The Báb – The Prophet-Herald
The Báb (Gate) was born as Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad in Shiraz, Iran in 1819. As a child, He showed signs of spiritual depth and wisdom beyond His years. At the age of only 24, the Báb announced Himself as a prophet or messenger of God during a period of intense messianic expectations in Iran. He challenged the thinking of His time by forbidding violence and holy war (jihad), recognizing the equality of women and encouraging science and education. Invoking scriptural prophecy, He claimed to be the herald come to announce and prepare the way for another messenger of God who would usher in the age of peace and justice promised in all religions.
After eighteen disciples, including one woman, had independently found their way to Him and accepted His claim, the Báb sent them out to spread His teachings. Within a short time, hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life, including some well-known religious leaders, were attracted to His message. Feeling threatened by His success, the clergy declared Him a heretic and instigated a wave of persecution during which thousands of His followers were tortured and killed.
The Báb Himself was confined in isolated fortresses for three years before being executed in a public square in the city of Tabriz, Iran, on 9 July 1850, an event that was witnessed by some ten thousand spectators and reported in the western press. Interrupting a conversation during which He was giving final instructions to one of His followers, guards took the Báb from His cell and suspended Him by ropes against the wall forming one side of the square. Three rows of 250 soldiers each fired in succession, and when the smoke and dust had settled, the Báb was nowhere to be seen. After a frantic search, He was found in His cell, completing his instructions. When He had finished, He calmly announced to the guards that they could now carry out their mission. The first regiment refused to repeat their act, so another one had to be summoned. This time, the bullets reached their target.