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August 25th, 2010
11:32 AM ET

In Haifa, forerunner of the Baha’i faith rests uneasily

[cnn-video url= http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/living/2010/08/23/pkg.schwartz.israel.garden.cnn%5D

Editors Note: CNN's Michael Schwartz files this report from Haifa, Israel:

For a hundred years, the grave of the Bab has served as a place of homage for Baha’i pilgrims.

A predecessor to the Baha’u’llah, founder of the Baha’i faith, Baha’is call the Bab "prophet herald" and say his message is one of peace and tolerance, one of social reform and of a world moving towards greater equality, greater unity.

The Bab was publicly executed in 1850 because, according to his followers, “his new religion was spreading like a wild fire throughout Persia.” Fifty years after he died, the bones of the one of the key figures in Baha’i history were buried in Haifa, Israel, site of the Baha’i World Centre.

This adversity is a source of inspiration for Rob Weinberg, director of Public information for the Baha’i international community. Though his opponents tried to thwart the Bab’s teachings and the movement he inspired, Weinberg notes that both have thrived.

The tranquility surrounding the Bab’s golden domed shrine in the famous Baha’i gardens is today disturbed by renovations at the memorial. The noise seems to reflect the uneasy mood of the Baha’i community at the moment, in the wake of the arrest and sentencing of seven Baha’i leaders in Iran.

Today, the spirit of the Bab may rest uneasy. But his soul rests in peace, surrounded by 19 magnificent gardened terraces on the slopes of Mt. Carmel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

“These gardens have been designed in a way to prepare the pilgrim and the visitor for an encounter with a sacred place,” says Weinberg. “But at the same time, the beauty, the symmetry, the forms, the colour, the light, the water–everything in them is about inspiring the spirit so that these noble qualities that we have as human beings are brought out and we can become the best human being that we possibility can.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Baha'i • Israel

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Paul

    His Soul must be uneasy right now. He left a misguided lot behind. This tiny religious group is wasting an ungodly amount of money and environmental resources such as water building an artificial park. In the same period since the construction of these terraces began in 1990s, according to World Health Organization some 270 million people, most of them women and children, have died as a result of poverty and hunger and disease. You must be certifiably mad to enjoy looking at these gardens built in the name of religion. If God does exist, He is not visiting these gardens. God is probably standing next to the 6 year old children who are searching through the rubbish in the dumps of Philippines looking for food.

    February 16, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  2. Amy

    "Truth implies proof"?

    You wanna tell that to people who for hundreds of years believed that the earth was flat or that the earth was the centre of the universe? you think we know all there is to know?

    absence of proof is not proof of absence....

    August 31, 2010 at 1:08 pm |
  3. Eshinesu

    Blossoms of truth do not always become butterflies.

    August 26, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
  4. NEON whip

    yet another prophet. and here we have the new theme of gardens to "inspire the spirit." feelin' sacredness now!

    August 26, 2010 at 11:06 am |
  5. Colleen

    Hmm- antireligion, antiGod – just another fad, and we all must follow the crowd, its so much easier that way – despite the fact that at this point science proves that it takes a considerable more amount of blind faith to believe that we all just appeared here by a succession of random and coincidental occurances, and despite the fact that everything tends toward disorder not order, than it takes to believe that there is a Divine Observer and we are the observed. The truth is that the chair will never be capable of imagining the carpenter.

    August 26, 2010 at 7:13 am |
    • a nudge

      @Colleen

      Wake up, girl! You're mumbling something awful.

      August 26, 2010 at 7:24 am |
    • NEON whip

      oh? so you must not have heard of quantum mechanics then. grab a science book.

      August 26, 2010 at 11:08 am |
    • Selfish Gene

      Atheists are not anti god, we just don't believe.
      "Hmm- antireligion, antiGod – just another fad, and we all must follow the crowd, its so much easier that way – "

      Science does not "prove" faith, are you mistakenly referring to Scientology?
      "despite the fact that at this point science proves that ..."

      A nice bumper sticker, but a non sequitur all the same. Truth implies proof.
      "The truth is that the chair will never be capable of imagining the carpenter."

      August 26, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
  6. Blink

    It's like reading an article in Guideposts magazine or Reader's Digest. "How my teacher went the distance and now has a memorial placed somewhere special." Nice but not especially thought-prov0king. Thanks anyway.

    August 26, 2010 at 6:30 am |
  7. Reality

    Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immaculate conceptions).

    August 25, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
    • Fred

      You need to do some thorough research before comparing.

      August 29, 2010 at 7:27 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.