The Bab, the bicentenary of whose birth Baha’is around the world will celebrate this October 29th, 2019, announced the coming of Baha’u’llah, who later wrote:
This Point [the Bab] is the focal centre of the circle of Names and marketh the culmination of the manifestations of Letters in the world of creation. Through it have appeared indications of the impenetrable Mystery, the adorned Symbol, He Who standeth revealed in the Most Great Name – a Name which is recorded in the luminous Tablet and is inscribed in the holy, the blessed, the snow-white Scroll. … Then the eternal Light of God shed its radiance, flared up in the midmost heart of the firmament of testimony and produced two Luminaries. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, pp. 101–102.
Here, the “two Luminaries” indicate the Bab and Baha’u’llah, whom Shoghi Effendi referred to as “twin Luminaries of the Baha’i Revelation.” – God Passes By, p. 237.
One Religion, Two Messengers
The Bab did far more than foretell and prepare the way for the imminent advent of Baha’u’llah. The Bab set forth laws in his books the Persian Bayan and in the Arabic Bayan, a number of which were adopted and modified by Baha’u’llah in the Baha’i book of laws, known as the Kitab-i-Aqdas, or Most Holy Book. This noteworthy fact, along with the profound doctrinal influence of the Bab, as seen in Selections from the Writings of the Bab, fully authenticates and demonstrates the truth behind Shoghi Effendi’s designation of the Bab as the co-founder of the Baha’i Faith: “… the martyr Prophet and co-founder of their Faith.” – Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 234.
Of course, Shoghi Effendi honored and acclaimed the Bab, not only as the precursor, herald and harbinger of Baha’u’llah, just as John the Baptist was for Jesus Christ, but as a messenger of God whose writings have been enshrined in the Baha’i scriptures, and whose laws, doctrines and principles form part and parcel of the Baha’i Faith and Baha’i life today.
The fact that contemporary Baha’is recognize and abide by some of the laws originally enacted by the Bab and later ratified by Baha’u’llah demonstrates the Bab’s living legacy today. In addition to this, certain doctrines, principles and ethics that the Bab set forth serve as moral and spiritual guides for Baha’is, and always will. These principles and ethics of the Bab help shape the lives, minds and characters of Baha’is worldwide, and thereby impact the lives of all those around them and the civilizations they serve. This living legacy of the Bab creates an important dimension of the Baha’i experience today.
So, on the occasion of the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, this series, “The Living Legacy of the Bab,” serves to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of the Bab to Baha’i life today. So extensive and pervasive is the Bab’s influence that it is hard to know where to begin! Here’s a brief, highly selective, overview of these signal and significant influences:
The Bab’s Laws
One of the most notable laws of the Bab that have been adopted and adapted by Baha’u’llah include, among others, the use of the Badi Calendar. Badi means “new,” “wondrous” or “unique.” Now better known as the Baha’i Calendar, the Bab instituted this new law in his Book of Names, which, at over 3,000 manuscript pages, is said to be the world’s single most lengthy scriptural text:
This work, the complete text of which is more than three thousand pages, is the largest revealed book in sacred history. It consists of nineteen unities and 361 gates (chapters). Many parts of the text are yet to be located. Some of the chapters were written during the Bab’s imprisonment in Maku, and others while He was in Chihriq. The dates are indicated in the text itself. This book approaches various categories of human beings as reflections of divine names and attributes and discusses ways that all of reality can be spiritualized through the recognition of the supreme Source of divine revelation. – Nader Saiedi, Gate of the Heart: Understanding the Writings of the Bab, p. 36.
The late Baha’i scholar Dr. Ahang Rabbani documented some 32 laws of the Bab that Baha’u’llah later incorporated into the Baha’i book of laws the Most Holy Book. (Ahang Rabbani, “Laws of the Bayan reflected in The Kitab-i-Aqdas” (2008).
The Baha’i World Centre explains:
… Baha’u’llah, referring to the fact that the Bab had made the laws of the Bayan subject to His sanction, states that He put some of the Bab’s laws into effect “by embodying them in the Kitab-i-Aqdas in different words”, while others He set aside. – The Most Holy Book, p. 213.
Baha’is consider the Bab’s revelation, together with the dispensation of Baha’u’llah, as forming a single entity, with the Babi Faith being introductory to the advent of the Baha’i Faith. This unique pairing of prophetic power has created one global Faith.
Doctrines, Principles and Ethics
Briefly, some of the doctrines that the Bab set forth, which inform current Baha’i belief and experience today, include the oneness of God; the continuity of divine guidance throughout human history, which Baha’is refer to as “progressive revelation”; the universality of divine guidance; the idea that the messages proclaimed by the various prophets and messengers of God are essentially harmonious; the necessity for spiritual purity, refinement, and perfection in all things; and so forth.
The Bab’s influence on Baha’i life today forms part and parcel of the Bab’s living legacy, although the extent to which Baha’i laws, doctrines, principles and ethics have their origin, or root, in the teachings of the Bab has yet to be fully explored and appreciated.
Briefly, the Bab is more than the herald of Baha’u’llah. So much of the Bab’s laws, doctrines, principles and ethics pervade Baha’i thought and experience today that the Bab may truly be said to be a co-founder of the Baha’i Faith – not only historically, but contemporaneously.