The Bab’s original ideas and laws have had a profound influence on Baha’i thought and life which continues to this very day.
A case-in-point is the Persian Bayan, described as “the major doctrinal work and principal repository of the laws ordained by the Bab”, honored as “the Mother Book of the Babi Dispensation.” – The Most Holy Book, Note 108, p. 213. “The term ‘Mother Book’ is generally used to designate the central Book of a religious Dispensation.” – Ibid., p. 220.
The Bab revealed his Persian Bayan to prepare the way for the advent of Baha’u’llah. As such, many of the Bayan’s laws, if not most of them, were never put into effect, given the short duration of the Bab’s religion before Baha’u’llah declared his prophetic mission, thereby fulfilling the prophecies of the Bab.
So, even though the Persian Bayan is the principal repository of the laws ordained by the Bab, it is also “the major doctrinal work” of the Bab. Baha’i beliefs, of course, are based on the central teachings of Baha’u’llah, some of the basic examples of which have their roots in the ideas propounded by the Bab in the Persian Bayan and in other works of the Bab as well. Of course, Baha’u’llah greatly enlarged and expanded the range and content of the Bab’s doctrines.
In the short space of this article, a single, noteworthy doctrine may suffice to illustrate this point regarding the influence of the Bab’s doctrines on Baha’i belief. So let’s take a look at what Baha’u’llah identifies as the single most important doctrine of the Qur’an, that is, attaining the presence of God. In other words, what do prophecies in the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, mean when they foretell the Day when true believers would actually “meet God”? Let’s first see what the Bab has to say, by way of a key passage in the Persian Bayan, provisionally translated and summarized by the renowned Cambridge scholar Edward Granville Browne:
The Eternal Essence cannot be comprehended or described, or qualified, or seen, though by It all things are comprehended, described, qualified, and seen; and therefore what is meant in the Heavenly Books by “Meeting with the Lord” is meeting with the Manifestation of the Point of Truth, which is the Primal Will. Thus in the Qur’an by “Meeting with the Lord” is meant meeting the Apostle of God, even as it is said of the true believer, “To behold him is to behold the Prophet of God, and to behold the Prophet of God is to behold God.” … He is as the Sun, and all else than Him is as mirror in which reflections of the sun appear. Whoever attains to the Meeting with Him whom God shall manifest, attains to the Meeting with God. – The Bab, Persian Bayan 3:7, translated/summarized by Edward Granville Browne, “A Summary of the Persian Bayan,” in Moojan Momen’s Selections from the Writings of E. G. Browne on the Babi and Baha’i Religions, pp. 340–341.
The Bab refers to such passages in the Qur’an as this verse:
On the day when they will be brought into the presence of their Lord, their greeting to each other will be, “Peace be with you.” God has prepared an honorable reward for them. – Qur’an 33:44 (Muhammad Sarwar translation).
Here, the phrase “On the day when they will be brought into the presence of their Lord,” supports Shoghi Effendi’s translation of Arabic term, liqāʾ (a verbal noun meaning “meeting” or “encounter”), in its various forms throughout the Qur’an.
Along the very same lines, Baha’u’llah wrote in The Book of Certitude:
How strange! These people with one hand cling to those verses of the Qur’an and those traditions of the people of certitude which they have found to accord with their inclinations and interests, and with the other reject those which are contrary to their selfish desires. “Believe ye then part of the Book, and deny part?” [Qur’an 2:85] How could ye judge that which ye understand not? Even as the Lord of being hath in His unerring Book, after speaking of the “Seal” in His exalted utterance: “Muhammad is the Apostle of God and the Seal of the Prophets,” [Qur’an 33:40] hath revealed unto all people the promise of “attainment unto the divine Presence.” To this attainment to the presence of the immortal King testify the verses of the Book, some of which We have already mentioned. The one true God is My witness! Nothing more exalted or more explicit than “attainment unto the divine Presence” hath been revealed in the Qur’an. Well is it with him that hath attained thereunto, in the day wherein most of the people, even as ye witness, have turned away therefrom.
And yet, through the mystery of the former verse [Qur’an 33:40], they have turned away from the grace promised by the latter [Qur’an 33:44], despite the fact that “attainment unto the divine Presence” in the “Day of Resurrection” is explicitly stated in the Book. It hath been demonstrated and definitely established, through clear evidences, that by “Resurrection” is meant the rise of the Manifestation of God to proclaim His Cause, and by “attainment unto the divine Presence” is meant attainment unto the presence of His Beauty in the person of His Manifestation. For verily, “No vision taketh in Him, but He taketh in all vision.” [Qur’an 6:103] Notwithstanding all these indubitable facts and lucid statements, they have foolishly clung to the term “seal,” and remained utterly deprived of the recognition of Him Who is the Revealer of both the Seal and the Beginning, in the day of His presence. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, pp. 169–170.
Baha’u’llah indicates the paramount importance of verses in the Qur’an foretelling the Last Day, when the true believers would “meet God,” i.e. attain the presence of God, as indicated by this clear statement: “Nothing more exalted or more explicit than ’attainment unto the divine Presence’ hath been revealed in the Qur’an.”
The Bab’s primary mission was to prepare the way for the coming of “Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest” – by which the Bab meant Baha’u’llah. On this key point, the Bab, in Persian Bayan 3:7, explained:
Concerning this, that what God hath revealed touching the Meeting with Him, or the Meeting with the Lord, means naught else than Meeting Him whom God shall manifest [Baha’u’llah], since God in His Essence cannot be seen.
So you can see why the Bab’s doctrine of what the Qur’an means by “meeting God” is so central to Baha’i belief, thereby demonstrating, once again, the “living legacy” of the Bab, as Baha’u’llah himself unequivocally declared:
Peruse ye the Persian Bayan revealed by Him [the Bab] Who heralded this Revelation and look at it with the eye of fairness. Verily He will guide you aright to His Path. At this moment He proclaimeth that which His tongue had formerly uttered when He was seated upon the throne of His most exalted Name. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 76.
Not only is the influence of the Bab’s doctrines on Baha’i belief explicitly referred to by Baha’u’llah, it is celebrated. The Bab’s living legacy resounds in all the more vivid and vibrant ways, given Baha’u’llah’s many tributes to the Bab.