On July 9, members of the Baha’i Faith along with their friends and families commemorated the anniversary of the Martyrdom of the Bab. As one of the two founders of the Baha’i Faith, the events of the Bab’s life, whose name means “the Gate” in Arabic, are of special significance to Baha’is.
Born in 1819 in the city of Shiraz, Persia, the Bab was raised by his maternal uncle in a merchant family. The Bab was recognized for His wisdom and purity of character from an early age and was greatly respected by those with whom He came into contact. In Persia in 1844, the Bab declared His mission whose central purpose was to prepare the people for the Messenger of God Who would succeed Him — One Who would guide humanity into its age of collective maturity, distinguished by peace and justice. Baha’is recognize the founder of their faith, Baha’u’llah, as the fulfillment of this promise.
The proclamation of the Bab attracted thousands of followers in a short time. Fearful of the Bab’s growing influence caused by His proclamation and teachings, which called for spiritual and moral renewal, religious and political leaders arose to oppose and persecute the Bab and His followers.
More than 20,000 of His followers were killed in several waves of brutal persecution. Though guilty of no crime, the Bab was arrested, beaten, exiled and imprisoned by the authorities. Then, on July 9, 1850, at age 31, He was executed in public by a firing squad in the city of Tabriz in northwest Persia.
The martyrdom of the Bab had a lasting impact on the people of the time. His bravery in death and the integrity with which he lived his life remained in the collective memory of the people for many years. His call for the transformation of society to one of peace and justice bears special relevance even as the persecution of Baha’is in Iran today, even after the passage of more than 170 years, continues unabated. In Shiraz, the city where the Bab was born, the graves of more than 900 Baha’is in an historical Baha’i cemetery have been destroyed by the Iranian government in recent months.
Today, the Message of the Bab and the purity of His life are commemorated in local communities around the world.