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Thursday, October 20, 2011

October 20: The Bab's birthday

Shrine in Haifa (by Ybitan)

He who is known as “the Bab” (“the Gate”) was born Siyyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi on October 20, 1819 (Muharram 1, 1235 AH).  The Birth of the Bab is one of eleven Bahai Holy Days that are celebrated each year.

Dale E. Lehman reports that both of the Bab’s parents were “descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.”  When the Bab was quite young, his father died.  A maternal uncle, Haji Mirza Siyyid Ali, then assumed care of the
young child.  The Bab’s extraordinary nature soon became apparent.  His schoolmaster is said to have “sent the child back to His uncle, saying that he had nothing to teach such a gifted student!”  The young Bab was also said to have spent “considerable time” in prayer.

The Bab is sometimes compared to John the Baptist because both declared themselves to be forerunners of “Him Whom God shall make manifest,” and both urged followers to spiritually prepare themselves for these coming Manifestations.  Both John the Baptist and the Bab declared their successors, Jesus and Bahaullah, to be far greater than they.  According to Wikipedia, the Bab is also sometimes thought to be “the spiritual return of Elijah…”

Some of the more tragic elements of the Bab’s life have also been compared to events within the life of Jesus.  Dale Lehman explains:  Both were taken before the authorities and publicly interrogated, after which both were scourged…  Both were suspended before a multitude as they were put to death.  Both spoke words of comfort to one who was to die with them.

The Bab was only 30 years old when he was executed by those who felt threatened by his messianic claims.
Although his remains were “dumped outside the gates of the town to be eaten by animals,” Wikipedia reports that they were “clandestinely rescued” and eventually buried on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel.  The Bahai
World Centre is now located near this site.

According to Kathleen Lehman, Bahais commemorate the Bab’s birthday with prayer (especially the Tablet of Visitation) and fellowship.


Copyright October 20, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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