July 9: Martyrdom of the B b
To some, the Bah 'i faith is a cult; to others it is one of the great world religions.
In 1844, a Muslim merchant who lived in Persia (present-day Iran) began to preach that the day of God was at hand. He named himself the B b or "gate", saying that (like John the Baptist) he was the forerunner of one greater than himself. For a while, he remained a Muslim.
As his teaching spread, the shah or ruler of Persia began to fear a revolution and put the B b in prison. In 1850 he was taken before a firing squad. When the smoke of the shots cleared, the B b was nowhere to be seen.
He was found back in his cell, unharmed and teaching a disciple. When he had finished, he told the guards to do their duty. This time he was killed.
After his death, one of his followers, called Baha'u'llah, was also put in prison. On his release, he walked to Baghdad and there continued the B b's teaching. He became the founder and leader of the Bah 'i faith.
Bah 'is believe all religions are chapters of the same book and each prepares the way for the next one: Krishna, the Buddha, Moses, Muhammad, Jesus, the B b and Baha'u'llah are all considered prophets of the one God.
Bah 'is hope for world peace and say daily prayers but have no priests, do not drink or smoke and believe everyone should marry.
Today there are some five million Bah 'is around the world with 6,000 living in Britain. The symbol of the faith is a nine-pointed star.
Follow-up On major holy days, Bah 'is do no work just as, traditionally, Christian holy days were always observed as "holidays". Discuss what is the purpose of a modern holiday. Why do we need them?
Accounts of the martyrdom of the B b can be found at
www.breacais.demon.co.ukdayspring25_martyrdom and at