Chapter 1     Chapter 3


page 6

CHAPTER II:

THE ADVENT OF TWO GREAT MANIFESTATIONS



In all of the Holy Books, the advent of two great Manifestations of God is foretold. In the Qur'an this coming is called, among other names, the "Great Announcement". To the Muslims, these two great Manifestations are known as "the Imam Mahdi" and the "Messiah". The Imam Mahdi is sometimes simply referred to as "Mahdi", it being understood that it is He Who is intended. The belief in Their appearance forms the axis around which revolve some 5000 of the approximately 6200 verses of the Qur'an. The Twin Manifestations are to usher in the true interpretation of the Book, reform the entire world, establish a new era of love, unity, justice and peace amongst all nations, and cause the earth to "shine with the Light of her Lord"1, as promised in the Qur'an. Until the 8th century of the Hijra,2 there was no doubt among the Muslims, whether of the Shi'ih or Sunni sects that form the two main factions of the Muslim world, that on the appointed Day the Mahdi would appear to announce and prepare the way for the advent of the Messiah. During this century, however, there appeared a number of 'ulama, including a Tunisian named Ibn Khaldun, who threw doubt on the authenticity of the traditions3 concerning the appearance of the Mahdi. Since then, the event of the


  1. Qur'an 39: 6
  2. The Islamic calendar marks its beginning from the time Muhammad's flight from Mecca to Medina in 622 A. D.
  3. Traditions, or hadith, are the reported, utterances, actions and decisions of the Prophet Muhammad which were handed down in oral form for generations before being compiled in writing. Controversy concerning authenticity and the application of hadith to Muslim life and Islamic Law continues. Baha is can vouch for only those traditions cited by the Central Figures of the Faith, but are prepared to accept as authentic those traditions which are upheld as valid by the majority of the acknowledged doctors of religion in both the Sunni and Shi'ih schools of theology.



page 7

appearance of the Mahdi has lost much of its importance in the Sunni sect, but the Shi'ih belief in this event remains unshaken. Both Sunnis and Shi'ihs believe, however, that the Messiah or the Mahdi will rule with the Shari'ah, Islamic jurisprudence or the religious law of the Qur'an, and render Islam victorious in a manner that would replace all other religions and movements. In other words, they believe that the Mahdi and the Messiah will not come to the world with a Book from God, but rather continue with the Qur'an, which would have lost much of its influence by the time of their appearance. Thus, the doors have been closed to further Divine Revelation. Interpretation and Arabic Grammar Interpretation of the Qur'an must take into consideration the etymology and syntax of words. In addition to the study of the origin, composition and correct usage of words in a sentence, the chronology of the revelation of the verses must also be considered. The circumstances or historical context, providing the reason for the revelation of the verses, contribute elements towards a better understanding. In certain instances, these basic rules have been lamentably ignored. Not surprisingly, interpreters have been guilty of rather flagrant deviations from rules of translation where verses of the Qur'an deal


page 8

with the coming of a further Revelation, Book, or Manifestation of God. While God had mercifully "made it an Arabic Qur'an that ye may understand",4 it was the Arabic-speaking followers for whom the Qur'an was revealed who have misinterpreted God's Words. A few examples are provided. The Name of the Promised Book In the Surih of Resurrection (LXXV, vv. 16-9) [75: 16-19], cited in the previous chapter, derivatives of the words "qur'an" and "bayan" are mentioned, but there the words are not used as proper nouns. The meanings of the following words may be necessary to understand the forthcoming paragraphs:
qur'an: recital
qur'an-ahu: its recital
bayan: to make clear or explanation
bayan-ahu: to make it clear or to explain it.

Names and proper nouns in Arabic always have a meaning and the Book revealed to Muhammad is called the "Qur'an", but the word "qur'an" also means recital; just as the word "Bayan" is the name of the Book revealed by the Bab, while "bayan" also means explanation or speech, or articulate speech. The first four verses of the Surih of the Merciful (LV) [55] have been translated into English by Rodwell, Arberry, Pickthall and Yusuf Ali as follows:
The God of mercy
Hath taught the Koran
Hath created man
Hath taught him articulate speech
(Rodwell)



  1. Qur'an 43:2.



page 9
The All-merciful
Has taught the Koran
He created man
And he has taught him the Explanation
(Arberry)

The Beneficent
Hath made known the Qur'an
He hath created man
He hath taught him utterance
(Pickthall)

(God) Most Gracious
It is He who hath taught the Qur'an
He has created man
He has taught him speech (and Intelligence)
(Yusuf 'Ali)

All four translations of the second verse are in agreement in translating the name of the Qur'an as it is written in the Arabic text, i. e. "Qur'an." It is evident, however, that the interpreters presented the translators of the English version with a meaning for the word "Bayan",5 while retaining the word "Qur'an" to represent the Book that was revealed by the Prophet. The Arabic script does not have capitals and small letters to differentiate between proper names and simple words. Hence a proper name and a simple noun would be written in the same way. A correct translation or interpretation of these verses of the Surih of the Merciful (LV) [55] should either adopt the meaning of the words "qur'an" and "bayan", or the proper names of the Books, the "Qur'an" and the "Bayan". A correct translation would not adopt the proper noun for one and the meaning for the other. The rules of Arabic tradition both in writing and in speech make this imperative, as does the consideration of the verses themselves where "the Merciful" hath taught both the Qur'an and the Bayan.


  1. Qur'an 55:4.



page 10

The reader may note that the chronological order of events as expressed in the four verses indicates that the Qur'an was "taught" before man was created: "taught the Qur'an ... created man". The meaning becomes clear if the teachings of the Qur'an are considered as life-giving and creating a new generation of men. God, the All-Merciful, in His Mercy, sent down the Qur'an to His Apostle Muhammad. The Bayan has also been sent down to an Apostle of God, the Bab. The Future Tense is Replaced by the Past Tense The Surih of Clear Evidence (XCVIII) [98] carries within its first four verses an interesting prophecy concerning the advent of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, but interpreters have misled the translators - here as well. The importance of these verses is such that the translation of Rodwell is presented side by side with the translation of the Arabic original, as understood by the writer. The differences are underlined in both: Rodwell
The unbelievers among
the people of the
Book, and the Polytheists,
did not waver, until the
CLEAR EVIDENCE had
come to them;

A Messenger from God,
reciting to them the pure
pages wherein are
true Scriptures!

Neither were they to whom
the Scriptures were given
divided into sects, till after
this clear evidence
had reached them!

Corrected translation:

The unbelievers among the
people of the Book,
and the polytheists,
shall not waver until the
Clear Evidence comes
to them,

An Apostle from God, reciting
pure pages wherein are
valuable Books.

Nor were the people of the
Book divided until after
the Clear Evidence came to
them.


page 11

The texts in Arberry's and Pickthall's translations are much the same, with "Clear Sign" and "clear proof" used in place of "clear evidence". The alteration of meaning brought about through interpretation can be better appreciated in understanding the following terms: The "people of the Book" are the Christians and the Jews. The "unbelievers among the people of the Book" are the Christians and the Jews who refused to accept Islam and Muhammad. The "polytheists" are those who took other gods instead of the one true God. They are neither Christians nor Jews, but rather are the- idolators who were in Arabia at the time of the Prophet. The main difference between Rodwell's and the corrected translation lies in the first verse where Rodwell's translation indicates a past tense for the event, while the corrected translation uses a future tense. How can such a difference exist? The Arabic original of the first verse indicates that a "Clear Evidence" shall come (future tense), while in the fourth verse the "Clear Evidence" is indicated as having already come (past tense). This is further confirmed by Yusuf 'Ali's translation, where the first verse refers to the coming of the "Clear Evidence" as occurring in the future, while the fourth verse confirms that the "Clear Evidence" already came. The verses further explain that the "Clear Evidence" to come is "an Apostle of God reciting pure pages wherein are valuable Books". Apparently, therefore, there are two "Clear Evidences", One that


page 12

shall come and One that had already come at the time of revelation of these verses. Interpretations and translations agree that the "Clear Evidence" mentioned in the fourth verse as having come is the Apostle Muhammad. With regard to the reference in the first verse, the interpreters replaced the Arabic future tense "to come" with "came", the past tense. Yusuf 'Ali comments that the Clear Evidence "to come" is none other than the Apostle Muhammad who was present when these verses were revealed. As far as the interpreters were concerned, there could be no Apostle in the future after Muhammad. To solve the problem they simply interpreted the future as the past and the English translations simply had to follow suit. The meaning of the verses, however, leaves no doubt that they are in reference to two distinct Apostles of God. The Apostle to come in the future would change the attitudes of the unbelievers and polytheists, who would not waver from their beliefs until the Apostle of God appeared. The Christians and the Jews would then believe in the truth of Muhammad and cease to be counted amongst the unbelievers while the polytheists would believe in the one true God and cease to be polytheists. That is precisely what happened when Baha'u'llah came into the world. Baha'is of Christian and of Jewish origin accepted the Prophethood of Muhammad. They were "unbelievers" concerning Muhammad until the "Clear Evidence", Baha'u'llah, came to them. The term did not apply to them before the appearance of Muhammad, for they were believers in God, Jesus Christ and Moses and they were the "people of the Book". The qualification of "unbelievers" fell upon them only after their denial of Muhammad.


page 13

When Muhammad came to them, they were divided: Some believed in Him and were accounted believers, while others refused to accept Him and were identified as "unbelievers". Hence the verse: "Nor were the people of the book divided until after the Clear Evidence came to them." The Surih of the Cow (II, v. 107) [2:107] explains that the differences between the Christians and the Jews shall be resolved only on the Day of Resurrection, and not through the Message of Muhammad: Moreover, the Jews say, "The Christians lean on naught." "On naught lean the Jews", say the Christians. Yet both are readers of the Book. So with like words say they who have no knowledge. But on the Day of Resurrection, God shall judge between them as to that in which they differ. In the Surih of Clear Evidence (XCVIII) [98] the reader will note that the Apostle Who will come will recite "pure pages wherein are valuable Books", that is more than one Book. However, God revealed but one Book to Muhammad, the Qur'an:
He it is Who hath sent down to Thee "the Book".
(Surih III, "The Family of 'Imran", v. 5) [3:5]

Also, the Christians and the Jews are known to the Muslims as the people of "the Book", a singular noun.

It is obvious, therefore, that the Apostle destined to come with "valuable Books" cannot be Muhammad, Jesus, or Moses Who were each recipients of a single Book. To Baha'u'llah, however, many Books were revealed6 and the "Clear


  1. On p. 115 of Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Baha'u'llah attests that "well-nigh a hundred volumes of luminous verses and perspicuous words have already been sent down from the heaven of the Will of Him Who is the Revealer of signs ..."



page 14

Evidence" promised in the verses is the Revelation of Baha'u'llah. The "Clear Evidence" that had already come is the Revelation of Muhammad.

Names of the Bab and Baha'u'llah are Mentioned in the Qur'an

In the Qur'an, it is written that Jesus Christ had heralded the advent of Muhammad.
      . . . O children of Israel! of a truth I am God's apostle to you to confirm the law which was given before me, and to announce an apostle that shall come after me whose name shall be Ahmad!7


If the coming of the Apostle Muhammad was foretold in the Biblical reference to "Ahmad", where are the names of "the Bab" and "Baha'u'llah" mentioned clearly in the Qur'an?

Had the names of the Bab and of Baha'u'llah been mentioned clearly in the Qur'an, there is little reason to expect that the 'ulama would not have interpreted the "Bab" as "Gate" and Baha'u'llah as "Glory of God", making the words refer to divine attributes. Those who replace future tense with past tense and interpret "Bayan" as "articulate speech", would be similarly predisposed to interpreting "Baha'u'llah" and "Gate" in a manner that precluded acknowledgment of Manifestations of God after Muhammad. Categorical rejection of the possibility that further Divine Revelation could come after Muhammad requires rejection of interpretation of the prophecies of the Qur'an regarding the advent of the Bab and of Baha'u'llah.

Regarding the statement in the Qur'an that the advent of an Apostle named "Ahmad" is written in the Bible, the Christians were unable to find the word


  1. Qur'an 61:6.



page 15

"Ahmad" in the New Testament. The argument was further given that even were the name "Ahmad" found in the New Testament, the name of the Prophet was Muhammad and not Ahmad.

This resulted in accusations being directed toward the Christians of having tampered with the Bible and erasing from the New Testament all reference to Muhammad, including a Gospel according to St. Barnabas that purportedly contained clear prophecies concerning the coming of Muhammad after Christ. However, as "Ahmad" is an Arabic word and the New Testament was not written in Arabic, the word "Ahmad" could not be found as such. The Greek version of the New Testament refers to the Prophet Muhammad in the Greek equivalent of "Ahmad" by using "Paraclete" or "Pharaclete", which translates as "Comforter" or "Redeemer" and is the meaning of the name "Ahmad."8


  1. Lights of Guidance, p. 378 #1022.


Chapter 1     Chapter 3


Books
Home ][ Sacred Writings ][ Bulletin board
Primary sources ][ Secondary sources ][ Resources
Links ][ Personal pages ][ Other sites
 

Google distinguishes accents, e.g. "Babi" and "Bábí"
return different results. See more search tips.