Posted by: samandal | July 9, 2009

The Báb, I

Martyrdom of the Báb

Báb (Arabic, Gate) is the religious title of Sayyid ‘Alí-Muhammad Shírází (1819–50), prophet-founder of Bábism and prophet-herald of the Bahá’í Faith.

‘Alí-Muhammad Shírází was born on 20 October 1819 in Shíráz, the devout scion of a noble family of merchants and traders. His father, Sayyid Muhammad-Ridá, died while he was still quite young (1826). He was raised by his mother, Fátimih Bagum, under the guardianship of one of her brothers, Hájí Mírzá Sayyid ‘Alí. He attended a Qur’ánic school and received an elementary education, then joined the mercantile operations run by members of his maternal family. ‘Alí-Muhammad began, in 1835, to work as a merchant, renowned for his moral virtue, in the city of Búshihr.

His extreme piety and religious devotion impelled ‘Alí-Muhammad to vacate his office and embark on a pilgrimage to the Shí‘í shrines of Iraq in 1840, where he remained for about one year. While there, he attended the lectures of Sayyid Kázim Rashtí, leader in succession to Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsá’í, founder of the Shaykhí school of Shí‘í thought that emphasized the mystical dimensions and esoteric truths of Islám. He eventually returned to Shíráz where he established his household and married his cousin, Khadíjih Bagum, in 1842. They had one child, a son named Ahmad, who died in infancy in 1843, the year before ‘Alí-Muhammad declared his mission as the Báb.

“He, verily, is nigh, ready to answer.”                                                                (The Báb: Selections from the Writings of the Báb, page 156)

‘Alí-Muhammad now experienced a series of visionary and prophetic dreams, in one of which he drank from the severed head of the Imám Husayn, the grace of whose blood filled his breast with sacred verses and prayers. The Holy Spirit of God permeated and took possession of his soul, and the mysteries of revelation were unfolded before his eyes. He began to write divinely inspired verses and soon acquired a reputation as a selfless ascetic blessed with the grace of the Hidden Imám; numerous miracles were attributed to him. In his Súratu’l-Húrí (Chapter of the Maiden), he ascribed the new revelation he received to the Holy Maiden: “I am the Maid of Heaven begotten by the Spirit of Bahá.”

“Fire and paradise both bow down and prostrate themselves before God. That which is worthy of His Essence is to worship Him for His sake, without fear of fire, or hope of paradise.”                                                                                                                  (The Báb: Selections from the Writings of the Báb, page 78)