The Arabic word báb means “door” or “gate.” For Bahá’ís, the word báb is intimately associated with the religious persona of Sayyid ‘Ali-Muhammad. For Muslims and Islamicists, however, this word has several other meanings. This difference in understanding has resulted in different interpretations of events and figures in Bábí and Bahá’í history by scholars and others approaching the religions from an Islamic perspective. This essay examines the word báb in relation to Islamic architecture, Twelver Shiism. the claims of Sayyid ‘Ali-Muhammad, and the status of Mullá Husayn-i-Bushrú’í. It concludes by suggesting that the word báb provides an example of how the Bábi and Bahá’í religions have endowed well-known words and phrases with new meanings.
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