Return to Central Figures/Institutions
The first of three central Figures of the Faith is the Bab (the Gate), who was born Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad in Shiraz, Iran (Persia). He declared His station in May 1844 in a private meeting with a young student named Mulla Husayn. The Bab founded the Babi Faith and revealed His Holy Book, The Bayan (Exposition). In the Bayan the Bab proclaimed that He was the Herald of One who would be made Manifest.
Here are two prayers revealed by the Bab which Baha'is believe have special potence. The former is referred to as the Remover of Difficulties, and was revealed by the Bab for His wife to assist her through the difficult times which He knew were about to descend upon them.
"Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding!"
"Say: God sufficeth all things above all things, and nothing in the heavens or in the earth but God sufficeth. Verily, He is in Himself the Knower, the Sustainer, the Omnipotent."
The Bab was immediately beset by severe persecutions by religious and government forces who saw Him as a threat to their authority. He was exiled to the mountains of Adhirbayjan, imprisoned in the fortresses of Mah-Ku, and Chiriq, and eventually executed on July 9, 1850 in the city of Tabriz in northern Iran. The story of His execution was recorded by several Western journalists. Here is an account of the events surrounding the Martyrdom of the Bab, paraphrased from "Release the Sun", by Mr. William Sears, appointed Hand of the Cause of God by Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Cause of Baha'u'llah:
The Bab, imprisoned in His cell in Shiraz, was to be taken to the authorities for the purpose of signing His death-warrant. When the guard came to take Him away He was in conversation with His secretary giving instructions. The Bab rebuked the guard saying that He was not yet done and that until He was, no power on earth could silence Him. The guard took Him nevertheless and His death-warrant was signed. He was placed in the charge of Sam Khan, commander of the regiment that was to execute Him. Sam Khan had become increasingly affected by his Prisoner and spoke with him privately telling Him that he was a Christian and had no ill-will against Him. Sam Khan said "If Your Cause be the Cause of Truth then enable me to free myself from the obligation to shed your blood." The Bab replied, "Follow your instructions and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you of your perplexity."
The Bab and a young companion were suspended from a nail by ropes for execution by a firing squad of three ranks of 250 rifles each; a total of 750 rifles. Sam Khan, unable to avoid his duty, gave the order to fire. When the smoke cleared, the crowd of 10,000 persons was amazed to find the Bab's companion standing, alive and unhurt, the ropes severed by the bullets. The Bab was nowhere to be seen. He was found, back in His cell, finishing His business with His secretary. The Bab then said to the guard, "I have finished My conversation. You may now proceed to fulfill your duty." The guard, remembering the rebuke he had received earlier, resigned his post, shaken to the core and cut himself off from the enemies of the Bab.
Sam Khan, likewise removed himself and his regiment from this duty declaring, "I refuse ever again to associate myself and my regiment with any act which involves the least injury to the Bab." A colonel of the bodyguard then volunteered to carry out the execution. The Bab was again taken to the execution ground and suspended as before. Again the rifles fired. This time the bodies of the Bab and His companion were shattered by the blast. The bodies were thrown at the edge of a moat outside the city and guarded so that none of His followers could claim His remains. Two days after the execution His followers were able to recover the bodies, hid them in a specially made wooden case, and kept them in a place of safety. Today the body of the Bab is interred in the Shrine of the Bab at the Baha'i World Centre at Mount Carmel, in Haifa, Israel.
After His Martyrdom "No less than twenty thousand of His followers were put to death with such barbarous cruelty as to evoke the warm sympathy and the unqualified admiration of a number of Western writers, diplomats, travelers, and scholars, some of whom were moved to record them in their books and diaries." 1
1 Shoghi Effendi, Guidance for Today and Tomorrow, Baha'i Publishing Trust, London, UK, 1973 pp 4-5.
This page last updated on : Saturday, March 08, 2003