A precursor to the Bahá’í Faith, emphasizing a new prophetic cycle with its unique teachings and laws.
Bábism, also known as the Bábi Faith, emerged in 1844 in Iran, founded by the Báb (born ‘Ali Muhammad Shirazi). It is a monotheistic religion that introduced the concept of a continuing series of divine messengers, or Manifestations of God, with the Báb declaring himself as the herald of a new religious era. The Báb’s teachings evolved during his ministry, leading to a significant break from Shia Islam and laying the groundwork for the Bahá’í Faith. Despite facing severe persecution, including the execution of the Báb in 1850 and the killing of thousands of followers, Bábism set the stage for the later emergence of the Bahá’í Faith. The remains of the Báb were eventually interred on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, in a shrine dedicated to his memory.
The name “Báb” signifies “gate,” alluding to the Báb’s role as a gate to spiritual and divine guidance. His teachings centered around the anticipation of a messianic figure, a belief deeply rooted in the Shia tradition of Islam. Bábism challenged existing religious doctrines, proposing a new set of laws, teachings, and practices distinct from those of Shia Islam. This led to considerable tension with both religious authorities and the government, culminating in widespread persecution of its adherents.
The Báb’s claim and teachings were heavily influenced by the Shaykhi school of Shia Islam, yet they represented a radical departure from traditional Islamic thought. His proclamation in 1844 marked the beginning of a significant religious movement, attracting a diverse following, including the Letters of the Living, his initial 18 disciples. Bábism’s progressive revelation doctrine, emphasizing the continuity of divine guidance, was revolutionary. It proposed the abolition of all previous religious laws in favor of those revealed by the Báb in his holy book, the Bayán.
Despite its suppression and the eventual transition of the majority of its followers to the Bahá’í Faith, Bábism remains a critical chapter in the history of religious movements. It not only introduced new theological concepts but also played a pivotal role in the socio-religious transformation of 19th-century Iran, challenging existing structures and paving the way for the global spread of the Bahá’í Faith.