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Religion that started on May 23, 1844 in Shiraz, Persia, when Mirza Ali Muhammad proclaimed himself the Bab (from Arabic, meaning "gate"), the gate to divine truth.
The Bab said that he was equal to Muhammad, and that former prophets had been divine manifestations. He also predicted that an even greater manifestation would come 19 years later, as well as the revelation of a Holy Book, to be called Bayan, which should supersede the Koran.
The belief in Babism is centered around the Bab, who is considered to be the mirror of God. Babism has taken certain elements from Islam and has redefined them, thereby introducing the teaching that the world was created with 7 attributes: predestination, predetermination, will, volition, permission, doom and revelation.
Numbers play a sacred role in Babism, '19' being the most sacred. The year is therefore divided into 19 months, and every month is made up of 19 days. There are 19 members of the council that administer the community of the Babis. And the Bab had declared that there would be a span of 19 years from his death until the next human manifestation of God would arrive.

Babism did survive the execution of the Bab in 1850, and in 1863, one of Bab's followers, Mirza Husayn Ali Nuri, proclaimed himself the manifestation that Bab had promised, thereby establishing a new religion: Baha'i.
This brought forward a schism, in which many Babis chose to follow Mirza Husayn Ali Nuri. The other group, which remained "true" Babis were called Azalis, after Nuri's brother Mirza Yahya Nuri Subh-i Azal, who at this time was under Turkish detention in Cyprus.

Modern Babism
The actual number of Babis is very small: their geography is now limited to Uzbekistan.
Every year all Babis between 11 and 42 years of age are expected to undergo a fast of one month (19 days). Prayers are not compulsory, but advisable, and can be performed without ablutions.
Women do not have to waer veils, and enjoy relative freedom.
Travelling is restricted, especially sea travel.

By Tore Kjeilen