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History 1 - The Báb (1819-1850)

The Shrine of the Báb in Haifa, Israel
© Rocky Grove 2004

History 1 - The Báb (1819-1850)

The Báb was the title assumed by Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad, who was the Founder of the Bábí Faith and the Forerunner of Bahá’u’lláh. He was born in Shiraz in 1819, and later worked as a merchant, where he gained a high reputation for fairness. On 22 May 1844 he announced himself to be the Promised One of Islam. As the Báb’s message spread throughout the region, attracting many followers, his doctrines inflamed the Shia clergy, and his followers were subjected to brutal persecution and massacres. The Báb was imprisoned from 1847 to 1850. Finally, he was brought before a firing squad on 9 July 1850, and was executed along with one of his followers.

1.
What does the title ‘Báb’ mean?
The Message
The Promise
The Trumpet
The Gate
The Báb made the declaration of His mission to his first disciple, Mullá Husayn, in Shiraz on the night before 23 May 1844. He claimed to be the ‘gate’ to the Hidden Imam and His followers became known as ‘Bábís’.
2.
Which British newspaper, published on 19 November 1845, made the first reference in any Western publication of the arrest and torture of the Báb’s followers in Iran?
The Times
The London Illustrated News
The Guardian
The Daily Telegraph
The article was headed: ‘MAHOMETAN SCHISM’ and describes how four Bábís were brutally tortured, including having their beards set on fire and their faces blackened, and having a ring put through their nose so that they could be led through the streets like cattle.
3.
Who was a foremost poet in Persia and was also a Letter of the Living?
Rumi
Mullá Husayn
Táhirih
Zaynáb
Táhirih was born into a prominent clerical family in Qazvin; she gained a considerable reputation for scholarship. She became a Letter of the Living soon after the Báb made His declaration. She travelled across Persia, boldly proclaiming the coming of the Báb and his teaching on the equality of men and women. She was eventually martyred.
4.
What colour turban did the Báb wear to signify that He was a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad?
Green
White
Red
Blue
The Báb wore a green turban. When still only a small child, he spent a lot of time in prayer. He said that he wanted to be like his “Grandfather”.
5.
The Bábís were attacked by government troops on a number of occasions, after they had sought refuge from persecution. One of the most well-known locations was at Tabarsi (near Barfurush). What kind of place was this?
The home town of the Báb
A mountain retreat
An urban compound
An Islamic shrine
More than 300 Bábís sought refuge at the Shrine of Shaykh Ahmad Tabarsí where they were besieged by a large army of government troops. The Bábís held out from 12 October 1848 until 9 May 1849. The siege ended when they responded to a false truce and they were massacred. The fort was pillaged and razed to the ground.
6.
What was the name given to the first 18 followers of the Báb who recognised Him soon after His declaration?
The Disciples of the Báb
The Letters of the Living
The Hands of the Cause
The Apostles of the Báb
The Letters of the Living (Hurúf-i-Hayy) were the first 18 followers of the Báb who independently searched for and found the Báb. After they had gathered in Shiraz they were sent throughout Persia and beyond to spread the Báb’s teachings. Within four years, at least nine of the Letters had been martyred.
7.
Where was the Báb when He revealed most of His Writings?
In Shiraz
Detained in Tabriz
Imprisoned in Maku and Chehriq
On pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina
The Báb was imprisoned in these two isolated fortresses in north-eastern Iran from July 1847 to June 1850. He wrote the Persian Bayán comprising 8000 verses at Maku and His Arabic Bayán, a smaller work was revealed at Chehriq during the last few months of His life.
8.
The Báb and one of the Letters of the Living made a pilgrimage to Mecca. What did the Báb do while he was there?
He performed new rituals, rather than the traditional ones
He wore black robes instead of the traditional white
He held on to the door of the Ka’aba, and announced that he was the Promised One
He challenged the Sharif of Mecca to a public debate
Some people became followers as a result of this announcement. Afterwards the Báb sent a letter to the Sharif, who did not read it at the time.
9.
In 1850 the Grand Vizier of the Shah ordered the execution of the Báb in Tabriz. He was to be shot by a troop of 750 riflemen. After the first attempt to shoot the Báb he apparently disappeared. Where was he found?
Hiding behind a wall
Outside the city
Being carried away by his followers
Back in his cell
When the smoke cleared, the bullets had severed the ropes to which the Báb and his disciple had been suspended. After a frantic search the Báb was found in his cell, where he had just finished the conversation with his secretary which had been interrupted earlier in the day.
10.
When he was a young boy, why was the Báb sent home from school?
The other boys were bullying him
The teacher said that the boy knew more than him
He was too ill to concentrate
His family needed him to help at home
The Báb possessed innate knowledge and was, for instance, able to explain the meaning of passages in the Qur’an to his teacher. Nevertheless, his family insisted that he should go back to school.

 

Author:  National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom

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