Baha’is regard the Bab and Baha’u’llah as twin manifestations of God, both prophets and founders of independent religions, whose Faiths ultimately came together as one.
The Bab’s revelation lasted only six years, from 1844 to his martyrdom in 1850. Both before and after his death, the Babis suffered intense persecution from the Persian government and Shia Islamic clerical establishment, with more that 20,000 Babis killed for their beliefs. Known as the “Dawn-Breakers,” the Bab and his early followers sacrificed everything in their quest to promulgate his new teachings:
From the beginning the Bab must have divined the reception which would be accorded by His countrymen to His teachings, and the fate which awaited Him at the hands of the mullas. But He did not allow personal misgivings to affect the frank enunciation of His claims nor the open presentation of His Cause. The innovations which He proclaimed, though purely religious, were drastic; the announcement of His own identity startling and tremendous. He made Himself known as the Qa’im, the High Prophet or Messiah so long promised, so eagerly expected by the Muhammadan world. He added to this the declaration that he was also the Gate (that is, the Bab) through whom a greater Manifestation than Himself was to enter the human realm. – Introduction to The Dawn-Breakers, p. xxix.
Then, in 1863 Baha’u’llah fulfilled the Bab’s prophecies by proclaiming and establishing the Baha’i Faith, which eventually subsumed the Bab’s followers and became a global religion.
Baha’u’llah made pivotal comments about the Bab’s revelation. He described the Bab in personal terms as a necessary catalyst in their combined enterprise to build a new society. The Bab, allied with Baha’u’llah, was a “twin figure,” a prophet in his own right invested with the authority of presiding with Baha’u’llah over the destinies of this new dispensation.
The Bab, referred to by Baha’u’llah as “My Forerunner,” as well as his Herald and Primal Point, prepared the way for Baha’u’llah’s revelation. Baha’u’llah described the Bab’s supreme sacrifice as the one “Who laid down His life for this Great Announcement.” – Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 140.
Baha’u’llah pledged his reciprocal support to the Bab in this statement:
We stand, life in hand, wholly resigned to His will; that perchance, through God’s loving kindness and His grace, this revealed and manifest Letter (Baha’u’llah) may lay down His life as a sacrifice in the path of the Primal Point, the most exalted Word. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 251.
Clearly, the Bab willingly gave up his life for the principles of the new cause, doing everything in his power to assist the readiness of the people for the coming of Baha’u’llah. After the final horrific massacres of 1852, with almost no Babis left to revive the faith of the Bab, the task fell to the leading nobleman from Persia, Baha’u’llah. Exiled from his native land in the winter months of 1853, Baha’u’llah went to Baghdad and provided the extinguished flame of the Bab’s new faith the chance to spring back to life.
How will history view the story of the Bab in the future? Only time will tell. Baha’u’llah’s son, Abdu’l-Baha made it very clear that the Bab played a gigantic role in the establishment of the Baha’i Faith:
Consider how the Bab endured difficulties and tribulations; how He gave His life in the Cause of God; how He was attracted to the love of the Blessed Beauty, Baha’u’llah; and how He announced the glad tidings of His manifestation. We must follow His heavenly example; we must be self-sacrificing and aglow with the fire of the love of God. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 138.
Baha’u’llah wrote that humanity would never know the importance of the knowledge and influence of the Bab, that irresistible youth from Shiraz:
No understanding can grasp the nature of His Revelation, nor can any knowledge comprehend the full measure of His Faith. … He (the Bab) is the Revealer of the divine mysteries, and the Expounder of the hidden and ancient wisdom. – The Book of Certitude, p. 242.
The Bab was the Gate who announced a new day, his mission to close the old era and open a new one. The Bab prepared society for a greater figure, arising courageously against enormous odds to announce his revelation to the religious and state leaders of his time. His life appeared to end in tragic loss and sorrow, but he valiantly did everything in his power to prepare the way for the coming of Baha’u’llah—and succeeded. While most of the Bab’s leading disciples died at the hands of the oppressors, a core group of followers did recognize the fulfillment of the words of the Bab in the person and message of Baha’u’llah. In this way, the Bab exerted a tremendous, incalculable influence on the history of religion and the establishment of the first truly global movement for peace and unity.