The Bab

On May 23, 1844, sometime after midnight, in the early hours of the morning, the Bab declared to Mulla Husayn, in Shiraz, Persia, that He had divine knowledge and that He was the the promised redeemer or Mahdi of Islam. That night the Bab spontaneously began writing a commentary on the Surih of Joseph, a difficult mystical passage in the Quran. Sometime before, Mulla Husayn asked his own profound and learned teacher to comment on the Surih of Joseph, but his teacher told him that when the Promised One appeared He would write a commentary for him “unasked.” So when the Bab started writing with great fluidity, Mulla Husayn was astonished and he later said:

“He took up His pen, and with incredible rapidity revealed the entire Surih of Mulk, the first chapter of His commentary on the Surih of Joseph. The overpowering effect of the manner in which He wrote was heightened by the gentle intonation of His voice which accompanied His writing. Not for one moment did He interrupt the flow of the verses which streamed from His pen. Not once did He pause till the Surih of Mulk was finished. I sat enraptured by the magic of His voice and the sweeping force of His revelation.”

Room where the Bab declared His Mission to Mulla Husayn in Shíráz Iran on May 23, 1844

On that very same day – when accounting for time and hemispherical differences – while the drama of the Declaration of the Bab was unfolding, far away in the United States of America, Samuel Morse, the inventor of the telegraph, was preparing to send his first official message over a long distance from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, Maryland. Although Morse planned to send an extended message to show off the capabilities of his telegraph machine, trouble developed along the transmission line and he decided it was best to send a short message. It was reported that Morse cracked open a Bible and arbitrarily ran his finger down the page. He chose to send the message at his fingertip. It said, “What hath God wrought.” Indeed, future generations would marvel at the message sent – and this work of God – because on the other side of the globe, the Bab, the Anointed One impelled by the Will of God, was revealing an entire book with such rapidity that it astonished Mulla Husayn, who listened in rapt attention to the One whom he would soon confess was the Lord of the Age.

The Bab fearlessly and boldly proclaimed His station as a Mesenger of God and proved it by revealing His own book called the Bayan which means “the book.” This Book caused a religious fervor to spread throughout Persia. Tens of thousands became followers of the Bab, including prominent members of the Islamic priesthood and members of Persian nobility; however, the vast majority of Islamic clerics – recognizing that the Bab was a threat to their power and dominance over the hearts and minds of the populace – incited their blood lust with falsehoods and used the populace as pawns to kill at least 20,000 Babis during the lifetime of the Bab. Foreign dignitaries who witnessed the savagery, brutality, and blood-lust inflicted on the Babis wrote their governments and newspapers throughout the world. In France, poets wrote poems and ballads about the plight and heroism of the Bab and His followers. Nonetheless, from the time of His Declaration in 1844 until the time of His execution six years later, in Tabriz, Persia, at the Barracks, in an area long known as the “Square of the Lord of the Age,” the Bab continued to insist He was the Promised One of all of Islam, and — more than that — the Primal Point, and He took every opportunity to prove His claim, both privately and publicly.

Another event which occurred in America shortly before the Bab declared Himself was that William Miller, founder of the Millerites, told His followers to sell all their possessions and dress themselves in white ascension robes because Christ would return between April and July of 1844. This scholarly Doctor of Divinity deduced this date from an enthusiastic life-long study of the Bible. Some years later, William Miller was dejected. He could not understand how Christ had not returned during the span of time in which he was convinced the Bible had forecasted and prophesied His return. He was asked how he felt, and William Miller said, “I confess my error, and acknowledge my disappointment; yet I still believe that the day of the Lord is near, even at the door.” Having said that was his conviction, imagine how Dr. Miller might have rejoiced to know that the Bab revealed Himself on May 23, 1844, and His name, the Bab means the “Door” or “Gate.”

Muslims believe there can be no Prophets or Messengers of God after Prophet Muhammad because He said He was the Seal of the Prophets. So to claim to be a Prophet – or the Promised One, or someone with divine knowledge – is abhorrent to the Islamic clergy and a cause to be put to death. But everything they did to torment the Bab during the six years between the time of His announcement and the time of His death did nothing to dissuade Him. This prayer is one of many written by the Bab that testifies to the source of His unflinching spirit:

“I adjure Thee by Thy might, O my God! Let no harm beset me in times of tests, and in moments of heedlessness guide my steps aright through Thine inspiration. Thou art God, potent art Thou to do what Thou desirest. No one can withstand Thy Will or thwart Thy Purpose.”

European diplomats reported to the courts of the Kings and Queens in Europe that tens of thousands of the followers of the Bab were being tormented and slaughtered in horrific ways barely imaginable to the Europeans. During this time of intense and relentless persecution, the Bab revealed this prayer for His followers and it is said today by Baha’is:

“Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding!”

As to His appearance and demeanor, and how He affected people, the Bab was 24 when He declared Himself and 30 when He was put to death. An English physician who was called to attend to the Bab during one of His oppressive imprisonments described the young Bab and wrote:

“He was a very mild and delicate-looking man, rather small in stature and very fair for a Persian, with a melodious soft voice, which struck me much.”