SUNSET TUESDAY, MAY 22: It’s been 168 years since a spring evening conversation in Shiraz, Persia, revealed the promise of the Baha’i faith: formally, the Declaration of the Bab. Each year on May 23, Baha’is pray and recall the story of the Promised One. Detailed accounts credit the Bab with declaring himself to be the one who would “usher in the age of justice, unity and peace.” Years later, the Bab would also announce himself the forerunner of Baha’u’llah, the Divine Messenger.
Decades before the anticipated discovery, a man known as Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsai’i began preaching the advent of a great day coming near—a day which would see the Promised One of the world’s religions. A group of students gathered around this man, and one—Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti—became Ahmad-i-Ahsai’s successor. As years passed, Siyyid gained his own students, and one of these—Mulla Husayn—was the one to discover the Bab.
When sent on a mission to search for the Qa’im, or Promised One, Husayn was greeted by a young man while in Persia. (Learn more at Planet Bahai.) Over tea and evening prayer, conversation turned to Husayn’s mission. The young man soon announced that he was the one Husayn sought, and after intense questioning and tests, Husayn agreed that the young man was, indeed, the Promised One. Husayn became the Bab’s first disciple.
The Baha’i faith has met struggle, to say the least: in the beginning, thousands of followers were martyred and today, most Baha’is in Iran are still persecuted. However, it’s estimated that more than 5 million Baha’is now circle the globe, with more than 150,000 in the United States. Baha’is worldwide are now reaching out to their persecuted friends in faith by, among other things, volunteering to teach “underground” online classes. (Check out a related article in the Courier-Journal.) While Baha’is are prohibited from pursuing a higher education in Iran, many scholars are volunteering their time to teach these devotees across the world.