The Baha’i Faith of the Virgin Islands will be celebrating the Declaration of the Bab on May 23. The Baha’i Faith is a world religion with followers of every racial, ethnic and socio-economic status in virtually every country on the planet. The principle teaching of the Baha’i Faith is unity: the oneness of God, the oneness of religion, and the oneness of mankind.
The history of the Baha’i Faith began in 1844. The 19th century was a great period of messianic expectations for both Islam and Christianity. Throughout Europe and America, groups awaited the return of Christ. The German Templars sold all they owned to settle at the foot of Mt. Carmel as they awaited the coming of the Lord. William Miller in Pennsylvania lectured extensively that the return of Christ was at hand. There were many other groups who believed they had found in the Christian Scriptures evidence supporting their belief that Jesus would return between 1843 and 1845.
It was a tremendous time of religious revival and anticipation. What may not be known in the West is that during this same period, messianic beliefs were prevalent throughout Islam as well. There were prophesies in the Quran and in Islamic tradition that a new prophet was at hand.
In fulfillment of everyone’s anticipation, on the evening of May 23, 1844, a young merchant in Iran named Ali-Muhammad took the name “Bab,” which means ‘gate’ and announced to the world that he was the portal, the ‘gate.’ through which the prophet for this age would appear. In the same tradition as John the Baptist, he served as the herald for the “One Whom God Shall Make Manifest,” which is a reference to Baha’u’llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith. It is for this reason that Baha’is around the world mark May 23, 1844, as the date when their faith was founded.
The Templars settled at the foot of Mt. Carmel awaiting the return and carved in stone arches above their doorways the words: “Derr Her Ist Nahe,” which translates to “The Lord Is Near.” Interestingly enough, these same houses are still standing and can be seen from the Shrine of the Bab where the Bab’s remains are buried on Mt. Carmel, the Mountain of the Lord.
On St. Croix, the Declaration of the Bab will be celebrated at 8 p.m. on Sunday, May 22, at the Baha’i Center in Frederiksted. On St. Thomas, it will be celebrated at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 22, at the Baha’i National Center in Estate Contant. All are welcome to attend.
Contact the Baha’is for more information on the Baha’i Faith and local activities including study circles, devotional meetings, junior youth groups and children’s classes in the area: Christiansted: 727-4028, Frederiksted: 672-3827, St. John: 714-1641, St. Thomas: 776-7024, Tortola 284-340-8014 or Web site: www.bahaivi.org.
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