The Báb, born Siyyid `Alí Muhammad Shírází (/ˈseɪjəd ˈæli moʊˈhæməd ʃɪˈrɑːzi/; Persian: سيد علی محمد شیرازی; October 20, 1819 – July 9, 1850) was the founder of Bábism, and one of the central figures of the Bahá'í Faith.
The Báb was a merchant from Shiraz in Qajar Iran who in 1844, at the age of twenty-four, claimed to be a messenger of God. He took on the title of the Báb (/bɑːb/; Arabic: باب), meaning "Gate" or "Door", a reference associated with the promised Twelver Mahdi or al-Qá'im. He faced opposition from the Persian government, which eventually executed him and thousands of his followers, who were known as Bábís.
The Báb composed numerous letters and books in which he stated his claims and defined his teachings. He introduced the idea of He whom God shall make manifest, a messianic figure who would bring a greater message than his own.
To Bahá'ís, the Báb fills a similar role as Elijah or John the Baptist; a predecessor or forerunner who paved the way for their own religion. Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, was a follower of the Báb and claimed in 1863 to be the fulfillment of the Báb's prophecy, 13 years after the former's death.
Shrine of the Báb in Haifa, Israel
|Title||The Primal Point|
October 20, 1819
|Died||July 9, 1850 (aged 30)|
Tabriz, Qajar Iran
|Cause of death||Execution by firing squad|
|Resting place||Shrine of the Báb|
|Spouse||Khadíjih-Bagum (1842–1850) |
A sister of Mullá Rajab Ali
|Parents||Sayyid Muhammad Ridá (father) |
Fátimih Bagum (mother)
The Bab was born on October 20, 1819 (1 Muharram 1235 AH) in Shiraz to a middle-class merchant of the city and given the name Ali Muhammad. His father was Muhammad Ridá, and his mother was Fátimih (1800–1881), a daughter of a prominent merchant in Shiraz. She later became a Bahá'í. He was orphaned when his father died while he was quite young and his maternal uncle Hájí Mírzá Siyyid `Alí, a merchant, raised him. A descendant from Muhammad, a sayyid, through Husayn ibn Ali through both his parents. In Shiraz his uncle sent him to maktab, primary school, and stayed for six or seven years. Sometime between 15 and 20 he joined his uncle in the family business, a trading house, and became a merchant in the city of Bushehr, Iran, near the Persian Gulf. Some of his earlier writings suggest that he did not enjoy the business and instead applied himself to the study of religious literature. One of his contemporary followers described him as "very taciturn, and [he] would never utter a word unless it was absolutely necessary. He did not even answer our questions. He was constantly absorbed in his own thoughts, and was preoccupied with repetition of his prayers and verses. He is described as a handsome man with a thin beard, dressed in clean clothes, wearing a green shawl and a black turban."
An English physician described the young man by saying: "He was a very mild and delicate-looking man, rather small in stature and very fair for a Persian, with a melodious soft voice, which struck me much".
In 1842 he married Khadíjih-Bagum (1822–1882); he was 23 and she was 20. She was the daughter of a prominent merchant in Shíráz. The marriage proved a happy one, and they had one child, a boy named Ahmad who died the year he was born - 1843. The pregnancy jeopardized Khadijih's life and she never conceived again. The young couple occupied a modest house in Shiraz along with the Báb's mother. Later, Khadijih became a Bahá'í.
In the 1790s in Persia, Shaykh Ahmad (1753–1826) began a religious movement within Twelver Shia Islam. His followers, who became known as Shaykhis, were expecting the imminent appearance of the al-Qa'im of the Ahl al-Bayt also called "the Mahdi". After the death of Shaykh Ahmad, leadership was passed on to Kazim Rashti (1793–1843).
In 1841 the Báb went on pilgrimage to Iraq, and for seven months stayed mostly in and around Karbala. There he may have met Kazim Rashti, who showed a high regard for him. He is believed to have attended some of Kazim Rashti's lectures; however, this period is almost entirely undocumented.
As of his death in December 1843, Kazim Rashti counselled his followers to leave their homes to seek the Mahdi, who, according to his prophecies, would soon appear. One of these followers, Mullá Husayn, after keeping vigil for forty days in a mosque, travelled to Shiraz, where he met the Báb.
The Báb's first religiously inspired experience, claimed and witnessed by his wife, is dated to about the evening of 3 April 1844. The Báb's first public connection with his sense of a mission came with the arrival of Mullá Husayn in Shiraz. On the night of 22 May Mullá Husayn was invited by the Báb to his home where Mullá Husayn told him of his search for the possible successor to Kazim Rashti, the Promised One. The Báb claimed this, and the bearer of divine knowledge. Mullá Husayn became the first to accept the Báb's claims to be an inspired figure and a likely successor to Kazim Rashti. The Báb had replied satisfactorily to all of Mullá Husayn's questions and had written in his presence, with extreme rapidity, a long tafsir, commentary, on surah "Yusuf", known as the Qayyúmu'l-Asmá' and considered the Báb's first revealed work.
Mullá Husayn became the Báb's first disciple. Within five months, seventeen other disciples of Kazim Rashti recognized the Báb as a Manifestation of God. Among them was a woman, Fátimih Zarrín Táj Baragháni, a poetess, who later received the name of Táhirih, the Pure. These 18 disciples later became known as the Letters of the Living (each soul containing one letter of the Spirit of God, which combine to form the Word) and given the task of spreading the new faith (understood as the return or continuation of the one Faith of Abraham) across Iran and Iraq. The Báb emphasized the spiritual station of these 18 individuals, who, along with himself, made the first "Unity" of his religion according to the Arabic term wāhid, unity, that has a numerical value of 19 using abjad numerals. The Báb's book, the Persian Bayán, gives the metaphorical identity of the Letters of the Living as the Fourteen Infallibles of Twelver Shi'i Islam: Muhammad, the Twelve Imams, and Fatimah, and the four archangels. Paralleling the first followers of Christ.
In his early writings, the Báb appears to identify himself as the gate (báb) to the Hidden Twelfth Imam, and later begins explicitly to proclaim his station as that of the Hidden Imam and a new messenger from God. Rather than being a discontinued or evolving consciousness, Saiedi states that the works of the Báb are unitary throughout, and that the gradual disclosure of the Báb's identity is defined by the principle of unity in diversity.
In the Báb's early writings, the exalted identity he was claiming was unmistakable, but because of the reception of the people, his writings appear to convey the impression that he is only the gate to the Hidden Twelfth Imam. To his circle of early believers, the Báb was equivocal about his exact status, gradually confiding in them as not merely a gate to the Hidden Imam, but the Manifestation of the Hidden Imam and the Qa'im himself. During his early meetings with Mullá Husayn, the Báb described himself as the Master and the Promised One. He did not consider himself as simply Kazim Rashti's successor, but claimed a prophetic status, a kind of deputy, delegated not just by the Hidden Imam but through Divine authority. His early texts such as the "Commentary on the Surih of Joseph" used Quranic language that implied divine authority and identified himself effectively with the Imam. When Mullá `Alí Basṭámí, the second Letter of the Living, was put on trial in Baghdad for preaching about the Báb, clerics studied the "Commentary on the Surih of Joseph," recognized in it a claim to divine revelation, and quoted from it in opposition to prove he had done so.
However, in the early phase of his declaration to the public, the title báb was emphasized as that of the gate leading to the Hidden Imam, as the Báb had told his early believers not to fully disclose his claims or reveal his name. The approach of laying claim to a lower position was intended to create a sense of anticipation for the appearance of the Hidden Imam, as well to avoid persecution and imprisonment, because a public proclamation of mahdi status could bring a swift penalty of death. After a couple of months, as the Báb observed further acceptance and readiness among his believers and the public, he gradually shifted his public claim to that of the Hidden Imam. Then in his final years he publicly announced his station as a Manifestation of God. In his trial, he boldly proclaimed himself, in the presence of the Heir to the Throne of Persia and other notables, the Promised One. Finally, in his last authored work, the Haykal al-din, he claimed the "essence of God", dhātu’llāh. In the early months of his public declarations, the adoption of a cautious policy had essentially achieved maximum attention with minimum controversy.
However, the gradual unfolding of his claims caused some confusion, both among the public and for some of his believers. A number of his early followers had instantly recognized his station as a messenger from God with divine authority, and this resulted in disagreement within the Bábi community. Even though the Báb had intended to convey his message with discretion, many of his followers such as Táhirih openly declared the coming of the promised Hidden Imam and Mahdi.
After the eighteen Letters of the Living recognized him, the Báb and the eighteenth Letter of the Living, Quddús, left on a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, the sacred cities of Islam. At the Kaaba in Mecca, the Báb publicly claimed the Qa'im, and wrote to the Sharif of Mecca, the Custodian of the Kaaba, proclaiming his mission. After their pilgrimage, the Báb and Quddús returned to Bushehr, Iran.
After some time, preaching by the Letters of the Living led to opposition by the Islamic clergy, prompting the Governor of Shiraz to order the Báb's arrest. The Báb, upon hearing of the arrest order, left Bushehr for Shiraz in June 1845 and presented himself to the authorities and placed under house arrest at the home of his uncle until a cholera epidemic broke out in the city in September 1846. Once released he departed for Isfahan. There, many came to see him at the house of the imam jum'a, head of the local clergy, who became sympathetic. After an informal gathering where the Báb debated the local clergy and displayed his speed in producing instantaneous verses, his popularity soared. After the death of the governor of Isfahan, Manouchehr Khan Gorji, his supporter, pressure from the clergy of the province led to Mohammad Shah Qajar ordering the Báb to Tehran in January 1847. After spending several months in a camp outside Tehran, and before the Báb could meet the Shah, the Prime Minister sent the Báb to Tabriz in the northwestern corner of the country, to his confinement.
After forty days in Tabriz, the Báb transferred to the fortress of Maku, Iran in the province of Azerbaijian close to the Turkish border. During his incarceration there, the Báb began his most important work, the Persian Bayán, that he never finished. Because of the Báb's growing popularity in Maku, even the governor of Maku converting, the prime minister transferred him to the fortress of Chehriq in April 1848. There too the Báb's popularity grew and his jailors relaxed restrictions on him. It was at this time that Áqa Bálá Big Shíshvání Naqshbandí painted the portrait of the Báb. Then the Prime Minister ordered the Báb back to Tabriz, where the government called on religious authorities to put the Báb on trial for blasphemy and apostasy.
The trial, attended by the Crown Prince, occurred in July 1848 and involved numerous local clergy. They questioned the Báb about the nature of his claims, his teachings, and demanded that he produce miracles to prove his divine authority. They admonished him to recant his claims. There are nine extant eyewitness reports of the trial, of which several may originate from an earlier source. Six of the reports are from Muslim accounts, and portray the Báb in an unfavourable light. There are 62 questions found in the nine sources, however eighteen occur in one source, fifteen in two, eight in three, five in four, thirteen in five, and three in six. Not including "yes" and "he did not answer", only thirty-five answers remain, of which ten occur in one source, eight in two, six in three, three in four, two in five, five in six. Only one answer is found in all nine eyewitness sources, where the Báb states that "I am that person you have been awaiting for one thousand years."
The trial did not bring a decisive result. Some clergy called for capital punishment, but the government pressured them to issue a lenient judgement because the Báb was popular. The government asked medical experts to declare the Báb insane in order to prevent his execution. To appease the religious clergy, the government may have spread rumours that the Báb recanted.
The Shaykh al-Islām, a champion of the anti-Bábist campaign, not at the Báb's trial, issued a conditional death sentence if the Báb was found to be sane. A fatwa was issued establishing the Báb's apostasy and stated "The repentance of an incorrigible apostate is not accepted, and the only thing which has caused the postponement of thy execution is a doubt as to thy sanity of mind."
The crown prince's physician, William Cormick, examined the Báb and complied with the government's request to find grounds for clemency. The physician's opinion saved the Báb from execution for a time, but the clergy insisted that he face corporal punishment instead, so the Báb suffered foot whipping - twenty lashes to the bottoms of his feet.
The unsigned and undated official government report states that because of his harsh beating, the Báb orally and in writing recanted, apologized, and stated that he would not continue to advance claims of divinity. The document of his alleged recantation was written shortly after his trial in Tabriz. Some authors theorise that the assertions were made to embarrass the Báb and undermine his credibility with the public, and that the language of this document is very different from the Báb's usual style, and so prepared by the authorities.
Orientalist Edward Granville Browne received copies of the trial documents from Hippolyte Dreyfus-Barney, the first French Baha'i. A facsimile of the recantation is published in Browne's Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion, where he states, "[The document], unsigned and undated, was claimed to be in the Báb's handwriting and consists of a complete recantation and renunciation of any superhuman claim which he may have advanced or have appeared to advance. There is nothing to show to whom it is addressed, or whether it is the recantation referred to in the last paragraph of the [government report] or another. The handwriting, though graceful, is not easily legible..." This is a translation of the relevant section of the document:
Never have I desired aught contrary to the Will of God, and, if words contrary to His good pleasure have flowed from my pen, my object was not disobedience, and in any case I repent and ask forgiveness of Him. This servant has absolutely no knowledge connected with any [superhuman] claim. I ask forgiveness of God my Lord and I repent unto Him of [the idea] that there should be ascribed to me any [Divine] Mission. As for certain prayers and words which have flowed from my tongue, these do not imply any such Mission (amr), and any [apparent] claim to any special vicegerency for His Holiness the Proof of God (on whom be Peace!) is a purely baseless claim, such as this servant has never put forward, nay, nor any claim like unto it.
After the trial, the Báb was ordered back to the fortress of Chehríq.
In mid-1850 a new prime-minister, Amir Kabir, ordered the execution of the Báb, probably because various Bábí insurrections' defeats and the movement's popularity appeared waning. The Báb was brought back to Tabriz from Chehriq for an execution by firing squad. The night before his execution, while being conducted to his cell, a young Bábí, Muhammad-Ali "Anis" from Zonuz, threw himself at the feet of the Báb and begged martyrdom with him, then was immediately arrested and placed in the same cell as the Báb.
On the morning of July 9, 1850 (28 Sha'ban 1266 AH), taken to the courtyard of the barracks where held, there appeared thousands of people gathered to watch his execution. The Báb and Anís were suspended on a wall and a large firing squad of soldiers prepared to shoot. Numerous eye-witness reports, including those of Western diplomats, recount the result. The order was given to fire. Accounts differ on the details, but all agree that the first volley failed to kill the Báb; the bullets had instead cut the rope suspending them from the wall. A second firing squad was brought in and a second order to fire given. This time the Báb was killed. In Bábí and Bahá'í tradition, the failure of the first firing to kill the Báb is believed a miracle. According to Iranian sources, the remains of the Báb and Anis were thrown into a ditch and eaten by dogs, an action condemned by Justin Sheil, then British Minister in Tehran.
Bahá'í sources maintain that their remains were clandestinely rescued by a handful of Bábis and then hidden. Over time the remains secretly transported according to the instructions of Bahá'u'lláh and then `Abdu'l-Bahá by way of Isfahan, Kirmanshah, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and then by sea to Acre on the plain below Mount Carmel in 1899. On March 21, 1909, the remains were interred in a special tomb, the Shrine of the Báb, erected for this purpose by `Abdu'l-Bahá, on Mount Carmel in present-day Haifa, Israel. In its vicinity, the Bahá'í World Centre welcomes visitors to tour the gardens.
In most of his prominent writings, the Báb alluded to a Promised One, most commonly referred to as man yazhiruhu'lláh, "Him Whom God shall make manifest", and that he himself was "but a ring upon the hand of Him Whom God shall make manifest." Within 20 years of the Báb's death, over 25 people claimed to be the Promised One, most significantly Bahá'u'lláh.
Before the Báb's death, he sent a letter to Mírzá Yahyá, Subh-i-Azal, that some consider a will and testament. This recognized the appointing of Subh-i-Azal as the leader of the Bábí community after the death of the Báb, and ordered to obey the Promised One when he appears. At the time Subh-i-Azal, still a teenager, had never demonstrated leadership in the Bábí movement, and was still living in the house of his older brother, Bahá'u'lláh. All of this lends credence to the Bahá'í claim that the Báb appointed Subh-i-Azal the head of the Bábí Faith so as to divert attention away from Bahá'u'lláh, while allowing Bábís to visit Bahá'u'lláh and consult with him freely, and allowing Bahá'u'lláh to write to Bábís easily and freely. Shia Islam includes a vast history of hidden leaders, and their deputies wielding the true power. The first examples of this are the four bábs as is Ali-Muhammad's choice of the title "the Báb".
In 1852 Bahá'u'lláh, while a prisoner in Tehran, was visited by a "Maid of Heaven", that symbolically marked the beginning of his mission as a Messenger of God. Eleven years later in Baghdad, he made his first public declaration and eventually was recognized by the vast majority of Bábís as "He Whom God shall make manifest". His followers began calling themselves Bahá'ís.
Subh-i-Azal continued to live with or close to Bahá'u'lláh throughout the latter's exiles from Iran to Baghdad and then to Istanbul and Edirne, though Bahá'u'lláh's claim as a Manifestation of God in 1863 theoretically rendered moot Subh-i-Azal's authority as the head of the Bábí community. In September 1867, in Edirne, the rival claims to authority came to a head. Subh-i-Azal challenged Bahá'u'lláh to a test of the divine will in a local mosque in Edirne such that "God would strike down the impostor". Bahá'u'lláh agreed and went to the Yavuz Selim Mosque at the appointed time, but Subh-i-Azal failed to show up.
Subh-i-Azal's followers became known as Azalis or Azali Bábís. For the Bábís who did not recognize Bahá'u'lláh, Subh-i-Azal remained their leader until his death in 1912, and Azali successorship remains disputed. Bahá'í sources report that 11 of the 18 "witnesses" appointed by Subh-i-Azal to oversee the Bábí community became Bahá'ís, as his son did. The man allegedly appointed by Subh-i-Azal to succeed him, Hadíy-i-Dawlat-Abádí, later publicly recanted his faith in the Báb and Subh-i-Azal.
Bahá'u'llah emerged more successful and nearly all of the Báb's followers abandoned Subh-i-Azal and became Bahá'ís. Today Bahá'ís have several million followers, while estimates of the number of Azalís are generally around one thousand in Iran.
The Báb's teachings have three broad stages, each with a dominant thematic focus. His earliest teachings are primarily defined by his interpretation of the Quran and hadith. This interpretive mode continues throughout all three stages of his teachings, but a shift takes place where his emphasis moves to philosophical elucidation, and finally to legislative pronouncements. In the second philosophical stage, the Báb gives an explanation of the metaphysics of being and creation, and in the third legislative stage his mystical and historical principles unite. An analysis of the Báb's writings throughout these stages show his teachings were animated by a common principle with multiple dimensions and forms.
Most of the writings of the Báb have been lost. The Báb himself stated they exceeded five hundred thousand verses in length; the Qur'an, in contrast, is 6300 verses in length. If one assumes 25 verses per page, that would equal 20,000 pages of text. Nabíl-i-Zarandí, in The Dawn-breakers, mentions nine complete commentaries on the Qur'an, revealed during the Báb's imprisonment at Maku, which have been lost without a trace. Establishing the true text of the works that are still extant, as already noted, is not always easy, and some texts will require considerable work. Others, however, are in good shape; several of the Báb's major works are available in the handwriting of his trusted secretaries.
Most works were revealed in response to specific questions by Bábís. This is not unusual; the genre of the letter has been a venerable medium for composing authoritative texts as far back as Paul the Apostle. Three quarters of the chapters of the New Testament are letters, were composed to imitate letters, or contain letters within them. Sometimes the Báb revealed works very rapidly by chanting them in the presence of a secretary and eyewitnesses.
The Archives Department at the Bahá'í World Centre currently holds about 190 Tablets of the Báb. Excerpts from several principal works have been published in the only English-language compilation of the Báb's writings: Selections from the Writings of the Báb. Denis MacEoin, in his Sources for Early Bābī Doctrine and History, gives a description of many works; much of the following summary is derived from that source. In addition to major works, the Báb revealed numerous letters to his wife and followers, many prayers for various purposes, numerous commentaries on verses or chapters of the Qur'an, and many khutbihs or sermons (most of which were never delivered). Many of these have been lost; others have survived in compilations.
The Báb has been criticized for his inconsistent use of correct and incorrect Arabic grammar in his religious works, though in his Arabic letters made very few mistakes. A reason for this inconsistency could be to distinguish those who could not see past the outer form of the words from those that could understand the deeper meaning of his message.
Todd Lawson noted this in his doctoral dissertation about the Báb's Tafsir on Surah al-Baqara. This tafsir was started by the Báb in November or December 1843, some six months before declaring his mission. The first half was completed by February or March 1844; the second half was revealed after the Báb's declaration. It is the only work of the Báb's revealed before his declaration that has survived intact. It also sheds light on the Báb's attitude toward Twelver beliefs. His wife also refers to important episodes before his declaration.
During his 9 1⁄2-month pilgrimage to Mecca, the Báb composed many works:
The Báb was in Bushehr March through June 1845, then in Shiraz.
The Báb left Isfahan in March 1847, sojourned outside Tehran several months, then was sent to a fortress at Maku, Iran, close to the Turkish border. It witnessed the composition of some of the Báb's most important works.
The Báb spent two years in Chehriq, except for his brief visit to Tabriz for his trial. The works he produced there were more esoteric or mystical and less thematically organized. Two major books were produced, in addition to many minor works:
In the Bahá'í calendar the events of the birth, declaration and death of the Báb are commemorated by Bahá'í communities on a yearly basis. At the centennial of the declaration of the Báb to Mulla Husayn in May, 1944, the Bahá'ís had a viewing of the portrait of the Báb during the celebrations held at the Bahá'í House of Worship (Wilmette, Illinois). Speaking at the event were Dorothy Beecher Baker, Horace Holley, and others.
The Arabic Bayán is a book written by the Báb around 1848. Its larger sister book is the Persian Bayán. The work is incomplete, containing only eleven Vahids. Each Vahid serves as a chapter and contains nineteen Abwab. The grammar is highly irregular. The work was composed while the Báb was imprisoned in Maku, Iran.Azali
An Azali (Persian: ازلیان) or Azali Bábí is a follower of the monotheistic religion of Subh-i-Azal and the Báb. Early followers of the Báb were known as Bábís; however, in the 1860s a split occurred after which the vast majority of Bábís followed Mirza Husayn `Ali, known as Bahá'u'lláh, and became known as Bahá'ís, while the minority who followed Subh-i-Azal came to be called Azalis.Current estimates are that there are no more than a few thousand.Bahá'u'lláh
Bahá'u'lláh (; Persian : بهاءالله ; November 12 , 1817 – May 29, 1892), was a Persian religious leader, prophet and the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, which advocates universal peace and unity among all races, nations, and religions.
At the age of 27, Bahá'u'lláh became a follower of the Báb, a Persian merchant who began preaching that God would soon send a new prophet similar to Jesus or Muhammad. The Báb and thousands of followers were executed by the Iranian authorities for their beliefs. Bahá'u'lláh faced exile from his native Iran, and in Baghdad in 1863 claimed to be the expected prophet of whom the Báb foretold. Thus, Bahá'ís regard Bahá'u'lláh to be a Manifestation of God, fulfilling of the eschatological expectations of Islam, Christianity, and other major religions.Bahá'u'lláh faced further imprisonment under Ottoman authorities, initially in Edirne, and ultimately to the prison city of Acre, (present-day Israel), where he spent his final 24 years of life. His burial place is a destination of pilgrimage for his followers, and the Bahá'í World Centre sits in nearby Haifa.Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith (; Persian: بهائی Bahā'i) is a religion teaching the essential worth of all religions, and the unity and equality of all people. Established by Bahá'u'lláh in 1863, it initially grew in Persia and parts of the Middle East, where it has faced ongoing persecution since its inception. It is estimated to have between 5 and 8 million adherents, known as Bahá'ís, spread out into most of the world's countries and territories.It grew from the mid-19th-century Bábí religion, whose founder (the Báb) taught that God would soon send a prophet in the same way of Jesus or Muhammad. In 1863, after being banished from his native Iran, Bahá'u'lláh (1817–1892) announced that he was this prophet. He was further exiled, spending over a decade in the prison city of Acre in Ottoman Palestine. Following Bahá'u'lláh's death in 1892, leadership of the religion fell to his son `Abdu'l-Bahá (1844–1921), and later his great-grandson Shoghi Effendi (1897–1957). Bahá'ís around the world annually elect local, regional, and national Spiritual Assemblies that govern the affairs of the religion, and every five years the members of all National Spiritual Assemblies elect the Universal House of Justice, the nine-member supreme governing institution of the worldwide Bahá'í community, which sits in Haifa, Israel, near the Shrine of the Báb.
Bahá'í teachings are in some ways similar to other monotheistic faiths: God is considered single and all-powerful. However, Bahá'u'lláh taught that religion is orderly and progressively revealed by one God through Manifestations of God who are the founders of major world religions throughout history; Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad being the most recent in the period before the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. Bahá'ís regard the major religions as fundamentally unified in purpose, though varied in social practices and interpretations. There is a similar emphasis on the unity of all people, openly rejecting notions of racism and nationalism. At the heart of Bahá'í teachings is the goal of a unified world order that ensures the prosperity of all nations, races, creeds, and classes.Letters written by Bahá'u'lláh to various individuals, including some heads of state, have been collected and assembled into a canon of Bahá'í scripture that includes works by his son `Abdu'l-Bahá, and also the Báb, who is regarded as Bahá'u'lláh's forerunner. Prominent among Bahá'í literature are the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Kitáb-i-Íqán, Some Answered Questions, and The Dawn-Breakers.Bahá'í Faith and slavery
Bahá’u’lláh formally abolished the practice of slavery among Baha’is in the Kitab-i-Aqdas (ca. 1873). The English translation of the relevant section is as follows:
It is forbidden you to trade in slaves, be they men or women. It is not for him who is himself a servant to buy another of God's servants, and this hath been prohibited in His Holy Tablet. Thus, by His mercy, hath the commandment been recorded by the Pen of justice. Let no man exalt himself above another; all are but bondslaves before the Lord, and all exemplify the truth that there is none other God but Him. He, verily, is the All-Wise, Whose wisdom encompasseth all things.Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 45)In his letter to Queen Victoria, written to her between 1868 and 1872, Bahá’u’lláh had singled out the action of the British government in using its power to stamp out the world trade in slaves for particular commendation.
We have been informed that thou hast forbidden the trading in slaves, both men and women. This, verily, is what God hath enjoined in this wondrous Revelation. God hath, truly, destined a reward for thee, because of this.(Bahá’u’lláh, The Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 30)In 1844, when the Báb declared his mission, slavery was still very widespread. When the Báb went on the Hajj pilgrimage in 1844, he was accompanied by Quddús and an Ethiopian slave. The family the Báb was born into possessed several slaves: one was his first tutor, and the subject of a eulogy penned by his young pupil/master in later years, crediting him as having raised him and praises him. The Báb was martyred in 1850, at which time he had not abrogated or changed the laws of Islam that permitted and regulated the practice. Slavery was not finally abolished in Iran until 1929. For comparison though slavery had been abolished in the British Empire as late as 1833, it remained legal in the United States until 1863.Nor was slavery immediately abolished among followers of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh.
The household in which Bahá’u’lláh was raised also included a number of slaves. He became the owner of these on the death of his father, whereupon he gave each of them the choice of remaining in his service as free servants, or leaving. saying "How, then, can this thrall claim for himself ownership of any other human being? Nay,…."All of them chose to take up their freedom in full and leave his household, except one called Isfandíyár, who remained a loyal servant, and later a well known follower, of Bahá’u’lláh.Bahá'í World Centre
The Bahá'í World Centre is the name given to the spiritual and administrative centre of the Bahá'í Faith. The World Centre consists of the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh near Acre, Israel, the Shrine of the Báb and its gardens on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, and various other buildings in the area including the Arc buildings.Much of the international governance and coordination of the Bahá'í Faith occurs at the Bahá'í World Centre. These include decisions that affect the religion on a global level, and the study and translation of the Bahá'í holy writings. The Universal House of Justice, representing the supreme governing body of the Bahá'í Faith, resides in Haifa. The Bahá'í World Centre is also the current destination for Bahá'í pilgrimage.
The Bahá'í World Centre has its historical origins in the area that was once Ottoman Syria.
This dates back to the 1850s and 1860s when the Shah of Iran and the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, ‘Abdu’l-‘Aziz, successively exiled Bahá'u'lláh from Iran to the fortress of Acre for lifetime incarceration.Many of the locations at the Bahá'í World Centre, including the terraces and the Shrine of the Báb which constitute the north slope of Mount Carmel, were inscribed on the World Heritage List in July 2008.Bahá'í calendar
The Bahá'í Calendar, also called the Badíʿ Calendar (Badíʿ means wondrous or unique), is a solar calendar with years composed of 19 months of 19 days each (361 days) plus an extra period of "Intercalary Days". Years begin at Naw-Rúz, on the day of the vernal equinox in Tehran, Iran, coinciding with March 20 or 21.
The first year is dated from 21 March 1844 CE, the year during which the Báb proclaimed his religion. Years are annotated with the date notation of BE (Bahá'í Era),
The year 176 BE started on the day of the vernal equinox (in Tehran) in 2019, that is on 21 March 2019.Bahá'í literature
Bahá'í literature, like the literature of many religions, covers a variety of topics and forms, including scripture and inspiration, interpretation, history and biography, introduction and study materials, and apologia. Sometimes considerable overlap between these forms can be observed in a particular text.
The "canonical texts" are the writings of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh, `Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice, and the authenticated talks of `Abdu'l-Bahá. The writings of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh are regarded as divine revelation, the writings and talks of `Abdu'l-Bahá and the writings of Shoghi Effendi as authoritative interpretation, and those of the Universal House of Justice as authoritative legislation and elucidation. Some measure of divine guidance is assumed for all of these texts.The Bahá'í Faith relies extensively on its literature. Literacy is strongly encouraged so that believers may read the texts for themselves. In addition, doctrinal questions are routinely addressed by returning to primary works.Many of the religion's early works took the form of letters to individuals or communities. These are termed tablets and have been collected into various folios by Bahá'ís over time. Today, the Universal House of Justice still uses letters as a primary method of communication.Bahá'í pilgrimage
A Bahá'í pilgrimage currently consists of visiting the holy places in Haifa, Acre, and Bahjí at the Bahá'í World Centre in Northwest Israel. Bahá'ís do not have access to other places designated as sites for pilgrimage.Bahá'u'lláh decreed pilgrimage in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas to two places: the House of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad, and the House of the Báb in Shiraz. In two separate tablets, known as Suriy-i-Hajj, he prescribed specific rites for each of these pilgrimages. It is obligatory to make the pilgrimage, "if one can afford it and is able to do so, and if no obstacle stands in one's way". Bahá'ís are free to choose between the two houses, as either has been deemed sufficient. Later, `Abdu'l-Bahá designated the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahjí (the Qiblih) as a site of pilgrimage. No rites have been prescribed for this.The designated sites for pilgrimage are not accessible to the majority of Bahá'ís, as they are in Iraq and Iran respectively, and thus when Bahá'ís currently refer to pilgrimage, it refers to a nine-day pilgrimage that occurs at the Bahá'í World Centre in Haifa and Akká in Israel. This nine-day pilgrimage does not replace pilgrimage to the designated sites for pilgrimage, and it is intended that pilgrimage to the House of the Báb and the House of Bahá'u'lláh will occur in the future.Bahá'í timeline
The following is a basic timeline of the Bábí and Bahá'í religions emphasizing dates that are relatively well known. For a more comprehensive chronology of the timeline, see the references at the bottom.Báb, Nitra District
Báb is a village and municipality in the Nitra District in western central Slovakia, in the Nitra Region.Bábism
Bábism (Persian: بابیه, Babiyye), also known as the Bayání Faith (Persian: بيانى, Bayání), is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion which professes that there is one incorporeal, unknown, and incomprehensible God who manifests his will in an unending series of theophanies, called Manifestations of God (Arabic: ظهور الله). It has no more than a few thousand adherents according to current estimates, most of whom are concentrated in Iran. It was founded by ‘Ali Muhammad Shirazi who first assumed the title of Báb (lit. "Gate") from which the religion gets its name, out of the belief that he was the gate to the Twelfth Imam. However throughout his ministry his titles and claims underwent much evolution as the Báb progressively outlined his teachings.Founded in 1844, Bábism flourished in Persia until 1852, then lingered on in exile in the Ottoman Empire, especially Cyprus, as well as underground. An anomaly amongst Islamic messianic movements, the Bábí movement signaled a break with Islam, beginning a new religious system with its own unique laws, teachings, and practices. While Bábism was violently opposed by both clerical and government establishments, it led to the founding of the Bahá'í Faith, whose followers consider the religion founded by the Báb as a predecessor to their own. Bahá'í sources maintain that the remains of the Bab were clandestinely rescued by a handful of Bábis and then hidden. Over time the remains were secretly transported according to the instructions of Bahá'u'lláh and then `Abdu'l-Bahá through Isfahan, Kirmanshah, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and then by sea to Acre on the plain below Mount Carmel in 1899. On March 21, 1909, the remains were interred in a special tomb, the Shrine of the Báb, erected for this purpose by `Abdu'l-Bahá, on Mount Carmel in present-day Haifa, Israel.Execution of the Báb
On the morning of July 9, 1850 in Tabriz, a young Persian merchant known as the Báb, at the age of thirty, was charged with apostasy and shot by order of the Prime Minister of the Persian Empire. The events surrounding his execution have been the subject of controversy among researchers, and are regarded as miraculous by Bahá'ís, who consider him to be a Manifestation of God.The Báb and one of his companions were suspended on a wall and a large firing squad prepared to shoot. When the smoke cleared after the first firing of bullets, the Báb was missing. Reports continue by stating that the Báb was found back in his prison room finishing dictation to his secretary. Other sources, which include Persian and European reports, give a variety of accounts, some in agreement with the miracle-like Bahá'í story, and some indicating a less miraculous event. All agree that he survived the first firing squad, and was killed by the second.For many years after his death, the remains of the Báb were secretly transferred from place to place until they were brought to their final resting place at the Shrine of the Báb in Haifa on the middle terrace of the Bahá'í Gardens.The anniversary of this event is commemorated by members of the Baha'i Faith at noon on Rahmat 16 (Sharaf) (of the Baha'i Calendar - i.e., July 9 or July 10). It is one of nine Holy Days when work is suspended.History of the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í history is often traced through a sequence of leaders, beginning with the Báb's declaration in Shiraz on the evening of May 22, 1844, and ultimately resting on an Administrative Order established by the central figures of the religion. The religion had its background in two earlier movements in the nineteenth century, Shaykhism and Bábism. Shaykhism centred on theosophical doctrines and many Shaykhis expected the return of the hidden Twelfth Imam. Many Shaykhis joined the messianic Bábí movement in the 1840s where the Báb proclaimed himself to be the return of the hidden Imam. As the Bábí movement spread in Iran, violence broke out between the ruling Shi'a Muslim government and the Bábís, and ebbed when government troops massacred them, and executed the Báb in 1850.The Báb had spoken of another messianic figure, He whom God shall make manifest. As one of the followers of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh was imprisoned during a subsequent wave of massacre by the Persian government against Bábís in 1852, was exiled to Iraq, and then to Constantinople and Adrianople in the Ottoman Empire. Amidst these banishments, in 1863 in Baghdad, Bahá'u'lláh claimed to be the messianic figure expected by the Báb's writings. Bahá'ís consider the Baha'i religion to start from Bahá'u'lláh's statements in 1863.
At the time of Bahá'u'lláh's death the tradition was mostly confined to the Persian and Ottoman empires, at which time he had followers in thirteen countries of Asia and Africa. Leadership of the religion then passed on to `Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh's son, who was appointed by Bahá'u'lláh, and was accepted by almost all Bahá'ís. Under the leadership of `Abdu'l-Bahá, the religion gained a footing in Europe and America, and was consolidated in Iran, where it still suffers intense persecution.After the death of `Abdu'l-Bahá in 1921, the leadership of the Bahá'í community was passed on to his grandson, Shoghi Effendi, who was appointed in `Abdu'l-Bahá's will. The document appointed Shoghi Effendi as the first Guardian, and called for the election of the Universal House of Justice once the Bahá'í Faith had spread sufficiently for such elections to be meaningful. During Shoghi Effendi's time as leader of the religion there was a great increase in the number of Baha'is, and he presided over the election of many National Spiritual Assemblies.Shoghi Effendi died in 1957, and because he was childless he had found it impossible to appoint another Guardian after himself to succeed him. In 1963 the Universal House of Justice was elected. Since 1963 the Universal House of Justice has been elected every five years and remains the successor and leading institution of the religion. See Bahá'í Faith by country for further information per country.Letters of the Living
The Letters of the Living (Arabic: حروف الحي) was a title provided by the Báb to the first eighteen disciples of the Bábí Religion. In some understandings the Báb places himself at the head of this list (as the first letter). In this article, the former notation will be used except when specifically said otherwise.Mullá Husayn
Mullá Husayn (1813–1849) (Persian: ملا حسين بشروئي Mulláh Hossein Boshru'i), also known by the honorific Jináb-i Bábu'l-Báb ("Gate of the Gate"), was a Persian religious figure in 19th century Persia and the first Letter of the Living of the Bábí religion. He was the first person to profess belief in the Báb as the promised Mahdi of Islam and a Manifestation of God, founding a new independent religion. The title of Bábu'l-Báb was bestowed upon him by the Báb in recognition of his status as the first Bábí.
As a young man Mullá Husayn studied Usuli Shia theology, becoming an authorized member of the Shia clerical order at the age of 21. He later became a follower of the millenarian Shaykhi school, studying under its leader Siyyid Kazim Rashti and traveling to debate prominent Usuli clerics to gain support for Rashti's teachings.
After Rashti's death, Mullá Husayn led a group of Shaykhis who traveled in search of the Mahdi. On 22 May 1844, in Shiraz, Mullá Husayn became the first person to profess belief in the Báb as the Mahdi, and the first follower of the Báb's religion, known as Bábism. He was appointed as the first of the Báb's apostles, called the Letters of the Living. The anniversary of his conversion is celebrated annually as a holy day in the Bahá'í Faith.
As a Letter of the Living he served as a prominent Bábí evangelist and leader. His travels and public preaching were instrumental in spreading the religion throughout Persia, allowing him to come into contact with many prominent clerics and government officials, including Bahá'u'lláh and Mohammad Shah Qajar. He is often mentioned in Bahá'í literature as a paragon of courage and spiritual excellence. He led the Bábí combatants at the Battle of Fort Shaykh Tabarsi, and was killed in that battle on February 2, 1849. Mullá Husayn is regarded as a significant martyr in Bábism and the Bahá'í Faith and accorded a high spiritual station in both religions as the first to believe in the Báb and a prominent participant in the perceived fulfillment of many elements of Islamic eschatology.Persian Bayán
The Persian Bayán (Persian: بیان - "expression") is one of the principal scriptural writings of the Báb, the founder of Bábi religion, written in Persian. The Báb also wrote a shorter book in Arabic, known as the Arabic Bayán.Selections from the Writings of the Báb
Selections from the Writings of the Báb is a book of excerpts from notable works of the Báb, the forerunner-Prophet of the Bahá'í Faith. It was compiled and published in 1976 by the Universal House of Justice.
Before this publication, an authentic comprehensive selection of the Báb's writings had not been available to the Bahá'ís of the West. The Báb's writings were reviewed by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, and the selected passages were translated by Habib Taherzadeh, with the assistance of a translating committee.Shrine of the Báb
The Shrine of the Báb is a structure in Haifa, Israel where the remains of the Báb, founder of the Bábí Faith and forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh in the Bahá'í Faith, have been buried; it is considered to be the second holiest place on Earth for Bahá'ís, after the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh in Acre. Its precise location on Mount Carmel was designated by Bahá'u'lláh himself to his eldest son, `Abdu'l-Bahá, in 1891. `Abdu'l-Bahá planned the structure, which was designed and completed several years later by his grandson, Shoghi Effendi.
Crowning the design, as anticipated by `Abdu'l-Bahá, is a dome, which is set on an 18-windowed drum. That, in turn, is mounted on an octagon, a feature suggested by Shoghi Effendi. An arcade surrounds the stone edifice. A restoration project of the exterior and interior of the shrine started in 2008 and was completed in April 2011.