The Promise of all ages is one of a united world enjoying peace, prosperity, and great attainments in culture, technology and spirituality. This is the promise of a world freed from racial, religious and national prejudices, yet preserving most of its rich diversity. Sickness will be eradicated and life prolonged, the mind will be sharpened and the human spirit unfettered. This promise, found throughout the worlds great prophetic literature, has influenced leaders of thought and shaped the expectations of the masses over the ages. The Bahá'í Faith redeems this Promise; Prophecies thousands of years old have been realized in the lives, teachings, and institutions established by its Founders... The footnotes in this course refer to the relevant prophetic traditions.
The Bahá'í Faith is an independent world religion that originated in Persia (Iran). It teaches that God has sent to mankind many Messengers, each revealing ever greater measures of infinite Truth appropriate to the progressive stages in our history. These sanctified Beings were Manifestations of God's perfections and mans personal link to the Holy Spirit. All the Manifestations of God have revealed the same Reality, and have brought varying social laws suited to the needs and capacities of the people at the time. Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad are some of these Manifestations.
One of the unique characteristics of the Bahá'í Faith is in that it was revealed by twin Manifestations of God: The Báb (which means "the Gate" in Arabic), and Bahá'u'lláh (which means "the Glory of God" in Arabic).(1) Bahá'u'lláh's followers are called by the new name of His Faith: Bahá'í. (2)
In 1844, in Persia, the Báb publicly declared that He was a Manifestation of God, Whose mission was to be a Herald to the great World Redeemer soon to follow. (3) His revival of the Persian people attracted much attention and his following grew rapidly, much to the consternation of the powerful Muslim clergy. In an effort to extinguish this new Faith, the Muslim religious leaders, with the co-operation of the State, waged a "holy war" on the Báb' is, killing tens of thousands, including the dramatic martyrdom of the Báb, Himself. (4)
Realizing that the new Faith was far from eradicated, the clergy prevailed upon the Shah to arrest the most distinguished Báb'i, Mírzá Husayn 'Alí Núrí (Bahá'u'lláh) and cast him into the terrible "Black Pit" dungeon in the city of Tihran, Persia. It was in this dungeon in 1852, that Bahá'u'lláh was awakened to His mission as the Unifier of mankind, whose advent had been heralded by the Báb. The Persian authorities were hesitant to kill Bahá'u'lláh because of His princely lineage (5) and were ultimately dissuaded from their purpose by the Russian Czar's representative. Attempting to lessen Bahá'u'lláh influence, the government confiscated His extensive properties and exiled Him to Baghdad, in 'Iraq, where he remained for 10 years. Here He laid the foundations of the universal religion destined to unite all mankind. During this period beautiful prayers, enlightening commentaries, noble exhortations, and books on mystical, ethical, and doctrinal themes streamed from His Holy Pen. Bahá'u'lláh declared that He was the Promised One of all religions here, in the territory of ancient Elam, on the eve of His departure from Baghdad.(6)
In 1863 Bahá'u'lláh was again exiled, this time to Constantinople (Istanbul) in European Turkey. Shortly thereafter He was further banished to Adrianople. During these exiles he wrote proclamations to the secular and religious rulers of the world, calling upon them to reconcile themselves and to unite in establishing world peace. He warned that to disobey would result in God's chastisement. Of all the kings and rulers to whom He wrote (e.g.: Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, Napoleon III, Kaiser Wilhelm I, Czar Alexander II, etc.), only Queen Victoria made the slightest positive reply; with this one exception, all the rulers soon lost their thrones in a violent manner and the monarchies of each of their countries were abolished (7). It is interesting that Queen Victoria's granddaughter, Queen Marie of Rumania, became a Bahá'í.
Bahá'u'lláh's final banishment was to the desolate prison-city of 'Akka, in what is now Israel. (8) Here in the Holy Land Bahá'u'lláh wrote the Kitab-i-Aqdas ("The Most Holy Book"), which establishes strong social, moral and religious laws that are to govern the emerging spiritual civilization. (9) This book of Divine Law ordains and outlines a world government - one which already exists and is operating in embryonic form within the Bahá'í World community. The supreme institution of the government is called The Universal House of Justice, permanently seated on Mount Carmel, Israel. 10
After many years, the conditions of Bahá'u'lláh's confinement were relaxed and His eldest son, 'Abdu'l-Bahá ("Servant of the Glory"), persuaded Him to move from the prison to a mansion at Bahj which 'Abdu'l-Bahá had rented for his Father. Bahá'u'lláh died there in 1892 at the age of seventy-five and was laid to rest at the mansion. (11) Thus, Bahá'u'lláh's ministry extended over a period of forty years. (12)
Bahá'u'lláh's covenant insured the unity of the Cause of God by His appointment of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to lead the Faith after Him, and to be the sole interpreter of His Words; 'Abdu'l-Bahá appointed His grandson, Shoghi Effendi, as the Gaurdian and interpreter of the Cause after Him. (13) 'Abdu'l-Bahá was born the same evening in 1844 that the Báb declared His mission. He entered exile with his Father as a child and was an old man of broken health when finally released in 1908. 'Abdu'l-Bahá was the first person to recognize his Father's true station, and served his Father's Cause with great devotion, power and wisdom his whole life. Bahá'u'lláh referred to 'Abdu'l-Bahá as "the Mystery of God", "the Master", and "My Most Great Branch". On one of His trips to Mount Carmel, Bahá'u'lláh had pointed out to 'Abdu'l-Bahá the spot where the remains of the Báb's body should be finally interred. 'Abdu'l-Bahá was eventually able to carry out this important task, and is responsible for the construction of the famous Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel. (14)
The coming of the Kingdom of God on Earth is a promise that runs throughout the Bible. The Kingdom will see the reign of peace on Earth, (15) the return of the Jews to Israel, (16) the establishment of one universal language, (17) the establishment of the oneness of mankind and the spiritualization of the masses, (18) diffusion of the knowledge of God, (19) adherence to one universal religion, (20) and one world government. (21) The establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth is foreshadowed in Bible prophecy by unparalleled world-shaking upheavals, (22) the tone and language of which was amplified by Bahá'u'lláh in the mid-1800's. (23)
Bahá'u'lláh declared that mankind's present world order is lamentably defective and the cause of the ever-increasing misery that the World is enduring. (24) Bahá'u'lláh made it abundantly clear that the first step essential for the peace and progress of mankind was its unification, which can be achieved only through the instrumentality of His Faith. (25) The mighty rulers of the World rejected Bahá'u'lláh's summons to help establish "The Most Great Peace", which is the result of a spiritual and political unity of mankind . Their continued rejection removed their opportunity to establish even "The Lesser Peace," which is the result of a political unity of mankind. Shortly thereafter they lost their thrones as a result of the turmoil that their disunity created. (26)
Leadership in establishing God's Kingdom was then offered to the common people, the "meek of the Earth" (27) but the masses have, for the most part, ignored His summons. This initial refusal by the peoples of the World was anticipated by Bahá'u'lláh, Who warned of the dire consequences of their misguided activity. (28) Although the near future looks very dark and stormy indeed, yet the ultimate outcome of the coming upheavals will be incomparably glorious. (29)
For ages mankind has hoped for the kind of world the Bahá'ís are working for. Bahá'í history and teachings are prophesied, as indicated in the foregoing annotations. The appended maps, chart and graph further show that with the Bahá'í Revelation, the promised day has come.
Author - John Roncalio. © 1981, 2003, John Roncalio.
The views expressed herein are those of the author who is solely responsible for their contents.