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Bab, the Gate. is the title assumed by Siyyid 'All-Muhammad, the Forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh, and Prophet-Founder of the Babi Faith.
Born in Shiraz on 20 October 1819, Siyyid 'Alí-Muhammad was raised by His uncle Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Alí, a merchant. As a child, He showed uncommon wisdom, although He received little formal schooling. He became a merchant and earned a high reputation for fairness. In 1842 He married Khadijih-Bagum and they had one son, Ahmad, who died in infancy. Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad declared Himself to be the Bab, or 'Gate of God', on 23 May 1844, to the Shaykhi disciple Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i, the first of eighteen individuals who sought and discovered the Bab and who are known as the Letters of the Living.
The Báb proclaimed Himself to be the Promised One of Islam, the Qa'im, and said that the Mission of His Dispensation was to alert the people to the imminent advent of another Prophet, 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'.
As the Báb gained followers, His doctrines inflamed the Shí'ih clergy, who determined to stamp out the new faith. Muhammad Shah's Grand Vizier, Haji Mirza Aqasi, imprisoned the Bab in the fortress of Mah-Ku, then, when sympathy for Him spread there, moved Him to Chihriq. In 1848 the Bab was subjected to a trial before the Muslim divines of Tabriz and punishment by bastinado. While the Báb was imprisoned, a group of Babi's met at the Conference of Badasht. It was here that Tahirih boldly exemplified the break with Islam by appearing unveiled in public and that Bahá'u'lláh demonstrated His leadership.
The Báb's followers were subjected to brutal persecution and massacres by the fanatical Shi'ih clergy, along with the forces of the Persian government throughout the country, notably in Mazindaran at the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi, Zanjan, Nayriz and Tihran. In 1850 Mirza Taqi Khan, Grand Vizier of the new Shah, Nasiri'd-Din, ordered the Báb executed. On 9 July 1850 the Bab was brought before a firing squad in the barracks square of Tabriz, along with a young follower. When the smoke cleared, the crowd was amazed that the Báb was nowhere to be seen. He was located in the room He had occupied, finishing a conversation with His amanuensis. The commander of the Armenian regiment, Sam Khan, refused to fire a second time and another regiment had to be found. This time their bullets killed the Báb. His remains were hidden by His followers and in 1899 transferred to Palestine where in 1909 'Abdu'l-Baha Himself interred them in the sepulchre on Mount Carmel known as the Shrine of the Báb.
Among the most important of the Bab's Writings are the Qayyumu'l-Asmá the Persian and Arabic Bayán, Daláil-i-Sab'ih and the Kitáb-i-Asmá.
Baha'is revere the Bab as the Forerunner or Herald of Bahá'u'lláh, but also as a Manifestation of God in His own right, considering His Writings to be Holy Scripture. The beginning of the Bahá'í Era is dated from the day of His Declaration. The Declaration of the Báb, His birth and the day of His Martyrdom are observed as Bahá'í Holy Days on which work is suspended.
Momen, Wendi (Ed.): A Basic Bahá'í Dictionary. George Ronald, 1989. ISBN 0-85398-230-9