Sunday, October 17, 2010

Commemorating the Birth of the Bab

In The Kitab-i-Iqan, The Book of Certitude, Baha'u'llah answers questions
posed by Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad, an uncle of the Bab. These are related to religious expectations surrounding the advent of the Bab. First Baha'u'llah explains certain realities pertaining to the history of various Manifestations of the past, and to the Manifestations of God collectively, (including some allusions to His own Station). Baha'u'llah then turns specifically, in The Kitab-i-Iqan, to the truth of the Bab's identity with references such as these:

"God's wondrous Manifestation" (p.201, para.221)

"Gem of Immortality" (p.215, para.210)

"Him Who is the Source of Purity," "Cloud of divine mercy" (p.216, para.240)

"Revealer and Author," "Sun of divine bounty," "divine Soul," "holy Breath" (p.221, para.245)

"most mighty Sovereignty," "His divine Presence," "the Beloved" (p.222, para.247)

"Sun of divine Revelation" (two times, p.223, para.248 and para.249)

"Well-Beloved" (p.224, para.249)

"the All-Glorious" (two times, p.224, para.249 and p.226, para.251)

"resplendent Light," "First Leader of all mankind" (p.227, para.252)

"The Bab, the Lord, the most exalted," (p.229, para.256)

"eternal Beauty" (two times, p.230, para 257 and p.234, para.263)

"the Revealer" (p.232, para.260)

"Sadrih of the Ridvan of God," "Beauty of God" (p.233, para.262)

"Sadrih of Blessedness" (p.234, para.262)

"Revealer of Being," "Manifestation of the Adored," "Essence of Essences," "Sea of Seas," "divine Luminary," "eternal Sun," "Ocean of divine wisdom" (p.234, para.263)

"Beauty of the Merciful" (p.238, para.267)

"celestial Herald," "the Truth" (p.239, para.268)

"the Mihdi" (p.240, para. 269)

"Youth from Bani-Hashim," "Hashimite Light," "divine Manifestation" (p.241, para.270)

"the immaculate Essence of knowledge and of holy utterance," "the Essence of Truth" (p.242, para.270)

"Revealer of the divine mysteries," "Expounder of the hidden and ancient wisdom," "the Qa'im" (p.243, para.272)

"the Primal Point," "the most exalted Word" (p.252, para.279)

"Essence of divine virtue" (p.254, para.282)


In these two passages the Bab refers to His own birth:

Through the revelation of Thy grace, O Lord, Thou didst call Me into being on a night such as this,[1] and lo, I am now lonely and forsaken in a mountain. Praise and thanksgiving be unto Thee for whatever conformeth to Thy pleasure within the empire of heaven and earth. And all sovereignty is Thine, extending beyond the uttermost range of the kingdoms of Revelation and Creation.

Thou didst create Me, O Lord, through Thy gracious favour and didst protect Me through Thy bounty in the darkness of the womb and didst nourish Me, through Thy loving-kindness, with life-giving blood. After having fashioned Me in a most comely form, through Thy tender providence, and having perfected My creation through Thine excellent handiwork and breathed Thy Spirit into My body through Thine infinite mercy and by the revelation of Thy transcendent unity, Thou didst cause Me to issue forth from the world of concealment into the visible world, naked, ignorant of all things, and powerless to achieve aught. Thou didst then nourish Me with refreshing milk and didst rear Me in the arms of My parents with manifest compassion, until Thou didst graciously acquaint Me with the realities of Thy Revelation and apprised Me of the straight path of Thy Faith as set forth in Thy Book. And when I attained full maturity Thou didst cause Me to bear allegiance unto Thine inaccessible Remembrance, and enabled Me to advance towards the designated station, where Thou didst educate Me through the subtle operations of Thy handiwork and didst nurture Me in that land with Thy most gracious gifts. When that which had been preordained in Thy Book came to pass Thou didst cause Me, through Thy kindness, to reach Thy holy precincts and didst suffer Me, through Thy tender mercy, to dwell within the court of fellowship, until I discerned therein that which I witnessed of the clear tokens of Thy mercifulness, the compelling evidences of Thy oneness, the effulgent splendours of Thy majesty, the source of Thy supreme singleness, the heights of Thy transcendent sovereignty, the signs of Thy peerlessness, the manifestations of Thine exalted glory, the retreats of Thy sanctity, and whatsoever is inscrutable to all but Thee.

[1 Refers to the Báb's birthday on the first day of the month of Muharram, 1235 A.H. (October 20, 1819).]

(The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, pp. 173-174)

Thou art aware, O My God, that since the day Thou didst call Me into being out of the water of Thy love till I reached fifteen years of age I lived in the land which witnessed My birth [Shiraz]. Then Thou didst enable Me to go to the seaport [Bushihr] where for five years I was engaged in trading with the goodly gifts of Thy realm and was occupied in that with which Thou hast favoured Me through the wondrous essence of Thy loving-kindness. I proceeded therefrom to the Holy Land [Karbila] where I sojourned for one year. Then I returned to the place of My birth. There I experienced the revelation of Thy sublime bestowals and the evidences of Thy boundless grace. I yield Thee praise for all Thy goodly gifts and I render Thee thanksgiving for all Thy bounties. Then at the age of twenty-five I proceeded to thy sacred House [Mecca], and by the time I returned to the place where I was born, a year had elapsed. There I tarried patiently in the path of Thy love and beheld the evidences of Thy manifold bounties and of Thy loving-kindness until Thou didst ordain for Me to set out in Thy direction and to migrate to Thy presence. Thus I departed therefrom by Thy leave, spending six months in the land of Sad [Isfahan] and seven months in the First Mountain [Maku], where Thou didst rain down upon Me that which beseemeth the glory of Thy heavenly blessings and befitteth the sublimity of Thy gracious gifts and favours. Now, in My thirtieth year, Thou beholdest Me, O My God, in this Grievous Mountain [Chihriq] where I have dwelt for one whole year.

Praise be unto Thee, O My Lord, for all times, heretofore and hereafter; and thanks be unto Thee, O My God, under all conditions, whether of the past or the future. The gifts Thou hast bestowed upon Me have reached their fullest measure and the blessings Thou hast vouchsafed unto Me have attained their consummation. Naught do I now witness but the manifold evidences of Thy grace and loving-kindness, Thy bounty and gracious favours, Thy generosity and loftiness, Thy sovereignty and might, Thy splendour and Thy glory, and that which befitteth the holy court of Thy transcendent dominion and majesty and beseemeth the glorious precincts of Thine eternity and exaltation.

(The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, pp. 180-182)


Shoghi Effendi begins his primary exposition on the significance of the Bab thus:

Dearly-beloved friends! That the Bab, the inaugurator of the Babi Dispensation, is fully entitled to rank as one of the self-sufficient Manifestations of God, that He has been invested with sovereign power and authority, and exercises all the rights and prerogatives of independent Prophethood, is yet another fundamental verity which the Message of Baha'u'llah insistently proclaims and which its followers must uncompromisingly uphold. That He is not to be regarded merely as an inspired Precursor of the Baha'i Revelation, that in His person, as He Himself bears witness in the Persian Bayan, the object of all the Prophets gone before Him has been fulfilled, is a truth which I feel it my duty to demonstrate and emphasize. We would assuredly be failing in our duty to the Faith we profess and would be violating one of its basic and sacred principles if in our words or by our conduct we hesitate to recognize the implications of this root principle of Baha'i belief, or refuse to uphold unreservedly its integrity and demonstrate its truth. Indeed the chief motive actuating me to undertake the task of editing and translating Nabil's immortal Narrative has been to enable every follower of the Faith in the West to better understand and more readily grasp the tremendous implications of His exalted station and to more ardently admire and love Him.
There can be no doubt that the claim to the twofold station ordained for the Bab by the Almighty, a claim which He Himself has so boldly advanced, which Baha'u'llah has repeatedly affirmed, and to which the Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Baha has finally given the sanction of its testimony, constitutes the most distinctive feature of the Baha'i Dispensation. It is a further evidence of its uniqueness, a tremendous accession to the strength, to the mysterious power and authority with which this holy cycle has been invested. Indeed the greatness of the Bab consists primarily, not in His being the divinely-appointed Forerunner of so transcendent a Revelation, but rather in His having been invested with the powers inherent in the inaugurator of a separate religious Dispensation, and in His wielding, to a degree unrivaled by the Messengers gone before Him, the scepter of independent Prophethood.

(Shoghi Effendi,
The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 123)