Martyrdom of the Bab: Baha’is mark anniversary, inexplicable events

House of worship white building with gardens in front

A Bahai House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois. Photo by Adib Roy, courtesy of Flickr

Note: Baha’i days begin at sunset.

SUNSET MONDAY, JULY 8: The world’s more than 5 million Baha’is pause to recall the solemn anniversary of their religious founder’s public execution at noon on July 9, for the Martyrdom of the Bab. As one of nine holy days of the year, the Martyrdom of the Bab commemorates the anniversary of an event that occurred on this date in 1850. The events that ensued on the day of his death, however, have left millions in awe for more than a century.

Interested in a Baha’i perspective of the harmony between science and religion? Check out this TEDx talk on YouTube.

PERSIA, BABI AND THE BAB

The era was 19th century Persia, and a man who called himself the Bab—translated, meaning the Gate—had begun attracting followers. Despite attempts by authorities, passion for his Babi religion ran wide and deep. Muhammad Shah would not execute the Bab, but his successor, Nasiri’d-Din Shah, was advised to kill the Bab. And so, it was announced that the Bab, along with any followers, would be executed.

THE EXECUTION AND FINAL CONVERSATION

According to Baha’i tradition: At the time of the Bab’s execution, when the head attendant was ordered to bring the Bab before the chief religious officials of the City of Tabriz to obtain death warrants, the attendant found the Bab in private conversation with his secretary, Siyyid Husayn. The Bab warned that, “Not until I have said to him all those things that I wish to say can any earthly power silence me.”

As the traditional Baha’i story is retold: The Bab was brought to the center of the city to be executed by soldiers, but—as he had promised—not one bullet touched him. Tens of thousands of onlookers, gathering on nearby rooftops and in the streets, were shocked when the Bab’s words rang true. The firing squads had, instead, blown apart the rope that had tied the prisoner. The Bab was nowhere to be found.

After frantic searches, the Bab was discovered in a private room, continuing his previously interrupted conversation with Siyyid Husayn. The Bab announced to them, “I have finished my conversation with Siyyid Husayn. Now you may proceed and fulfill your intention.” Several authorities and soldiers were so shaken by the events that they resigned and refused to have anything further to do with the execution. A new firing squad was drawn and brought to the Bab, and when the regiment opened fire, the Bab was killed.

A small group of 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 to this day. Today, most Bahai’s observe the holy day with prayers, gatherings and services.

Did you know? A Baha’i House of Worship is open to non-Baha’is as well as Baha’is. Holy scriptures of the world’s religions are recited in Baha’i temples.

 

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Martyrdom of the Bab: Baha’is recall awe-inspiring events of Bab’s execution

Woman in black shawl and clothing with eyes closed, candle in background

A Baha’i plays the role of the Bab’s wife in a tribute service for observance of the Martyrdom of the Bab. Photo by Melissa Key, courtesy of The Herald-Sun

STARTS SUNSET TUESDAY, JULY 8: The world’s 5 million Baha’is pause at noon on July 9 to recall in solemnity the Martyrdom of the Bab. One of nine holy days of the year, the Martyrdom of the Bab commemorates the anniversary of an event that occurred on this date in 1850. The Bab, having been imprisoned for approximately three years, had finally been sentenced to a death scheduled for July 9; the events that ensued on the day of his death, however, have left millions in awe for more than a century.

The era was 19th century Persia, and a man who called himself the Bab—his name means, the Gate—had begun attracting followers. Despite attempts by authorities, passion for his Babi religion ran wide and deep. Muhammad Shah would not execute the Bab, but his successor, Nasiri’d-Din Shah, was advised to kill the Bab. And so, it was announced that the Bab, along with any followers, would be executed.

According to Baha’i tradition: When the head attendant was ordered to bring the Bab before the chief religious officials of the City of Tabriz, to obtain death warrants, he did so and found the Bab in private conversation with his secretary, Siyyid Husayn. The head attendant lectured Siyyid Husayn, but the Bab warned that, “Not until I have said to him all those things that I wish to say can any earthly power silence Me.” (Learn more from Planet Bahai and the Bahai Library.)

As the traditional Baha’i story is retold: The Bab was brought to the center of the city to be executed by soldiers; as he had promised, not one bullet touched him, and the firing squads had instead blown apart the rope that had tied him. The Bab was nowhere to be found.

After frantic searches, the Bab was discovered in a private room, continuing his previously interrupted conversation with Siyyid Husayn. The Bab announced to them, “I have finished My conversation with Siyyid Husayn. Now you may proceed and fulfill your intention.” Several authorities and soldiers were so shaken by the events that they resigned and refused to have anything further to do with the execution; still, a new firing squad was drawn and brought to the Bab. The regiment opened fire, and the Bab was killed.

In 1909, the Bab’s body was placed in its current resting place, in the Shrine of the Bab on Mount Caramel in Haifa, Israel. Today, most Bahai’s observe the holy day with prayers, gatherings and services. (Access a meditation with slides and music from New York Baha’i.)

IN THE NEWS:
BAHA’I SECOND-LARGEST RELIGION
IN SOUTH CAROLINA

It’s surprising, but true, according to a new research report recently covered in both the Washington Post and National Public Radio’s website. A map recently created by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies has revealed that Baha’is represent the second-largest religious group in one of America’s 50 states: South Carolina. (Read more from the Protojournalist column in the NPR website.) Though the Baha’i faith is present in most states—and the Baha’i House of Worship for North America is located in Illinois—South Carolina was the only state where Baha’is ranked No. 2 behind the nation’s dominant Christian groups. Learn how the Baha’i religion grew in South Carolina, and why, in this article from the Post and Courier.

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Categories: Baha'i

Martyrdom of the Bab: Baha’is recall remarkable events of 1850

White fence in foreground, lit stairway and lit domed building in back, at night

Baha’i Shrine of the Bab, lit up at night. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

TUESDAY, JULY 9: Baha’is lament the death of the Messenger of God at noon today, on the anniversary of the Martyrdom of the Bab. By just 31 years of age, the Bab—whose name means “the gate”—had made his declaration as the forerunner of the Promised One and gathered tens of thousands of followers to the Babi religion. He also sparked fierce oppposition. Before a crowd in a public square in Persia (modern-day Iran), the Bab was put to death on this date in 1850.

In Persia in 1844, the Bab officially declared his mission as the one who would herald the arrival of a Promised One. Almost immediately, thousands flocked to the Bab and his proclamations spread like wildfire. Fearful of his influence, political and religious authorities sought a solution: the Bab would be arrested. At 31, the Bab’s execution was ordered. (Find details at the Baha’i Library.)

Today, Baha’is commemorate the Martyrdom of the Bab with programs and prayers at noon. It is one of nine holidays during which work and school are suspended. (For a meditation on the Martyrdom of the Bab, visit NYBahai.)

NEWS: BAHA’U’LLAH’S HOUSE DESTROYED

Though details remain unclear, the sacred house of Baha’u’llah in Baghdad—known as the Most Great House and a sacred site in the Baha’i faith—has recently been found demolished. (Read the announcement letter from the Baha’i Universal House of Justice.) Baha’u’llah is regarded as the Promised One in the Baha’i faith, and the Most Great House is where he resided for the majority of his exile from Iran. Bani Dugal, the Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, commented, “This deplorable act has robbed people throughout the world of a priceless piece of their spiritual heritage.” (Read more here.)

NEWS: WORK CONTINUES ON CHILEAN HOUSE OF WORSHIP

Construction continues on the House of Worship in Santiago, Chile. A new video has been released for the project, made available in English and Spanish, that highlights the link between the project and the local community. Construction on the House of Worship began in 2010, and when finished, the House will be the only one of its kind to serve the South American continent. (Baha’i World News Service has the story.)

*Note: Although Baha’i days begin at sunset, the Martyrdom of the Bab is officially recognized at noon on July 9—the time of the Bab’s execution.

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Categories: Baha'i