July 9th is the day Baha’is around the world commemorate the Martyrdom herald, the Bab.
The Baha’i commemoration of the Martyrdom of the Bab is an incredibly important date within the Baha’i calendar, and is celebrated by believers all around the world. The Bab is the chosen name of Siyyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi, an Iranian man who was born on October 20th in 1819. When he was twenty four, in 1844, he stated that he was an interpreter of the Qur’an, and began to teach people. Three years later, his claims grew greater and greater, until he stated in 1847 that he was the ‘promised one’ that many Muslim people were waiting for. After this statement he called himself ‘Bab’, which means ‘Gate’ or ‘Door’ in Arabic.
This religious statement was not accepted by the religious authorities, although thousands of people had already joined his movement. The Shi’i clergy and the Iranian government attempted to prevent the Bab from teaching, which inevitably led to the deaths of thousands of his followers. Eventually, in 1850, when the Bab was only thirty years old, he was executed by a firing squad – although his followers state that the first time they attempted to do this, they were unsuccessful. It was only when the Bab was ready to move on from this life that he permitted the martyrdom to take place.
The founder of the Baha’i faith, Baha’u’llah, was a follower of the Bab, and considered himself to be the fulfillment of the promise made by God that one more messenger would be sent. Baha’is therefore respect the Bab greatly, and commemorate his death every year as a holy man. This is one of the nine holy days throughout the year when Baha’is do not go to work, as it is a day of rest and contemplation. To remember the Bab, Baha’is will read special prayers at midday, as that was the time that the Bab was killed.