Celebrating the birth of the Bab October 20th


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Redlands, California
Celebrating the birth of the Bab, Baha’u’llah’s forerunner

October 15, 2008 - 3:42am

On Oct. 20, Baha’is around the world celebrate the Birth of the Bab, one of 11 Holy Days in the Baha'i calendar. (Baha'i days begin at sunset so celebrations may begin the evening of Oct 19.)

The Bab is often referred to as the Herald of the Baha'i Faith, because it was His mission to prepare the way for Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha'i Faith. Like John the Baptist some 2,000 years before, the Bab called on the people to purify themselves for the coming of the day of God. Unlike John the Baptist, however, He founded an independent religion and claimed equal station with Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Baha’is view the Bab and Baha’u’llah as Manifestations of God.

Shrine of the Bab, Haifa, Israel

The similarities between the missions of Jesus and the Bab are often noted with awe. In Thief in the Night, William Sears lists a number of them. Both were known for their meekness. Both condemned the corruption present in religious and secular society. Their chief enemies were the religious authorities. Both were taken before the authorities and publicly interrogated, after which both were scourged. Both went first in triumph and then in suffering through the streets of the cities where they were to be killed. 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.
Yet in spite of the many similarities, there is one major difference: Almost nothing, it seems, is known about the circumstances attending the Bab’s birth.

We do know that He was born on Oct. 20, 1819, in Shiraz, Persia (now Iran). The Bab, whose name was Siyyid Ali-Muhammad, was the son of a merchant of Shiraz. Both parents were descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. When the Bab was young, his father died. Care of the child fell to a maternal uncle and the only relative of the Bab to openly espouse the Bab’s Cause during His lifetime.

When the Bab was sent to school, the schoolmaster was so astonished at His wisdom and intelligence that he sent the child back to His uncle, saying he had nothing to teach such a gifted student. The Bab’s uncle commanded Him to be attentive to His teacher, but as time progressed, the schoolmaster began to feel more like the student than the teacher.
Other accounts speak of the young Bab’s radiant character and the considerable time He spent in prayer. There can be little doubt He was an extraordinary child. Some who had known Him in those early years later became His followers. It seems many of them were hardly surprised by the way events played out.

Baha’is celebrate the birth of the Bab in a variety of simple and joyous ways.

This day is one of the nine Holy Days on which work is to be suspended. Baha’i communities gather for prayers and devotional readings followed by fellowship and celebration. However they are celebrated, these activities are open to all who would like to attend.

--By Dale E. Lehman, Planet Baha’i