Unity of Messengers
by Ted Slavinpublished in St. Catharines Standard
St Catharines, ON: 2009-11-29
When my father was learning about the Bahá’í Faith in the early 1970s, there were obviously a lot of aspects that attracted him to it. Yet, the final straw that saw him throw in his lot with the Bahá’ís was when he learned that the Bahá’í New Year, or Naw-Ruz, is celebrated on the vernal equinox, or first day of spring for those of us in the northern hemisphere. Knowing this now, I can’t imagine it would have been as big a deal for me if I were investigating the Bahá’í Faith for the first time, but for my dad the harmony of religion with God’s creation of nature was what ‘clicked’.
Being raised as a Bahá’í meant that the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh were constantly before me in childhood.
I remember my mother and I made a mirror once by wrapping a piece of cardboard in a small sheet of aluminum foil after reading about how the Messengers of God are perfect mirrors of His attributes. I also remember my mother helping me make a prayer book after I had memorized my first prayer. Using my crayons, she drew a lighted candle on the cover of a folded piece of card stock with the words to “O God, guide me...” neatly printed inside. My own penmanship that follows hers as a copy was a scrawl in comparison that, unfortunately, has not improved much in over three decades.
Despite being raised as a Bahá’í, I was always aware that following the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith was my responsibility. Being a Bahá’í couldn’t just be a mimicry of the religion accepted by my parents as this, essentially, would be hypocrisy and against Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings. Not having the experience that my parents did of investigating the Bahá’í Faith meant that I never really had an Ah-ha! moment like they did, but if there had been a teaching of Bahá’u’lláh where things ‘clicked’ for me, I think it would have concerned the unity of God and His Messengers.
As a child, I learned it like this: We start school and we go to kindergarten. We learn many wonderful things from that kindergarten teacher through the year. Then we’re off to Grade 1 and that teacher teaches and reminds us of many things we learned in kindergarten before teaching us even more wonderful things. Then the same thing happens in Grade 2 and so on. As we progress through school, we constantly review past learnings before new doors are opened to us.
Though their teachings differ based on the capacities and circumstances of their students, they all share the same job and no teacher is more or less important than the other. The Messengers of God have taught humanity in much the same way.
Whether it has been Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Muhammad, the Báb, or Bahá’u’lláh (not an all-inclusive nor chronological list), They each appeared with God’s teachings every thousand years or so to raise and uplift the societies of humanity in which They lived and beyond.
Having been sent by one loving God for the same purpose, the conflict between the followers of different religions seems absurd in light of how much more they share than differ in their beliefs, differences that can be attributed to the societies and ages in which the religions began, along with religious teachings that have been disfigured by man. Never has one Messenger of God criticized another Messenger. Some excerpts of holy texts even show Their praise and glorification of other Messengers.
As enlightening as the concept may be, accepting the unity of God’s Messengers can be painful as it also means recognizing how much needless conflict in the world is based on religious prejudice and misunderstanding. This ‘click’ becomes all the more wonderful, though, when it signals one more step made toward expressing the unity of humankind as a reality.