“His life is one of the most magnificent examples of courage which it has been the privilege of mankind to behold…” – Tribute to the Báb by the 19th Century French writer A.L.M. Nicolas
At the hour of noon, on the 9th of July, Bahá’ís all over the world will gather throughout their communities to commemorate the martyrdom of the Báb, the Herald of the Bahá’í Faith.
The Báb was born on October 20, 1819 in Shiraz, Iran, and whilst we know very little of the early days of the Person of the Báb, Shoghi Effendi describes Him as:
“…infinite in His tenderness, irresistible in His charm, unsurpassed in His heroism, [and] matchless in the dramatic circumstances of His short yet eventful life.”
In the middle of the 19th century—one of the most turbulent periods in the world’s history—the Báb announced that He was the bearer of a message destined to transform the life of humanity. His mission, which was to only last six short years, was to prepare humanity for the coming of a Manifestation of God Who would usher in the age of peace foretolled in all of the world’s religions. The Writings of the Báb Himself are all a direct testament to “Him Whom God shall make manifest”, Bahá’u’lláh. The Báb affirms that:
“Of all the tributes I have paid to Him Who is to come after Me, the greatest is this, My written confession, that no words of Mine can adequately describe Him, nor can any reference to Him in My Book, the Bayan, do justice to His Cause.”
The Báb’s call for spiritual and moral transformation, His assertion of the equality of men and women, His championing of justice for the oppressed, and the attention He gave to the plight of the poor and downtrodden revolutionised the lives of the populace of Iran. His message and increasing popularity amongst the masses of people evoked unease and commotion within the government and religious authorities. The Báb was charged with heresy and was ordered, at the youthful age of 31, together with one of His faithful companions, to be executed by a firing squad of 750 soldiers in a public square in Tabriz.
“Had you believed in Me, O wayward generation,” were the last words of the Báb to the gazing multitude as the regiment was preparing to fire the final volley, “every one of you would have followed the example of this youth, who stood in rank above most of you, and willingly would have sacrificed himself in My path. The day will come when you will have recognised Me; that day I shall have ceased to be with you.”
An eyewitness to the execution describes the following:
“The very moment the shots were fired, a gale of exceptional severity arose and swept over the whole city. A whirlwind of dust of incredible density obscured the light of the sun and blinded the eyes of the people. The entire city remained enveloped in that darkness from noon till night. Even so strange a phenomenon… was unable to move the hearts of the people of Tabriz, and to induce them to pause and reflect upon the significance of such momentous events.”