- Slides: 27
The Life of the Báb The Herald of the Bahá’í Faith
A boy called Alí-Muhammad was born in the city of Shiraz in Iran on 20 th October 1819. This was the same year that Queen Victoria was born.
Alí-Muhammad’s father died when he was young so his uncle looked after him and his mother. As a child, he loved to pray and he was very wise. His teacher sent him home from his religious school because he knew more than the teacher!
When he was older, he became a merchant in his uncle’s business. He was known for being very fair when he dealt with his customers.
Meanwhile, in various different countries, there were a lot of Christians and Muslims who had read the promises in their scriptures and realised that it was time for a new Messenger from God to appear. In 1844 a group of Muslims set out from Iraq to look for the new Messenger. The first one to find Him was called Mullá Husayn.
Mullá Husayn arrived in the city of Shiraz in Iran in May 1844 and a found a young man waiting for him. This young man was Alí-Muhammad, who invited him to his home. It was there, in this room, that Mullá Husayn recognised that Alí-Muhammad was the new Messenger.
From that time onwards, Alí-Muhammad was known as the Báb, which means the Door or Gate. This was because He said He was the Door to the next Messenger Who would be the promised One of all religions. He said that everyone should look out for this new Messenger, who would come in just a few years’ time. The Báb had come to prepare the way for Him.
18 people altogether found the Báb and recognised Him. He sent these first followers to different places to tell everyone about the new Faith. The Báb Himself set off on a pilgrimage to Mecca. While He was there, He held on to the door of the Ka’aba and announced that He was the promised Messenger. The people nearby heard Him and were amazed.
Many people believed in the Báb and followed Him. They were known as Bábís. However, the rulers and religious leaders tried to destroy this new religion. The chief minister put the Báb in prison, first in one remote castle, then in one even further away.
It was during this time that the Báb was seen by Dr Cormick, a British doctor. The doctor wrote later that he did not find out much about the Báb’s religion, but there were two things he noticed which were different to the rest of the people of the time. One was that they showed respect for Christianity and the other was that women had much more freedom amongst the Bábís.
In 1845 two of the early Bábís were tortured on the streets of Shiraz. The Times newspaper in London reported on this in November 1845.
The Báb’s followers continued to tell everyone about His Message. Sadly, many of them were killed, tortured or driven from their homes. But this did not stop the new Faith from spreading. In the end, the rulers and clergy decided that the only way to stop the Báb’s Message was by killing Him. __________________________
On 9 th July 1850 the Báb was tied to a wall in a large square and a regiment of 750 soldiers were lined up to shoot Him. But, when the smoke from the guns had cleared, the Báb had disappeared!
The Báb was found back in His cell, finishing His conversation with one of His followers. The captain of the regiment said that he had carried out his orders and refused to let his men fire again. The Báb said that He had finished His conversation and was now ready to die.
Another regiment had to be found and this time the Báb was shot and killed. This whole episode was witnessed by thousands of people, including the British consul, who reported back to Britain on what had happened. Still the Faith of the Báb continued to spread.
The Báb’s body was hidden by His followers for nearly sixty years, and is now buried in this beautiful Shrine in the Holy Land.
As the British doctor had noted, women had an important place in the religion of the Báb. The next few slides tell the story of a young woman called Táhirih, one of the Báb’s first and most important followers. She was born in the same year as the Báb.
When Táhirih was young, she used to listen to her father, a very learned man, talking to his students about religion. She had to listen from behind a curtain because women were not supposed to discuss things with men.
One day she heard her father make a mistake and she couldn’t stop herself from speaking out. Then everyone knew she was there! After that she was allowed to talk, as long as she stayed hidden.
When she was older, Táhirih became famous for her wisdom and understanding of religion. She was also a famous poet. One day she heard that people were expecting a new Messenger and that some people were going to look for Him. In those days in Iran, women were not allowed to travel alone and they were not even allowed to show their faces in public.
But Táhirih had a vision of the Báb, so she gave her brother-in-law a letter to take to Him, when he went looking for Him. She became a follower of the Báb, and she told many people about the Báb’s teachings, and they became followers too.
Some of the early Bábís held a conference to discuss the new religion. Táhirih was the only woman there. One day she appeared before the men without a veil. This was a terrible shock to them. She announced that this was a new age. Her actions showed that women would now be equal with men.
Táhirih continued to tell people about the Báb, even after He was killed, until eventually the religious leaders decided that she must be killed too. She knew this was going to happen, so she dressed herself like a bride and was very happy.
When the men arrived to take her away, she said: “You can kill me but you cannot stop the emancipation of women. ” Táhirih was the first martyr for women’s rights. This was the result of the Báb’s teachings for the new age.
The Báb had told His followers that another Messenger would arise in a few years’ time. This Messenger was known as Bahá’u’lláh (the Glory of God) and His followers became known as Bahá’ís.
Since then the Bahá’í Faith has spread across the world. As part of a Bahá’í pilgrimage, Bahá’ís visit the Báb’s beautiful shrine and pray there. Bahá’ís everywhere will always remember the Báb and His sacrifice.
This has been a very short introduction to the Life of the Báb. For more information see www. bahai. org Produced by P&A Vickers for the UK Bahá’í RE agency. Bahá’í photographs courtesy of the Bahá’í Media Bank. Other photographs courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.