First account of the Bab in North America

The first account of the religion of the Bab appeared in North America in 1866. Wendell Phillips Garrison, son of the most famous abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, wrote the article “A New Religion,” in The Nation.

The Bab was described as “addicted to religious thought and novel ideas,” as having “great physical beauty, great simplicity of manners, and sweetness of character,” and that he “resolved upon the destruction of Islam.” Most of the details related to the Bab were not accurate.

Tahirih was described as one of, “the most striking apparitions to shed lustre on Babism.” She had “extraordinary beauty,” “eloquence,” and “purity of manners,” and she “preach­­­­­­ed the abolition of veiling and polygamy.”

Garrison commented on the “oriental” nature of the Bab’s teachings as being progressive by Persian standards of the time, reflecting the “orientalist” bias of Europeans:

“The re-birth in this system of the mystical fancies and many of the puerile superstitions of Oriental superstitions of Oriental antiquity, in combination with some of the most modern and most advanced ideas of the Western mind, is a very curious spectacle.”

He wonders whether Babis will join the growing nationalist movement and call for an armed uprising or become obsolete. There is no mention of the role of the Bab’s role as forerunner of Baha’u’llah.

Click below for an excellent documentary on the abolitionists, including William Lloyd Garrison.