WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20: Baha’is around the world celebrate the birth of the Báb, a religious title that means “Gate” in Arabic. One of the central figures in the Baha’i religion, the Báb was born October 20, 1819. Before his tragic death in 1850, the Báb founded a new religious movement—a historic role that Baha’is today compare to the role of John the Baptist in prophetically preparing the way for his cousin Jesus. The Báb prepared the way for Bahá’u’lláh, who Baha’is regard as the founder of their worldwide faith.
Just as John the Baptist was persecuted as a trouble maker by Roman authorities 2,000 years ago, the Báb was persecuted by Shi’a Muslim leaders in Iran, who regarded him as a dangerous heretic. Many of his followers were killed. The Báb himself was shot by a firing squad in Tabriz. This unjust and violent repression in the 19th century is remembered by Baha’is to this day, partly because repression of their members continues in Muslim countries, especially in Iran.
As recently as October 2 this year CNN reported from Iran that a Baha’i assistant of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi has been sentenced to two years in prison. CNN reports that the arrest and prison sentence are part of a harsh and longstanding repression of the religion.
During the Báb’s lifetime, he was renowned as an eloquent teacher and he wrote thousands of pages of religious teachings, although a majority of his works vanished. Planet Baha’i maintains a popular overview of his life and the annual celebration of his birth. Plus, Wikipedia has a more extensive biography of the religious pioneer.