On July 9, 1850, the Baha’i figure called the Bab was killed. Believed to be a messenger of God proclaiming the impending arrival of Baha’u’llah, he was executed for apostasy by firing squad in the Persian Empire. According to Baha’i accounts, the Bab had disappeared when the smoke from the guns lifted, but he was found speaking to his cell guard shortly thereafter and submitted himself to his death. As the messenger sent ahead of Baha’u’llah, he is often compared to John the Baptist. Within a decade of the Bab’s martyrdom, adherents teach that Baha’u’llah appeared and gathered followers to himself as the “Promised One” and “Manifestation of God.”
The Baha’i church now has roughly 5 million followers.