Bahai News - Joyful gift to the Báb
Joyful gift to the Bßb
By John Gutierrez-Mier
San Antonio Express-News
Web Posted : 06/02/2001
It's the world's holiest site for Baha'is ù the Shrine of the Bßb
who founded the religion more than a century and a half ago.
And last week members of the Baha'i faith in San Antonio and around the
world rejoiced as the 19 terraces surrounding the shrine on the slopes
of Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, were finally completed.
"From the Baha'i standpoint, this is an amazing thing," said
Jean Nation, a San Antonio nurse who has been a devotee of the religion
for more than 30 years. "It's a fitting gift to the Bßb."
The garden terraces are the finishing touch to a shrine that has been in
various stages of construction for almost a century. Nation is planning
a pilgrimage there next April and expects it to be spiritually
Only a certain number of pilgrims are allowed to make the nine-day visit
to the shrine, where the Baha'i world center is also located, Nation
said last week during a service at the San Antonio Baha'i Center.
"I've been on a waiting list for years," she said. "But I
finally received my letter and I'm ready to go."
Nation estimates there are about 200 Baha'is in San Antonio. The
religion was founded in 1844 in what is now Iran by the Bßb and his
One of the youngest of the world's faiths, it is largely based on the
writings of Bahß'u'llßh, who was born in Tehran in 1817, the son
of a wealthy government minister. In Arabic, Bahß'u'llßh means
"The Glory of God."
Both men proclaimed the unity of humanity as the children of one God,
and both suffered at the hands of Persian authorities for what was
considered anti-Muslim blasphemy.
Leaving behind the trappings of the wealth he was born into,
Bahß'u'llßh proclaimed himself a new and independent messenger of
God. He was forced to flee to Palestine and died near present-day Acre,
Israel, leaving behind hundreds of pages of writings.
The shrine started out as the tomb of the Bßb, who had been executed
by Persian authorities in 1850 and whose remains were moved there in
1909 to fulfill the Bahß'u'llßh's instructions.
Today, the Baha'i faith has spread worldwide, with about 6 million
adherents from virtually every ethnic group.
As a 22-year-old student at the University of North Texas in Denton
Larry Magee made the shrine pilgrimage 25 years ago, absorbing the
exhibits of sacred writings and other artifacts.
"It was a very unique experience," said Magee, who attends the
local Baha'i Center. "I had only been a Baha'i less than a year but
it helped me learn more about the religion.
"It's kind of hard to describe a spiritual experience, but it
changed my life," he said.
John Abdo, a local nutritionist, visited the shrine only last year, and
saw most of the terraces already completed.
"I'm a pretty grounded guy, but the experience was just so
overwhelming," Abdo said. "Sometimes we're reluctant to use
the word 'intoxicating.' The air was intoxicating with the aroma of the
flowers. It was beautiful."
The San Antonio Bahß'i Center was established in 1992 and relocated
in January to its new facilities at 735 W. Magnolia. Services are
conducted at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays.
Other meeting times throughout the week vary.
Information on the center is available at 545-4007.
©Copyright 2001, San Antonio Express-News
Page last updated/revised 071401
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