SUNSET SUNDAY, MAY 22: Tonight, Baha’s mark the Declaration of the Bab, recalling the evening in 1844 when Siyyid Ali Muhammad—who would later become known as the Bab—revealed his identity to Mulla Husayn. (New York Baha’i has a thought-provoking video with music to illustrate this event.) The revelation was the start of a new movement; for the next six years, thousands would follow the Bab. This new movement cost them dearly as many were put to death for their beliefs; the Bab was executed in 1850. Still, tonight’s revelation was the beginning of the Baha’i faith. Despite numerous efforts to wipe out this new faith, its followers stood strong—and today, the Baha’i faith has more than 5 million devotees worldwide.
The story of the Declaration of the Bab actually begins in 1783, when a man called Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa’i began spreading news through Persia of a “great day” that was to come and bring the Promised One. Students and followers flocked to this man, and one of them—Siyyid Kazim—became his favorite pupil and steadfastly spread the message after his death. (Baha’i.us has details.) One of Kazim’s pupils, Mulla Husayn, would be the one to discover the Promised One. After meeting Siyyid Ali Muhammad (the Bab) one evening during his travels, Mulla Husayn began rigorously testing the man who claimed that he was the Promised One. (Planet Baha’i has more.) Siyyid Ali Muhammad surpassed all of Husayn’s tests, and Husayn became the Bab’s first follower.
To this day, Baha’is face persecution in some parts of the world. Many Baha’is in Iran are still treated unjustly for their faith. Recently, Baha’i leaders and other human rights activists marked three years of imprisonment for seven Baha’i leaders in one troubling case. (The Baha’i World News Service has an article.) U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois took part in a gathering of 300 congressional staffers, media personnel and representatives from human rights groups to keep a global spotlight on the case.
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.