For many in Iran and around the world, Muslim, Iranian or not , The Bab is believed to be the awaited Qaim; in the 1840s many of His immediate followers were truly pious learned men of Islam who actively awaited His appearance and gladly gave their lives in His Path in thousands.
This period in Iranian History from both a religious and social point of view is today recognized as a significant beginning of a new era for both Iran and the world.
This day , on 9 July 1850, at noon, the Bab was put to death by firing squad in the public square of Tabriz, Iran.
Six years earlier, He had declared that He was a messenger of God whose mission was to prepare the way for the imminent arrival of the Promised One of all religions who would come to establish a new age of peace and prosperity in the world. In 1863, Baha’u’llah announced publicly that He was that Promised One.
The Bab attracted tens of thousands of people to His teachings, thousands of whom were killed in persecutions that swept Iran. Finally, authorities had the Bab Himself put to death in an attempt to stamp out the new religion.
A half century after His execution, His sacred remains were brought to Haifa for entombment on Mount Carmel. Today His shrine is one of the most famous landmarks in Israel, and the Baha’i Faith is established in virtually every country.
The anniversary of the martyrdom of The Bab is one of nine holy days when Baha’is suspend work. It is commemorated with prayers and special programs at noon on 9 July.
For an historical account of the execution of the Bab, please see here.
The Bab was immediately beset by severe persecutions by religious and government forces who saw Him as a threat to their authority. He was exiled to the mountains of Adhirbayjan, imprisoned in the fortresses of Mah-Ku, and Chiriq, and eventually executed on July 9, 1850 in the city of Tabriz in northern Iran. The story of His execution was recorded by several Western journalists. Here is an account of the events surrounding the Martyrdom of the Bab, paraphrased from "Release the Sun", by Mr. William Sears.
The Bab, imprisoned in His cell in Shiraz, was to be taken to the authorities for the purpose of signing His death-warrant. When the guard came to take Him away He was in conversation with His secretary giving instructions. The Bab rebuked the guard saying that He was not yet done and that until He was, no power on earth could silence Him. The guard took Him nevertheless and His death-warrant was signed. He was placed in the charge of Sam Khan, commander of the regiment that was to execute Him. Sam Khan had become increasingly affected by his Prisoner and spoke with him privately telling Him that he was a Christian and had no ill-will against Him. Sam Khan said "If Your Cause be the Cause of Truth then enable me to free myself from the obligation to shed your blood." The Bab replied, "Follow your instructions and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you of your perplexity."
The Bab and a young companion were suspended from a nail (see cross in picture) by ropes for execution by a firing squad of three ranks of 250 rifles each; a total of 750 rifles. Sam Khan, unable to avoid his duty, gave the order to fire. When the smoke cleared, the crowd of 10,000 persons was amazed to find the Bab's companion standing, alive and unhurt, the ropes severed by the bullets. The Bab was nowhere to be seen. He was found, back in His cell, finishing His business with His secretary. The Bab then said to the guard, "I have finished My conversation. You may now proceed to fulfill your duty." The guard, remembering the rebuke he had received earlier, resigned his post, shaken to the core and cut himself off from the enemies of the Bab.
Sam Khan, likewise removed himself and his regiment from this duty declaring, "I refuse ever again to associate myself and my regiment with any act which involves the least injury to the Bab." A colonel of the bodyguard then volunteered to carry out the execution. The Bab was again taken to the execution ground and suspended as before. Again the rifles fired. This time the bodies of the Bab and His companion were shattered by the blast. The bodies were thrown at the edge of a moat outside the city and guarded so that none of His followers could claim His remains. Two days after the execution His followers were able to recover the bodies, hid them in a specially made wooden case, and kept them in a place of safety. Today the body of the Bab is interred in the Shrine of the Bab at the Baha'i World Centre at Mount Carmel, in Haifa, Israel.
After His Martyrdom "No less than twenty thousand of His followers were put to death with such barbarous cruelty as to evoke the warm sympathy and the unqualified admiration of a number of Western writers, diplomats, travelers, and scholars, some of whom were moved to record them in their books and diaries."
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