The Shrine of the Bab

The Shrine of the Bab sits on the very spot where, in the summer of 1891, Baha’u’llah designated it should be built.

Decades before the nation of Israel was born in 1948 and during the time when the Ottoman Empire ruled over the entirely of this desolate region, at the request of his beloved Father, Abdu’l-Baha purchased the land where the Shrine would be built. Later Abdu’l-Baha said, “Every stone of that building, every stone of the road leading to it, I have with infinite tears and at tremendous cost, raised and placed in position.” From that time the institutions of the Faith planned, and Baha’is across the earth sacrificed to construct a beautified arc of gardens and monumental buildings on Mount Carmel which include the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, the International Archives, the International Teaching Centre, and the Centre for the Study of the Sacred Texts.

Likewise renovations were made to the home of Baha’u’llah and His resting place in Bahji, which Baha’is consider the holiest place on earth; and to other properties in nearby cities associated with the history of the Faith such as buildings in Akka, the horrific pestilent prison city that the Ottoman Empire sent Baha’u’llah to, and wherein they hoped He would perish from natural causes. Notably the vanquished empires that tormented Him did not dare murder the One whom the Bab intended since He was universally believed to be a saint, yet, not the Promised One.

The lower terraces leading up to Shrine of the Bab

Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, worked tirelessly to actualize the instructions of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha. In order to protect the institutions of the Faith he raised up and promulgated the Baha’i Faith with majestic buildings and gardens so that the whole world could learn about the wonder of the life and work of Baha’u’llah; who vanquished empires with the power of His Pen, and whose incomparable revelation is destined to establish the unity that will produce enduring peace and heaven on earth.

The gardens surrounding the Shrine of the Bab are admired by all those who see them, and on July 8, 2008, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee inscribed the Baha’i Holy Places in Haifa and Western Galilee in Israel on the World Heritage List, saying they were “of outstanding universal value.” The Baha’i properties honored include 26 buildings, and, also, the monuments and places in eleven locations in Acre (formerly known as Akka) and Haifa, including the Shrine of Baha’u’llah in Bahji and the Shrine of the Bab in Haifa. One of the ancillary rooms in the Shrine of the Bab is also the temporary resting place of Abdu’l-Baha. These Holy Places in Israel are part of the Baha’i World Center, the spiritual and administrative center of the Baha’i Faith.

The remains of the Bab – whose body was torn to bits by the output of 750 rifles at His execution on July 9, 1850 at the Barracks in the city of Tabriz – are enshrined in the Shrine of the Bab. To prevent their desecration, the sacred remains of the Bab had been taken with great secrecy out of Persia many years before, and to safeguard them they were brought to and hidden by the Baha’is near Akka. Abdu’l-Baha Himself lovingly, prayerfully, and tearfully placed the remains of the Bab into His sepulcher and interred them within the Shrine.

Shrine of the Bab viewed from in between the colonnade of the Universal House of Justice

Shoghi Effendi called the Shrine of the Bab the “Mountain of Light” and the Shrine of Baha’u’llah, which it faces, the “Ocean of Light.” Thus reaffirming for all time the relationship of the Twin Manifestations of God, wherein the Bab Himself testifies His own Revelation would be like “the black in the eye of an ant” compared to the Revelation of “Him Whom God shall make manifest.”

Baha’is acknowledge and immortalize the Bab as one of the Twin Manifestations of God who along with Baha’u’llah is a divine proof that this is a new age, the age of the fulfillment of the promises of God detailed in the scriptures of all previous dispensations.

In His writings Baha’u’llah makes it clear that the Bab is a Manifestation of God exalted above ordinary humans and He is the genesis and the starting point, and the origin that gives rise to a new age, a new dispensation:

“Verily He is the King of the Messengers and His book is the Mother Book did ye but know.”

Also, He writes:

“Be thou assured in thyself that verily, he who turns away from this Beauty hath turned away from the Messengers of the past and showeth pride towards God from all eternity to all eternity.”

The Shrine of the Bab is a crowning jewel of the port city of Haifa, Israel. Millions of people have visited this shrine and many Israelis are married in its magnificent gardens. There are 19 terraced gardens which climb more than half a mile from the base of Mount Carmel to the point where the Shrine sits. At night the Shrine – with its golden dome and the entire staircase leading to it through the surrounding terraced gardens – is majestically lit and is a guiding beacon for all who see it from land, air, and the Mediterranean Sea, not to mention the rooftops of the old prison city of Akka. The Baha’is have constructed and maintain the Shrine of the Bab and its encompassing grounds as a living testament to the Glory of God and a gift to humankind.