Born in Shiraz, Iran on 20 October 1819, Siyyid Ali-Muhammad would become known to the world as the Bab (meaning “the Gate” in Arabic). The Bab was the symbolic gate; it was His mission to herald the coming of this promised Manifestation of God whom we know to be Baha’u’llah. In the Baha’i calendar, the Birth of the Bab and the Birth of Baha’u’llah are celebrated one after the other in one festival referred to as the “Twin Holy Days”.
On July 9th 1850, the Bab, the forerunner to Baha’u’llah, was executed in Tabriz, Persia by a firing squad of 750 men. The Bab, which means “the Gate” in Arabic, was a Messenger of God whose role was to herald the coming of the latest Manifestation of God: Baha’u’llah. In 1909, after being hidden away for more than half a century, the Bab’s remains were finally interred on Mount Carmel, Israel.
On a spring evening on May 22rd, 1844, Siyyid Ali-Muhammad announced that He was the bearer of a Divine Revelation whose aim was to prepare the world for “Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest,” a Messenger of God known as Baha’u’llah. Baha’is refer to Siyyid Ali-Muhammad by His title, the Bab, which is Arabic for “the Gate,” and that eventful evening is celebrated every year by Baha’is around the world.
In honor of the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, Prophet-herald of the Baha’i Faith, we thought we’d share an updated post of books relating to the Bab, His station, His ministry, His family and His early believers. This list of 30 books is in no particular order and it describes titles written for a variety of audiences and in a diversity of styles, including some creative non-fiction. We hope you find this list useful in these days leading up to the bicentenary and beyond!
There is currently only one volume of the Bab’s Writings translated into English. This collection of excerpts from books and Tablets revealed by the Bab, including the Commentary on the Surih of Joseph, the Persian Bayan, the Seven Proof), the Book of Names, and various other Writings. It was first published in an authorized English translation in 1976. This volume can be read, in full, on the Baha’i Reference Library.
Immortal Youth: A Tribute to the Life and Station of the Bab is a new volume released in honor of this year’s bicentennial anniversary of His Birth. Initiated and compiled by the editorial department of the US Baha’i Publishing Trust, this softcover book offers some sacred and authoritative texts of the Baha’i Faith that pertain to the life and station of the Bab.
This simple, moving narrative recounts the events in the lives of the Bab and His followers, and illustrates the character of the Baha’i revelation by quoting passages from Baha’u’llah’s Writings. It was written by Abdu’l-Baha around 1886 and first published anonymously in Persian in 1890. The English translation was prepared by Professor Edward G. Browne and first published by Cambridge University Press in 1891. You can read it, in its entirety, on the Baha’i Reference Library.
The Primal Point is a significant and timely paperback volume recently published by George Ronald that contains testimonials and tributes to the Bab and some of His early followers. The anthology was put together in honor of the bicentennial anniversary of the Birth of the Bab and rather than capture a comprehensive chronological account of His life, it focuses on the importance of His station and the impact of His Revelation.
The Dawn-Breakers, or Nabil’s Narrative as it’s often called, is the most comprehensive and authoritative eyewitness account of the beginnings of the Baha’i era. It is also distinguished for being the only work of its kind completed in the time of Baha’u’llah, who approved portions of the manuscript. Translated by Shoghi Effendi, and originally published in English in 1932, this book continues to offer a priceless resource for those wishing to better understand early Baha’i history, its connection to the Babi religion, and the implications of this history for today. You can read an introduction to The Dawn-Breakershere on Baha’i Blog.
Michael Day has written a new trilogy that describes the construction of the Shrine of the Bab. Volume one tells for the first time in detail the thrilling story of how the sacred remains of the Bab were taken from Tabriz to Tehran and hidden for nearly 50 years. It then moves on to describe how Abdu’l-Baha achieved the impossible. Although a prisoner of the Ottoman Empire until 1908, He managed to fulfill Baha’u’llah’s directive to bring the casket to Mount Carmel to build a Shrine in the place indicated by His Father, and to inter the sacred remains. Read an interview about the book with author Mr. Day here.
Zoe Meyer originally wrote Stories from the Dawn-Breakers and William Sears’ reading of it is warm, captivating and charming — which makes it a fantastic resource for children and junior youth. Restored and remastered in honor of the upcoming bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, the the four disc set is now available for purchase.
Many Baha’is are familiar with the events described in the book The Dawnbreakers, where followers of the Bab were under attack and siege by the Persian army, but aside from these descriptions in the Dawnbreakers, very little is known about the many events which took place during this turbulent period of our Faith’s early history. That is why the new book Awakening: A History of the Babi and Baha’i Faiths in Nayriz by Dr. Hussein Ahdieh and Hillary Chapman is so important. Read an interview with the book’s co-author Mr. Ahdieh here.
Dr. Will van den Hoonaard recently published a children’s book about the Bab when He was a child. The book is titled Did You Ever Wonder: A Story About the Bab as a Child. Children love to hear stories about other children and I think the approach Will has taken is brilliant. Read an interview with the book’s co-author, Dr. Will van den Hoonaard here.
God Passes By is a historical review by Shoghi Effendi of the first century of the Baha’i Faith, published in 1944 on the occasion of the one-hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of the Bab. In can be read, in full, online at the Baha’i Reference Library.
Jacqueline Mehrabi recasts some of the episodes from The Dawn-Breakers in a simple language for children. This book is divided into short chapters that give brief accounts of such figures as Shakh Ahmad, Siyyid Kazim, Mulla Husayn, Tahirih, Quddus, Vahid, Khadijih Bagum, and others.
Authored in Persian during his youthful years by Fariburz Sahba, the renowned architect and writer, as a series of articles for the Baha’i Children’s magazine “Varqa”, The Green Years is a translated version of these articles compiled into a book. This children’s book portrays the history of the Bab and the heroic stories of His followers during the Babi Dispensation.
This is probably the most comprehensive book about the life of the Bab and the author, H.M. Balyuzi, is not only considered one of the foremost scholars of the Baha’i Faith, but he’s also actually related to the Bab. In this easy-to-read biography of the Bab, Balyuzi makes good use of many official historical documents and cites material gathered from family archives.
Understanding the Bab’s Writings and their context can help us understand more about the personage of the Bab, and Dr. Nader Saiedi’s meticulous and insightful analysis identifies the key themes, terms, and concepts that characterize each stage of the Bab’s Writings, unlocking the code of the Bab’s mystical lexicon. Gate of the Heart is a subtle and profound textual study and an essential resource for anyone wishing to understand the theological foundations of the Baha’i religion and the Bab’s significance in religious history. Listen to an interview with Dr. Saiedi here on the Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson.
This treatise is not a book of history, but rather it’s the text of an address about the greatness of the revelation of the Bab. It covers highlights of the life of the Bab as well as describing the fate of the persecutors of the Bab and His companions. It also addresses the references in the Revelation of the Bab to the subsequent Revelation of Baha’u’llah.
Written and compiled by H.M. Balyuzi, a relative of the Bab, we are able to gain a better understanding of the life of the Bab through this short account of the life of the wife of the Bab, a “princess of her age”. Read a tribute to Khadijih Bagum here, and listen to an audio version of this article titled The Other Witnesses: Khadijih Bagum and Haji Mubarak at the Declaration of the Babhere.
Written by Hand of the Cause William Sears, this easy-to-read and gripping book brings to life the early history of the Baha’i Faith conveying the divine magnetism and remarkable radiance of the Bab and the selflessness of the Babis right up through the hour of the martyrdom of the Bab.
Baharieh Rouhani Ma’ani offer an in-depth study of the lives of women closely related to the Bab and Baha’u’llah. Over two and half decades she worked to gather all the known information about the women whose lives were intertwined with those of the Manifestations of God for this age ־ mothers, wives, sisters, daughters. Looking beyond published sources, she was given permission by the Universal House of Justice to consult original documents in the Baha’i International Archives and to make provisional translations of more than 50 Tablets, letters, memoirs and papers not previously published in English, many never before published in any language.
This work of creative non-fiction by the talented Bahiyyih Nakhjavani describes what might have occurred during Tahirih’s house arrest and subsequent martyrdom. You can read an interview with Bahiyyih about this book here on Baha’i Blog.
These richly illustrated storybooks on the life and teachings of the Bab enable children of all ages to understand and appreciate His divinely ordained Mission as Herald of the coming of Baha’u’llah. There are three volumes to this set.
Written by Tom Lysaght, this is a work of creative non-fiction set in Persia during the time of the Bab. Actor Rainn Wilson said it’s “… an expertly written look into the parallel histories of the founders of the Baha’i Faith, the Bab and Baha’u’llah. It evokes the spiritual passion and political complexity of mid-nineteenth century Persia in beautiful prose…”, and Dr. Nader Saiedi calls it “A captivating account of a dramatic summer that questioned traditionalism and patriarchy, and celebrated the resurrection of the human spirit”. You can read an interview with Tom here on Baha’i Blog.
Zanjan is a rich fictional work that is based on actual events from one of the many dramatic episodes surrounding the emergence of the Baha’i Faith in mid-nineteenth century Persia. You can read more about Zaynab and the women of Zanjan here.
The Bab and His Heroes tells the dramatic story of the Bab and those brave men and women who, abandoning the religious doctrines and superstitions of their varied faiths, accepted His claim to fulfill the prophecies of those faiths and offered up their lives in His path.
Filled with fun, hands-on, kid-tested learning activities, this theme book is the third in a series of easy-to-use teacher’s guides designed for Baha’i children’s classes. Inside you will find a treasure trove of ideas for Baha’i summer and winter schools, Holy Day programs, academic classrooms, home schoolers and weekend retreats. The book has four sections: The Bab: His Birth, Early Life and Station; Declaration of the Bab; Martyrdom of the Bab; The Primal Point.
A true story written to help children form an understanding of this unique occasion. Written in a simple language with illustrations, this book serves as a wonderful resource for parents and educators to foster a spiritual identity in children from a young age using stories from the history of the Faith. This story of Mulla Husayn’s perseverance and the dawning of a new religion is sure to fill children with wonder. You can read out interview with author, Alhan Rahimi here.
This work of creative non-fiction, also by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, tells the story of a bag containing the Bab’s Writings that was stolen. Told from a variety of viewpoints, this is a beautifully told, transcendent tale of truth, salvation, and the power of desire.
Created to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab, the “Light of Faith” issue features stories and activities about the Bab’s mission and the oneness of religion, including: a two-page illustrated timeline of key events in the Bab’s life; the story of the Bab’s house arrest and His influence on the people of Shiraz; a story and activity about Baha’u’llah’s recognition of the Bab’s divine station; explorations of the Bab’s station and the oneness of religion through puzzles, a drawing activity, interviews with kids, and more.
A short passage from the Baha’i writings, a simple story and a beautiful painting for each of 19 days all relating to a virtue – promote in children a love for reading daily from the scriptures and enable them to learn about the life of the Bab.
Well, that completes our list of 30 books relating to the Bab for now! We hope you’ve discovered some new books to add to your reading list, and also some which you may choose to read again.
Please let us know of any books we may have missed in the Comments section below, or about how some of these books may have touched your life.
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.