When is Declaration Of The Bab (07.05.2018)
Observed in Countries with Bahai populations, primarily India
Observed on Fifth and sixth of Azamat, the fourth month of the Bahai calendar
Observed by Bahai
On May 22, Bahai throughout the world celebrate the Declaration of the Bab, which originally took place in Shiraz, Persia, in 1844 C.E. on the Gregorian calendar. On that day, two hours after dusk, Siyyid Ali Muhammad first referred to himself as the Bab (which means “the gate”), and announced his mission to inform the masses about the impending arrival of another prophet. Reckoned by the Bahai 19-month calendar, the Bab declared his sacred mission on Azamat (“Grandeur”) 5, and the event is observed on Azamat 5–6.
This event opened the Bahai era in 1260 A.H.
on the Islamic lunar calendar. The declaration marked the beginning of six turbulent years in Persia.
Thousands of the Bab’s followers were killed and the Bab himself was executed in 1850 by a firing squad.
The Declaration of the Bab is one of Bahai’s eleven holy days. Work is forbidden on nine of those days, including the Declaration of the Bab.
Bahai refrain from work after sunset on May 22 until dusk on May 23. Greeting cards are sent out on this occasion.
Origins and History
In 1783, a wise man named Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ashai traveled through Persia, teaching that a great day was imminent. That day would see the advent of the promised one of Islam. While spreading the message, he managed to gather a group of students from among the secular leaders and clergy of that time, all of whom were eager to learn from him.
Among his students was a man by the name of Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti, who became his favorite pupil and successor.
After Shaykh Ahmad’s death in 1826, Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti continued to spread his predecessor’s message, but opposition to the movement kept growing stronger. In an effort to garner the support of some higher authorities, he sent one of his students Mulla Husayn-i-Bushrui to relate his master’s teachings to the authorities and answer their queries.
Mulla Husayn was successful in this task. Still, the opposition to Siyyid Kazim’s message did not abate, and he had to bear great hardship as his foes did everything possible to discredit him, at times even putting his life in jeopardy. Siyyid Kazim continued to proclaim the coming revelation, although he refused to reveal the identity of the promised one, saying that no one would accept it if he did so.
Before his death in 1843 C.E., he instructed his followers to go out and look for the Promised One, saying that the time of his discovery had come.
Mulla Husayn-i-Bushrui, his brother, and a nephew went to Shiraz on this quest, on May 22,1844 C.E. While strolling outside the city gates a few hours before dusk, Mulla Husayn-i-Bushrui was suddenly greeted by a youth wearing a green turban (an indication that he was of prophet Muhammad’s lineage). Mulla Husayn-i-Bushrui initially thought he was a follower of Siyyid Kazim who had known of Husayn’s coming to Shiraz and was there to welcome him. Even so, the manner of the greeting was astonishing. He took Mulla Husayn-i-Bushrui to his house, where he was kind and extremely welcoming.
On being asked by Siyyid Ali Muhammad (the young man) about the purpose of his visit, Mulla Husayn revealed that he was searching for the Promised One of Islam. The youth then asked how the Promised One would be recognized, to which Husayn said that he would be of a pure lineage (of Muhammad), of illustrious descent, blessed with innate wisdom, and free from physical problems. To Mulla Husayn’s astonishment, the young man declared that all those signs were manifest in him.
But, in order to be absolutely sure, Husayn proposed two tests for Siyyid Ali Muhammad.The first was a discourse Mulla Husayn had composed himself, which contained the profound teachings of Siyyid Kazim and Shaykh Ahmad. Siyyid Ali Muhammad duly unraveled the intricacies of the composition. Then, without being asked, Siyyid Ali Muhammad proceeded to write a commentary spontaneously (as Siyyid Kazim had told him the promised one would do) on the Surih of Joseph (the 12th sura in the Koran that tells the story of Joseph). Thus, Siyyid Ali Muhammad revealed himself to be the Bab.
Thenceforth, Siyyid Ali Muhammad called himself the Bab, or “the gate,” and Mulla Husayn became his first disciple. Although the Bab was the promised one of Islam, he taught the people that he was simply a precursor to another messenger (as John the Baptist was to Jesus) who would follow him and whose powers and revelations would exceed that of any other messiah or prophet previously sent down by God. Siyyid Ali Muhammad’s astonishing claim showed his tremendous courage, because he would face vicious opposition from Persia’s fanatical clerics, who would be readily backed by an inept monarchy.
The Bab was well aware that his followers would be persecuted in the most horrendous manner and that he himself would be vilified, flogged, and openly executed. The Bahai believe that the moment of Siyyid Ali Muhammad’s declaration identifying himself as the Bab marked the end of humanity’s spiritual adolescence and the start of its spiritual maturity. Such a huge transition could not have been accomplished without great turmoil, and the Bab foretold of yet another (and a greater) revelation to come. This ultimately led in 1863 C.E. to the Declaration of Bahaullah, the father of the Bahai faith, as the manifestation of God for that period.
The Bab’s main work was the Bayan, which altered some Muslim laws. It stressed a high ethical standard and cleanliness of motive and heart. It elevated the status of women and the deprived people unnoticed in Islamic life. It also endorsed education and the sciences. In addition, the Bayan foretold the coming of Bahaullah that would usher in an age of prosperity and peace as promised in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and all other world religions. Due to his boldness and the nature of his beliefs, which sometimes contradicted the religious beliefs of Islam, the Bab was branded a rebel and a heretic and was ultimately executed.
On July 9, 1850 C.E. the Bab and a youthful follower were brought out of their cell to be executed.
The Bab had previously sought permission to finish what he had been working on, but his request was denied. He was led out to a courtyard where three lines of 250 Armenian soldiers fired at him and his companion. It is said that when the smoke cleared the Bab was not seen and his friend was uninjured.
The guards found the Bab in his cell offering final instructions to a follower. Earlier, the Bab had warned that no earthly power could stop him until he had said everything he had to say. His work accomplished, the Bab calmly surrendered himself to the guards. It is said that the Armenian troops refused to fire again. A Muslim firing squad took their place and successfully completed the execution.