Mírzá 'Alí Muhammad, known as the Báb (Gate), who in May 1844, at the age of twenty-five, claimed Himself the Herald come to prepare the way for the coming of "One greater than Himself" (Bahá'u'lláh). (Remember the relationship between John the Baptist & Christ.) Baha'is revere the Bab as a Manifestation of God and consider his writings are God's word revealed.

Báb is an Arabic word which means "gate" or "door" and has been adopted into the main Persian language, Farsi. This word is significant both to Shi'ih Muslims and to members of the Baha'i Faith.

In the "Twelver" branch of Shi'ih Islam, the term refers to a series of intermediaries who represented the hidden Twelfth Imam.

The Shi'ih have always been the minority branch of Islam, and all of their first eleven leaders were killed by the numerically stronger faction of Sunni Islam. While still a child, the Twelfth Imam was believed to have been taken to a concealed location, to avoid the untimely end which the previous Imams had met at the hands of their persecutors. This is referred to as the "lesser occultation," and started in 260 A.H. (874 C.E.). It was believed that communication with him then passed through a messenger known as the Bab.

There was a succession of four such intermediaries, and then in 329 A.H. (944 C.E.) contact with the Twelfth Imam was lost. This is referred to as the "greater occultation." The Shi'ih believe that the hidden Imam is still alive in hiding, and will reappear at the Day of Judgment when the world is about to end. Those who believe in the four Gates believe that the "Fifth Gate" will appear just prior to the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam.

In the 1840s (C.E.), when the message of the Báb began to spread in Persia, many interpreted the title he had chosen as implying that he claimed to be the "Fifth Gate." This misunderstanding probably helped his movement's early growth, by muting some of the potential persecution from Persia's Islamic religious leaders. Later, when it became clear that the Bab claimed to be the bearer of a new Revelation directly from God, the Muslim clergy instigated ferocious attacks against his followers. The Báb was imprisoned in a series of increasingly remote locations, and finally executed, a mere six years after he had first proclaimed his message.

(Thanks to Gritchka for reminding me of this word's Arabic origins.)


It would seem that the Bab did not see himself as a fore-runner in the sense of John the Baptist. As far as the Bab was concerned he seems to have believed that his revelation would last between 1511 and 2001 years from his declaration. Those who consider themselves "Him-whom-God-shall-make-manifest" based their belief on a passage in the Arabic Bayan, Wáhid VI, BÂB 15, which runs as follows: “In the year Nine ye will attain unto all good.”

فلتقو من انتم کلکم اجمعون اذا تسمعن ذکر من تظهره باسم القائم و لتراقبن فوق القائم والقیوم ثم فی سنة التسع کّل خیر تدرکون

There is nothing in the passage to invalidate the limit of the time fixed by the Primal Point in the Bayan for the appearance of Him-Whom-God-Will-Make-Manifest, a minimum period of 1511 years, and a maximum period of 2001 years, from the time of the Primal Point.
Shoghi Effendi, on the testimony of Sir Abbas Effendi, states that "no less than twenty-five persons had the presumption to declare themselves to be the promised One foretold by the Primal Point."

Under the terms of the Primal Point's Testamentary dispositions addressed to him Subh-i-Azal was to bequeath the command to One like unto him if such an One were to appear in his days. In default thereof Subh-i-Azal was to render up the Command to God and to ordain witnesses to maintain the law after him. J.R.A.S July 1892, P. 478; See section 5.8.7 for the Primal Point's Testamentary disposition.

The Primal Point gave the same rank and titles to Subh-i-Azal as to himself. Therefore, it is the considered opinion of this author that, the pretensions of all these pretenders Baha including, amounted to self-condemnation. Accordingly Subh-i-Azal passed judgment on them and treated them as imposters.

Mirza Jani speaks of a number of 'claimants' in general, and refers to two of them in particular, namely, Zabih and Basir, whom he identifies with John the Baptist and the Imam Husayn, foretold by the Primal Point, according to Mirza Jani in his communication addressed by him to Mulla Shaykh Ali surnamed "Azim". Mirza Jani in New History PP. 384-394.

Mirza Jani was mistaken in connecting these two "claimants" with the prediction contained in the Primal Point's communication to Azim. The Point’s prediction in the communication applied to the two Wahids, namely, Sayyid Yahya of Darab, who was killed in the Niriz upheaval and to Mirza Yahya Subh-i Azal.

See the next section "The Two Wahids".

Those who considered themselves "Him-whom-God-Shall-Make-Manifest" based their belief on their calling on :

1: A passage in the Arabic Bayan, Wáhid VI, BÂB 15, which runs as follows: "In the year Nine ye will attain unto all good." This passage was misinterpreted by these folk as meaning that a major manifestation was imminent within nine years from the time of the Primal Point.

There is nothing in this passage to invalidate the limit of the time fixed by the Primal Point in the Bayan for the advent of Him-Whom-God-Will-Make-Manifest a minimum period of 1511 years or a maximum period of 2001 years from the time of the Primal Point;

Mirza Jani speaks of a number of such pretenders and their pretensions and emphatically refers to them as 'claimants' and to their pretensions as "manifestations".

In particular he speaks of "two manifestations" which the Reminder i.e. the Primal Point and Mulla Shaykh Ali surnamed Azim had foretold, saying "After Me there will be two manifestations, one the manifestation of Husayn, and the other the manifestation of Yahya, and neither will remain in the womb more than nine month." Mirza Jani in New History, appendix II, P.394.

2:The Point's communication to Azim, which was meant for "the two Wahids", and which the pretenders appropriated wrongly to themselves. See the Primal Point’s communication to Azim

This passage proves that Sayyid Ali Muhammad himself did not know the country in which Him-Whom-God-Will-Make-Make-Manifest is to appear. How can Sayyid Ali Muhammad be a herald or forerunner of, or co-founder with, Baha as alleged?



Bab (?), n. [Per.]

Lit., gate; -- a title given to the founder of Babism, and taken from that of Bab-ud-Din, assumed by him.


© Webster 1913.

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