On May 24th, Baha’i communities in Canada and around the world celebrate a holy day commemorating the very beginning of the Baha’i Faith, a day known to Baha’is as the Declaration of the Báb.
The Bahá’í Faith began with the mission of two divine messengers, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. The Báb was the Herald who prepared the way for the coming of Bahá’u’lláh.
The Bahá’í era dates from May 23, 1844 when, in the Iranian City of Shiraz, the Báb declared His mission. On that occasion He spoke these words to Mulla Husayn, the first person to recognize that mission: “Verily I say, I am the Báb, the Gate of God…. This night, this very hour will, in the days to come, be celebrated as one of the greatest and most significant of all festivals.”
Bahá’u’lláh refers to the Báb as ‘My former manifestation’. Following his declaration, the Báb sent Mulla Husayn to Teheran to seek out Baha’u’llah, who instantly accepted the Bab’s message, and summoned all those around him to do the same. Thus from the earliest days of the Baha’i Faith the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh were united in spirit.
We can better understand the meaning of this Baha’i holy day, characterized as this ‘greatest and most significant of all festivals’ if we reflect on how, since that period, the world has utterly changed. Baha’is believe that the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh released a creative energy that is transforming everything about human life.
The Báb wrote, “”I am a letter out of that most mighty book and a dewdrop from that limitless ocean, and, when He shall appear, My true nature, My mysteries, riddles, and intimations will become evident, and the embryo of this religion shall develop through the grades of its being and ascent, attain to the station of ‘the most comely of forms,’ and become adorned with the robe of ‘blessed be God, the Best of Creators.’”
Bahá’u’lláh wrote. “A new life is, in this age, stirring within all the peoples of the earth; and yet none hath discovered its cause or perceived its motive. This new life is apparent in such things as the explosion of human knowledge, in steps that reflect a growing consciousness of the oneness of the human family, the establishment of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, world-wide undertakings to improve agriculture and hygiene, and medical care, efforts to elevate international standards and laws, and a recognition of the need to advance the status of women and girls.
Beginnings are always special – a wedding, the birth of a baby, the appearance of some wonderful new invention or process. How much more special, then, is the anniversary of the Declaration of the Báb, which was the moment of birth for a new religious community. Now a community of approximately 5 million established throughout the world, Baha’is work hand in hand with other communities, well-wishers, partners and collaborators to fulfill the promises of the Bab and Baha’u’llah that will see humanity living together in peace and prosperity.
i.The Bab, quoted by Shoghi Effendi, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 61ii. Quoted by Abdu’l-Baha, A Traveller’s Narrative, p. 32iii. Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 195