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 Bab. Apart from this one very important similarity between Jesus Christ and the Bab, 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 Bab was 25 and Christ was about 27. Both the Bab 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 Bab, 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 four years. The Bab taught the 19 Letters of the Living for six 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 Bab 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 Bab 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 Bab’s uncle, who was raising him, that the Bab 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 Bab’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 Bab 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?
On 17 Rahmat, according to the Badi calendar, Baha’is all around the world will commemorate the Martyrdom of the Bab, 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 Bab and the other Manifestations? Share your thoughts in the comments!
First, thanks for allowing me to write for you guys! It was a wonderful experience!
Second, thanks for editing & making touch ups (of course it’s your job lol) on my rough draft. You made my article 10 times better! I love the headers! Why didn’t I think of it?! Haha!
Third, small suggestion: if you could find a photo of the Shrine of The Báb with the brand new renovated dome that would be even better 🙂
Shamim Bina (July 7, 2011 at 6:15 PM)
Thanks for writing for us! Good suggestion – I’ve changed the photo to the one Adib has provided. Thanks Adib!
Awesome post! We just read a passage from God Passes By for our Holy Day celebration which I thought was relevant to your post:
“It would indeed be no exaggeration to say that nowhere in the whole compass of the world’s religious literature, except in the Gospels, do we find any record relating to the death of any of the religion-founders of the past comparable to the martyrdom suffered by the Prophet of Shiraz. So strange, so inexplicable a phenomenon, attested by eye-witnesses, corroborated by men of recognized standing, and acknowledged by government as well as unofficial historians among the people who had sworn undying hostility to the Babi Faith, may be truly regarded as the most marvelous manifestation of the unique potentialities with which a Dispensation promised by all the Dispensations of the past had been endowed. The passion of Jesus Christ, and indeed His whole public ministry, alone offer a parallel to the Mission and death of the Báb, a parallel which no student of comparative religion can fail to perceive or ignore. In the youthfulness and meekness of the Inaugurator of the Babi Dispensation; in the extreme brevity and turbulence of His public ministry; in the dramatic swiftness with which that ministry moved towards its climax; in the apostolic order which He instituted, and the primacy which He conferred on one of its members; in the boldness of His challenge to the time-honored conventions, rites and laws which had been woven into the fabric of the religion He Himself had been born into; in the role which an officially recognized and firmly entrenched religious hierarchy played as chief instigator of the outrages which He was made to suffer; in the indignities heaped upon Him; in the suddenness of His arrest; in the interrogation to which He was subjected; in the derision poured, and the scourging inflicted, upon Him; in the public affront He sustained; and, finally, in His ignominious suspension before the gaze of a hostile multitude – in all these we cannot fail to discern a remarkable similarity to the distinguishing features of the career of Jesus Christ.”
Preethi (July 7, 2011 at 4:59 AM)
Bravo Shamim jaan! This article is concise, spot-on, and well-organized. It’s truly amazing when you think about the similarities between the lives of Jesus Christ and the Bab, and articles like this one serve as great reminders to that fact!
If any of the viewers here are interested in other items that discuss this same comparison, I would recommend “The Gates and the King of Glory: A Comparative Study of the Lives of Jesus Christ and the Bab” by H.T.D. Rost: http://bit.ly/oRx6In
As far as a picture of the newly renovated Shrine of the Bab goes, how about this one? http://bit.ly/na1mvK
Adib (July 7, 2011 at 10:15 PM)
Thanks my brother! I really appreciate your warm encouragement! I’ve actually never heard of that book but I will get my hands on it ASAP!
That photo of the Shrine is actually the EXACT one I was good recommend haha. Great minds think alike 😉 get yourself a photo for your profile on here soon 😉 thanks again for your support & love my brother. God bless you & Blessed Holy Day to you!
Shamim Bina (July 7, 2011 at 4:35 AM)
Thanks dear Shamim for this wonderful article. There is yet another similarity: Mirza Muhammad Ali Zonoozi whom the Bab gave the title of Anis (companion, close friend) resembles the man whom Jesus addressed in these words: “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise”
“And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” LUKE 23:39-43.
There is a story in Quran which says that Jesus talked when He was in cradle:
19:33 “So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)”!
The Bab said re-revealed the same words in Qayyum-Alsma (the very first revelation that came down from the kingdom of God to the Bab after 1260 years)
fares (July 7, 2011 at 5:12 PM)
Fares agha I really appreciate your comment! Love & Peace to you 🙂
Shamim Bina (July 7, 2011 at 5:06 AM)
Hello Shamim Bina,
I am really interested in religion and have recently discovered the faith of Baha’i. I noticed that you stated information that I can’t find anywhere else about Jesus of Nazareth, ” When Christ was 14, He impressed the Pharisees and Rabbis with his commentaries on the “Books and Prophets” when He was in the temple” but I can’t find any solid information of his travels and happens between ages 12-29. Would you kindly direct me to the source of that? Thanks!
Guest (July 7, 2011 at 6:57 AM)
Hello “guest”! All I have to say to your question is this: I heard that story from a few Christian friends & a few pastors. I myself have not come across that specific story in the New Testement but I wouldn’t be surprised whatsoever that this specific isn’t in there becuase not every book made it into the Bible that we have today. Back in the time of Christ 90% or so of people were illiterate & the Holy Bible wasn’t written down & official canonized for many years after Christ’s Martyrdom so this story & many others most likely got lost or not accurately written down. This is just my theory.
Shamim Bina (July 7, 2011 at 5:10 AM)
[…] #9: Changeless Faith: The Martyrdom of the Bab and Jesus Christ […]
Six Months of Baha’i Blog: Your Favourite Posts Are…. | Baha'i Blog (October 10, 2011 at 3:44 AM)
[…] You can also read a brief account of the life and martyrdom of the Báb in an article I wrote for Baha’i Blog earlier this year, reflecting on the similarities between the martyrdom of Jesus Christ and the martyrdom of the Báb. […]
The Life of the Báb | Baha'i Blog (October 10, 2011 at 10:20 PM)
Dear friends, the story regarding Jesus and the Pharisees can be found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2, here from the King James Version of the Bible:
2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
2:42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
2:43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
2:44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
2:45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
2:46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
2:47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
2:48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
2:49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? 2:50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
2:51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
I think this story may also be found in the Qur’an, however I am a Baha’i from a Christian background, so I am not as familiar with the scriptures of Islam as I am with those of the Christian and Baha’i Faiths. Hope this helps, and thank you so much for this article!
Mary (January 1, 2017 at 2:12 AM)
Another similarity between the two deaths were the people in charge were not of the practicing religion as those that condemned them. Pontius Pilate was not a Jew and Sam Khan was not a Muslim. They both believed their prisoner did not deserve to die.
Lani Dyck (July 7, 2019 at 10:48 PM)
Thank you Shamim Bina jan I enjoyed the information provided the article. Also thank so much to Baha’i Blog, God Bless you all.
Monir Safaeian (July 7, 2019 at 12:05 PM)
Thank you so much for your message and encouragement! Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for your support!
Naysan Naraqi (July 7, 2019 at 8:34 PM)