The martyrdom of ‘Bab’
July 9 heralded the advent of Baha’u’llah
The story of the Baha’i faith begins with the life, teaching and eventual martyrdom of a young man from the city of Shiraz, in southern Iran. He is known to history as the Bab, which means ‘The Gate’.
The Bab announced that a new era in human history had begun. As well as founding a new religion, with its own distinct character and teachings, the Bab taught that the time was at hand when the promise of the past would be fulfilled by a great divine teacher, who would soon arise with a message of peace and unity for all the people of the world.
he Bab attracted his first followers in May 1844. From that time on, his message spread quickly, and soon large numbers of people the length and breath of the land accepted his claims. The Bab’s teaching caused great upheaval in Iran, especially among religious leaders. Many of them came to believe in the Bab, and risked their all to champion his cause. But many more joined in a bitter campaign of persecution against the Bab and his followers. Before long, the whole country was in uproar. The acts of violence stirred the interest, and aroused the sympathy of many foreign observers, leading to a number of stories about the persecutions appearing in the European press.
The Bab spent almost six years under arrest. His captors would move him from place to place, to prevent him attracting new followers. But wherever he went, he won adherents to his cause; even some of his jailers became enthusiastic admirers.
In their increasingly desperate attempts to silence the Bab, and to stop the spread of his message once and for all, the authorities decided to have him publicly executed by a firing squad. This took place in front of a huge crowd in the northern city of Tabriz, near the border with modern-day Turkey, on July 9, 1850. But 750 bullets missed their mark! He had to be shot again.
The years following the martyrdom of the Bab were a time of intense persecution for those who believed in him. By the time the situation eased, as many as 20,000 had been killed, and the remainder were left utterly dejected. The Bab’s most prominent followers had been put to death, the leading figure among those who survived was a young nobleman, named Baha’u’llah (meaning of Glory of God)
The Shrine of the Bab, in which the remains of the ‘Martyr-Herald’ of the Baha’i Faith are buried, overlooks the bay of Haifa in modern-day Israel and it is a sacred place of pilgrimage for Baha’i’s.
(From the Baha’i public information office)
©Copyright 2003, The Indian Express (Bombay, India)
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