Baha'is celebrate anniversary of their faith

May 21, 2007
The house of the Bab in Shiraz, Iran, where the Bab announced that He had come to herald a new age for humanity, was destroyed by Revolutionary Guardsmen in 1979. It was one of the most holy sites to Baha'is.

HAIFA, Israel — May 23 marks the anniversary of the night in 1844 when a young man in Persia named Siyyid Ali-Muhammad quietly announced that He was a Messenger of God, come to herald a new age for the world of humanity that would fulfill prophecy for Christians, Muslims, and followers of other religions.

For the people who are now Baha'is, it was the birth of their religion.

Baha'i communities around the world celebrate the anniversary with special devotional programs and gatherings on the evening of May 22. Believers suspend work, and children and youth take off from school.

A 25-year-old merchant at the time of His declaration in 1844, Siyyid Ali-Muhammad became known as the Bab, which is Arabic for "gate." He said His mission was to prepare the way for a universal Messenger of God who would soon appear, as predicted in the scriptures of the world's major religions. One of the followers of the Bab, later known as Baha'u'llah, announced in 1863 that He was that Messenger.

Baha'is consider both the Bab and Baha'u'llah to be founders of their faith.

The Bab's declaration of His station was made in the city of Shiraz in what is now Iran. He almost immediately attracted a large following, which governmental and religious authorities found threatening. Some 20,000 of His followers were killed, and the Bab Himself was executed by firing squad in 1850 in the northern Iranian city of Tabriz.

His remains are entombed in Haifa in a beautiful, golden-domed shrine surrounded by gardens on the side of Mount Carmel.