and the New Era:
And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. -- Deut. xviii, 21-22.
Creative Power of God's Word
God, and God alone, has the power to do whatever He wills, and the greatest proof of a Manifestation of God is the creative power of His word -- its effectiveness to change and transform all human affairs and to triumph over all human opposition. Through the word of the Prophets God announces His will, and the immediate or subsequent fulfillment of that word is the clearest proof of the Prophet's claim and of the genuineness of His inspiration.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from the heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. -- Isa. lv, 10-11.
When the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus with the question: "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" the answer of Jesus was simply to point to the effects wrought by His words: --
Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. -- Matt. xi, 4-6.
Let us now see what evidence there is to show whether the words of Baha'u'llah have this creative power which is distinctive of the word of God.
Baha'u'llah commanded the rulers to establish universal peace, and their prolongation of the policy of war since 1869-1870 has overthrown many ancient dynasties, while each successive war has produced less and less fruits of victory, until the European War of 1914-1918 revealed the historically startling fact that was has become disastrous to victor and vanquished alike.1
Baha'u'llah bade the rulers likewise to act as trustees of those under their control, making political authority a means to true general welfare. The progress toward social legislation has been unprecedented.
He commanded limitation of the extremes of wealth and poverty, and ever since, legislation for the establishment of minimum subsistence levels and for graduated taxation of wealth by income and inheritance taxes has been a constant concern. He commanded the abolition of both chattel and economic slavery, and ever since, the progress toward emancipation has been a ferment in all parts of the world.
Baha'u'llah declared the equality of men and women, expressed through equal responsibilities and equal rights and privileges, and since that declaration, the bonds by which women have been bound for ages have been breaking, and woman has rapidly been securing her rightful place as the equal and partner of man.
He declared the fundamental oneness of religions, and the succeeding interval has witnessed the most determined efforts of sincere souls in all parts of the world to achieve a new degree of tolerance, of mutual understanding and of cooperation for universal ends. The sectarian attitude has everywhere been undermined, and its historical position has become more and more untenable. The basis of exclusiveness in religion has been destroyed by the same forces making nationalism of the self-contained type incapable of survival.
He commanded universal education, and made the independent investigation of truth a proof of spiritual vitality. Modern civilization has been stirred to its depths by this new leaven. Compulsory education for children, and the extension of educational facilities for adults, have become a primary policy of government. Nations which deliberately seek to restrict that very policy have aroused revolution within and suspicion and fear outside their boundaries.
Baha'u'llah commanded the adoption of a universal auxiliary language, and Dr. Zamenhof and others obeyed His call by devoting their lives and genius to this great task and opportunity.
Above all, Baha'u'llah imbued humanity with a new spirit, arousing new longings in minds and hearts and new ideals for society. Nothing in all history is so dramatic and impressive as the course of events since the dawn of the Bahá'í era in 1844. Year by year, the power of a dead past prolonged through outworn ideas, habits, attitudes and institutions has weakened, until at present every intelligent man and woman on earth realizes that humanity is passing through its most terrible crisis. On the one hand we see the new creation arising as the light of Baha'u'llah's teaching has revealed the true path of evolution. On the other hand we see naught but disaster and frustration in all realms where that light is resisted or ignored.
Yet, to the faithful Bahá'í, these and countless other evidences, impressive as they are, fail to give the real measure of the spiritual majesty of Baha'u'llah. His life on earth, and the irresistible force of His inspired words, stand as the only true criterion of the will of God.
study of the more detailed prophecies of Baha'u'llah and
their fulfillment will give powerful corroborative evidence. Of these prophecies
we shall now proceed to give a few examples, about the authenticity of which there
can be no dispute. They were widely published and known before their fulfillment
came about. The letter which He sent to the crowned heads of the world, in which
many of these prophecies occur, were compiled in a book which was first published
in Bombay in the late nineteenth century. Several editions have since been published.
We shall also give some examples of noteworthy prophecies by Abdu'l-Baha.
In the year 1869 Baha'u'llah wrote to Napoleon III, rebuking him for his lust of war and for the contempt with which he had treated a former letter from Baha'u'llah. The Epistle contains the following stern warning: --
For what thou hast done, thy kingdom shall be thrown into confusion, and thine empire shall pass from thine hands, as a punishment for that which thou hast wrought. Then wilt thou know how thou hast plainly erred. Commotions shall seize all the people in that land, unless thou arisest to held this Cause, and followest Him Who is the Spirit of God (Jesus Christ) in this, the Straight Path. Hath thy pomp made thee proud? By My Life! It shall not endure; nay, it shall soon pass away, unless thou holdest fast by this firm Cord. We see abasement hastening after thee, whilst thou art of the heedless.
Needless to say, Napoleon, who was then at the zenith of his power, paid no heed to this warning. In the following year he went to war with Prussia, firmly convinced that his troops could easily gain Berlin; but the tragedy foretold by Baha'u'llah overwhelmed him. He was defeated at Saarbruck, at Weisenburg, at Metz, and finally in the crushing catastrophe at Sedan. He was then carried prisoner to Prussia, and came to a miserable end in England two years later.
Baha'u'llah later gave an equally solemn warning to the conquerors of Napoleon, which also fell on deaf ears and received a terrible fulfillment. In the Book of Aqdas, which was begun in Adrianople, and finished in the early years of Baha'u'llah's imprisonment in Akka, He addressed the Emperor of Germany as follows: --
O King of Berlin! ... Do thou remember the one whose power transcended thy power (Napoleon III) and whose station excelled thy station. Where is he? Whither are gone the things he possessed? Take warning, and be not of them that are fast asleep. He it was who cast the Tablet of God behind him, when We made known unto him what the hosts of tyranny had caused Us to suffer. Wherefore, disgrace assailed him from all sides, and he went down to dust in great loss. Think deeply, O King, concerning him, and concerning them who, like unto thee, have conquered cities and ruled over men. The All-Merciful brought them down from their palaces to their graves. Be warned, be of them who reflect.
During the period of German successes in the Great War of 1914-1918, and especially during the last great German offensive in the spring of 1918, this well-known prophecy was extensively quoted by the opponents of the Bahá'í Faith in Persia, in order to discredit Baha'u'llah; but when the forward sweep of the victorious Germans was suddenly transformed into crushing, overwhelming disaster, the efforts of these enemies of the Bahá'í Cause recoiled on themselves, and the notoriety which they had given to the prophecy became a powerful means of enhancing the reputation of Baha'u'llah.
In the Book of Aqdas written when the tyrannical Nasiri'd-Din Shah was at the height of his power, Baha'u'llah blesses the city of Tihran, which is the capital of Persia, and His own birthplace, and says of it: --
Let nothing grieve thee, O Land of Ta (Tihran), for God hath chosen thee to be the source of the joy of all mankind. He shall, if it be His will, bless thy throne with one who will rule with justice, who will gather together the flock of God which the wolves have scattered. Such a ruler will, with joy and gladness, turn his face towards, and extend his favors unto, the people of Baha. He indeed is accounted in the sight of God as a jewel among men. Upon him rest forever the glory of God, and the glory of all that dwell in the kingdom of His Revelation.
So far, Persia has only begun to emerge from the period of confusion foretold by Baha'u'llah, but already constitutional government has been started, and signs are not lacking that a brighter era is at hand.
To the Sultan of Turkey and his Prime Minister `Ali Pasha, Baha'u'llah, then (in 1868) confined in a Turkish prison, addressed some of His most solemn, grave warnings. To the Sultan He wrote from the Barracks at Akka: --
O thou who considerest thyself the greatest of all men ... erelong thy name shall be forgotten and thou shalt find thyself in great loss. According to thy opinion, this Quickener of the world and its Peacemaker is culpable and seditious. What crime have the women, children and suffering babes committed to merit thy wrath, oppression and hate? You have persecuted a number of souls who have shown no opposition in your country, and who have instigated no revolution against the government; nay, rather, by day and by night they have been peacefully engaged in the mentioning of God. You have pillaged their properties, and through your tyrannical acts, all that they had was taken from them. ... Before God, a handful of dust is greater than your kingdom, glory, sovereignty and dominion, and should He desire, He would scatter you as the sand of the desert. Erelong His wrath shall overtake you, revolutions shall appear in your midst and your countries will be divided! Then you will weep and lament and nowhere will you find help and protection. ... Be ye watchful, for the wrath of God is prepared, and erelong you shall behold that which is written by the Pen of Command.
And to Ali Pasha He wrote: --
Thou hast, O Chief, committed that which hath made Muhammad, the Apostle of God, groan in the Most Exalted Paradise. The world hath made thee proud, so much so that thou hast turned away from the Face through Whose brightness the Concourse on high hath been illumined. Soon thou shalt find thyself in evident loss. Thou didst unite with the Ruler of Persia for doing Me harm, although I had come to you from the Dawning-place of the Almighty, the Great, with a Cause which refreshed the eyes of the favored ones of God. ...
Again in the Book of Aqdas He wrote: --
O Spot [Constantinople] that art situate on the shores of the two seas! The throne of tyranny hath, verily, been established upon thee, and the flame of hatred hath been kindled within thy bosom, in such wise that the Concourse on high and they who circle around the Exalted Throne have wailed and lamented. We behold in thee the foolish ruling over the wise, and darkness vaunting itself against the light. Thou art indeed filled with manifest pride. Hath thine outward splendor made thee vainglorious? By Him Who is the Lord of mankind! It shall soon perish, and thy daughters and thy widows and all the kindreds that dwell within thee shall lament. Thus informeth thee the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
successive calamities which have befallen this once great empire since the publication
of these warnings have furnished an eloquent commentary on their prophetic significance.
In the Book of Aqdas, revealed in Akka in 1873, Baha'u'llah appealed to America as follows: --
O Rulers of America and the Presidents of the Republics therein ... Give ear unto that which hath been raised from the Dayspring of Grandeur: Verily, there is none other God but Me, the Lord of Utterance, the All-Knowing. Bind ye the broken with the hands of justice, and crush the oppressor who flourisheth with the rod of the commandments of your Lord, the Ordainer, the All-Wise. -- Kitab-i-Aqdas.
Abdu'l-Baha in His addresses in America and elsewhere frequently expressed the hope, the prayer and the assurance that the banner of international peace would be first raised in America. At Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 5, 1912, He said: --
America is a noble nation, a standard-bearer of peace throughout the world, shedding her light to all regions. Other nations are not untrammeled and free of intrigues like the United States, and are unable to bring about Universal Peace. But America, thank God, is at peace with all the world, and is worthy of raising the flag of brotherhood and International Peace. When the summons to International Peace is raised by America, all the rest of the world will cry: "Yes, we accept." The nations of every clime will join in adopting the teachings of Baha'u'llah, revealed over fifty years ago. In His Epistles He asked the parliaments of the world to send their best and wisest men to an international world parliament that should decide all questions between the peoples and establish peace ... then we shall have the Parliament of Man of which the prophets have dreamed.
The appeals of Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha have already been responded to, in a large measure, by the United States of America, and in no country of the world have the Bahá'í teachings met with readier acceptance. The role assigned to America, of summoning the nations to international peace, has as yet, however, been only partially played, and Bahá'ís are awaiting with interest the developments which the future has in store.1
Both Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha on many occasions foretold with surprising accuracy the coming of the Great War of 1914-1918. At Sacramento, California, on October 26, 1912, Abdu'l-Baha said: -- "Today the European continent is like an arsenal. It is a storehouse of explosives, ready for just a spark, and one spark could set aflame the whole of Europe, particularly at this time, when the Balkan question is before the world."
In many of His addresses in America and Europe He gave similar warning. In another address in California in October 1912 He said: --
We are on the eve of the Battle of Armageddon referred to in the sixteenth chapter of Revelation. The time is two years hence, when only a spark will set aflame the whole of Europe.
On the eve of the great conflict He said: --
A great melee of the civilized nations is in sight. A tremendous conflict is at hand. The world is at the threshold of a most tragic struggle. ... Vast armies -- millions of men -- are being mobilized and stationed at their frontiers. They are being prepared for the fearful contest. The slightest friction will bring them into a terrific crash, and there will be a conflagration, the like of which is not recorded in the past history of mankind. (At Haifa, August 3, 1914).
Both Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha also foretold a period of great social upheaval, conflict and calamity as an inevitable result of the irreligion and prejudices, the ignorance and superstition, prevalent throughout the world. The great international military conflict was but one phase of this upheaval. In a Tablet dated January, 1920, He wrote: --
O ye lovers of truth! O ye servants of mankind! As the sweet fragrance of your thoughts and high intentions has breathed upon me, I feel that my soul is irresistibly prompted to communicate with you.
In a talk given in November 1919, He said: --
Baha'u'llah frequently predicted that there would be a period when irreligion and consequent anarchy would prevail. The chaos will be due to too great liberty among people who are not ready for it, and in consequence there will have to be a temporary reversion to coercive government, in the interests of the people themselves and in order to prevent disorder and chaos. It is clear that each nation now wishes complete self-determination and freedom of action, but some of them are not ready for it. The prevailing state of the world is one of irreligion, which is bound to result in anarchy and confusion. I have always said that the peace proposals following the great war were only a glimmer of the dawn, and not the sunrise.
Coming of the Kingdom of God
Amid these troublous times, however, the Cause of God will prosper. The calamities caused by selfish struggle for individual existence, or for party or sectarian or national gain, will induce the people to turn in despair to the remedy offered by the Word of God. The more calamities abound, the more will the people turn to the only true remedy. Baha'u'llah says in his Epistle to the Shah: --
God hath made afflictions as a morning shower to this green pasture, and as a wick for His Lamp, whereby earth and heaven are illumined. ... Through affliction hath His Light shone and His Praise been bright unceasingly; this hath been His method through past ages and bygone times.
Both Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha predict in the most confident terms the speedy triumph of spirituality over materiality and the consequent establishment of the Most Great Peace. Abdu'l-Baha wrote in 1904: --
Know this, that hardships and misfortunes shall increase day by day, and the people shall be distressed. The doors of joy and happiness shall be closed on all sides. Terrible wars shall happen. Disappointment and the frustration of hopes shall surround the people from every direction until they are obliged to turn to God. Then the lights of great happiness shall enlighten the horizons, so that the cry of "Ya Baha'u'l-Abha!" may arise on all sides. -- Tablet to L.D.B. quoted in Compilation on War and Peace, p. 187.
When asked, in February 1914, whether any of the Great Powers would become believers, He replied: --
All the people of the world will become believers. Should you compare the beginning of the Cause with its position today, you would see what a quick influence the Word of God has, and now the Cause of God has encompassed the world. ... Unquestionably, all will come under the shadow of the Cause of God.
He declared that the establishment of world unity will come about during the present century. In one of His Tablets He wrote: --
... All the members of the human family, whether peoples or governments, cities or villages, have become increasingly interdependent. For none is self-sufficiency any longer possible, inasmuch as political ties unite all peoples and nations, and the bonds of trade and industry, of agriculture and education, are being strengthened every day. Hence the unity of all mankind can in this day be achieved. Verily this is none other but one of the wonders of this wondrous age, this glorious century -- the century of light -- has been endowed with the unique and unprecedented glory, power and illumination. Hence the miraculous unfolding of a fresh marvel every day. Eventually it will be seen how bright its candles will burn in the assemblage of man.
In the last two verses of the Book of Daniel occur the cryptic words: -- "Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. But go thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days."
Many have been the attempts of learned students to solve the problem of the significance of these words. In a tabletalk at which the writer was present, Abdu'l-Baha reckoned the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy from the date of the beginning of the Muhammadan era. [Ed. note: see also bahai-library.org/uhj/beckwith.daniel.prophecy.html, bahai-library.org/uhj/beckwith.html, and bahai-library.org/nsa/beckwith.2.html. -J.W. 2002]
Abdu'l-Baha's Tablets make it clear that this prophecy refers to the one hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Baha'u'llah in Baghdad, or the year 1963: --
Mirza Ahmad Sohrab recorded in his diary the following prophecy about Akka and Haifa uttered by Abdu'l-Baha while seated by the window of one of the Bahá'í Pilgrim Homes at Haifa on February 14, 1914: --