March 20, 2014

The story of the Báb

'Báb' means 'Gate’! The Báb was the Gate to a new Kingdom -- the Kingdom of God on earth.

The Báb was very young when He told people about the Message which God had given Him. He was only twenty-five years old. A beautiful city in the south of Iran, called Shiraz, was the birthplace of the Báb. The people of Iran were Muhammadans, so He was given a name that was much used in that country. He was called Ali Muhammad, and was a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad Himself. The Báb's father died soon after His birth, so He was placed under the care of His maternal uncle. As a child He was sent to a teacher who taught the Qur'an and elementary subjects. But from His early childhood, the Báb was different from other children. He was always asking difficult questions and then giving the answers Himself in a way that astonished His elders. Often when other children were busy at play, He would be found wrapped in prayer under the shade of a tree or in some other quiet spot.

Later, when the Báb revealed His reality as a Manifestation of God, both His uncle and His teacher believed in Him because they had known Him since His childhood, and seen the difference between Him and other children. His uncle even died as a martyr for the Cause of God revealed through his Nephew, the Báb.

Before the Báb declared His Mission as a Messenger of God, there were two famous teachers who said that according to the Qur'an and the holy traditions, the Promised One of Islam would soon appear. These two teachers were Sheikh Ahmad and his chief disciple Siyyid Kazim. Because they were holy men and very learned, many people believed what they said and prepared themselves to receive the Promised One.

When Siyyid Kazim died, his followers scattered in different directions to find the Promised One. A number of them, under the leadership of a pious and learned young man, called Mulla Husayn; spent 40 days in prayer and fasting, and then took the road to Shiraz.

Their prayers were answered. Near the gate of Shiraz, Mulla Husayn met a radiant young man who had come out to receive him. This young man was none other than the Báb Himself.

He invited Mulla Husayn to His house and there, on the 23rd of May 1844, the Báb declared Himself as the Promised One.

Mulla Husayn's heart had been drawn towards the Báb from the minute his eyes rested, on Him outside the gate of Shiraz, but now that his Host made His great announcement, he asked for some proof by which he could know Him as the promised One. The Báb said that no proof was greater than divine verses revealed by a Manifestation of God. Then, taking up His pen and paper, He wrote down His first sacred Writing. Though He had not attended any school except for a brief period in His childhood, the Báb, like all the other Manifestations, was endowed with a deep knowledge which was a gift of God. He wrote with great speed and, as He wrote, He chanted the verses in a heavenly, mild voice. Mulla Husayn needed no further proof. With tears in his eyes, he prostrated himself before the Manifestation of God.

Mulla Husayn was the Báb's first disciple. The Báb gave him the title of Bábu'l-Báb which ,means gate of Gate. That night was the beginning of a new era. The Baha'i calendar starts from that year.

It was not long before many people came to believe in the Báb. Some met Him, some read His holy Writings while others recognized Him through dreams and visions.

The Manifestation of God is like the sun. When the sun rises, everybody sees it except those who are fast asleep. Even the sleeping ones must sooner or later come to know that the sun is shining.

The Message of the Báb was first given to the people of Iran. But the Muslims of other countries did not yet know that their Promised One had come. Therefore when thousands of Muslims from all countries gathered in Mecca for pilgrimage, the Báb journeyed to this holiest spot of Islam to tell them that the object of their adoration had come and that He was their Promised One. Nobody listened to Him; but the Báb had completed His announcement.

When the Báb returned to His native land, He was met by a group of soldiers who had come to arrest Him because the fanatical Mullas did not want the new Faith to spread. These Mullas made every effort to put out the Light of God which was burning in the breast of the Blessed Báb. From that day the Báb had to undergo many hardships.

His short but brilliant life was mostly spent in prison after He had made His Declaration. Twice He was sent to prisons built on very cold and forbidding mountains. But no chains or prisons could ever prevent the Call of God from spreading. When the Báb was ni prison, His faithful followers spread His Message throughout the country, and during that brief time thousands of people gave their lives for His Cause.

The Báb was still young, about 31 years of age, when they decided to kill Him. The Báb knew that He would be martyred in the path of God. He was glad to give His life so that the people of the world might come to understand the purpose of their lives and turn to God and His eternal kingdom.

The day of His martyrdom was the 9th of July, 1850. In the morning, the officer who was in charge of the Báb's execution came to Him in the prison. The Báb was talking to one of His followers who was writing down His last instructions. The officer told Him that the time had come for His execution and soldiers were ready in the city square to carry out their orders. The Báb said that He had to finish His conversation with His disciple, but the officer laughed and said that a prisoner could not choose to do as he wished. As the Báb was being taken away, He said that no power on earth could harm Him until He had completed His Mission in this world, and had finished what He intended to say. The officer paid no attention and took the Báb to the public square. At this time, one of the disciples of the Báb, a young man named Muhammed Ali Zunuzi, rushed forward and, throwing himself at the feet of his beloved Master, begged to be permitted to die with Him. The officer tried to push him away but Muhammad Ali Zunuzi wept and entreated so much that he was obliged to take him also.

In the square where the soldiers were waiting to shoot the Báb, a great crowd had gathered. They all watched while the Báb and His young disciple were tied in such a way that the head of the disciple rested on the chest of his Beloved. Then came the great moment. Drums were beaten, trumpets were sounded. And as the sound of the trumpets died away, the terrible order was heard: "Fire."

Hundreds of soldiers who had taken aim, fired their guns. A huge cloud of smoke spread through the whole place. The smell of gun-powder filled the air. After some time when the smoke cleared, there came a great surprise. There was no trace of the Báb, while His faithful disciple was standing there unharmed. No one hew what to think. Many people said that a miracle had happened and the Báb had gone up to heaven. The firing squad and their commander had never seen such an extraordinary thing happen before. Officers were sent in every direction to search for the Báb. The same officer who had brought the Báb from the prison cell now found aim sitting calmly at the same place, finishing His conversation which had been rudely interrupted. The Báb turned to the officer and smiled saying that His Mission on earth was now completed, and that He was ready to sacrifice His life to the truth of His Mission.

The Báb was once more taken in to the square, but the commander of the firing squad refused to have anything to do with His execution. He took his soldiers out of the square and swore that nothing would make him take the life of such an innocent and saintly youth. Another company of soldiers was found to carry out the execution, and this time hundreds of bullets riddled the bodies of the Báb and His faithful disciple. His beautiful face, which was not scattered by the bullets, still bore a lovely smile - showing the peace and happiness of One who had given His life to proclaim the beginning of a new era for mankind.

The Báb was a great Manifestation of God. In all His Writings He said that the main purpose of His coming was to give the glad-tidings that very soon the Promised One of all ages would appear. He warned His followers to beware lest they failed to recognize "Him Whom God shall make manifest." He said that they should lady aside everything else and follow Him as soon as they heard His Message.

The Báb wrote many payers beseeching God that His own life might be accepted as a sacrifice to the Beloved of His heart, the One "Whom God shall make manifest." He even referred in His Writings to the Order of Baha’u’llah, and said: "Well is it with him who follows Baha’u’llah." 

The Báb's prayers were answered and His promise was fulfilled. Nineteen years after His Mission, Baha’u’llah openly declared that He was the Promised One Whose coming had been foretold by all the Manifestations of God in past ages.
(Hushmand Fathea’zam, ‘The New Garden’)