October 29, 2019-
Two hundred years ago,
Europe was pulling itself out of the wreckage of the Napoleonic Wars.
The young United States of America was also healing from the wounds of its second major war.
Asia was finding that Europeans, and some Americans, were interested in far more than trading goods. British outposts in Australia and India were established, towards the goal of domination of Asia. Spain had done likewise, in the Philippines. France, Portugal and the Netherlands were not far behind.
Africa was seeing its enslavement declining, but a bigger problem-European ownership of land, would soon become the order of the age. The Dutch had already established a settlement near the Cape of Good Hope.
In Persia (now Iran), a land that was seeing its own slow decline, two children were born, one in 1817, the other in 1819- with their birthdays coming a day apart. These boys would grow into men who would realize high spiritual stations. These Messengers would stand out from Their peers, require little or no formal education and stand up, however respectfully, to the increasingly corrupt and wayward clergy and royalty of the Persian Empire.
The first of the two to declare His Mission was Mirza Ali Muhammad, known to posterity as al-Bab ( “Bab” being Arabic for “gate”. He is commonly called The Bab, in English-speaking countries.) He was born in 1819, thus being honoured in the Bicentenary of His Birth, during this week.
Al-Bab was the Herald, or Forerunner, of Baha’u’llah, and declared His Mission in May, 1844, in the southern Persian city of Shiraz. He appealed to thousands who were disillusioned by the state of Persian society. Corruption and decadent behaviour were rife, across the country. It was to this scene that Al-Bab spread His message that the human race should prepare itself for a Messenger, Who would bring Teachings that would unite humanity-not by force or by deception, but by independent investigation of truth and gradual bringing together of the hearts and minds of men. This, of course, alarmed the powers that were, who, fearing the loss of their status, imprisoned al-Bab in three separate locations. None of the three served to squelch His appeal to the masses. Thus, in July, 1850, al-Bab was executed by firing squad, in the main square of Tabriz, in northwest Persia. This, likewise, failed to destroy the Faith He had established.
Baha’u’llah, likewise, would endure His own series of persecutions, to which I will refer tomorrow, on the 202nd anniversary of His birth.