The Messengers of God
Bahá'ís believe that in every age God sends a Messenger to mankind. Those we know of in the past have been the great religious teachers such as Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Christ and Muhammad. They manifest or show forth the attributes of God and teach mankind how to live:
"Every one of them is a mirror of God, reflecting naught else but His Self, His Beauty, His Might and Glory, if ye will understand."
Each Messenger builds upon the Messages of Those gone before, leading us to new spiritual heights and bringing social teachings designed for that particular age:
"For every age requireth a fresh measure of the light of God. Every Divine Revelation hath been sent down in a manner which befitted the circumstances of the age in which it hath appeared."
The Hindu scriptures describe it thus:
"Whenever there is a decay of righteousness, then I Myself come forth... for the sake of firmly establishing righteousness, I am born from age to age."
All the Messengers in the past have promised that a great World Teacher would appear who would bring an age of peace to mankind. Sometimes they refer to this as the return of their own spirit, sometimes it sounds like another person, as in this from the Christian scriptures:
"I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you unto all truth..."
Many smaller tribal religions also have prophecies of a great World Teacher.
The Promised One
Bahá'ís believe that, although the Messengers are all different individuals, it is the same spirit, the spirit of God, which animates them all. Bahá'ís believe that Bahá'u'lláh fulfilled all the promises and prophecies of the past when He arose in Persia in the last century and announced His Message to mankind. We believe that the same spirit which was in all the Messengers is in Bahá'u'lláh.
"The Revelation, which from time immemorial, hath been acclaimed as the Purpose and Promise of all the Prophets of God, and the most cherished desire of His Messengers, hath now, by virtue of the pervasive Will of the Almighty and at His irresistible bidding, been revealed unto men. The advent of such a Revelation hath been heralded in all the sacred Scriptures."
The Bahá'í writings explain the station of Bahá'u'lláh:
"To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the 'Everlasting Father,' the 'Lord of Hosts'... to Christendom Christ returned 'in the glory of the Father', to Shi'ah Islam the return of the Imam Husayn; to Sunni Islam the descent of the "Spirit of God"; to the Zoroastrians the promised Shah-Bahram; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha (Maitreya, the Buddha of universal fellowship)."
The name Bahá'u'lláh means 'the Glory of God' or 'Glory of the Lord'. This title is mentioned in many prophecies:
"To Him Isaiah, the greatest of the Jewish prophets, had alluded as the 'Glory of the Lord', the 'Everlasting Father', the 'Prince of Peace', the 'Wonderful', the 'Counsellor'."
The Promised Day of God
"...this is the Day which the one true God... hath announced in all His Books unto his Prophets and Messengers."
This is the day when the will of God will be done upon all the earth:
"The time foreordained unto the peoples and kindreds of the earth is now come. The promises of God, as recorded in the holy Scriptures, have all been fulfilled. Out of Zion hath gone forth the Law of God, and Jerusalem, and the hills and land thereof, are filled with the glory of His Revelation...This is the day which the Pen of the Most High hath glorified in all the Holy Scriptures."
This is the day for which mankind has been hoping and waiting for thousands of years:
"Verily I say, this is the day in which mankind can behold the face, and hear the Voice, of the Promised One....Great indeed is this Day! The allusions made to it in all the sacred Scriptures as the Day of God attest its greatness. The soul of every Prophet of God, of every Divine Messenger, hath thirsted for this wondrous Day. All the divers kindreds of the earth have, likewise, yearned to attain it."
This is the promised Age of Peace:
"This is the Day in which God's most excellent favours have been poured out upon men, the day in which His mighty grace hath been infused into all created things. It is incumbent upon all the peoples of the world to reconcile their differences, and with perfect amity and peace, abide beneath the shadow of the Tree of His care and loving-kindness."
The Message for this Day
Bahá'u'lláh re-emphasised and expanded the spiritual teachings found in all religions. He also brought many teachings specifically for the age we live in today. Here are some examples of His teachings:
"That one indeed is a man who today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race...It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens."
"The day is approaching when all the peoples of the world will have adopted one universal language and one common script...These things are obligatory and absolutely essential."
"...among the teachings ... is the equality of women and men. The world of humanity has two wings. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly."
"It is important to limit riches, as it is important to limit poverty. Either extreme is not good."
"Should any king take up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and prevent him."
"Peace must first be established among individuals, until it leadeth in the end to peace among nations."
"The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion. War shall cease between the nations, and by the will of God the Most Great Peace shall come; the world will be seen as a new world, and all men will live as brothers."
The End of An Era
The coming of Bahá'u'lláh brought the Prophetic cycle to an end. His coming marks the dawn of the maturity of mankind. In this age we will achieve the unity of the peoples of the world. In this age we will achieve peace. The Message of Bahá'u'lláh begins a new cycle in the history of mankind: the future Messengers of this cycle will build on the foundations of the laws of Bahá'u'lláh.
The Time is Now
"O people! The Day, promised unto you in all the Scriptures, is now come. Fear ye God, and withhold not yourselves from recognising the One Who is the Object of your creation."
Published by the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Warwick.
Approved by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom,
27 Rutland Gate, LONDON SW7 1PD.
All quotations are from the Bahá'í writings unless otherwise stated.