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Shi'a Islam


Doctrines The Babis follow the teaching of Sayyid 'Ali Muhammad Shirazi (1819-50), who is known as the Bab (the "gate"). He was regarded by his followers as the "Gate of God" and later as the Hidden Imam who would bring to an end Islamic law and inau gurate a new prophetic cycle. Prior to his death the Bab prophesied the coming of a messianic figure whom he called 'Him whom God shall make manifest'. The holy book of the Babis is the Bayan (Declaration).

History The Babis emerged in a period of great millenarian expectations, for the year 1844 was to mark the 1000th anniversary of the disappearance of the twelfth Imam. In this year Sayyid 'Ali Muhammad Shirazi claimed himself to be the Gate to the Hidden Imam. Later, he actually identified himself as the Hidden Imam, and gained many followers. A series of violent insurrections by the Bab's followers led to his arrest in 1845 and execution in 1850. The movement itself was violently persecuted, with its followers either exiled to Baghdad or imprisoned and executed. Among those exiled was Mirza Husayn 'Ali Nuri, who in 1864 proclaimed himself to be the prophet foretold by the movement's founder. The movement then split between those who accepted Mirza Husayn's claim (later known as Baha'is) and the minority (the Azalis) who continued to follow the then leader Subh-i Azal. Since the 19th century the movement has declined in strength and today perhaps only a few hundred Babis remain.

Symbols The number 19 assumed an important symbolic value within the Babi tradition, providing the basis upon which communal organization and the Babi calendar is based. Babis also wear talismans and engraved stones around their necks or ringstones in order to protect them from misfortune.

Adherents There are very few Babis today, perhaps only a few hundred.

Main Centre
 The movement has no headquarters as such. Its adherents are dotted around Iran.