SUNDOWN SATURDAY, MAY 22: Baha’is observe the anniversary of the birth of their faith today, when they mark the Declaration of the Bab. (Read an article on last year’s observance at the Baha’i World News Service.) In 1844, Siyyid Ali Muhammad—who later came to call Himself the Bab—declared that He was, indeed, the new divine messenger sent by God to prepare the way on Earth for the next, even greater messenger (Baha’u’llah). This messenger (Baha’u’llah) would be, according to the Bab, the Promised One expected by many world religions. The Bab’s declaration took place in the Persian city of Shiraz.
The Baha’i faith’s origins extend back before the revelation of the Bab, however, to 1783. (Get the full story at Planet Baha’i.) During that year, a 40-year-old man known as Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa’i began traveling through Persia, preaching of a “great Day” to come that would bring Promised One of Islam. Shaykh garnered followers and students, among them a young man named Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti. When Shaykh died, Siyyid continued to spread his message; when Siyyid died, one of his own pupils, Mulla Husayn-i-Bushrui’i, carried on the message. According to Baha’i tradition, it was Mulla who came upon Siyyid Ali Muhammad—who would change his name to the Bab—and tested him and eventually understood that the Bab was the Qa’im foretold by Kazim. (Hear a commemorative song, worded by the Bab himself, courtesy of NewYorkBahai.org.)
The Bab was imprisoned by officials, exiled and executed for his teachings and actions; although the Bab’s followers, too, were killed by the thousands, the faith remained. Today, more than 5 million Baha’is exist in the world.
Just how do the Bab’s writings come through in today’s Baha’i perspectives? See for yourself in this document, the Baha’i International Community’s official contribution to the 18th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, released May 3.
(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)
(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)