Bábism[1] (Persian: بابیه‎, Babiyye) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion which professes that there is one incorporeal, unknown, and incomprehensible God[2][3] who manifests his will in an unending series of theophanies, called Manifestations of God (Arabic: ظهور الله). It has no more than a few thousand adherents according to current estimates, most of whom are concentrated in Iran.[4][5][6] It was founded by ‘Ali Muhammad Shirazi who first assumed the title of Báb (lit. "Gate") from which the religion gets its name, out of the belief that he was the gate to the Twelfth Imam.[7] However throughout his ministry his titles and claims underwent much evolution as the Báb progressively outlined his teachings.[8]

Founded in 1844, Bábism flourished in Persia until 1852, then lingered on in exile in the Ottoman Empire, especially Cyprus, as well as underground. An anomaly amongst Islamic messianic movements, the Bábí movement signaled a break with Shia Islam, beginning a new religious system with its own unique laws, teachings, and practices. While Bábism was violently opposed by both clerical and government establishments, it led to the founding of the Bahá'í Faith, whose followers consider the religion founded by the Báb as a predecessor to their own. Bahá'í sources maintain that the remains of the Bab were clandestinely rescued by a handful of Bábis and then hidden. Over time the remains were secretly transported according to the instructions of Bahá'u'lláh and then `Abdu'l-Bahá through Isfahan, Kirmanshah, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and then by sea to Acre on the plain below Mount Carmel in 1899.[9] On March 21, 1909, the remains were interred in a special tomb, the Shrine of the Báb, erected for this purpose by `Abdu'l-Bahá, on Mount Carmel in present-day Haifa, Israel.[10]


Bábism, a term originating from Orientalists rather than the followers of the religion, comes from the Perso-Arabic noun bab (Arabic: باب), meaning gate. Additionally, Bayání comes from the triliteral root B-Y-N which forms a class of words relating to concepts of clarity, differentiation, and separation, including Bayán which can refer to explanation, commentary, or exposition as well as the branch of Arabic rhetoric dealing with metaphors and interpretation.[11]