Celebrating the Declaration of The Bab
In both March and April, we explored a couple of holidays and celebrations in the Baha’i faith, from the Festival of Ridvan in April to the new year's celebration of Naw-Rúz in March. This month, we dive into the origins of this faith as we celebrate The Declaration of The Bab on May 22 and 23.
On the evening of May 22nd, 1844, Siyyid Ali-Muhammad announced that he had received a divine revelation pertaining to the coming of “Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest,” a messenger of God known as Baha’u’llah. Baha’is refer to Siyyid Ali-Muhammad by his title, the Bab, which is Arabic for “the Gate,” and annually celebrate this night on which the Bab told of the coming of another of God’s messengers. This message is often compared to John the Baptist's telling of the coming of Christ. This night began a chain of events that would lead to the growing Baha’i faith that we know today. In order to get a better understanding of the importance of this event, we need to take a look at the events surrounding it in ancient Persia, or modern day Iran.
Throughout the end of the 1700s and the early 1800s, there was great unrest throught the people of Islam, with different clerics and communities struggling from disunity and disharmony. In the 1820s, a gifted young man named Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti, following the footsteps of his teacher Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa’i, traveled throughout Persia to proclaim the coming of the Qa’im, the Promised One of Islam. As Siyyid Kazim was nearing the end of his life, and opposition to his message grew, he instructed his students to go out in search of the Promised One, saying he was about to be revealed. One such student was a young man named Mulla Husayn, who made his way to the city of Shiraz in search of him.
Upon his arrival to the city, Mulla Husayn was unexpectedly met by a young man who spoke to him with an “affection and loving kindness” that surprised him. He accompanied the young man to his house where he laid before the boy a number of signs and tests intended to indicate the presence of the Qa’im. This young man, Sayyid Ali Muhammad, proceeded to demonstrate the each of the signs were indeed applicable to him and passed the tests with ease. As Mulla Husayn was about to depart, the young man declared that “this very hour will … be celebrated as one of the greatest and most significant of festivals”. From that day on, May 22, 1844, Siyyid Ali Muhammad referred to himself as the Bab and Mulla Husayn became his first disciple.