Martyrdom of the Báb
Wednesday July 10, 2019
Bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb
Tuesday October 29, 2019
Birth of Bahá'u'lláh
Wednesday October 30, 2019
Remembering the Martyrdom of the Báb
BahaiTeachings.org – From the Editors – July 10, 2018
Why does humanity persecute our prophets? Over and over, we’ve treated new messengers of God terribly, greeting their peaceful messages with rage and violence.
For some strange reason, our leaders have reacted badly to the founders of the world’s great Faiths, persecuting them in horrible ways. Abraham and Moses faced prison, exile, ridicule and persecution. Krishna and Buddha suffered derision and official censure. Society’s leaders crucified Christ; made war on Muhammad; tortured, exiled and imprisoned Bahá’u’lláh; and executed the Báb.
The Báb founded the Bahá'í Faith's precursor religion—he was the Herald of a new system of belief, and a prophet of God in his own right. He started a progressive new Faith in the midst of one of the world’s most corrupt and backward societies. He suffered enormously as a result, but even after his gruesome execution the Bábi Faith paved the way for the global emergence of the Bahá'í Faith, just as John the Baptist did for Jesus’s new Faith at the beginning of the Christian era.
The Báb’s story began less than two centuries ago. The Báb (which means Gate in Arabic, and is pronounced bŏb) began his new Faith in 1844. Emerging out of the prophetic Sufi mysticism prevalent in 19th Century Persia, the Báb’s stirring message, which heralded the future appearance of a great, worldwide revelation, rapidly caught fire in that very tradition-bound Shi’a Muslim culture.
At first just a few people learned about the Báb, but then thousands and tens of thousands began to become Bábis, radically breaking away from their society’s Islamic traditions and practices. The Bábi Faith’s very existence called into question the authority of Persia’s Islamic religious leaders. In fact, the rapid growth of the Bábi Faith challenged the basic underpinnings of Persian society.
As you might imagine, Persia’s clerics and rulers did not react openly or kindly to this new religious development, to say the least.The Barrack-Square in Tabriz where the martyrdom of the Báb took place.
A mere six years after the Báb’s announcement of his new Faith in 1844, the government ordered the execution of this young, intensely charismatic messenger, only thirty years old at the time. The Persian government and the Islamic clerics had already gruesomely tortured and killed more than 20,000 of the Báb’s ardent followers during the short, intense duration of the Bábi movement.
This all happened when people began flocking to the Báb’s new spiritual teachings. Because the Báb called for revolutionary changes to the prevailing system of religious belief and governance, and because he taught the unity of all religions, the authorities feared that this dynamic new challenge and its growing support would soon sweep them from power. Regardless of the wholesale genocide against the Bábis, more and more people continued to become followers of the Báb. In 1850, frightened of its growing influence and desperate to crush the Bábi movement, the authorities made the decision to execute the Báb. When they charged him with apostasy—the same exact charge the Pharisees leveled against Jesus—the Báb refused to repent or refute his teachings, and calmly accepted the consequences. On July 9, 1850, the Báb’s jailers ordered him executed by firing squad in the town square of Tabriz, Persia. A youth named Anis, one of the Báb’s young followers, insisted on accompanying him in death, and the authorities gladly consented. A massive crowd of ten thousand people watched from the roofs of the barracks and the nearby houses surrounding the square.
But a serious complication arose—earlier that morning Sam Khan, the commander of the Armenian regiment of soldiers ordered to execute the Báb, had begged his forgiveness in advance. “I profess the Christian faith,” the Russian officer told the Báb in his cell, “and entertain no ill will against you. If your Cause be the Cause of Truth, enable me to free myself from the obligation to shed your blood.”
The Báb gently told the commander: “Follow your instructions, and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you from your perplexity.”
At noon that day, when Sam Khan gave the order to fire, the muskets roared. The crowd gasped, because when the musket smoke cleared the Báb had disappeared. His devoted young follower stood completely unscathed at the base of the wall, the ropes that had bound him and the Báb hanging in tatters. Astonished, the crowd shouted that they had witnessed a miracle. Sam Khan, now relieved from his perplexity, immediately ordered his regiment to march away, swearing that he would never again obey such an order, even if it cost him his own life.
After Khan’s troops left the square, the colonel of the official Tabriz bodyguard volunteered to carry out the execution. After the guards found the Báb in his cell peacefully finishing a conversation, they strung him and his young follower up by ropes again.
“O wayward generation!” were the last words of the Báb to the gazing multitude, as the regiment prepared to fire its volley, “Had you believed in Me every one of you would have followed the example of this youth, who stood in rank above most of you, and would have willingly sacrificed himself in My path. The day will come when you will have recognized Me; that day I shall have ceased to be with you.” – quoted by Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 53.
Then the second firing squad took aim and fired. This time, the execution succeeded. Today the fused, bullet-ridden bodies of the Báb and his faithful follower repose under a golden dome on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, Israel. Millions of people from all over the globe visit that holy spot, and every day the Shrine of the Báb proclaims the Baha’i message of unity, peace, love and selflessness to the world.
Shrine of the Báb on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, Israel.
All around the globe, Bahá'ís will observe the Martyrdom of the Báb at noon on July 10th, believing that the Báb set in motion a fresh cycle of progressive revelation to humanity. His revolutionary new teachings opened the path for the new message of Bahá’u’lláh, and his ultimate sacrifice gave us all a new vision of a unified world.
Published by © BahaiTeachings.org
Bicentenary Celebrations (2017-2019)
Between 2017 and 2019, Bahá’ís across Canada are celebrating significant anniversaries in the history of the Bahá’í Faith. 2017 marked the bicentenary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the prophet and founder of the Bahá’í Faith. 2019 will be the bicentenary of the birth of the Báb, the prophet-herald of the Bahá’í Faith.
Born in 1817 in Tehran, Bahá’u’lláh is revered around the world as the most recent of history’s Messengers from God, whose purpose has been to guide humanity towards the advancement of human civilization.
Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings revolve around the oneness of humanity, and His Revelation signals a special time in history as the entire human race moves to a new stage in its collective maturity and wholeness. The challenges and tribulations of this transitional phase in the story of humanity resemble the changes encountered as a person passes through adolescence and becomes an adult. The world is on the threshold of an age in which education for all, equality of women and men, a just and equitable system of governing the earth, and upholding science and religion will be among the values and achievements of a prosperous and peaceful society.
The coming of Bahá’u’lláh was foretold by the Báb, whose name means “the Gate” in Arabic. Appearing in mid-19th century Persia, the Báb led a movement calling for spiritual and moral reformation, which paid particular attention to the position of women and the poor. He established a new religion, and his followers responded to government repression with great acts of heroism. The Báb foretold the imminent appearance of a new Messenger of God, who would guide humanity into a new era of peace and justice promised in all the world’s religions: Bahá’u’lláh.
The Birth of Bahá’u’lláh and the Birth of the Báb are celebrated as twin holy days, and festivities encompass both days with events spread over a 48-hour period.
Published by The Bahá’í Community of Canada