The Writings of the Báb: Preparation for Planning a Devotional for the Twin Birthdays
Keivan Mahboubi, a Bahá’í from Ontario, Ontario, Canada, learned a great deal from the Wilmette Institute course on The Writings of the Báb 2016 (faculty: Moojan Momen and Steven Phelps) and now has an increased understanding of the life of the Báb, feels more prepared to talk about the Báb, and stands ready to help his group prepare a devotional for the Twin Birthdays of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh—THE EDITORS
by Keivan Mahboubi
What I Learned. When I studied The Writings of the Báb, I had no idea that He revealed so much in the span of six years. During His dispensation, the Báb revealed about five million words, which, in comparison to other manifestations of God, is significant. The mission of the Báb was so specific and so powerful in order to prepare the people for the coming of the next Manifestation of God and to revolutionize the thinking of the people at the time. By studying the writings of the Báb, I also came to understand that many of the same themes that one finds in other dispensations are found in the writings of the Báb. Among these themes are: the station of God, the fulfillment of the prophecies, the covenant of God, the appearance of the next Manifestation, the social and the spiritual laws and ordinances as well as concepts such as miracles, sacrifice, obedience, living the life, mysticism, and spirituality.
My New Understandings and Insights. My understanding of the Báb’s writings did not come easily, as I needed to acquire some background on Islamic and Christian writings. The Báb revealed His writings in the Qur’anic style to make Himself known to the people in a style with which they were familiar. The expectations of the people in the area at the time were centered on the Qur’an and its prophecies. The Báb fulfilled the prophecies and interpreted the Qur’an’s verses for the people, and then He revealed information about the coming of the next Manifestation, “Him whom God shall make manifest.” The Báb advised His followers to seek and accept the next Manifestation of God and prophesized that the appearance of that Promised One was near.
The Báb also revealed laws and commandments and advised the rulers of the time to accept Him as the Messenger of the time in order for the humanity to reach peace and prosperity.
Skills I Acquired. I learned how to research the Bahá’í writings and became familiar with sources of information. I also learned how to share information, to ask the right questions, and to explain myself. In addition, I gained experience in participating in group discussions and in listening and learning from others.
My New Feelings Attitudes, Values, and Beliefs. My admiration for the life of the Báb and His writings increased, and I would like to read more. I feel that, in order to understand the writings of the Bahá’í Faith, we should be familiar with the writings of the Báb and the time during which He revealed His books. I also started to see the mysticism and the depth of the spiritual meanings in Báb’s writings. The station of God is explained in many different ways, and it seems that it is all God and nothing else.
I also feel better equipped to talk about the Báb and His writings and to relate them to the Bahá’í Faith. My limited belief that the Báb was merely the forerunner to Bahá’u’lláh has changed to an understanding that the Báb Himself was an independent Manifestation of God with a similar station. Although most of the writings of the Báb are in Arabic, yet I found out that there are enough sources in English for gaining enough knowledge to admire Him.
How I Plan to Use What I Learned in the Course. I have already been talking about the Báb more than ever and will continue to share my thoughts and learning with others. We are, as a group, planning to have a special devotional gathering for the Twin Birthdays and hope to continue in future. I respect the history of the Faith more than before and understand how important the Báb’s history is in relation to the Bahá’í Faith. I appreciate the significance of the sacrifices that the early Bábís had to go through in establishing the Faith.
A Post-Script Note. I really appreciated the answer that Dr. Moojan Momen gave to a question I had had for a long time. My question was how the generality of people of 170 years ago would understand the writings of the Báb. Dr. Momen explained it as the “medium-of-message” theory; he compared the Qur’an and the Qayyúm’l-Asmá’.