July 10, 2015, Prescott- Today, we Baha’is observed the 165th anniversary of the Martyrdom of al-Bab. On July 10, 1850, the Persian government, at the behest of powerful clerics, conducted the execution of Siyyid Ali-Muhammad, given the title al-Bab “The Gate”, in Arabic.
Briefly, He was Forerunner to Baha’u’llah, the Founder of our Faith. Al-Bab challenged the orthodoxy of Islam, noting how far it had strayed from the Teachings of Muhammad. He called for the purification of the human heart, as an essential prerequisite to the dawning of an Age, in which the human race would become unified, and would enjoy the Kingdom of God on Earth, as promised by Jesus the Christ.
This won Him the allegiance of thousands of Persians and Arabs, and the admiring notice of many Europeans. It also won Him the enmity of those whose vested interests were threatened by such a call to change.
The execution did not proceed without a hitch. Al-Bab warned his captors that He would not depart this life until He had completed certain matters, with his secretary. They took Him out to the killing plaza, anyway, and He was joined by a young man, who insisted he be allowed to die, alongside al-Bab. The firing squad commander, who was Christian, pleaded with al-Bab that he not be forced to complete the execution.
Al-Bab responded, “Follow your instructions, and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you from your perplexity.” Thus did it transpire, that the volleys were fired, and when the smoke had cleared, al-Bab and his devotee were found, not dead on the ground, but alive, and with al-Bab in a room with His secretary, completing His business!
Once this was finished, al-Bab and the young follower submitted to again being escorted to the execution zone. This time, a Muslim commander ordered his regiment to carry out the volley. The bodies of the al-Bab and His devotee were fused together, with only their heads untouched by the bullets.
With the complicity of the prison yard’s guards, some other followers of al-Bab spirited the remains out of the area. These were carried, from place to place, in secrecy, for 59 years, until ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the eldest son of Baha’u’llah, placed them in a vault, in a crypt on the slopes of Mount Carmel, near Haifa, in what is now Israel, in 1909. The remains so rest, today, in the magnificent structure, known as the Shrine of Al-Bab, or “The Bab”, as He is called, in English.
I view this series of events as further evidence of the re-appearance of Divine Light in the world, just as it appeared at the time of Christ, before that, in the times of Moses, Krishna and Buddha, and after that, in the days when Muhmmad walked the Earth. That mankind chose half-measures, in embracing the Teachings of these Sacred Beings, does not take away from the efficacy of those Truths. God is nothing if not patient, though. He certainly has been so with me, and is no less so with the human race as whole.