Declaration of the Bab: Baha’is commemorate a joyous holiday

Well tended gardens

A Baha’i garden. Photo courtesy of Max Pixel

SUNSET WEDNESDAY, MAY 23: Baha’i communities across the globe commemorate the anniversary of the Declaration of the Bab, made on this night in 1844. Though the roots of this story began decades earlier—in 1783, precisely—it was not until this pivotal night that the Bab correctly answered a series of questions that revealed he was the Promised One. Mulla Husayn became the first to accept the Bab’s claims, and soon after, followers of the Bab became known as Babis.

THE SEARCH: LOOKING FOR A PROMISED ONE

According to Baha’i tradition: The search for “the Gate” began years before the Bab’s birth, in 1783, with a man named Shaykh Ahmad-i-ahsa’i. He began traveling through Persia with the announcement that a great day was coming: a day that would see a Promised One. Later, a follower of his teachings, Mulla Husayn,—who would find the Bab. (For details, visit Bahai.org.) Though the identity of the Promised One remained secret, it was through a series of descriptions, questions and seemingly impossible tasks that Persian merchant Siyyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi convinced Mulla Husayn that he was the bearer of divine knowledge. This evening is now celebrated by Baha’is as the Declaration of the Bab. (For a meditative prayer set to music, visit New York Bahai.)

Following the 1844 proclamations, which were later made public, Siyyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi took the name of the Bab (Arabic for “gate”) and began writing. The Bab penned his messianic claims, teachings and new religious law. In a few short years, the Bab had acquired thousands of followers. (Learn more from the Baha’i Blog.) Starkly opposed by other clergy and the government, thousands of Babis were persecuted and killed. In 1850, at the age of 30, the Bab was executed by a firing squad—though not before finding Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i faith and the messenger of God whom the Bab had spoken of.

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Martyrdom of the Bab: Baha’is mourn founder, recall awe-inspiring events

(Note: Baha’i days begin at sunset.)

Gates open to outdoor gardens, multiple levels

Baha’i gardens in Haifa, Israel. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

SUNSET FRIDAY, JULY 8: At noon on July 9, more than 5 million Baha’is around the world pause to recall in solemnity the anniversary of their religious founder’s public execution, 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.

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 BAB’S FINAL WORDS

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 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.”

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.

NEWS: BAHA’I PERSECUTION AND NEW WEBSITES

Despite the continued persecution of Baha’is in Iran, worldwide awareness of the faith is growing. Multiple world leaders have stepped forward to ask that the Iranian persecutions end, and several new websites have emerged lately that educate readers about both the realities and contributions of the Baha’i faith and its adherents.

According to an article from Bahai.org: “Reflected in the efflorescence of these new sites is the breadth of countries and cultures in the Baha’i world. As each community develops further, its national website will continue to evolve. The list of communities spans across many regions, from Myanmar to Kazakhstan, South Africa to France, Turkey to the Netherlands, and Colombia to the United States.”

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Declaration of the Bab: A joyous Baha’i holiday and news from Wilmette

Overview of elaborate gardens and large white building with domed top over busy city

The Shrine of the Bab in Haifa, Israel. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

SUNDOWN FRIDAY, MAY 22: Baha’i communities across the globe commemorate the anniversary of the Declaration of the Bab, made on this night in 1844. Though the roots of this story began decades earlier—in 1783, precisely—it was not until this pivotal night that the Bab correctly answered a series of questions that revealed he was the Promised One. Mulla Husayn became the first to accept the Bab’s claims, and soon after, followers of the Bab became known as Babis.

SEARCH FOR A PROMISED ONE

According to Baha’i tradition: The search for “the Gate” began years before the Bab’s birth, in 1783, with a man named Shaykh Ahmad-i-ahsa’i. He began traveling through Persia with the announcement that a great day was coming: a day that would see a Promised One. Later, a follower of his teachings, Mulla Husayn,—who would find the Bab. (For details, visit Bahai.org.) Though the identity of the Promised One remained secret, it was through a series of descriptions, questions and seemingly impossible tasks that Persian merchant Siyyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi convinced Mulla Husayn that he was the bearer of divine knowledge. This evening is now celebrated by Baha’is as the Declaration of the Bab. (For a meditative prayer set to music, visit New York Bahai.)

Large white domed building with still pool in front

The Baha’i temple in Wilmette, Ill., is the only temple of its kind in the United States. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Following the 1844 proclamations, which were later made public, Siyyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi took the name of the Bab (Arabic for “gate”) and began writing. The Bab penned his messianic claims, teachings and new religious law. In a few short years, the Bab had acquired thousands of followers. (Learn more from the Baha’i Blog.) Starkly opposed by other clergy and the government, thousands of Babis were persecuted and killed. In 1850, at the age of 30, the Bab was executed by a firing squad—though not before finding Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i faith and the messenger of God whom the Bab had spoken of.

IN THE NEWS: Iran to Wilmette

The Baha’i International Community recently launched a campaign that marked the seventh anniversary of the imprisonment of seven former Baha’i leaders in Iran; events took place in communities worldwide. (International Business Times reported.) From protests in Rio de Janeiro to reports by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, it is evident that religious freedoms in Iran have continued to decline in the past year. For the week-long campaign, each day will be dedicated to a different Baha’i prisoner.

Near Chicago, the Wilmette Baha’i Temple opened its highly anticipated welcome center. (World Religion News has the story.) The Baha’i temple has been the only one of its kind in America since 1953, and the welcome center is the first major addition to the building.

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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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