The Bab (băb) n., (1819-1850) literally ‘the Gate,’ the title of Siyyid Ali-Muhammad, the prophet and founder of the Babi Faith and the forerunner and herald of Baha’u’llah.
In Shiraz, Persia, during the months of May and June, 1844, a new religion emerged, centered around the Bab, a humble young merchant and mystic.
The Bab’s revolutionary movement began when eighteen spiritual seekers independently sought out and discovered the Bab’s new revelation. The Bab taught that the primary mission of his new Faith was to announce the imminent advent of another prophet, “Him whom God shall make manifest,” who would fulfill the prophecies of past religions and usher in a new global era of peace and unity.
Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, describes the Bab’s mission and station:
He was the Forerunner of One yet more mighty than Himself… And as John the Baptist had been the Herald or Gate of the Christ, so was the Bab the Herald or Gate of Baha’u’llah. – The Dawn-Breakers, p. xxx.
Once proclaimed, the Bab’s new Faith spread rapidly and widely throughout Persia. But the vested interests of the mullahs of the Persian Shi’a Muslim clerical and government establishment instantly and violently opposed and oppressed the Bab’s new revelation and its followers. They inflamed and incited the populace against the Babis, and so began one of the bloodiest and most brutal campaigns of genocidal torture and murder ever waged against the adherents of a new Faith. More than 20,000 Babis were killed, many by terrible, gruesome methods, as the Islamic clergy waged war against the Babis. Finally, in 1850 the Persian government, goaded by the clergy, executed the Bab by firing squad in the city of Tabriz.
The Bab’s teachings, which opened the gate and prepared the way for the global spread of the Baha’i teachings, encouraged all humanity to unite under the banner of one universal Faith:
Become as true brethren in the one and indivisible religion of God, free from distinction, for verily God desireth that your hearts should become mirrors unto your brethren in the Faith, so that ye find yourselves reflected in them, and they in you. This is the true Path of God, the Almighty, and He is indeed watchful over your actions. – Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 55.