RELIGION

The Birth Of The Bab 2015: Bahá'ís Remember A Prophet

On October 20, 1819, a baby boy named Siyyid Ali-Muhammad was born in Persia (now Iran), to a family believed to be descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. This child grew up to be a respected religious leader in his own right who foretold the coming of a chosen one sent by God: Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í faith.

Because of his role as a herald, Ali-Muhammad is known as the Bab, which means the "gate" in Arabic.
A general view shows the terraced gardens and the golden Shrine of Bab.
A general view shows the terraced gardens and the golden Shrine of Bab.

According to lore, the Bab showed great intellectual prowess at a young age and surprised his teachers with his knowledge of the Quran. He went on to become a merchant who was known for his fairness and integrity in business dealings.

After the Bab declared himself to be the forerunner of a new tradition, eighteen followers pledged to help spread the message of the coming promised one throughout Persia.

His words earned the ire of the religious leaders, who saw him as a heretic. The Bab was executed by a firing squad in 1850. His remains were hidden by his followers for more than half a century, then interred inside an elaborate shrine in Haifa, Israel. 

Bahá'ís believe the Bab helped awaken people to a new period in human history. The Bahá'í faith emphasizes the oneness of mankind, the common beliefs that unite all religious traditions and the elimination of prejudice.

Although the Bab has often been compared to John the Baptist in the Christian tradition, Bahá'ís consider him to be more than just an ordinary human with great knowledge. The Bab is considered a manifestation of God in his own right. The Bahá’í International Community website states:

With His call for spiritual and moral reformation, and His attention to improving the position of women and the lot of the poor, the Báb’s prescription for spiritual renewal was revolutionary. At the same time, He founded a distinct, independent religion of His own, inspiring His followers to transform their lives and carry out great acts of heroism.

Bahá'ís around the world remember Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad every year on October 20. No work is done on this holy day. Instead, followers participate in prayers, readings, and festive social gatherings.

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