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Christ and Baha'u'llah

by George Townshend

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Chapter 7


      MUHAMMAD completed His mission. Out of the unpromising material presented to Him He had created a spiritual nation such as the world had never seen and one which would prove itself possessed of a solidarity and effectiveness which have always been the wonder of mankind. The future would depend on the loyalty, the understanding and sympathy of His followers and on the guidance given them by their leaders.

      Moses had appointed Joshua as His immediate successor and as long as Joshua led the Israelites the sun of Moses shone high in the heavens. Jesus appointed Peter to succeed Him, without notifying him as to the limit of his authority or who was to succeed him in his office, if anyone. Muḥammad, without naming him, designated 'Alí, His son-in-law, by signs so many and so striking that no one could mistake their meaning and, what is more, Muḥammad had with him a number of conversations dealing with the future of the Cause and the nature of its development. Muḥammad also stated in plain terms that His family and His book were to succeed Him, thus in effect giving to 'Alí, as His son-in-law, the right of succession to the place of the Prophet.

      But sectional loyalties, tribal jealousies and personal ambition all conspired to defeat Muḥammad's purpose. 'Alí,

[page 44]

whose character and outstanding ability made him conspicuously suited for the position to which Muḥammad had appointed him, was set aside,[1] and Islám was thus deprived, until too late, of the inspired guidance which he could have given it. Because of this violation of the Covenant, the spirit and meaning of the Islámic Faith were degraded, weakened and poisoned. Factions grew, the Prophet's family was dispossessed, and before long the powerful Umayyad clan, which had opposed Muḥammad more bitterly than any other, gained the ascendancy, to rule Islám as an Arab empire  with little regard for religion or the precepts of the Prophet.

      'Abdu'l-Bahá describes this clan as the beast from the bottomless pit that warred against the spiritual life of Islám and killed it, leaving nothing of the religion of Muḥammad but the prayers and the fast; all the justice, the righteousness, the mercy and indeed all the virtues which the Prophet had enshrined in Islám were irretrievably lost.

      Deprived of the guidance of Muḥammad's family and ruled by descendants of Muḥammad's enemies, Islám was transformed into a secular state whose rulers used religion for secular ends. Muḥammad's plans remained unknown and so remain to this day, though it is easy to surmise their general character.

      This heinous violation swept away all possibility of Muḥammad's love for Christendom, so conspicuously displayed in His lifetime, from developing, and thereafter the relationship of these two chief civilizations followed its tragic course, continuing right down to our own day to disturb the order of the world and to prevent the establishment of that unity in brotherhood which was the desire of both Christ and Muḥammad.

1. They said he was too young.

[page 45]

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