Sunday, May 23Bahai religion survived oppression
On May 23, 1844, Mirza Ali Muhammad of Persia declared he was a prophet equal to Muhammad. Called the Bab (Persian for "the Gate"), he led the religious movement called Babism that Persian rulers saw as dangerous heresy. In a crackdown, the Bab was executed in July 1850, and 20,000 followers killed. But the Bab had foretold that a greater manifestation would follow 19 years after Babism was founded. In 1863, one of his followers declared it so. Mirza Hoseyn Ali Nuri took up the mantle of prophet and founded Bahaism, a religion dedicated to universal equality of races and sexes and the creation of a worldwide language. Called Bahaullah (Arabic for "the Splendor of God"), he spent the rest of his life in political prisons for heresy. Today, the nation with the greatest number of Bahais is the United States, with administrative headquarters in Wilmette, Ill.
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