GRADE 3 LESSON 14
THE BÁB AS THE HERALD OF A NEW ERA
The purpose of this lesson is to recognize that the Báb was the Herald of a New Era. To help us reflect on this theme, lets us review what we have learned so far:
In the past few lessons, we have seen that the appearance of the Báb created hope among the people of Persia.
Many recognized that a new period in human history had opened.
For hundreds of thousands of years, humanity has grown in number, in experience and in knowledge.
How did humanity live at the beginning of its history?
There was a long period when human beings lived in caves and roamed the earth in small bands. But did humanity stay in small bands?
What came next?
Can one family achieve as much as several families united in a clan or tribe?
As humanity advanced, people joined together in clans and tribes and were able to accomplish many new things; some soon began to build villages and, later on, towns. Gradually great cities came into being. Over the past few hundred years, people have gone even further and created nations.
What do you think these nations need to learn to do?
Will humanity achieve more if all the nations remain separate or if they are united and cooperate and support one another?
We see that, during its long history, humanity has accomplished extraordinary things; yet its life has not always been a happy one.
Often humanity’s life has been full of fear and grief,
Only for a few brief periods has justice ruled here and there. Terrible acts of cruelty have been committed. Wars have continually brought pain and suffering to the world. But, as long as humanity has existed, the hope has been that someday a new world would be built and a glorious era would begin in the life of humanity.
We know that this new Day has now dawned,
We know that Bahá’u’lláh has come to lead humanity into an era of great peace and prosperity. This new Day began in 1844 when the Báb declared His Mission. Do you know what the word ‘herald’ means? A herald is one who makes an announcement. The Báb came to announce the beginning of a new life for humanity. The Báb is the Herald of a new Era.
1. Is there any remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding!
2. Say: God sufficeth all things above all things, and nothing in the heavens or in the earth but God sufficeth. Verily, He is in Himself the Knower, the Sustainer, the Omnipotent.
3. O Lord! Thou art the Remover of every anguish and the Dispeller of every affliction. Thou art He who banisheth every sorrow and setteth free every slave, the Redeemer of every soul. O Lord! Grant deliverance through Thy mercy, and reckon me among such servants of Thine as have gained salvation.
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These are the appointed days which ye have been yearningly awaiting in the past— the days of the advent of divine justice. Render ye thanks unto God, O ye concourse of believers.Baha’u’llah
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We have two stories for this lesson, which, together, make up the historical episode. The first is the story of Ṭáhirih, the great poetess and champion of the cause of the equality of men and women. Some of you may remember the story of Ṭáhirih told to them in second grade. Does anyone remember some of the points?
The story in this lesson focuses on the Conference of Badasht. The second story describes the valiant efforts exerted by the village maiden, Zaynab, in the Zanján upheaval.
One of the eighteen Letters of the Living was a remarkable woman who will always be remembered as the most courageous champion of the cause of the equality of men and women. Her name was Ṭáhirih. She was born to a distinguished family of the Muslim clergy, and she herself was extremely knowledgeable and highly accomplished. She wrote the most beautiful poetry; when someday you read or hear her poetry, you will think of her soul as a great ocean, deep and full of the most precious pearls. Of the eighteen Letters of the Living, only Ṭáhirih accepted the Báb without having met Him. She knew in her heart that the Promised Qá’im had appeared, and she had already seen Him in a dream.
Whenever a Manifestation of God appears on earth, the unjust and the ungodly rise against Him and inflict great suffering on Him and those who believe in Him. This is what happened to the Báb and His followers as His fame spread throughout the country. You already know that the Báb Himself was exiled to the far-away mountains in the northwest corner of the country. The authorities had thought that, by sending Him to such a remote place, they would succeed in putting out the light of His Faith. But, of course, no one can put out the light that has been lit by the Hand of God, and the Message of the Báb continued to spread. The number of Bábís grew rapidly, but so did the fierce opposition of power-hungry leaders and their ignorant followers.
It was during this period that some of those who had recognized the Báb gathered together for an historic conference known as the Conference of Badasht. Bahá’u’lláh was one of the believers present at this conference, as were Quddús and Ṭáhirih. When you are older, you will study the account of Badasht yourselves and become informed of its details, but for now it suffices to say that on that occasion the followers of the Báb boldly announced their independence from Islám, the official religion of the country. Guided by Bahá’u’lláh, Who was not yet known as the Manifestation of God for today, they came to realize that indeed a new Day had dawned, that they had to put the past behind them and enter a new Era.
In the electrifying atmosphere of the Conference of Badasht, Ṭáhirih made a most breathtaking announcement about breaking with the past. As you know, throughout all of history women have been treated as inferior to men; they have not received the same education as men, and their voices have not been properly heard. In certain places, they have not even been allowed to show their faces to any man outside of their immediate families. In the presence of other men, they have been required to wear a veil. This custom still exists in some parts of the world today, and in the days of the Báb it was firmly established in Persia. In fact, it was more than a mere custom; it was considered a religious law not to be broken. So imagine how the men gathered at the Conference of Badasht felt when one day Ṭáhirih appeared without a veil covering her face.
There was a great commotion. A few of the followers of the Báb were so shocked that they ran away. Others stood dumbfounded. Even Quddús showed signs of anger. But Ṭáhirih seated herself next to Quddús with dignity and confidence. Her face was radiant. She arose and spoke. Her words were so powerful that they penetrated the hearts of everyone present. She called on the believers to break from the past and hold firmly to the laws revealed by the Báb. She made certain remarks about the greatness of Bahá’u’lláh which at the time few could comprehend. She finished her speech by saying that she was the Word which the Promised Qá’im was to utter. And who could deny that she had acted as a mighty Word uttered by the Báb heralding the beginning of a new Era in human existence? Who could deny that she had sounded the trumpet call announcing the equality of men and women?
Gradually, all around the world this call was heard as the spiritual forces released by the appearance of God’s new Manifestation on earth began to open the way for people to see new possibilities. Even in those early days in Persia, where the life of a woman was so restricted, there were women rising to take their place alongside men. One such woman was a maiden called Zaynab from a village near the town of Zanján.
Not long after the Conference in Badasht, Muḥammad Sháh, the king of Persia, passed away and his incompetent Prime Minister fell into disgrace. The king’s young son, Náṣiri’d-Dín Mírzá, came to the throne, and he appointed a new Prime Minister, who decided that vigorous steps needed to be taken to stop the spread of the Message of the Báb. The ensuing years would witness outbreaks of intense persecution across the country directed against His followers. Many would be subjected to acts of the most savage brutality and would give up their lives for the new-born Faith.
In the next lesson, we will learn about the valor and heroism that Mullá Ḥusayn and Quddús displayed in the months immediately after the Conference of Badasht. For now, let us jump ahead about two years to Zanján, which was the scene of one of the fiercest attacks.
The governor of Zanján was not a strong man, and he allowed himself to be manipulated by the clergy. At their bidding, he sent a crier through the streets to warn the people of what was to come. Whoever wanted his protection was advised to move to one side of the town, away from the Bábís, who were all left on the other side. Now the town was divided into two camps, and the governor brought in troops from the neighboring villages to mount an assault. While the enemy camp was busy with preparations, the innocent Bábís took refuge in a nearby fort. There were some three thousand men, women and children who wanted nothing more than to live peaceful lives and follow the teachings brought by God’s new Manifestation. But it was not to be so. They were soon attacked, and then again and again. Each time a few from the fort would rush out and scatter the enemy forces. And each time, Ḥujjat, a most devoted follower of the Báb, about whom you will learn more when you are older, would urge his companions to refrain from aggression and acts of violence. Their sole purpose, he reminded them, was to defend themselves and to protect the women and children, who, they knew, would be treated savagely if they failed.
Now, among those in the fort was the young maiden Zaynab. At seeing the trials and hardships that the men had to endure, she yearned to assist them. But, as a woman, she was not expected to have courage and bravery. Finally, however, she could sit still no longer. One day she cut off her hair, put on the clothes of a man, and introduced herself to those defending the fort, taking her place alongside them. And, as soon as the enemy charged, she drew a sword and flung herself upon the forces that surrounded her. All those who saw her that day, friend and foe, marveled at her courage and resourcefulness. Overwhelmed with fear, the enemy troops fled from her in disgrace.
Ḥujjat, who was watching the scene from a distance, realized that this brave soul was none other than young Zaynab. “No man,” he was heard to say, “has shown himself capable of such vitality and courage.” Once she had returned, Ḥujjat asked her why she had disguised herself as a man. At this she burst into tears.
“My heart ached with pity and sorrow,” she said, “when I beheld the toil and sufferings of my fellow-disciples.”
She explained how much she longed to help the men defending the fort, but she was afraid that she would be denied the opportunity because she was a woman. She begged him to allow her to continue to assist thus disguised.
Ḥujjat was profoundly impressed by her words. He calmed her and assured her of his prayers on her behalf.
“Not by their outward appearance, but by the character of their beliefs and the manner of their lives, does God judge His creatures, be they men or women,” he told her. “Though a maiden of tender age and immature experience, you have displayed such vitality and resource as few men could hope to surpass.”
And so he granted her request. He warned her, however, as he did her male companions, not to exceed the bounds their Faith had imposed upon them. “We are called upon to defend our lives against a treacherous assailant,” he advised. Bloodshed was to be avoided as much as possible.
For the next five months, Zaynab continued to defend the fort with a heroism that few could match. She slept little and ate little. Her sword was always by her side, so that she would be ready to rush to the rescue of whoever needed her assistance. During the brief moments that she found time to sleep, she could be seen with her head resting upon her sword and her shield serving as a cover for her body. Eventually, of course, the enemy discovered her secret and knew that she was a woman. Yet their fear of her capacity and courage never diminished. Still they trembled at her approach.
Then one day, seeing that a group of her companions were suddenly surrounded by enemy troops, Zaynab ran to Ḥujjat and begged him, with tearful eyes, to allow her to go to their aid. She feared not, she declared, for her life. Ḥujjat was deeply touched by her request, and before he could reply, she leapt out of the gate and flung herself upon the enemy. A number of her fellow defenders of the fort had already been slain. She ran to the barricades that the enemy had erected, and the fearful guards at the first line of defense abandoned their post and scattered in fear. She then ran to the second line of defense, and then to the third, and the guards also fled. She was making her way to the fourth when the bullets of the enemy found her and she dropped dead upon the ground.
For a period of five months Zaynab had demonstrated a courage in the face of danger that no one thought possible of a woman at the time. So inspired by her devotion and fearlessness were some twenty women who knew her that they, too, embraced the Cause of the Báb. Alas, four months after her passing, following a massive assault, Ḥujjat and his companions could hold the enemy back no longer and the troops stormed the gates of the fort. A hundred women and children were captured that day, while all the others sought shelter in some nearby houses. Not long after, the wife and baby of Ḥujjat would be killed by cannon fire, and Ḥujjat would then die from his wounds. What happened to those who remained is too terrible to describe. In all, some one thousand and eight hundred souls lost their lives during that nine-month siege, and by its treachery and cruelty the enemy had shown how corrupt was the old Order that the Báb, the Herald of a new Era, had come to sweep away.
In the above episode, Ḥujjat shares with Zaynab a most profound and important spiritual truth—namely, that the human soul has no gender and that all are equal in the sight of God.
Download the story Zaynab blast from Brilliant Star Magazine here
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FACTS ABOUT THE BÁB
- The Declaration of the Báb in 1844 marked the opening of a new Era in human history.
- Ṭáhirih was the seventeenth Letter of the Living
- The independence of the Faith of the Báb from Islám was declared at the Conference of Badasht.
- The Conference of Badasht took place in the summer of 1848.
- Bahá’u’lláh, Quddús and Ṭáhirih were present at the Conference of Badasht.
- Ṭáhirih removed the veil from her face at the Conference of Badasht and publicly announced the equality of men and women.
- The Zanján upheaval began in the spring of 1850 lasted for some nine months.
- Ḥujjat was one of the most able and formidable champions of the Faith.
- Led by Ḥujjat, some three thousand followers of the Báb, including women and children, were forced to take shelter in a fort in Zanján and to defend themselves against armed troops.
- Some one thousand and eight hundred souls gave up their lives in the Zanján upheaval, including Ḥujjat and Zaynab.
Download the memorization aid cards FACTS ABOUT THE BAB HERE
BASED ON THE 2 STORIES TODAY
Come up with some situations where you had to show bravery and courage
Some examples below:
- Trying a food that you’ve never tried before.
- Engaging in a new experience.
- Doing something for the first time, like riding a bike.
- Standing up for a person who is being picked on.
- Helping out a person or animal in need, even if it might put you in a little bit of danger.
- Standing up for yourself.
- Doing something by yourself for the first time.
- Making a public presentation about something you believe in.
- Standing up against racism or prejudice.
BASED ON TÁHIRIH
Ṭáhirih was a renowned poet. To read some of Táhirih poems, visit Nine star solutions site
Can you write some poetry? Here are some categories to get you started
- Seeking out truth
- Purify your mind
Find tips on how to start writing here
Type of poems
Not sure what type of poems you would like to try? Visit this site to learn more
Here is another great site for poems
BRILLIANT STAR MAGAZINE
O Son of Being! My love is My stronghold; he that entereth therein is safe and secure, and he that turneth away shall surely stray and perish
Bahá’u’lláh – The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh
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