The Baha’is are marking the 169th anniversary of the Martyrdom of the Bab, one of the two central figures in the founding of their religion, with a service on Wednesday, July 10.
On July 9 1850, at noon, the Bab was put to death by firing squad in the public square of Tabriz, Iran. Six years earlier, he had declared that he was a messenger of God whose mission was to prepare the way for the imminent arrival of the Promised One of all religions who would come to establish a new age of peace and prosperity in the world.
In 1863, Baha’u’llah announced publicly that he was that Promised One. The Bab attracted tens of thousands of people to His teachings, thousands of whom were killed in persecutions that swept Iran. Finally, authorities had the Bab Himself put to death in an attempt to stamp out the new religion.
Mirza Taqi Khan (Grand Vizier of Nasiri’d-Din Shah) ordered the Báb’s execution July 9,1850. When the guards came to take Him on the day of His execution, the Báb told them that no “earthly power” could silence Him until He had finished all that He had to say. Thousands crowded the rooftops that overlooked the barracks square in Tabríz where the Báb was to be executed by a firing squad. In the intense heat of the noonday sun, He was suspended by ropes against a wall of the barracks, along with a young follower. A regiment of 750 soldiers opened fire in three successive volleys. When the smoke and dust of the gunpowder cleared, the Báb had vanished from sight.
Only His companion remained, alive and unscathed, standing beside the wall on which they had been suspended. The ropes by which they had been hung alone were severed. After a search, the Báb was found back in His cell, continuing the conversation with His secretary that had been earlier interrupted.
“Now you may proceed to fulfil your intention,” the Báb told His captors. Again, He was brought out for execution. After the first regiment refused to fire, another was assembled and ordered to shoot. This time the bodies of the Báb and His young follower were shattered. A whirlwind of dust engulfed the city, blotting out the light of the sun until nightfall.
A half century after his execution, his remains were brought to Haifa for entombment on Mount Carmel. Today his shrine is one of the most famous landmarks in Israel, and the Baha’i Faith is established in virtually every country.
The anniversary of the Martyrdom of the Bab is one of nine holy days when Baha’is suspend work. The Holy Day will be commemorated with special observances on July 10.
Those seeking more information can call 998-6132 on St. Thomas or 643-7863 0n St. Croix. The global Baha’i website is www.bahai.org.