The Shrine of The Báb sits majestically on Mount Carmel’s steep slopes overlooking Haifa. Its nearly 12,000 gilded tiles can be seen for miles. At night, it is a familiar, friendly beacon.

Many people may see this majestic shrine but not know why it is on Mount Carmel nor who The Báb was.

His given name was Siyyid `Alí Muhammad and He was a merchant from Shiraz, Iran. On May 23, 1844, He declared His mission as the Herald of a new faith. He took the name of The Báb, which in Arabic means “The Gate.” His religion became known as the Bábí Faith.

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Shrine of The Báb from Hatzionut Bridge (before restoration). © Bahá’í International Community.

“The Báb was the symbolic gate between past ages of prophecy and a new age of fulfillment for humanity,” according to Bahai.org.

“His primary purpose was to awaken the people to the fact that a new period in human history had begun, one which would witness the unification of the entire human race and the emergence of a world civilization of spiritual and material prosperity. This great day would be established through the influence of a divinely inspired Educator, whom The Báb referred to as ‘He Whom God shall make manifest.’”

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Shrine of The Báb (after restoration). © Bahá’í International Community.

In spite of His ever-increasing popularity, the Iranian political and religious authorities of the time saw the The Báb’s teachings as a threat. After years of persecution that left thousands of Bábís dead, Mirza Taqi Khan ordered The Báb’s execution on July 9, 1850, in Tabriz, Iran.

As noted above, The Báb often alluded to “He whom God shall make manifest.” Bahá’ís believe He referred to Bahá’u’lláh, Who founded the Bahá’í Faith.

Why is the Shrine of The Báb located in Israel?

It is because in 1891 Bahá’u’lláh designated the precise location to his eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Shoghi Effendi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s grandson, designed the structure and oversaw its completion.

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Photo by Ryan Lash (before restoration). © Bahá’í International Community

“In 1909, after being hidden away for more than half a century, The Báb’s remains were finally interred on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land,” according to Bahai.org. “Today, entombed in an exquisite golden-domed Shrine, encompassed by spectacular terraced gardens and fountains, The Báb rests in conspicuous glory, a symbol of the triumph of the Cause that He heralded over the fiercest of opposition.”

For Bahá’ís, the Shrine of The Báb is the second-holiest place in the world, with the holiest place in Akka, Israel, at the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh.

God-willing, I hope to make my first Bahá’í pilgrimage over the next few years.

Further reading:

• Bahá’í World News Service features details on the unveiling of the Shrine and what was done during the restoration.
The Gardens in Haifa.
Life of The Báb.