When the Bab was martyred and killed, he was only 30 years old. He was charged with apostasy and shot by order of the Prime Minister of the Persian Empire. Apostasy is the abandonment or rejection of a religious belief. It should be noted that Prophets often have short lifespans. Christ died on the cross at 33, after teaching his new Faith for only three years. For some reason, the leaders of humanity often react badly to the founders of the world’s great Faiths and persecute them terribly. Abraham and Moses faced prison, exile, ridicule, and persecution. Krishna and Buddha suffered derision and official censure. Society’s leaders crucified Christ; made war on Muhammad; tortured, exiled, and imprisoned Baha’u’llah; and executed The Bab.
Initially, only a few people learned about the Bab and his teachings, but then thousands and tens of thousands began to become Babis, breaking away from their society’s traditions and challenging the authority of its leaders. The rapid growth of the Babi Faith challenged the underpinnings of Persian society. Persia’s clerics and rulers did not react kindly to this new religious development, to say the least.
Just six years after the Bab’s announcement of his new Faith in 1844, the Qajar government ordered the execution of this young, intensely charismatic messenger—who was only thirty years old at the time. The government and the Islamic clerics had already gruesomely tortured and killed more than 20,000 of the Bab’s ardent followers during the short, intense six-year duration of the Babi movement. Because the Bab called for revolutionary changes to the prevailing system of religious belief and governance, and because he taught the unity of all religions, the authorities feared that this dynamic new challenge and its growing support would soon sweep them from power.
Despite wholesale genocide against its followers, more and more people continued to become Babis. In 1850, frightened of its growing influence and desperate to crush the Babi movement, the authorities decided to execute The Bab. When they charged him with apostasy—the same exact charge the Pharisees levelled against Jesus—the Bab refused to repent or refute his teachings, calmly accepting the consequences.
Some accounts state that the Bab and one of his companions were suspended on a wall where they were shot by a large firing squad. But, when the smoke cleared after the first firing of bullets, the Bab was missing. It is said that he was found back in his prison room finishing dictation to his secretary. There are several other interpretations of this miracle story. Even so, they all agree that the Bab survived the first firing squad and was killed by the second.
For many years after the Bab’s death, his followers secretly transported his body from place to place to avoid the desecration of his remains. The Bab was finally laid to rest at the Shrine of the Bab in Haifa on the middle terrace of the Baha’i Gardens.
Baha’is commemorate the Martyrdom of the Bab with prayers and scripture. Specifically, the Baha’i scripture called Tablets of Visitation. This scripture signifies the passing of an important figure.
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