As Baha’is, we believe that the foundation of all the divine religions is one. Ever so often, we’ll be putting up posts for our ‘Changeless Faith Series’, in which we look closer at some of the similarities between the divine religions, in an attempt to more fully understand what Baha’u’llah meant when he said “This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future”.
Why do the Prophets of God go through hardships and, in some cases, even martyrdom? Perhaps the real question is: why has humanity persecuted every single Manifestation or Prophet of God throughout history? As a history major with a keen interest in both religion and history, these are two questions that have always fascinated me to the point of utter wonderment.
There are only two Manifestations that we know of in recorded history who have suffered martyrdom: Jesus Christ and the Báb. Apart from this one very important similarity between Jesus Christ and the Báb, there are numerous other similarities between them, with regards to their lives, their ministries and the events surrounding their Martyrdom.
These are just a few of the many!
1. Their Youth
Both of them were young when they declared and began their dispensation – the Báb was 25 and Christ was about 27. Both The Báb and Jesus Christ were also martyred at a very young age. Jesus Christ was about 33 at the time of His Martyrdom, according to most sources. The Báb, born on 20 October 1819 and martyred at exactly noon on 9 July 1850 was almost 31 when He was martyred.
2. Short Ministries
Both of them had short ministries with a legacy that continues to this day. Christ taught the 12 Apostles for about 4 years. The Báb taught the 19 Letters of the Living for 6 years. Throughout their ministries, both of them were constantly persecuted by the majority of the people and both suffered greatly as a result. Nonetheless, they kept teaching and their message only grew stronger and stronger.
3. Innate Knowledge
Both the Báb and Christ were very pious young men growing up and impressed their peers and elders with their innate divine knowledge. Neither of them went to school or had any real formal education. When Christ was 14, He impressed the Pharisees and Rabbis with his commentaries on the “Books and Prophets” when He was in the temple. How could a 14 year old know so much and know more than learned holy men?
The Báb had a similar life: as a child He knew more than his teachers about the Holy Books. His Qur’an teacher brought Him home one day and told The Báb’s uncle, who was raising him, that the Báb could not be taught because He already knew everything!
4. Humility of Birth
Both the Báb and Christ came from humble backgrounds. Christ was the son of a carpenter and himself became a carpenter. The Báb’s uncle, who was raising Him, was a merchant in the city of Shiraz. The Báb became a merchant as well. Both the Báb and Christ excelled in their profession and were always fair in their dealings.
5. Final Words
Christ’s final words on the cross were: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
The Báb’s final words were: “Had you believed in Me, O Wayward generation, every one of you would have followed the example of this youth, who stood in rank above most of you, and willingly would have 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.”
6. After the Martyrdom
When both Manifestations were martyred there were earthquakes, plagues and storms the exact day of martyrdom and beyond. As soon as Christ’s body expired on the cross there was an earthquake and a violent storm. The exact same events occurred the very moment that The Báb was martyred with his companion, Anis. The Earth shook and there were storm clouds as if to say that God and even the Earth itself were upset and displeased. Fascinating, is it not?
This July 9 at noon, Baha’is all around the world will commemorate the Martyrdom of the Báb, just as Christians commemorate the Martyrdom of Christ on Good Friday. If you’d like to find out more about the Martyrdom of the Bab, I’d recommend reading Chapter 23 of The Dawnbreakers by Nabil-i-Azam and chapter 4 of God Passes By by Shoghi Effendi!
Do you know of any other similarities between the life and martyrdom of the Báb and the other Manifestations? Share your thoughts in the comments!