The Báb (1819-1850)


The Shrine of the Báb, Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel.
Báb, the Gate. The title assumed by Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad, the Forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh, and Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'í Faith.

Born in shiráz on 20 October 1819, Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad was raised by His uncle Hájí Mirzá Siyyid 'Ali, a merchant. As a child, He showed uncommon wisdom, although He received little formal schooling. He became a merchant and earned a high reputation for fairness. In 1842 He married Khadíjih-Bagum and they had one son, Ahmad, who died in infancy. On May 23, 1844, He announced Himself to be the Báb, or "Gate of God" to the Shaykhí disciple Mullá Hussayn-i-Bushrú'í, the first of eighteen individuals who sought and discovered the Báb.

The Báb proclaimed Himself to be the Promised One of Islam, the Qá'ím, and said that the Mission of His Dispensation was to alert the people to the imminent appearance of the Messenger of God awaited by all the peoples of the world.

As the Báb gained followers, His doctrines inflamed the Shí'ih clergy, who determined to stamp out the new faith. Muhammad Sháh's Grand Vazier, Hájí Mírzá Aqásí, imprisoned the Báb in the fortress of Máh-Kú, then, when sympathy for Him spread there, moved Him to Chihríq. In 1848 the Báb was subjected to a trial before a Muslim divines of Tabríz and punishment by bastinado. While the Báb was imprisoned, a group of Bábís met at the Conference of Badasht. It was here that Táhirih boldly exemplified the break with Islám by appearing unveiled in public and that Bahá'u'lláh demonstrated His leadership.

The Báb's followers were subjected to swift and savage persecution at the hands of the dominant Muslim clergy, along with the forces of the Persian government throughout the country, notably in Mázindarán at the fort of Shaykh Tabarsí, Zanján, Nayríz and Tihrán. On July 9, 1850 the Báb was brought before a firing squad in the barracks square of Tabríz, along with a young follower. Some 20,000 of His followers perished in a series of massacres throughout Persia. His remains were hidden by His followers and in 1899 transferred to Palestine where in 1909 'Abdu'l-Bahá Himself interred them in the sepulchre on Mount Carmel known as the Shrine of the Bab. Today, the majestic building with the golden dome, overlooking the Bay of Haifa, Israel, and set amidst beautiful gardens, is the Shrine where the Báb's earthly remains are entombed.

Bahá'ís revere the Báb as the Forerunner or Herald of Bahá'u'lláh, but also as a Manifestation of God in His own right, considering His Writings to be Holy Scripture. The beginning of the Bahá'í Era is dated from the day of His declaration. The Declaration of the Báb, His birth and the day of His Martyrdom are observed as Bahá'í Holy Days on which work is suspended.


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