The Anniversary of the Birth of the Báb – October 20th



The upper floor the the House of the Báb in Shiraz, Iran, where He declared Himself to His first believer in May 1844. Photo courtesy of Médiathèque bahaie at

The Birth of the Báb

Every religion has a herald, or forerunner, to prepare people for the coming of  that great Spiritual Counselor who is periodically sent by God to humankind to foster our spiritual development – that One whose divinely appointed mission it is to remind people to re-focus on what really matters, the eternal human spirit rather than the physical world, and to be helpful, kind, and loving to one another, rather than brutish, selfish and hateful, and to act with regard to one another responsibly and with justice in all aspects of life.

The Báb is that Herald for Bahá’ís – for those who recognize Baha’u’llah as the Creator’s guiding Voice and Spirit for this age. Today is the anniversary of the Báb’s birth, according to the Gregorian calendar, the date on which He was born in 1819 in the city of Shiráz, Iran.

The Lord acts gradually to nurture His creatures, in the spiritual world as well as in the physical one. In the physial world, the sun rises gradually to its zenith each day, gently warming the earth. If it sprang suddenly to its full noon-day potential, the sudden impact of its effect would be harmful rather than beneficial to the physical condition of the living creatures and plants of the world. In a similar way, God prepares the human heart for the renewal of His Word.

The Báb was God’s chosen Agent to play this pivotal role. His unique mission was to proclaim to the world the conclusion, with the end of Muhammad’s dispensation, of that great and long cycle of religious prophecy that foretold a time in the distant future when the peoples of the world would live together in harmony and unity, when the lion would lie down with the lamb; and to proclaim to the world that this long prophesied time had arrived, and that He, the Báb, was announcing to the world that the time for this great figure was imminent, that One whom He referred to as He Whom God Shall Make Manifest, that One referred to by many names in different religious traditions, such as Everlasting Father, the Lord of Hosts, Christ returned in the Glory of the Father, the return of the Imám Husayn, the descent of the Spirit of God, the Sháh-Bahrám, the reincarnation of Krishna, and the Fifth Buddha.

Islamic tradition expected the return of a Promised One, the Báb. It called Him the Qa’im. The tradition says this: “Knowledge is but twenty and seven letters. All that the Prophets have revealed are two letters thereof. No man thus far knows more than these two letters. But when the Qa’im shall arise, He will cause the remaining twenty and five letters to be made manifest.”

This tradition testifies well to the station of the Báb, who ranks as one of the independent Manifestations of God’s authority. But in relation to the station of Bahá’u’lláh, He for whose purpose the Báb came into existence, the Báb Himself testifies with these words:

“… I Myself am, verily, but a ring upon the hand of Him Whom God shall make manifest.”

People do not easily heed the word of God. The material world and its vices make a strong claim upon the souls of men. The Báb’s divine call was repugnant to their desires and expectations. They opposed Him and His followers. They ignored their traditions that foretold His coming. They clung to their vanity and their material privileges. They forgot God’s message of love and answered with hatred.

His message caused a storm of protest in the Islamic world. The Báb and thousands of His followers gave their lives in the service of God’s redemptive plan for humanity. They magnificently fulfilled their role. They prepared a heedless, ignorant, and abased humanity for the healing revival of God’s Word through the revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. They bore the main brunt of the ferocious opposition to the new Announcement, and by doing so, perhaps made it possible for Bahá’u’lláh’s own ministry to be more productive and creative than it might otherwise have been. The Báb’s ministry, ennobled by the courage and consecration of those who recognized His station, constitute the early years of the glorious and heroic age of our Faith. Their devotion lives in our hearts as both inspiration and example.

It is fitting for us to join together to observe His birth and to share companionship and food.

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