The Báb

The upper portion of the building where the Báb declared His mission on 23 May 1844 in Shiraz, Iran

As a child, Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad was known for His noble character. He was born in Shíráz, Persia (now Iran) in 1819. At school, He explained parts of the Qur’án, the Muslim holy book, with great insight. His teacher said he felt unworthy to teach a child with such wisdom and “mysterious power.”

On May 22, 1844, ‘Alí-Muhammad announced that He was a Messenger of God. He became known as “the Báb,” meaning “the Gate” in Arabic. He gained many followers, called Bábís.

Muslim leaders tried to stop the Báb. They imprisoned Him, but His Faith kept growing. He revealed new laws and teachings, such as the equality of women and men and the elimination of extreme poverty.

He urged people to improve their characters. He said, “Let angelic virtues be your adorning…” He also told His followers that another Messenger of God would soon appear.

Unable to stop the Báb’s teachings from spreading, officials fiercely persecuted the Bábís. The Bábís bravely tried to defend themselves, and thousands were killed in tragic battles and massacres.

Finally, the Báb was sentenced to execution on July 9, 1850, in Tabríz, Iran. He and a young Bábí named Anís were suspended by ropes in the courtyard of the army barracks. A crowd of 10,000 people watched as 750 soldiers fired at the prisoners.

But when the smoke cleared, the Báb had vanished! Anís stood alone and unharmed under the severed rope. The Báb was found back in His prison cell, talking with His secretary. He calmly told the guard, “I have finished my conversation…Now you may proceed to fulfill your intention.” But the guard was so shaken, he left his post immediately.

The leader of the firing squad was also deeply affected, and he refused to let his soldiers fire again. A second firing squad was called, and the prisoners were suspended as before. This time, the Báb and Anís were killed—but amazingly, their faces were barely touched.

The Bábís mourned the Báb’s tragic death, and they continued to be persecuted. Yet they also sought the new Messenger of God foretold by the Báb. In time, Bahá’u’lláh announced that He was the promised Messenger.

The Báb is buried in a majestic shrine on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel. It is a place of pilgrimage for Bahá’ís.


For a printable timeline of the Báb's life, download a PDF.

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