SUNSET FRIDAY, JULY 8: The solemn remembrance of the Martyrdom of the Bab resonates for Baha’is today, as the faithful approach the coming anniversary of their religious founder’s public execution. At noon on July 9, 1850, the Bab said his final words in his homeland of Persia before the firing squads acted. For Baha’is, today’s event has no parallel except for the crucifixion of Jesus. (Planet Baha’i has more.)
The Bab spent three years in prison before his death was ordered, and although Muhammad Shah of Iran hadn’t found the grounds to execute the Bab—despite growing numbers of Baha’is—his successor ordered the Bab’s execution after strong encouragement from advisors. Tens of thousands of onlookers, gathering on nearby rooftops and in the streets, were shocked when the Bab’s words rang true that he would not be killed until he had finished speaking his final words to Siyyid Husayn, his secretary. Although shots rang out through the city, they only punctured the ropes that tied the Bab, so that he could escape to the room of Siyyid Husayn.
Once found, the Bab announced that his conversation was over. Some leaders, disturbed by these events, called for the execution to be cancelled; however, a new squad was brought in and the Bab was executed. (Meditate with a multimedia presentation at NYBaha’i.) At the time, Baha’is risked their lives to sneak the Bab’s deceased body into a wooden box, where it remained hidden for almost 60 years before being entombed in a shrine on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, where it remains today. (Check out photos of pilgrims at Mount Carmel, courtesy of the Baha’i World News Service.)
Persecution of Baha’is continues in Iran. Currently, human-rights activists are focused on seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders in Iran and events in the campaign to free them continue to unfold. (The Baha’i World News Service has a recent story.)