Baha'is celebrate the birth of the Bab

Baha'is celebrate the birth of the Bab

The Shrine of the Bab in Haifa, Israel. © Baha'i International Community
Toronto, Ontario, 17 October 2014 (CBNS)

On October 20th Baha'is around the world will observe the holy day of the Birth of the Bab. One of nine holy days on which Baha'is are enjoined to suspend work if possible, the date marks the anniversary of the birth - in 1819 in Shiraz, Iran - of Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad, known to history as the Bab.

The name Bab, meaning ‘gate’ in Arabic, describes the important role He played as the Herald of the Baha’i Faith. In 1844, while still a youth, the Bab proclaimed the coming of a Messenger of God Who would succeed Him—one who would usher in a new age of international peace and prosperity. The central purpose of the Bab’s message was to call people to a high standard of moral conduct in order to prepare them for the coming of this new Messenger of God. This Messenger is recognized by Baha’is as Baha’u’llah, the Promised One, who announced His station nineteen years later in 1863.

As the Bab’s teachings spread throughout Persia, many from diverse religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds came to be known as Babis, or followers of the Bab. Persian authorities and clergy grew uncomfortable with the growing number of adherents to His teachings. Throughout the Bab’s short ministry some twenty thousand of the Bab’s followers were executed and many others were brutally persecuted. Ultimately the Bab was imprisoned and executed by firing squad in July 1850.

The remains of the Bab were later transported to Mount Carmel, in Haifa, Israel, where a beautiful Shrine was constructed. That Shrine is now a pilgrimage destination, surrounded by exquisite gardens and flanked by buildings that constitute the administrative and spiritual World Centre of the Baha'i Faith.

There is no prescribed ceremony or service for celebrating the anniversary of the Birth of the Bab. All are welcome to attend holy day celebrations that may take place any time between sunset on the evening of the 19th to sunset on October 20th. Neighbours and friends may celebrate the birth of the Bab by sharing his writings, narratives of his life, prayers, music and other artistic expressions.