SUNSET WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19: If John the Baptist notified Christians of Christ’s coming, then the Bab alerted the Baha’i faithful to pray for the coming of a messenger of God about two millennia later. Today, Baha’is celebrate the birth of that man: the Bab. Surprisingly, very few details are known about the birth of the Bab, but because Baha’is do know that the Bab was born on Oct. 20, they hold special gatherings, prayer groups and musical programs on this day.
On this date in 1819, Siyyid Ali-Muhammad (who would later become the Bab, or “the gate”) was born in Persia. With a lineage traced back to the Prophet Muhammad, Siyyid Ali-Muhammad grew into a child who was regarded as exceptionally wise by teachers and peers alike. (Planet Baha’i has more.) When his father died, Ali-Muhammad was put into the care of an uncle—an uncle who, many years later, would follow the Baha’i religion. In 1844, the Bab announced that he was the Promised One foretold in major world religions, and that his mission was to proclaim the coming of the Divine Messenger: Baha’u’llah. The Bab is now entombed on Mount Carmel, in Haifa. (Visit Bahai.org for details.)
Members of the Baha’i faith have long faced persecution in many parts of the world. Most recently, the Iranian government suppressed an online Baha’i university—an important resource for Iranian Baha’i families. Scholars of religion around the world took notice. In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, 43 professors and lecturers of theology and religion from countries around the globe demanded that the ban on the Baha’i institute for Higher Education be lifted. (Read the article here.) The letter called “upon the Iranian government … to provide, and promote, education for all.”