lláh later affirmed that the Báb was "the Herald of His Name and the Harbinger of His Great Revelation which hath caused...the splendour of His light to shine forth above the horizon of the world."12 The Báb's appearance marked the end of the "Prophetic Cycle" of religious history, and ushered in the "Cycle of Fulfillment."
At the same time, however, the Báb founded a distinctive, independent religion of His own. Known as the Bábi Faith, that religious dispensation produced its own vigorous community, its own scriptures, and left its own indelible mark on history. The Bahá'í writings attest that "the greatness of the Báb consists primarily, not in His being the divinely-appointed Forerunner of so transcendent a Revelation, but rather in His having been invested with the powers inherent in the inaugurator of a separate religious Dispensation, and in His wielding, to a degree unrivaled by the Messengers gone before Him, the scepter of independent Prophethood."13 With His call for the spiritual and moral reformation of Persian society, and His insistence upon the upliftment of the station of women and the poor, the Báb indeed assumed a position reminiscent of the Prophets of the past. But unlike those Seers of old who could but look to the far future for the time when "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,"14 the Báb by His very appearance signified that the dawn of the "Day of God" had at last arrived.
The hearts and minds of those who heard the message of the Báb were locked in a mental world that had changed little from medieval times. Along with His prescription for spiritual renewal, His promotion of education and the useful sciences was by any measure revolutionary. Thus, by proclaiming an entirely new religion, the Báb was able to help His followers break free from the Islamic frame of reference and to mobilize them in preparation for the coming of Bahá'u'lláh.
Mulla Husayn-i-Bushrú'i, a member of Persia's religious class, described the effect on him of his first meeting with the Báb: "I felt possessed of such courage and power that were the world, all its peoples and its potentates, to rise against me, I would alone and undaunted, withstand their onslaught. The universe seemed but a handful of dust in my grasp. I seemed to be the Voice of Gabriel personified, calling unto all mankind: 'Awake, for, lo! the morning Light has broken.'"15
The transformative impact of the Báb's message was primarily achieved through the dissemination of His epistles, commentaries, and doctrinal and mystical works. Some, though, like Mulla Husayn, were able to hear Him directly. The effect of the Báb's voice was described by one of His followers: "The melody of His chanting, the rhythmic flow of the verses which streamed from His lips caught our ears and penetrated into our very souls. Mountain and valley re-echoed the majesty of His voice. Our hearts vibrated in their depths to the appeal of His utterance."16
The boldness of the Báb's proclamation--which put forth the vision of an entirely new society--stirred intense fear within the religious and secular establishments. Accordingly, persecution of the Bábis quickly developed. Thousands of the Báb's followers were put to death in a horrific series of massacres. The extraordinary moral courage evinced by the Bábis in the face of this onslaught was recorded by a number of Western observers. European intellectuals such as Ernest Renan, Leo Tolstoy, Sarah Bernhardt and the Comte de Gobineau were deeply affected by this spiritual drama that had unfolded in what was regarded as a darkened land. The nobility of the Báb's life and teachings and the heroism of His followers became a frequent topic of conversation in the salons of Europe. The story of Tahirih, the great poet and Bábi heroine, who declared to her persecutors, "You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women," traveled as far and as quickly as that of the Báb Himself.17
Ultimately, those opposed to the Báb argued that He was not only a heretic, but a dangerous rebel. The authorities decided to have Him executed. On 9 July 1850, this sentence was carried out, in the courtyard of the Tabriz army barracks. Some 10,000 people crowded the rooftops of the barracks and houses that overlooked the square. The Báb and a young follower were suspended by two ropes against a wall. A regiment of 750 Armenian soldiers, arranged in three files of 250 each, opened fire in three successive volleys. So dense was the smoke raised by the gunpowder and dust that the entire yard was obscured.
The report of the execution, written to Lord Palmerston, the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, by Sir Justin Shiel, Queen Victoria's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in Tehran on July 22, 1850, records: "When the smoke and dust cleared away after the volley, Báb was not to be seen, and the populace proclaimed that he had ascended to the skies. The balls had broken the ropes by which he was bound but he was dragged from the recess where, after some search he was discovered and shot."18
After the first attempt at execution, the Báb was found back in His cell, giving final instructions to one of His followers. Earlier in the day, when the guards had come to take Him to the courtyard, the Báb had warned that no "earthly power" could silence Him until He had finished all that He had to say. When the guards arrived this second time, the Báb calmly announced: "Now you may proceed to fulfill your intention."19
Again, the Báb and His young companion were brought out for execution. The Armenian troops refused to fire, and a Muslim firing squad was assembled and ordered to shoot. This time the bodies of the pair were shattered, their bones and flesh mingled into one mass. Surprisingly, their faces were untouched. The light of the "Mystic Fane," as the Báb referred to Himself, had been quenched under a dramatic set of circumstances.20 The last words of the Báb to the crowd were: "O wayward generation! Had you believed in Me every one of you would have followed the example of this youth, who stood in rank above most of you, and would have willingly sacrificed himself in My path. The day will come when you will have recognized Me; that day I shall have ceased to be with you."21
Bahá'u'lláh paid this tribute to the Báb: "Behold what steadfastness that Beauty of God hath revealed. The whole world rose to hinder Him, yet it utterly failed. The more severe the persecution they inflicted on that Sadrih [Branch] of Blessedness, the more His fervour increased, and the brighter burned the flame of His love. All this is evident, and none disputeth its truth. Finally, He surrendered His soul, and winged His flight unto the realms above."22
A.L.M. Nicolas, who chronicled the episode of the Báb, wrote: "He sacrificed himself for humanity; for it he gave his body and his soul, for it he endured privations, insults, torture and martyrdom. He sealed, with his very lifeblood, the covenant of universal brotherhood. Like Jesus he paid with his life for the proclamation of a reign of concord, equity, and brotherly love."23
The short six-year duration of the Báb's mission in some respects symbolized the abrupt and startling transition to global consciousness that the Báb had called humanity to undertake. Since His bold proclamation in the middle of the last century, unparalleled scientific and technological advances have indeed provided the first glimmerings of a global society. In His role as the "Primal Point from which have been generated all created things," the Báb set in motion a dramatic new cycle of human creativity and discovery.24 The "breezes" of God's "knowledge" had "stirred" the "minds of men" and caused "the spirits to soar."
The nearly simultaneous appearance of two Manifestations of God, Bahá'u'lláh Himself states, "is a mystery such as no mind can fathom."25 For Bahá'ís, it is both an affirmation that the establishment of universal peace--the "Kingdom of God"--is not too far distant, and a testimony to the greatness of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. As `Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh's appointed successor, explains:
The Báb, the Exalted One, is the Morn of Truth, the splendor of Whose light shineth throughout all regions. He is also the Harbinger of the Most Great Light, the Abha Luminary (Bahá'u'lláh). The Blessed Beauty (Bahá'u'lláh) is the One promised by the sacred books of the past, the revelation of the Source of light that shone upon Mount Sinai, Whose fire glowed in the midst of the Burning Bush. We are, one and all, servants of their threshold, and stand each as a lowly keeper at their door.26
Bahá'u'lláh: Manifestation of God
A.L.M. Nicolas, Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Báb (Paris: Librairie Critique, 1908), pp. 203-4, 376. Quoted in The Dawnbreakers, p. 515 (footnote).
Selections from the Writings of the Báb (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1976), p. 50, 61.
Ibid., p. 77.
Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, 2d rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1974), p. 62.
Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 106.
Ibid, p. 85.
Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1995), p. 12.
Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 146.
Muhammad-i-Zarandi (Nabil-i-Azam), The Dawn-Breakers: Nabil's Narrative of the Early Days of the Bahá'í Revelation, translated from the Persian by Shoghi Effendi (1932; reprint, Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1974), p. 93.
The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 147.
Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 164.
Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 102.
The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 123.
Isaiah 11:9
The Dawn-Breakers, p. 65.
Ibid., p. 251.
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By (Wilmette, Il: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1944), p. 75.
Quoted in John Ferraby, All Things Made New: A Comprehensive Outline of the Bahá'í Faith (London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, revised edition 1975), p. 199.
The Dawn-Breakers, p. 463.
Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 74.
The Dawn-Breakers, p. 464.
Bahá'u'lláh, The Book of Certitude, 3d ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 234.
A.L.M. Nicolas, see note 1.
The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 126.
Ibid., p. 124.
Ibid., p. 127.