Martyrdom of the Bab: Baha’is recall awe-inspiring events of Bab’s execution

Woman in black shawl and clothing with eyes closed, candle in background

A Baha’i plays the role of the Bab’s wife in a tribute service for observance of the Martyrdom of the Bab. Photo by Melissa Key, courtesy of The Herald-Sun

STARTS SUNSET TUESDAY, JULY 8: The world’s 5 million Baha’is pause at noon on July 9 to recall in solemnity the Martyrdom of the Bab. One of nine holy days of the year, the Martyrdom of the Bab commemorates the anniversary of an event that occurred on this date in 1850. The Bab, having been imprisoned for approximately three years, had finally been sentenced to a death scheduled for July 9; the events that ensued on the day of his death, however, have left millions in awe for more than a century.

The era was 19th century Persia, and a man who called himself the Bab—his name means, the Gate—had begun attracting followers. Despite attempts by authorities, passion for his Babi religion ran wide and deep. Muhammad Shah would not execute the Bab, but his successor, Nasiri’d-Din Shah, was advised to kill the Bab. And so, it was announced that the Bab, along with any followers, would be executed.

According to Baha’i tradition: When the head attendant was ordered to bring the Bab before the chief religious officials of the City of Tabriz, to obtain death warrants, he did so and found the Bab in private conversation with his secretary, Siyyid Husayn. The head attendant lectured Siyyid Husayn, but the Bab warned that, “Not until I have said to him all those things that I wish to say can any earthly power silence Me.” (Learn more from Planet Bahai and the Bahai Library.)

As the traditional Baha’i story is retold: The Bab was brought to the center of the city to be executed by soldiers; as he had promised, not one bullet touched him, and the firing squads had instead blown apart the rope that had tied him. The Bab was nowhere to be found.

After frantic searches, the Bab was discovered in a private room, continuing his previously interrupted conversation with Siyyid Husayn. The Bab announced to them, “I have finished My conversation with Siyyid Husayn. Now you may proceed and fulfill your intention.” Several authorities and soldiers were so shaken by the events that they resigned and refused to have anything further to do with the execution; still, a new firing squad was drawn and brought to the Bab. The regiment opened fire, and the Bab was killed.

In 1909, the Bab’s body was placed in its current resting place, in the Shrine of the Bab on Mount Caramel in Haifa, Israel. Today, most Bahai’s observe the holy day with prayers, gatherings and services. (Access a meditation with slides and music from New York Baha’i.)

IN THE NEWS:
BAHA’I SECOND-LARGEST RELIGION
IN SOUTH CAROLINA

It’s surprising, but true, according to a new research report recently covered in both the Washington Post and National Public Radio’s website. A map recently created by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies has revealed that Baha’is represent the second-largest religious group in one of America’s 50 states: South Carolina. (Read more from the Protojournalist column in the NPR website.) Though the Baha’i faith is present in most states—and the Baha’i House of Worship for North America is located in Illinois—South Carolina was the only state where Baha’is ranked No. 2 behind the nation’s dominant Christian groups. Learn how the Baha’i religion grew in South Carolina, and why, in this article from the Post and Courier.

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