The Bab was a Persian merchant in the mid-1800’s. The word ‘Bab’ means ‘Gate,’ in Arabic. The Bab started a new religion in 1844. He received His inspiration from God to prepare the world for the coming of the Promised One of All Religions. The Bab’s religion spread quickly as many religious students and scholars had been predicting the coming of a Messenger of God at the time. The Bab quickly spread His message of fulfillment of prophecies and of preparation for a New Age throughout Iran and Iraq.
The religion spread so rapidly that many religious leaders and monarchs became alarmed that they would lose their authority, wealth, and prestige. They began to persecute the new followers of the Bab, who called themselves Babis. Thousands of Babis were martyred in Iran. At first the Babis defended themselves with arms in heroic and miraculous acts of bravery and self-sacrifice, but eventually the sword was abandoned, and a nonviolent approach was taken. This did not stop the leaders of the time from murdering them. Tragically, even the Bab Himself was martyred in 1850. Tens of thousands of Babis died during this early history of the Baha’i Faith, but the persecution continues to this day in the Middle East. Today in Iran for example, Baha’is are often shut out from schools and colleges, forced to give up their property and wealth, have no legal protections or rights, and are even sometimes killed for their beliefs.