The Bahá’ís of uMngeni joined millions of their fellow believers in universally celebrating the Births of Bahá’u’lláh, Founder of their Faith, and the Báb, His Forerunner, on 29 and 30 October. This year, 29 October marked the 200th anniversary of the Birth of the Báb in Shiraz, Persia (now Iran).
To some, these names may be unfamiliar. In English, Bahá’u’lláh means “the Glory of God”, in isiZulu, “iNkazimulo kaNkulunkulu”. The Báb means “the Gate” or “iSango”.
The Bahá’í Faith teaches that, from the time of the creation of mankind, God has sent a succession of Divine Educators, who have progressively revealed to us the Word of God. Each Divine Educator renews eternal spiritual truths and reveals social and moral teachings suited for that age and man’s capacity to understand. There have been many such Educators, some known to most people include Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Jesus, and Muhammad – and now the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh.
While most people may see these Educators and their teachings as separate, the Bahá’ís see them as one. The teachings of these Divine Educators unfold as chapters in an endless book. Each chapter renews the Word of God, refreshes God’s religion, expands the unity of human civilisation and improving the spiritual and material condition of the world.
Bahá’u’lláh, who publicly announced His Revelation in 1863, is the most recent of these Divine Educators. This chapter of progressive Revelation from God opened with the Báb who, in Iran in 1844, brought new teachings from God. The purpose of the Báb’s Revelation was to prepare the world for the Promised One of All Ages, Bahá’u’lláh.
The Báb’s teachings swept through Iran like wildfire. The fear and apprehension they caused among the political and religious leaders resulted in the public execution of the Báb by firing squad in 1850, the execution of over 20000 of His followers, and the imprisonment and exile of Bahá’u’lláh for the remainder of His earthly life. The intention was to extinguish this new Faith and bring an end to its proposed reforms to society.
Despite these efforts, as with all the Divine Educators, the teachings of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh and the stories of their lives survived to inspire millions of people around the world to work for the sole aim of uniting the peoples of the world as a single family as the children of the same Creator. In every corner of the globe, Bahá’ís continue to share and put into practice the teachings of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh through neighbourhood-level community building activities and service projects.
To celebrated these “twin birthdays”, the Bahá’ís of uMngeni have hosted several activities over the last few months. Most have been intimate celebrations in homes, where families and their friends and neighbours share stories and pray together, recounting episodes from the life of the Báb. A key part of their celebrations have been public and private viewings of a 48 minute movie called “Dawn of the Light” which tells the story of the Báb and of the efforts of the Bahá’ís in various parts of the world to address hard issues of building unity to overcome the many divisions in society. The movie is freely available for viewing or download at https://bicentenary.bahai.org.