Chapter 7     Chapter 9


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CHAPTER VIII:

PROGRESSIVE REVELATION



Stories of the prophets and Apostles of God, and how the different peoples argued with and opposed Them, can be found in the Surih of Hud:
We sent Noah of old unto his people: "Verily I come to you a plain admonisher,

That ye worship none but God Verily I fear for you the punishment of a grievous day. "

Then said the chiefs of his people who believed not, "We see in thee but a man like ourselves; and we see not who have followed thee except our meanest ones of hasty judgment, nor see we any excellence in you above ourselves: nay we deem you liars."1
(Surih Xl, "Houd", vv. 27-9)


This was how the people of Noah regarded Him. The same attitude was taken by the people of 'Ad towards the Apostle Hud, those of Thamud towards Salih, those of Lot towards Abraham, those of Midian towards Shoeb, the Pharaohs towards Moses, the Jews towards Jesus and the people of Quraysh towards Muhammad.
And when it was said to them, "Accede to that which God hath sent down, and to the Apostle:" they said, "Sufficient for us is the faith in which we found our fathers. " What! though their fathers knew nothing, and had no guidance?
(Surih of "The Table", v. 103)



  1. Baha'u'llah has cited Qur'an 11:29 in the Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 222, in commenting on the response of the divines and the wealthy to those who sought to attain His presence. It has also been cited by 'Abdu'l-Baha in reference to Muhammad, in a translation of a talk given by Him in the Holy Land, which appears in Star of the West, vol. 9, no. 10, p. 112, as well as in The Revelation of Baha'u'llah, vol. 2, p. 21.



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In his "Notes",2 'Ali Nakhjavani explains this subject, as follows:
1. The Jews were required by Exodus 31:16-17 to keep the Sabbath as an eternal covenant: "Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual Covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever". Both Jesus and Muhammad broke the Sabbath; does it mean that They were wrong?

2. Jesus has been referred to in Revelations 1:11 as Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. Likewise He said in Luke 21:33, "Heaven and earth shall pass away; but My words shall not pass away." If Jesus was to be the Last, why did Muhammad appear after Him? If the words of Jesus were not to be changed, why did Muhammad reveal the Qur'an?

The same question may be asked of the Muslims. If Muhammad was to be the last, why did the Qur'an foretell the return of the Messiah and the traditions of the appearance of the Mahdi? These questions should be taken into account when an effort is being made to acquire a correct understanding of the meaning of the "Seal of the Prophets" and "the true Religion with God is Islam".3 For although each nation held fast to the belief that its Faith was final, religions continue to succeed one another, proving that they are progressive and not final, just as knowledge is relative and not absolute. In fact,


  1. Some Notes on Baha'i Proofs Based on the Qur'an, p. 4, approved by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Central and East Africa.
  2. Qur'an 3:17.



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it is clearly stated in the Qur'an that only a small amount of knowledge was given unto the Muslims:
And they will ask thee of the Spirit. Say: The Spirit proceedeth at my Lord's command:4 but of knowledge, only a little to you is given.
(Surih XVII, "The Night Journey", v. 87)

Compare this with the confirmation expressed in the Qur'an that the knowledge of God and the Words of God are infinite:
If all the trees that are upon the earth were to become pens, and if God should after that swell the sea into seven seas of ink, His words would not be exhausted: for God is Mighty, Wise.
(Surih XXXI, "Lohman", v. 26)

Say: Should the sea become ink, to write the words of my Lord,5 the sea would surely fail ere the words of my Lord would fail, though we brought its like in aid
(Surih XVIII, "The Cave", v. 109)

Again refer to verse 40 of the Surih of the Family of 'Imran (III), where Jesus the Messiah is considered but a Word of God:
Remember when the angel said, "O Mary! Verily God announceth to thee the Word from Him: His name shall be, Messiah Jesus the son, son of Mary... "

How then can any people imagine that no further Revelation will follow that which was sent to them? Having realized the validity of these arguments,



  1. Baha'u'llah cites this verse and comments on the response of the people to Muhammad after its revelation on p. 183 of the Kitab-i-Iqan. See also Baha'i Proofs, p. 274.
  2. Baha'u'llah uses the same imagery in describing the difficulty of giving adequate expression to the afflictions from which He suffered. See The Promised Day Is Come, p. 13.



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the 'ulama cited verses in which God confirms that His Words are infinite and cannot be exhausted, saying that those which were not revealed in the Qur'an are the sciences and arts that the human mind will in time be able to reveal and understand from the Book, in accordance with the needs of the future generations.6 Such an explanation is incompatible with the following verses:

.... but of knowledge, only a little to you is given .
(Surih XVII, "The Night Journey", v. 87)

And no one thing is there, but with Us are its storehouses; and We send it not down but in settled measure.7
(Surih XV, "Hedjr", v. 21)-


In response to the disposition of the Jews towards Jesus and Muhammad, and the stance that there could be no further Revelation after Moses, it was revealed:
"The hand of God," say the Jews, "is chained up." Their own hands shall be chained up -- and for that which they have said shall they be cursed Nay! outstretched are both His hands! At His own pleasure does He bestow gifts.
(Surih V, "The Table", v. 69)



  1. The author's argument here should not be confused with, nor taken to imply, a denial of truths embodied in the Qur'an itself or the advancement of scientific thought which it engendered. 'Abdu'l-Baha's comments concerning the agreement of Qur'anic verses with scientific fact regarding the fixity of the sun nearly nine hundred years in advance of the telescope, as found on pp. 23-4 of Some Answered Questions, is but one example of the credence given, in this additional respect, to the Qur'an in the Baha'i writings.
  2. See pp. 37-8 of The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys for study of the context in which Baha'u'llah uses this verse.



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The reference to the hand of God being "chained up" describes an obviously erroneous perception that God is powerless to send another Messenger.8 In explicit terms the Qur'an explains how each and every nation refused the Apostle sent to it from God, yet this regrettable response never deterred the Almighty from sending His Apostles, one after another:
Then sent we our apostles one after another. Oft as their apostle presented himself to a nation, they treated him as a liar; and we caused one nation to follow another; and we made them the burden of a tale. Away then with the people who believe not!
(Surih XXIII, "The Believers", v. 46)

Were the Qur'an the last Revelation from God, this verse itself would have been superfluous. The verse indicates that time and again people have denied the appearance of God's Apostles and conveys a warning to the Muslims, as does the verse which advises them to ascertain the authenticity of news or a "tiding":
O Believers! If any bad man come to you with news, clear it up at once, lest through ignorance ye harm others, and speedily have to repent of what ye have done.
(Surih XLIX "The Apartments", v. 6)

8. For further study, see Baha'u'llah's commentary on the verse in the Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 135-8 and Qur'an 48:10. It is to Qur'an 5:69 to which He is alluding on p. 324 of Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah: "Think ye, O My servants, that the Hand of My all-encompassing, My overshadowing, and transcendent sovereignty is chained up, that the flow of Mine ancient, My ceaseless, and all-pervasive mercy is checked, or that the clouds of My sublime and unsurpassed favors have ceased to rain upon men?..."


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Included in the meaning of "news" or "tidings" is that of the advent of an Apostle or Prophet of God.9 How would one differentiate between the true "news" or "tidings" from the false ones? In the following verse, the searcher may find the answer:
Fear ye God, and God will teach you.10



  1. See The Dawn-Breakers, p. 150. The Bab quoted this verse to Husayn Khan in Shiraz, when the latter publicly rebuked Him.
  2. Qur'an 2:282.


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