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Baha'is Observe Holy Day on Saturday, July 9

July 7, 2005 – The Baha'is of the Virgin Islands will join believers around the world on Saturday, July 9 around noon to observe the anniversary of the martyrdom of one of the central figures of their faith, the Bab.
Mirza Ali-Muhammad, a twenty-five year old Persian youth, took the title of the Bab (means the "Gate") and was the prophet-herald of the Baha'i Faith. He proclaimed that the purpose of his mission was the preparation of the world for the appearance of an even greater prophet who would reveal the will of God for a new age. While the Bab revealed and inaugurated an independent faith, he made it clear that his central purpose was to pave the way for "Him Whom God will make manifest." From 1844 until his death in 1850, the Bab urged his followers to develop exemplary spiritual and moral characters and to prepare themselves for the advent of the Lord of the Age.
As Persians from every walk of life eagerly responded to the Bab's religion, ecclesiastical and secular leaders became alarmed. The Bab was jailed and exiled to a remote mountain prison, but his influence only grew day by day. The populace was encouraged by a fanatical clergy to attack the adherents of this new movement, and approximately 20,000 followers of the Bab were killed for their faith. Convinced, finally, that only the execution of the Bab himself would quell the burgeoning religious movement, the civil authorities, at the instigation of the clergy, approved the death sentence. On July 9, 1850, the Bab, then thirty years old, was martyred at noon by a firing squad in a public square in Tabriz, Persia, while thousands of people looked on.
The story is significant and considered a "miracle". The Bab and a young follower were suspended by two ropes against a wall in the courtyard of the Tabriz army barracks. More than 10,000 crowded onto the roof tops of the barracks and houses which overlooked the square. A regiment of 750 Armenian soldiers arranged in three files of 250 each opened fire in three successive volleys. The smoke from the gunpowder was so dense that the entire courtyard was obscured. When the smoke and dust cleared, the Bab could not be found and the army and onlookers proclaimed that he had ascended into the skies. The balls had broken from the ropes which bounded him and he was later found in his cell giving his final instructions to one of his followers. The guards recalled that before the execution, the Bab warned that no "earthly power" could silence him until he had finished all that he had to say. When the guards found him, he finished his instructions and the Bab calmly announced, "Now you may proceed to fulfill your intention".
This time the Bab and his follower were brought out for execution. The Armenian troops refused to fire, and a Muslim firing squad was assembled and ordered to shoot. The bodies of the pair were shattered, their bones and fleshed mingled into one mass, but their faces were untouched. The Bab's last words to the crowd were: "O wayward generation! Had you believed in Me every one of you would have followed the example of this youth, who stood in rank above most of you, and would have willingly sacrificed himself in My path. The day will come when you will have recognized Me; that day I shall have ceased to be with you."
This desperate attempt to annihilate the mission of the Bab failed, for in 1863, Baha'u'llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha'i Faith, whose name means "The Glory of God," announced that he was the one whose advent the Bab had foretold. He taught the oneness of God, the oneness of religion, and the oneness of mankind. His teachings promulgate the equality of men and women, the essential harmony of science and religion, economic justice based upon spiritual principles, the independent investigation of truth, the urgent need for the elimination of all forms of prejudice, universal compulsory education, an international, auxiliary language, and a world government for the maintenance of a lasting peace.
The remains of the Bab are interred at the Baha'i World Center in Haifa, Israel in a beautiful, gold-domed shrine on Mount Carmel. The anniversary of his martyrdom is observed each year by Baha'is around the world.
For more information on the Baha'i Faith call: 340-774-3648 or email info@vi.bahai.org or visit the website at www.vi.bahai.org. On St. Thomas activities are scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 9 at the Baha'i National Center – 129 Contant. Call 774-3648 for directions. On St. Croix, the Holy Day will be observed at noon at the home of Doug Covey; call 772-3827 for directions and information. On St. John, the Holy Day activity will be celebrated at the home of Idalia and Tony Scimeca; call 776-6316. The public is invited.

Editor's note: This article was prepared by Tanya Ward Benjamin, national public information officer for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the Virgin Islands. Call 776-2105 or 690-4826 if you have questions about this article.

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