This is the first part of my Frequently Asked Questions about the Bahá’í Faith page. Just a reminder that this is not the official Bahá’í page, but a personal website and any mistakes are my own. To see the official Bahá’í page, go to www.bahai.org
The Bahá’í Faith is an independent world religion. It is not a sect of any other religion, but is a separate faith, such as Christianity, Judaism, Islám, Hinduism, etc. each of which are distinct religious groups. The Bahá’í Faith is the second-most widely spread religion in the world, after Christianity. Most religions were founded by a Prophet, Messenger, or Great Teacher. Similarly, the Bahá’í Faith was founded by Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), who claimed to be the Messenger of God for this age. I will summarise the main teachings of the Bahá’í Faith below:
1. The Oneness of God:
According to the Bahá’í teachings, God is one. He is the God of all religions. Bahá’u’lláh explains the station of God:
“To every discerning and illumined heart it is evident that God, the unknowable Essence, the divine Being, is immensely exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress. Far be it from His glory that human tongue should adequately recount His praise, or that human hearth comprehend His fathomless mystery. He is and hath ever been veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence, and will remain in His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of men. “No vision taketh in Him, but He taketh in all vision; He is the Subtle, the All-Perceiving.” [Qur’án 6:103] No tie of direct intercourse can possibly bind Him to His creatures. He standeth exalted beyond and above all separation and union, all proximity and remoteness. No sign can indicate His presence or His absence; inasmuch as by a word of His command all that are in heaven and on earth have come to exist, and by His
wish, which is the Primal Will itself, all have stepped out of utter nothingness into the realm of being, the world of the visible.”
(Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 63-64)
2. The Oneness of mankind:
There is only one human race. Bahá’u’lláh calls all of mankind “the leaves of one tree and the drops of one ocean” (Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Other Sections, p. 92) “the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch” (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 14). He furthermore, states, “It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens” (Gleanings, p. 250) and “This span of earth is but one homeland and one habitation.” (Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 67) Bahá’ís believe that the unity of the human race is essential to its survival.
David Hofman in his book, “Bahá’u’lláh, the Prince of Peace, a Portrait” (p. 34) explains:
“Unification of the whole of mankind is the hall-mark of the stage which human society is now approaching. Unity of the family, of tribe, of city-state, and nation have been successively attempted and fully established. World unity is the goal towards which a harassed humanity is striving. Nation-building has come to an end. The anarchy inherent in state sovereignty is moving towards a climax. A world, growing to maturity, must abandon this fetish, recognise the oneness and wholeness of human relationships, and establish once for all the machinery that can best incarnate this fundamental principle of life.”
3. The Oneness of religion:
Religion is one.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá explains (Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 126-127):
“Religions are many, but the reality of religion is one. The days are many, but the sun is one. The fountains are many, but the fountainhead is one. The branches are many, but the tree is one.
“The foundation of the divine religions is reality; were there no reality, there would be no religions. Abraham heralded reality. Moses promulgated reality. Christ established reality. Muhammad was the Messenger of reality. The Bab was the door of reality. Bahá’u’lláh was the splendour of reality. Reality is one; it does not admit multiplicity or division. Reality is as the sun, which shines forth from different dawning points; it is as the light, which has illumined many lanterns.
“Therefore, if the religions investigate reality and seek the essential truth of their own foundations, they will agree and no difference will be found. But inasmuch as religions are submerged in dogmatic imitations, forsaking the original foundations, and as imitations differ widely, therefore, the religions are divergent and antagonistic. These imitations may be likened to clouds which obscure the sunrise; but reality is the sun. If the clouds disperse, the Sun of Reality shines upon all, and no difference of vision will exist. The religions will then agree, for fundamentally they are the same. The subject is one, but predicates are many.
“The divine religions are like the progression of the seasons of the year. When the earth becomes dead and desolate and because of frost and cold no trace of vanished spring remains, the springtime dawns again and clothes everything with a new garment of life. The meadows become fresh and green, the trees are adorned with verdure and fruits appear upon them. Then the winter comes again, and all the traces of spring disappear. This is the continuous cycle of the seasons - spring, winter, then the return of spring. But though the calendar changes and the years move forward, each springtime that comes is the return of the springtime that has gone; this spring is the renewal of the former spring. Springtime is springtime, no matter when or how often it comes. The divine Prophets are as the coming of spring, each renewing and quickening the teachings of the Prophet Who came before Him. Just as all seasons of spring are essentially one as to newness of life, vernal showers and beauty, so the essence of the mission and accomplishment of all the Prophets is one and the same.”
(David Hofman, “Bahá’u’lláh, the Prince of Peace, a Portrait” (p. 30):
“The premises of one God and one human race lead inevitably to the conclusion of one religion, which is the relationship between God and man. There is only one religion, which is renewed from time to time as it suffers from the cooling of love, and as the changing circumstances of the world require and make possible further enlightenment. For the revelation is ever tempered to the needs and capacities of the stages of man’s growth toward maturity...”
Other Bahá’í teachings include:
- the essential equality of men and women
- the abolition of prejudice and fanaticism
- the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty
- universal education for all, especially women (the first teachers of children)
- the independent investigation of truth
- the essential co-operation between science and religion
- the establishment of a world government and commonwealth
- the establishment of a world auxiliary language, constructed or otherwise
Bahá’u’lláh says (Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 85):
“Take heed that ye do not vacillate in your determination to embrace the truth of this Cause—a Cause through which the potentialities of the might of God have been revealed, and His sovereignty established. With faces beaming with joy, hasten ye unto Him. This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. Let him that seeketh, attain it; and as to him that refused to seek it—verily, God is Self-Sufficient, above any need of His creatures.”
Okay, first a bit of background. Bahá’u’lláh was born with the name Mírzá Husayn-‘Alí Núrí, at dawn on the Second of Muharram 1233 AH, or the 12th of November, 1817 (according to the Gregorian calendar), in Tihrán, Persia (now Irán). His father was Mírzá ‘Abbás-i-Núrí, known as Mírzá Buzurg. Bahá’u’lláh’s father was given the name Mírzá Buzurg because he was a favoured calligrapher and vizier to the twelfth son of the Sháh. He prospered in service to the State until the notorious grand vizier turned against him, and he lost his position and much of his considerable wealth. Mírzá Buzurg came from an ancient family and was a descendant of the pre-Islámic rulers of Persia. Mírzá Buzurg had seven wives, three of whom were concubines. Consequently, Bahá’u’lláh had many brothers and sisters. Bahá’u’lláh was the second son of Khadíjih Khánum, his father’s second wife.
Bahá’u’lláh was the cause of astonishment to His mother. He never cried, never showed restlessness. Mírzá Buzurg soon realised that from all of his offspring, Mírzá Husayn-‘Alí was one apart. He grew up with little education. Nobles were taught things that befitted their station in life, such as riding, calligraphy, poetry, some knowledge of the Qur’án and not much else. I will not relate His entire life’s history, because it is too voluminous, but will simply relate some of the details of His Revelation.
(Bahá’í Publications Australia, Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 4-8)
“The early nineteenth century was a period of messianic expectations in many lands... By far the most dramatic of these millenialist movements had been the one in Persia, which had focused on the person and teachings of a young merchant from the city of Shiraz, known to history as the Báb. For nine years, from 1844 to 1853, Persians of all classes had been caught up in a storm of hope and excitement aroused by the Báb’s announcement that the Day of God was at hand and that He was himself the One promised in Islamic scripture. Humanity stood, He said, on the threshold of an era that would witness the restructuring of all aspects of life. New fields of learning, as yet inconceivable, would permit even children of the new age to surpass the most erudite of contemporary scholars. The human race was called by God to embrace these changes through undertaking a transformation of its moral and spiritual life. His own mission was to prepare humanity for the event that lay at the heart of these developments, the coming of that universal Messenger of God, “He Whom God will make manifest,” awaited by the followers of all religions.
“The claim had evoked violent hostility from the Muslim clergy, who taught that the process of Divine Revelation had ended with Muhammad, and that any assertion to the contrary represented apostasy, punishable by death. Their denunciation of the Báb had soon enlisted support of the Persian authorities. Thousands of followers of the new faith had perished in a horrific series of massacres throughout the country, and the Báb had been publicly executed on July 9, 1850. In an age of growing Western involvement in the Orient, these events aroused interest and compassion in influential European circles...
“Because of His prominence in the defence of the Báb’s cause, Bahá’u’lláh was arrested and brought, in chains and on foot, to Teheran. Protected in some measure by an impressive personal reputation and the social position of His family, as well as by protests which the Bábí pogroms had evoked from Western embassies, He was not sentenced to death, as influential figures at the royal court were urging. Instead, He was cast into the notorious Síyáh-Chál, the “Black Pit,” a deep vermin-infested dungeon which had been created in one of the city’s abandoned reservoirs. No charges were laid but He and some thirty companions were, without appeal, kept immured in the darkness and filth of this pit, surrounded by hardened criminals, many of them under sentence of death. Around Bahá’u’lláh’s neck was clamped a heavy chain, so notorious in penal circles as to have been given its own name. When He did not quickly perish, as had been expected, an attempt was made to poison Him. The marks of the chain were to remain on His body for the rest of His life...
[Bahá’u’lláh describes it]: “We were consigned for four months to a place foul beyond comparison... The dungeon was wrapped in thick darkness, and Our fellow-prisoners numbered nearly a hundred and fifty souls: thieves, assassins and highwaymen. Though crowded, it had no other outlet than the passage by which We entered. No pen can depict that place, nor any tongue describe its loathsome smell. Most of these men had neither clothes nor bedding to lie on. God alone knoweth what befell Us in that most foul-smelling and gloomy place!”
(David Hofman, “Bahá’u’lláh, the Prince of Peace, a Portrait” (p. 54):
“‘Abdu’l-Bahá, eight years old, went to see His father in the prison. He related that half-way down the steps to the cell it became so dark that He could not see anything. He heard Bahá’u’lláh call out, ‘Take him away.’ He was taken out and seated to wait for the prisoners to be brought out for their meal.
“I saw Bahá’u’lláh’s neck in chains, and another, both chained to the same links, a link about His neck and another about the person who was chained with Him. The weight of the chain was so excessive that His neck was bent; He walked with great difficulty, and He was in a very sad condition. His clothes were tattered and battered; even the hat on His head was torn. He was in the most severe ordeal and His health was quite visibly failing. They brought me and seated me, and they took Him to the place where there was a pond, in order that He might wash His face. After that they took Him back to the dungeon and, although I was a child, I was so overcome I was unconscious.”
(Bahá’í Publications Australia, Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 7-8)
“Each day the guards would descend the three steep flights of stairs of the pit, seize on or more of the prisoners, and drag them out to be executed. In the streets of Teheran , Western observers were appalled by scenes of Bábí victims blown from cannon mouths, hacked to their deaths with burning candles inserted into open wounds in their bodies. It was in these circumstances, and faced with the prospect of his own imminent death, that Bahá’u’lláh received the first intimation of His mission:
“One night, in a dream these exalted words were heard on every side: “Verily, We shall render Thee victorious by Thyself and by Thy Pen. Grieve Thou not for that which hath befallen Thee, neither be Thou afraid, for Thou art in safety. Erelong will God raise up the treasures of the earth — men who will aid Thee through Thyself and through Thy name, wherewith God hath revived the hearts of such as have recognised Him.
“The experience of Divine Revelation, touched on only at second-hand in surviving accounts of the lives of the Buddha, Moses, Jesus Christ, and Muhammad, is described graphically in Bahá’u’lláh’s own words:
“During the days I lay in the prison of Tihran, though the galling weight of the chains and the stench-filled air allowed Me but little sleep, still in those infrequent moments of slumber I felt as if something flowed from the crown of My head over My breast, even as a mighty torrent that precipitateth itself upon the earth from the summit of a lofty mountain. Every limb of My body would, as a result, be set afire. At such moments My tongue recited what no man could bear to hear.”
At another time, Bahá’u’lláh recalled:
“While engulfed in tribulations I heard a most wondrous, a most sweet voice, calling above My head. Turning My face, I beheld a Maiden — the embodiment of the remembrance of the name of My Lord — suspended in the air before Me. So rejoiced was she in her very soul that her countenance shone with the ornament of the good-pleasure of God, and her cheeks glowed with the brightness of the All-Merciful. Betwixt earth and heaven she was raising a call which captivated the hearts and minds of men. She was imparting to both My inward and outer being tidings which rejoiced My soul, and the souls of God’s honoured servants. Pointing with her finger unto My head, she addressed all who are in heaven and all who are on earth, saying: ‘By God! this is the Best-Beloved of the worlds, and yet ye comprehend not. This the Beauty of God amongst you, and the power of His sovereignty within you, could ye but understand. This is the Mystery of God and His Treasure, the Cause of God and His glory unto all who are in the kingdoms of Revelation and of creation, if ye be of them that perceive.’”
Eventually, by the intervention of the Russian Minister, Bahá’u’lláh was released. The Grand Vizier obtained the Sháh’s reluctant consent who dispatched his representatives to fetch him. He appeared before the members of the imperial government in His prison garb.
(David Hofman, “Bahá’u’lláh, the Prince of Peace, a Portrait” (p. 57-):
“Appalled at the sight He thus presented, the Grand Vizier addressed Him:
‘Had you chosen to take my advice, and had you dissociated yourself from the Faith of the Siyyid-i-Báb, you would never have suffered the pains and indignities that have been heaped upon you.’
Bahá’u’lláh replied, ‘Had you, in your turn, followed My counsels, the affairs of the government would not have reached so critical a stage.’
‘What is it that you advise me now to do?’ the Prime Minister enquired.
‘Command the governors of the realm to cease shedding the blood of the innocent, to cease plundering their property, to cease dishonouring their women, and injuring their children’, was the instant reply.
(Bahá’í Publications Australia, Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 9-18):
“Eventually, still without trial or recourse, Bahá’u’lláh was released from prison and immediately banished from His native land, His wealth and properties arbitrarily confiscated. The Russian diplomatic representative, who knew Him personally and who had followed the Bábí persecutions with growing distress, offered Him his protection and refuge in lands under the control of his government. In the prevailing political climate, acceptance of such help would almost certainly have been misrepresented by others as having political implications. Perhaps for this reason, Bahá’u’lláh chose to accept banishment to the neighbouring territory of Iraq, then under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. This expulsion was the beginning of forty years of exile, imprisonment, and bitter persecution.
“In the years which immediately followed His departure from Persia, Bahá’u’lláh gave priority to the needs of the Bábí community which had gathered in Baghdad, a task which had devolved on Him as the only effective Bábí leader to have survived the massacres. The death of the Báb and the almost simultaneous loss of most of the young faith’s teachers and guides had left the body of the believers scattered and demoralised. When His efforts to rally those who had fled to Iraq aroused jealousy and dissension, He followed the path that had been taken by all the Messengers of God gone before Him, and withdrew to the wilderness, choosing for the purpose the mountain region of Kurdistan. His withdrawal, as He later said, had “contemplated no return.” Its reason “was to avoid becoming a subject of discord among the faithful, a source of disturbance unto Our companions.” Although the two years spent in Kurdistan were a period of intense privation and physical hardship, Bahá’u’lláh describes them as a time of profound happiness during which He reflected deeply on the message entrusted to Him: “Alone, We communed with Our spirit, oblivious of the world and all that is therein.”
“Only with great reluctance, believing it His responsibility to the cause of the Báb, did He eventually accede to urgent messages from the remnant of the desperate group of exiles in Baghdad who had discovered His whereabouts and appealed to Him to return and assume the leadership of the community...
“By 1863, Bahá’u’lláh concluded that the time had come to begin acquainting some of those around Him with the mission which had been entrusted to Him in the darkness of the Síyáh-Chál.
“This decision coincided with a new stage in the campaign of opposition to His work, which had been relentlessly pursued by the Shi’ih Muslim clergy and representatives of the Persian government. Fearing that the acclaim which Bahá’u’lláh was beginning to enjoy among influential Persian visitors to Iraq would re-ignite popular enthusiasm in Persia, the Shah’s government pressed the Ottoman authorities to remove Him far from the borders and into the interior of the empire. Eventually, the Turkish government acceded to these pressures and invited the exile, as its guest, to make His residence in the capital, Constantinople. Despite the courteous terms in which the message was couched, the intention was clearly to require compliance.
“By this time, the devotion of the little company of exiles had come to focus on Bahá’u’lláh’s person as well as on His exposition of the Báb’s teachings. A growing number of them had become convinced that He was speaking not only as the Báb’s advocate, but on behalf of the far greater cause which the latter had declared to be imminent. These beliefs became a certainty in late April 1863 when Bahá’u’lláh, on the eve of His departure for Constantinople, called together individuals among His companions, in a garden which was later given the name Ridván (“Paradise”), and confided the central fact of His mission. Over the next four years, although no open announcement was considered timely, the hearers gradually shared with trusted friends, the news that the Báb’s promises had been fulfilled and that the “Day of God” had dawned.”
Bahá’u’lláh later said concerning that Day, now celebrated by over five million Bahá’ís across the world as part of the annual Ridván festival:
“...this is the Day in which mankind can behold the Face, and hear the Voice, of the Promised One. The Call of God hath been raised, and the light of His countenance hath been lifted up upon men. It behooveth every man to blot out the trace of every idle word from his heart, and to gaze, with an open and unbiased mind, on the signs of His Revelation, the proofs of His Mission, and the tokens of His glory.”...
“The aggressive proselytism that had characterised efforts in ages past to promote the cause of religion is declared to be unworthy of the Day of God. Each person who has recognised the Revelation has the obligation to share it with those who he believes are seeking, but to leave the response entirely to its hearers...”
Bahá’u’lláh was eventually banished from Constantinople to Adrianople. Bahá’u’lláh was the first Manifestation of God in recorded history to have walked upon the European continent. Bahá’u’lláh said: “In the East the Light of His Revelation hath broken; in the West the signs of His dominion have appeared. Ponder this in your hearts, O people...” (Tablets, p. 13). It was at this time that Bahá’u’lláh announced His Mission unto the kings and rulers of the world.
Bahá’u’lláh, again too popular and too well admired, became an increasing matter of concern to the Ottoman authorities. Consequently, they banished Him as far away as possible, to the fortress-town of Akká (Acre) on the coast of what is now Israel. It was notorious throughout the empire for its foul climate and the prevalence of many diseases, and was used as a penal colony for the incarceration of dangerous criminals. Bahá’u’lláh arrived in August 1868. They suffered two years of suffering and abuse within the fortress and were then confined to house arrest in a nearby local merchant’s house. Nevertheless, Bahá’u’lláh continued to write to the rulers of the world.
(Bahá’í Publications Australia, Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 48):
“A letter to Emperor Napoleon III warned that, because of his insincerity and the misuse of his power “...thy kingdom shall be thrown into confusion, and thine empire shall pass from thine hands, as a punishment for that which thou has wrought.... Hat they pomp made thee proud? By My life! It shall not endure...” Of the disastrous Franco-Prussian war and the resulting overthrow of Napoleon III, which occurred less than a year after this statement, Alistair Horne, a modern scholar of nineteenth century French Political History has written:
History knows of perhaps no more startling instance of what the Greeks call peripateia, the terrible fall from prideful heights. Certainly no nation in modern times, so replete with apparent grandeur and opulent in material achievement, has ever been subjected to a worse humiliation in so short a time.
Similarly, Bahá’u’lláh sent warnings to Pope Pius IX, who heedless of Bahá’u’lláh’s Message soon lost the Papal States, which were annexed by the new Kingdom of Italy. Bahá’u’lláh also wrote to the Kaiser of Germany, in which He predicted so clearly the outcome of the distant First World War: “O banks of the Rhine! We have seen you covered with gore, inasmuch as the swords of retribution were drawn against you; and you shall have another turn. And We hear the lamentations of Berlin, though she be today in conspicuous glory.” Bahá’u’lláh called the kings and rulers of the world to have concern for the poor masses: “Know ye not that the poor are the trust of God in your midst. Watch that ye betray not His trust, that ye deal not unjustly with them and that ye walk not in the ways of the treacherous. Ye will most certainly be called upon to answer for His trust on the day when the Balance of Justice shall be set, the day when unto every one shall be rendered his due, when the doings of all men, be they rich or poor, shall be weighed...” As a result of their negligence, the absolute monarchies of Europe have completely disappeared.
In June 1877, Bahá’u’lláh finally emerged from the strict confinement of the prison-city of Akká, and moved with His family to Mazra’ih, a small-estate several miles outside of the city. After a two-year stay at Mazra’ih, Bahá’u’lláh moved to Bahjí, a large mansion surrounded by gardens. He devoted the remaining 12 years of His life to His writings (He eventually produced more than 100 volumes of sacred scripture) and to receiving Bahá’í pilgrims from Persia and other lands. On the 29th of May, 1892, having fulfilled His Mission on earth, and having set into place the laws and spiritual community that will one day embrace the entire human race, Bahá’u’lláh left this world (aged 75). His appointed Successor and Interpreter of His writings was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921), His eldest son.
Bahá’u’lláh left a great dream of hope, that will one day become reality. As He said to Edward Granville Browne (an orientalist from Cambridge university who visited Bahá’u’lláh two years before His death): “...We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations; yet they deem us a stirrer up of strife and sedition worthy of bondage and banishment... That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled... what harm is there in this?... Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous warms shall pass away, and the ‘Most great Peace’ shall come...”
Throughout history God has revealed Himself to mankind through His Manifestations (Messengers). These include Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. The Manifestations of the past successively founded different religions and great civilisations. They each gave different laws and ordinances, and taught different principles and verities. However, according to the Bahá’í teachings, they all came from one God, and despite giving different social teachings suitable for the time in which they appeared, all brought the same eternal Message of love and unity.
Also, they all gave a promise that one day a Great Teacher or Promised One would come to unite the world and bring an era of world peace. Bahá’ís believe that this Promised One of all religions is Bahá’u’lláh. To the Jews Bahá’u’lláh is the Messiah, the “Glory of the Lord”, the “Everlasting Father”, the “Prince of Peace”, the “Rod come forth out of the stem of Jesse”, and the “Branch grown out of His roots”, the “Lord of Hosts”, and “King of Glory.” To Zoroastrians He is the Sháh-Bahram, Who would triumph over Ahriman and usher in an era of blessedness and peace. To Hindus He is the Tenth Avatar, and to Buddhists the Fifth Buddha (called Maitreye). To Christians He is Return of Christ in the Glory of the Father. Jesus referred to Him as the “Prince of this world”, the “Comforter”, the “Spirit of Truth” Who “will guide you into all truth,” the “Lord of the Vineyard”, and the “Son of Man” Who “shall come in the glory of His Father”. The Author of the Apocalypse refers to Bahá’u’lláh as the “Glory of God”, the “Alpha and the Omega”, “the Beginning and the End”, “the First and the Last". To Sunní Muslims He is the descent of the “Spirit of God” and the Shí’áhs, the return of Imám Husayn. To Bábís He is “He Whom God will make manifest”. Bahá’ís recognise Him as the Manifestation of God for this age, an infallible human being Who brought the teachings necessary not only for the spiritual revitalisation of the human race, but for the establishment of a Most Great Peace, an era of peace and unity wherein mankind will be unified by one system of world government based on universal principles of brotherhood and tolerance. Bahá’u’lláh is not the last Manifestation of God (one will come after a thousand years or more), but Bahá’u’lláh is the Herald of the collective ‘coming of age’ of the human race and the Reckoner of all mankind. [see Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By for more]
According to the Bahá’í Faith, the Báb is a Manifestation of God. He brought His Message in 1844 to prepare the world for the coming of Bahá’u’lláh. He can be compared to John the Baptist, who came to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. However, John the Baptist, although a very important prophet, was not a Manifestation of God. The Báb is recognised as an independent Manifestation of God by Bahá’ís and the bringer of a separate, preparatory Dispensation. A detailed study of the Holy Books of the world’s major religions will reveal that most scriptures have prophecies about two Promised Ones, one following the other, but the second one being the greatest. To the Zoroastrians the Báb is the promised ‘Úshidar-Máh’, to the Jews He is the return of Elijah, to the Christians the return of John the Baptist, the ‘second woe’ referred to in the book of Revelation, to the Sunní Muslims He is the Mahdí (‘rightly guided one’) and to the Shí’áh Muslims the Qá’im (‘one who will arise’).
‘Báb’ is Arabic for ‘Gate’. His actual name was Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad Shírází (1819-1850). He was born on the 20th of October 1819 into a family of traders and merchants in the southern Iranian city of Shíráz. Through both His father and mother He was descended from Imám Husayn (grandson of Muhammad), the third Shí’áh Muslim Imám. The Báb thus stood in direct line of descent from the Prophet Muhammad. The Báb’s father, Sayyid Muhammad Ridá, died when He was still a child (c. 1826). He grew up with his mother, Fátimih-Bagum, and under the guardianship of one of her brothers, Hájí Mírzá Sayyid ‘Alí. He was an only child.
(H. M. Balyuzi, The Báb, The Herald of the Day of Days, pp. 33-35):
“Every account that we have of Siyyid ‘Alí -Muhammad’s childhood indicate that He was not an ordinary child. When He was sent to school, He so surprised the school-master, Shaykh ‘Ábid, with His wisdom and intelligence that the bewildered man took the child back to His uncle, and said that he had nothing to teach the gifted pupil: ‘He, verily, stands in no need of teachers such as I.’ The uncle had already noticed the remarkable qualities of his ward, and it is recorded that on this occasion he was very stern with Him: ‘Have You forgotten my instructions? Have I not already admonished You to follow the example of Your fellow-pupils, to observe silence, and to listen attentively to every word spoken by Your teacher?’ It was totally alien to the nature of that gentle child to disregard the wishes of His guardian. He returned to school and conducted Himself on the pattern of other children. Nothing, however, could restrain the superior mind and intelligence possessed by that exceptional boy. As time went on, the schoolmaster became convinced that he could not help his student; in the role of instructor he felt as the instructed...
“Should the grace of the Holy Spirit once again deign to assist,
Others will also do what Christ could perform.”
In 1835 the Báb began to work as a merchant in to the port city of Bushire. Religious concerns eventually impelled Him to close His office in Bushire (1840) and embark on a pilgrimage to several shrine cities in Iraq, for about a year. It was during this time that He attended some classes of the Shaykhí leader, Siyyid Kázim Rashtí. He eventually returned to Shíráz where He married His cousin, Khadíjih Bagum, and established a household in August 1842. They had one son, Ahmad, who died in infancy (1843). While in Shíráz He began to experience a number of visionary dreams, in which He eventually received the Revelation of God. He did not openly reveal this wondrous occurrence, and instead waited for the promised moment, when the new era of mankind would begin.
A further bit of background information is needed.Nabíl, The Dawn-Breakers, translated from Persian by Shoghi Effendi, p. 1):
“At a time when the shining reality of the Faith of Muhammad had been obscured by ignorance, the fanaticism, and perversity of the contending sects into which it had fallen, there appeared above the horizon of the East that luminous Star of Divine guidance, Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsá’í. He observed how those who professed the Faith of Islám had shattered its unity, sapped its force, perverted its purpose, and degraded its holy name... Inspired by that light that shone within him, he arose with unerring vision, with fixed purpose... Aglow with zeal and conscious of the sublimity of his calling, he vehemently appealed not only to shí‘áh Islám but to all the followers of Muhammad throughout the East, to awaken from the slumber of negligence and prepare the way for Him who must needs be made manifest in the fullness of time, whose light alone could dissipate the mists of prejudice and ignorance which had enveloped that Faith. Forsaking his home and kindred, on one of the islands of Bahrayn, to the south of the Persian gulf, he set out, as bidden by an almighty Providence, to unravel the mysteries of those verses of Islamic scriptures which had foreshadowed the advent of a new Manifestation.”
Shaykh Ahmad (1753-1826) was the founder of the Shaykhí school of the Ithná-‘Asharíyyih sect of Shí‘áh Islám. He preached the coming of a great Manifestation of God. When he died, he was succeeded by his disciple Siyyid Kázim-i-Rashtí (c. 1790s-1843/4). He had become a follower of Shaykh Ahmad as a result of a visionary dream. Siyyid Kázim also taught the near advent of a messianic figure, the Qá’im. He told his disciples, that after his death they should all disperse and search for the Promised One. One of his greatest disciples was Mullá Husayn Bushrú’í (c. 1814-1849). He and several companions travelled together, searching for the Promised One. Eventually, they came to Shíráz.
“On that very day, a few hours before sunset, whilst walking outside the gate of the city, his eyes fell suddenly upon a Youth of radiant countenance, who wore a green turban and who, advancing towards him, greeted him with a smile of loving welcome. He embraced Mullá Husayn with tender affection as though he had been his intimate and lifelong friend. Mullá Husayn thought Him at first to be a disciple of Siyyid Kázim who, on being informed of his approach to Shíráz, had come out to welcome him...
[Mullá Husayn gives his own account]:
“‘The Youth who met me outside the gate of Shíráz overwhelmed me with expressions of affection and loving-kindness. He extended to me a warm invitation to visit His home, and there refresh myself after the fatigues of my journey. I prayed to be excused, pleading that my two companions had already arranged for my stay in that city, and were no awaiting my return. “Commit them to the care of God,” was His reply; “He will surely protect them and watch over them.” Having spoken these words, He bade me follow Him. I was profoundly impressed by the gentle yet compelling manner in which that strange Youth spoke to me. As I followed Him, His gait, the charm of His voice, the dignity of His bearing, served to enhance my first impressions of this unexpected meeting.”
They entered His house and performed the Muslim daily prayers. Despite Mullá Husayn’s insistence that he should leave to see his friends, the Youth kept him longer.“It was about an hour after sunset when my youthful Host began to converse with me. “Whom, after Siyyid Kázim,” He asked me, “do you regard as his successor and your leader?” “At the hour of his death,” I replied, “our departed teacher insistently exhorted us to forsake our homes, to scatter far and wide, in quest of the promised Beloved. I have, accordingly, journeyed to Persia, have arisen to accomplish his will, and am still engaged in my quest.” “Has your teacher,” He further inquired, “given you any detailed indications as to the distinguishing features of the promised One?” “Yes,” I replied, “He is of pure lineage, is of illustrious descent, and of the seed of Fátimih. As to His age, He is more than twenty and less than thirty. He is endowed with innate knowledge. He is of medium height, abstains from smoking, and is free from bodily deficiency.” He paused for a while and then with vibrant voice declared: “Behold, all these signs are manifest in Me!” He then considered each of the above-mentioned signs separately, and conclusively demonstrated that each and all were applicable to His person. I was greatly surprised, and politely observed: “He whose advent we await is a Man of unsurpassed holiness, and the Cause He is to reveal, a Cause of tremendous power. Many and diverse are the requirements which He who claims to be its invisible embodiment must needs fulfil. How often has Siyyid Kázim referred to the vastness of the knowledge of the promised One! How often did he say: ‘My own knowledge is but a drop compared with that with which He has been endowed. All my attainments are but a speck of dust in the face of the immensity of His knowledge. Nay, immeasurable is the difference!’” No sooner had these words dropped from my lips than I found myself seized with fear and remorse, such as I could neither conceal nor explain. I bitterly reproved myself, and resolved at that very moment to alter my attitude and soften my tone. I vowed to God that should my Host again refer to the subject, I would, with the utmost humility, answer and say: “If you be willing to substantiate your claim, you will most assuredly deliver me from the anxiety and suspense which so heavily oppress my soul. I shall be truly indebted to you for such deliverance.” When I first started upon my quest, I determined to regard the two following standards as those whereby I would ascertain the truth of whosoever might claim to be the promised Qá’im. The first was a treatise which I had myself composed, bearing upon the abstruse and hidden teachings propounded by Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kázim. Whoever seemed to me capable of unravelling the mysterious allusions made in that treatise, to him I would next submit my second request, and would ask him to reveal, without the least hesitation or reflection, a commentary on the Súrih of Joseph, in a style and language entirely different from the prevailing standards of the time. I had previously requested Siyyid Kázim, in private, to write a commentary on that same Súrih, which he refused, saying: “This is, verily, beyond me. He, that great One, who comes after me will, unasked, reveal it to you. That commentary will constitute one of the weightiest testimonies of His truth, and one of the clearest evidences of the loftiness of His position.”
“‘I was revolving these things in my mind, when my distinguished Host again remarked: “Observe attentively. Might not the Person intended by Siyyid Kázim be none other than I?” I thereupon felt impelled to present to Him a copy of the treatise which I had with me. “Will you,” I asked Him, “read this book of mine and look at its pages with indulgent eyes? I pray you to overlook my weaknesses and failings.” He graciously complied with my wish. He opened the book, glanced at certain passages, closed it, and began to address me. Within a few minutes He had, with characteristic vigour and charm, unravelled all its mysteries and resolved all its problems. Having to my entire satisfaction accomplished, within so short a time, the task I had expected Him to perform, He further expounded to me certain truths which could be found neither in the reported sayings of the imáms of the Faith nor in the writings of Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kázim. These truths, which I had never heard before, seemed to be endowed with refreshing vividness and power. “Had you not been my guest,” He afterwards observed, “your position would indeed have been a grievous one. The all-encompassing grace of God had saved you. It is for God to test His servants, and not for His servants to judge Him in accordance with their deficient standards. Were I to fail to resolve your perplexities, could the Reality that shines within Me be regarded as powerless, or My knowledge be accused as faulty? Nay, by the righteousness of God! it behoves, in this day, the peoples and nations of both the East and the West, to hasten to this threshold, and here seek to obtain the reviving grace of the Merciful. Whoso hesitates will indeed be in grievous loss. Do not the peoples of the earth testify that the fundamental purpose of their creation is the knowledge and adoration of God? It behoves them to arise, as earnestly and spontaneously as you have arisen, and to seek with determination and constancy their promised Beloved.” He then proceeded to say: “Now is the time to reveal the commentary on the Súrih of Joseph.” He took up His pen and with incredible rapidity revealed the entire Súrih of Mulk, the first chapter of His commentary on the Súrih of Joseph. The overpowering effect of the manner in which he wrote was heightened by the gentle intonation of His voice, which accompanied His writing. Not for one moment did He interrupt the flow of the verses which streamed from His pen. Not once did He pause till the Súrih of Mulk was finished. I sat enraptured by the magic of His voice and the sweeping force of His revelation. At last I reluctantly arose from my seat and begged leave to depart. He smilingly bad me be seated and said: “If you leave in such a state, whoever sees you will assuredly say: ‘This poor youth has lost his mind’.” At that moment the clock registered two hours and eleven minutes after sunset. That night, the eve of the fifth day of Jamádíyu’l-Avval, in the year A.H. 1260, corresponded with the eve preceding the sixty-fifth day after Naw-rúz, which was also the eve of the sixth day of Khurdád of the year Nahang. “This night,” He declared, “this very hour will in the days to come be celebrated as one of the greatest and most significant of all festivals. Render thanks to God for having graciously assisted you to attain your heart’s desire, and for having quaffed from the sealed wine of His utterance. ‘Well is it with them that attain thereunto.’...”
That night was the evening of the 22nd of May, 1844 A.D. The 23rd of May fell on a Thursday. The Declaration of the Báb is one of the most significant of Bahá’í Holy Days, celebrated every year by millions of Bahá’ís, in all parts of the world.
Eventually, a total of 18 disciples spontaneously came to the Báb and began to spread His teachings across Persia. The Báb, at one point, gave a holy tablet of His writings to send to a nobleman living in the region of Núr. That individual instantly accepted the Bábí Faith without a moment of hesitation, and began spreading the teachings across His native region. This devotion eventually led Him to spend the majority of His life in exile and imprisonment, to suffer torture and persecution, to have His own family turn against Him and try to poison Him to death. That nobleman’s name is known to history as Bahá’u’lláh.
The Báb’s followers grew and grew, until they numbered in the tens of thousands. Over thirty thousand were cruelly tortured and put to death. For a significant amount of time, the Báb was Himself imprisoned. He also suffered torture and persecution. At last, the clergy of Persia, who feared Him greatly, decided that the Báb Himself should be executed. But He gave His disciples hope, because He said that one, greater even than Him was soon to come, the Promised One, not only of Islám, but of all religions, the Saviour of the world (i.e. Bahá’u’lláh).
I will quote an account of the Báb’s awe-inspiring martyrdom, how the people of the earth had again martyred a Manifestation of God! Read with awe and wonder, this totally and entirely true story: (Nabíl, The Dawn-Breakers, translated from Persian by Shoghi Effendi, pp. 372-378):
“Deprived of His turban and sash, the twin emblems of His noble lineage, the Báb, together with Siyyid Husayn, His amanuensis, was driven to yet another confinement which He well knew was but a step further on the way leading Him to the goal He had set Himself to attain. That day witnessed a tremendous commotion in the city of Tabríz. The great convulsion associated in the ideas of its inhabitants with the Day of Judgement seemed at last to have come upon them. Never had that city experienced a turmoil so fierce and so mysterious as the one which seized its inhabitants on the day the Báb was led to that place which was to be the scene of His martyrdom. As He approached the courtyard of the barracks, a youth suddenly leaped forward who, in his eagerness to overtake Him, had forced his way through the crowd, utterly ignoring the risks and perils which such an attempt might involve. His face was haggard, his feet were bare, and his hair dishevelled. Breathless with excitement and exhausted with fatigue, he flung himself at the feet of the Báb and, seizing the hem of His garment, passionately implored Him: “Send me not from Thee, O Master. Wherever Thou goest, suffer me to follow Thee.” “Muhammad-‘Alí,” answered the Báb, “arise, and rest assured that you will be with Me. Tomorrow you shall witness what God has decreed.” Two other companions, unable to contain themselves, rushed forward and assured Him of their unalterable loyalty. These, together with Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alíy-i-Zunúzí, were seized and placed in the same cell in which the Báb and Siyyid Husayn were confined.
“I have heard Siyyid Husayn bear witness to the following: “That night the face of the Báb was aglow with joy, a joy such as had never shone from his countenance. Indifferent to the storm that raged about Him, He conversed with us with gaiety and cheerfulness. The sorrows that had weighed so heavily upon Him seemed to have completely vanished. Their weight had appeared to have dissolved in the consciousness of approaching victory. ‘Tomorrow,’ He said to us, ‘will be the day of My martyrdom. Would that one of you might now arise and, with his own hands, end My life. I prefer to be slain by the hand of a friend rather than by that of the enemy.’ Tears rained from our eyes as we heard Him express that wish. We shrank, however, at the thought of taking away with our own hands so precious a life. We refused, and remained silent. Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alí suddenly sprang to his feet and announced himself ready to obey whatever the Báb might desire. ‘This same youth who has risen to comply with My wish,’ the Báb declared, as soon as we had intervened and forced him to abandon that thought, ‘will, together with Me, suffer martyrdom. Him will I choose to share with Me its crown...'
[The Báb was engaged in a confidential conversation with his amanuensis when the authorities interrupted and drew aside Siyyid Husayn]:
“Not until I have said to him all those things that I wish to say,” the Báb warned the farrásh-báshí, “can any earthly power silence Me. Though all the world be armed against Me, yet shall they be powerless to deter Me from fulfilling, to the last word, My intention.” The farrásh-báshí was amazed at such a bold assertion. He made, however, no reply, and bade Siyyid Husayn arise and follow him.
“When Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alí was ushered into the presence of the mujtahids [clerics], he was repeatedly urged, in view of the position which his stepfather, Siyyid ‘Alíy-i-Zunúzí, occupied, to recant his faith. “Never,” he exclaimed, “will I renounce my Master. He is the essence of my faith, and the object of my truest adoration. In Him I have found my paradise, and in the observance of His laws I recognise the ark of my salvation.” “Hold your peace!” thundered Mullá Muhammad-i-Mámáqání, before whom that youth was brought. “Such words betray your madness; I can well excuse the words for which you are not responsible.” “I am not mad,” he retorted. “Such a charge should rather be brought against you who have sentenced to death the promised Qá’im. He is not a fool who has embraced His Faith and is longing to shed his blood in His path.”
“The Báb was, in His turn, brought before Mullá Muhammad-i-Mámáqání. No sooner had he recognised Him than he seized the death-warrant he himself had previously written and, handing it to his attendant, bade him deliver it to the farrásh-báshí. “No need,” he cried, “to bring the Siyyid-i-Báb into my presence. This death-warrant I penned the very day I met him at the gathering presided over by the Valí-‘Ahd. He surely is the same man whom I saw on that occasion, and has not, in the meantime, surrendered any of his claims.”
[He was taken to various other Muslim clerics, who didn’t hesitate to sentence Him to death.]
“He was delivered into the hands of Sám Khán, who was ordered to execute him also, if he persisted in his refusal to deny his Faith.
“Sám Khán was, in the meantime, finding himself increasingly affected by the behaviour of his Captive and the treatment that had been meted out to Him. He was seized with great fear lest his action should bring upon him the wrath of God. “I profess the Christian faith,” he explained to the Báb, “and entertain no ill will against you. If your Cause be the Cause of Truth, enable me to free myself from the obligation to shed your blood.” “Follow your instructions,” the Báb replied, “and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you from your perplexity.”"“Sám Khán ordered his men to drive a nail into the pillar that lay between the door of the room that Siyyid Husayn occupied and the entrance of the adjoining one, and to make fast two ropes to that nail, from which the Báb and His companion were to be separately suspended. Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alí begged Sám Khán to be placed in such a manner that his own body would shield that of the Báb. He was eventually suspended in such a position that his head reposed on the breast of his Master. As soon as they were fastened, a regiment of soldiers ranged itself in three files, each of two hundred and fifty men, each of which was ordered to open fire in its turn until the whole detachment had discharged the volleys of its bullets. The smoke of the firing of the seven hundred and fifty rifles was such as to turn the light of the noonday sun into darkness. There had crowded on the roof of the barracks, as well as the tops of the adjoining houses, about ten thousand people, all of whom were witnesses to that sad and moving scene.
“As soon as the clouds of smoke had cleared away, an astounded multitude were looking upon a scene which their eyes could scarcely believe. There, standing before them, alive and unhurt, was the companion of the Báb, whilst He Himself had vanished uninjured from their sight. Though the cords with which they were suspended had been rent in pieces by the bullets, ye their bodies had miraculously escaped the volleys. Even the tunic which Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alí was wearing had, despite the thickness of the smoke, remained unsullied. “The Siyyid-i-Báb has gone from our sight!” rang out the voices of the bewildered multitude. They set out in a frenzied search for Him, and found Him, eventually, seated in the same room which He had occupied the night before, engaged in completing His interrupted conversation with Siyyid Husayn. An expression of unruffled calm was upon His face. His body had emerged unscathed from the shower of bullets which the regiment had directed against Him. “I have finished My conversation with Siyyid Husayn,” the Báb told the farrásh-báshí. “Now you may proceed to fulfil your intention.” The man was too much shaken to resume what he had already attempted. Refusing to accomplish his duty, he, that same moment, left the scene and resigned his post. He related all that he had seen to his neighbour, Mírzá Siyyid Muhsin, one of the notables of Tabríz, who, as soon as he heard the story, was converted to the Faith.
“Sám Khán was likewise stunned by the force of this tremendous revelation. He ordered his men to leave the barracks immediately, and refused ever again to associate himself and his regiment with any act that involved the least injury to the Báb. He swore, as he left the courtyard, never again to resume that task even though his refusal should entail the loss of his own life.
“No sooner had Sám Khán departed than Áqá Ján Khán-i-Khamsih, colonel of the body-guard, known also by the names of Khamsih and Násirí, volunteered to carry out the order for execution. On the same wall and in the same manner, the Báb and His companion were again suspended, while the regiment formed in line to open fire upon them. Contrariwise to the previous occasion, when only the cord with which they were suspended had been shot into pieces, this time their bodies were shattered and were blended into one mass of mingled flesh and bone. “Had you believed in Me, O wayward generation,” were the last words of the Báb to the gazing multitude as the regiment was preparing to fire the final volley, “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 recognised Me; that day I shall have ceased to be with you.”
“The very moment the shots were fired, a gale of exceptional severity arose and swept over the whole city. A whirlwind of dust of incredible density obscured the light of the sun and blinded the eyes of the people. The entire city remained enveloped in that darkness from noon till night. Even so strange a phenomenon, following immediately in the wake of that still more astounding failure of Sám Khán’s regiment to injure the Báb, was unable to move the hearts of the people of Tabríz, and to induce them to pause and reflect upon the significance of such momentous events. They witnessed the effect which so marvellous an occurrence had produced upon Sám Khán; they beheld the consternation of the farrásh-báshí and saw him make his irrevocable decision; they could even examine that tunic which, despite the discharge of so many bullets, had remained whole and stainless; they could read in the face of the Báb, who had emerged unhurt form that storm, the expression of undisturbed serenity as He resumed His conversation with Siyyid Husayn; and yet none of them troubled himself to inquire as to the significance of these unwonted signs and wonders.
“The martyrdom of the Báb took place at noon on Sunday, the twenty-eighth of Sha‘bán, in the year A.H. 1266 (9 July A.D. 1850), thirty-one lunar years, seven months, and twenty-seven days from the day of His birth in Shíráz.
“On the evening of that same day, the mangled bodies of the Báb and His companion were removed from the courtyard of the barracks to the edge of the moat outside the gate of the city. Four companions, each consisting of ten sentinels, were ordered to keep watch over them. On the morning following the day of martyrdom, the Russian consul in Tabríz, accompanied by an artist, went to that spot and ordered that a sketch be made of the remains as they lay beside the moat.
“On the evening of that same day, the mangled bodies of the Báb and His companion were removed from the courtyard of the barracks to the edge of the moat outside the gate of the city. Four companions, each consisting of ten sentinels, were ordered to keep watch over them. On the morning following the day of martyrdom, the Russian consul in Tabríz, accompanied by an artist, went to that spot and ordered that a sketch be made of the remains as they lay beside the moat.
“I have heard Hájí ‘Alí-‘Askar relate the following: “An official of the Russian consulate, to whom I was related, showed me that same sketch on the very day it was drawn. It was such a faithful portrait of the Báb that I looked upon! No bullet had struck His forehead, His cheeks, or His lips. I gazed upon a smile which seemed to be still lingering upon his countenance. His body, however, had been severely mutilated. I could recognise the arms and head of his companion, who seemed to be holding Him in his embrace. As I gazed horror-struck upon that haunting picture and saw how those noble traits had been disfigured, my heart sank within me. I turned away my face in anguish and, regaining my house, locked myself within my room. For three days and three nights, I could neither eat nor sleep, so overwhelmed was I with emotion. That short and tumultuous life, with all its sorrows, its turmoils, its banishments, and eventually the awe-inspiring martyrdom with which it had been crowned, seemed again to be re-enacted before my eyes. I tossed upon my bed, writhing in agony and pain.”
The Báb’s body was eventually taken by several pious Bábís and kept hidden for several decades. The bodies of the Báb and his beloved companion now rest in a beautiful and ornate Shrine of the Báb, on Mount Carmel, in Haifa, Israel, near the Bahá’í World Headquarters.
The Báb referred to Himself as the ‘Primal Point’ (nuqti-yi-úlá) from which all things were created. He claimed to be no less than the Mahdí, or Promised One of Islám. He also called Himself the ‘Remembrance’ (dhikr) and the ‘Gate’ (báb). It is an essential part of Bahá’í belief that the Báb was both a self-sufficient Manifestation of God and the forerunner of Bahá’u’lláh. The inauguration of the Báb’s mission constituted the ‘founding of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh’. Bahá’ís also believe that the Báb inaugurated a new cycle (the Bahá’í Era), and that the spiritual forces released from His martyrdom have given mankind the capacities to attain its collective maturity, and are now upsetting the world’s equilibrium in order to prepare it for its future unity. The fact that His Dispensation was very short, and the application of His laws limited does not affect His greatness. (see A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá’í Faith, p. 58). Bahá’u’lláh referred to Him as the “King of the Messengers”.