Baha’is observe Martyrdom of the Bab
Baha’is came together to observe the Martyrdom of the Bab in Durham on Tuesday, with quiet readings, music, prayer and a few tears. July 9 marked 163 years since the Bab, which means “the gate” in Arabic, was executed in present day Tabriz, Iran.
“When the Bab came, it was to prepare people for the coming of the promised one,” said Baha’i Kathy Lee, referring to Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i faith.
The Intercommunity Baha’i Center on Revere Road drew dozens of Baha’is to a service that began with an Arabic chant, also sung in English, by Mitra Samimi. James O’Mara read the Proclamation of the Bab, followed by the Prayer of the Bab read by Catherine Davis, both drawn from various texts.
Two Baha’is dressed as the Bab’s wife, Khadijeh, and the Bab’s follower Anis Zunuzi, sat at the front of the room as the gathering listened to recordings of stories telling the last few years of the Bab’s life. The story progressed through the Bab’s arrest and execution in 1850 in then-Persia.
Baha’i Sue Rosman recited a reading about the Bab’s martyrdom and sentinels who saved his body. Rosman also shared a reading by Shoghi Effendi, in “God Passes By,” about the parallel between the ministry and death of the Bab and Jesus Christ.
A musical recording of the Lord’s Prayer was played with a slideshow of photographs of the Shrine of the Bab in Haifa, Israel, where the Bab’s remains are buried.
Tears filled the eyes of Lee as she read about the internment of the Bab’s remains, and others in the room also wiped away tears.
The Baha’i faith is a monotheistic religion with 5 million followers worldwide, 165,000 of whom live in the United States. Baha’is believe major religions are part of a progressive process of God revealing his will, with Baha’i the most recent. They believe that God created all humanity as members of one human race.
Readers O’Mara, Davis and Rosman were on the planning committee for the observance. O’Mara said they have been studying the Bab and put together the dramatization of his life.
“What the Bab expresses, for me, is how to prepare for many stages of development on this spiritual journey of life,” O’Mara said. The Bab prepared the way to Baha’u’llah, he said, explaining the connection using John the Baptist as an example in Christianity.
Davis said this week’s program made the Bab more real to her.
“We study the Bab, and now I understand his name meaning “the gate,” and how significant that is, because he’s the gate from the old to the new,” Davis said.
For more information about the Baha’i faith in the U.S., visit www.bahai.us.