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Declaration of the Bab

  • In 1844, Siyyid Ali-Muhammad (known by His title, the Bab, which means "the Gate") announced that He was the bearer of a Divine Revelation whose aim was to prepare the world for a Messenger of God--Baha'u'llah. The anniversary of that declaration is celebrated by Baha'is and their friends all over the world.
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Monthly Reflection: Azamat (Grandeur) – On the Power of the Sun

May 15, 2024, in Articles > Baha'i Blog, by

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Next week Baha’is and their friends all over the world will celebrate the Declaration of the Bab. There is something sublimely magnificent about this historic anniversary that commemorates what happened in those quiet hours of the night in Shiraz in 1844. My mind can’t take in the magnitude of what being in the presence of the Bab and receiving His Message might have been like; attempting to comprehend it is like trying to look directly at the sun and study it.

My corner of the world recently experienced a solar eclipse; the moon obscured 99.3% percent of the sun. The 0.7% of the sun that was not blocked by the moon, that thin crescent sliver of light, was enough to bask us as though it were early dusk. The air cooled and flowers closed, but we were still bathed in sunshine. The excitement generated in our neighbourhood by the astronomical event was memorable — there was a lot of hopping up and down, shrieking, and passing back and forth of solar eclipse glasses — but I’ll never forget being in total awe of the sun and how little of its light needs to reach the world in order to illuminate it.

In preparation for this event, a few friends and I reflected on some of the Writings about the sun and its metaphorical significance in relation to the teachings of the Manifestations of God. Abdu’l-Baha tells us:

Behold, there is an intermediary necessary between the sun and the earth; the sun does not descend to the earth, neither does the earth ascend to the sun. This contact is made by the rays of the sun which bring light and warmth and heat.

The Holy Spirit is the Light from the Sun of Truth bringing, by its infinite power, life and illumination to all mankind, flooding all souls with Divine Radiance, conveying the blessings of God’s Mercy to the whole world. The earth, without the medium of the warmth and light of the rays of the sun, could receive no benefits from the sun.

Say: O hapless one! That Sun shall never set, nor shall that Day-Star of the Realm of Glory ever wane. The setting of the sun is only in relation to the dwellers of the earth, for how can there be any daybreak or nightfall in the sun itself? It remaineth ever shining in its meridian splendour, ever glowing and luminous, at the sublime apex of bounty. The Glory of Glories rest upon thee.

We also studied passages that used the word “eclipse” such as:

O MY FRIEND! Thou art the daystar of the heavens of My holiness, let not the defilement of the world eclipse thy splendour. Rend asunder the veil of heedlessness, that from behind the clouds thou mayest emerge resplendent and array all things with the apparel of life.

This makes me wonder: how often do I eclipse the light of the sun but because it is so powerful and it takes so little of its light to illumine me that I mistakenly think I am experiencing its full radiance, grandeur and splendour?

I know there are many things that eclipse my understanding of the significance of the Bab’s Declaration — my limited capacity, my need to further deepen and study the Writings, the pre-requisite that I polish and purity my heart so that I may be more susceptible to spiritual insights, to name but a few! As I work on clearing what eclipses my understanding, my mind likes to begin by contemplating the other details surrounding that event or artistic expressions thereof.

For example, I like to imagine the room where the Declaration occurred: the beautiful lushness of its carpeted floors, the delicacy of the molding on its walls and ceiling, and the floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows. Did the light of the moon shine through? What colours spilled onto the floor as day broke? I can imagine the quiet hiss of the lamp light, its flickering glow. You can be transported to a recreation or rendering of this sacred space through a video made by Oscar Gomez.

I can imagine the stillness of the House and its other occupants, alert and awake physically and spiritually that fateful night: the Bab’s wife, Khadijih Bagum, and servant, Haji Mubarak. In Layli’s article “The Other Witnesses”, we get a chance to consider and draw closer to that night from their perspective.

I can imagine the double doors that lead into the House of the Bab and the fiery orbs of the oranges on the tree in its courtyard. I want to step into the photographs that the World Centre has shared with us of this sacred and holy place that no longer physically stands.

In order to ponder and reflect on the words of His Declaration, I like to meditate on them as they’ve been put to music, such as through the tenor of Carl’s voice or the chorus of youth from Malaysia.

You can find these, and so much more, in our special collection devoted to the Declaration of the Bab.

Wishing you a happy and light-filled holy day celebration!

Posted by

Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.
Sonjel Vreeland

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