References to dependent prophets from the writings of Abdu'l-Bahá.
Symbolic terms used by Abdu'l-Bahá to refer to prophets include: "Sun",
"Moons", "stars", "root", "branch", "countenances", "holy ones".
More terms used that are applicable to prophets include: "throne",
"heralds", "testimony", "signs", "revelation","ascent" [to heaven].
THE TWO CLASSES OF PROPHETS
Question.--How many kinds of Prophets are there? Answer.--Universally, the
Prophets are of two kinds. One are the independent Prophets Who are followed;
the other kind are not independent and are themselves followers.
The independent Prophets are the lawgivers and the founders of a new cycle.
Through Their appearance the world puts on a new garment, the foundations of
religion are established, and a new book is revealed. Without an intermediary
They receive bounty from the Reality of the Divinity, and Their illumination is
an essential illumination. They are like the sun which is luminous in itself:
the light is its essential necessity; it does not receive light from any other
star. These Dawning-places of the morn of Unity are the sources of bounty and
the mirrors of the Essence of Reality.
The other Prophets are followers and promoters, for they are branches and not
independent; they receive the bounty of the independent Prophets, and they
profit by the light of the Guidance of the universal Prophets. They are like
the moon, which is not luminous and radiant in itself, but receives its light
from the sun.
The Manifestations of universal Prophethood Who appeared independently are, for
example, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. But the
others who are followers and promoters are like Solomon, David, Isaiah,
Jeremiah and Ezekiel. For the independent Prophets are founders; They establish
a new religion and make new creatures of men; They change the general morals,
promote new customs and rules, renew the cycle and the Law. Their appearance is
like the season of spring, which arrays all earthly beings in a new garment,
and gives them a new life.
With regard to the second sort of Prophets who are followers, these also
promote the Law of God, make known the Religion of God, and proclaim His word.
Of themselves they have no power and might, except what they receive from the
-- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p.165
The passage below can be interpreted in the following sense as a
reference to dependent (lesser) prophets: where it says they will "interpret
every hidden meaning" may be a reference to Sealed Prophecies. These are
prophecies that can only be explained by prophets and is a proof of
prophethood. Where it says, "They shall raise their voices in every assembly"
can be interpreted to be referring to how their writings and teachings will be
used in Bahá'í gatherings like those of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá. Where it
says,"that their sacred countenances may be unveiled to mortal eyes"can be
interpreted as the dependent prophets appearing before us believers -- i.e.
those with"mortal eyes"are us believers who are fallible and whose spiritual
station is not guaranteed.
204. O phoenix of that immortal flame kindled in the sacred Tree!
Bahá'u'lláh--may my life, my soul, my spirit be offered up as a sacrifice unto
His lowly servants--hath, during His last days on earth, given the most
emphatic promise that, through the outpourings of the grace of God and the aid
and assistance vouchsafed from His Kingdom on high, souls will arise and holy
beings appear who, as stars, would adorn the firmament of divine guidance;
illumine the dayspring of loving-kindness and bounty; manifest the signs of the
unity of God; shine with the light of sanctity and purity; receive their full
measure of divine inspiration; raise high the sacred torch of faith; stand firm
as the rock and immoveable as the mountain; and grow to become luminaries in
the heavens of His Revelation, mighty channels of His grace, means for the
bestowal of God's bountiful care, heralds calling forth the name of the One
true God, and establishers of the world's supreme foundation.
These shall labour ceaselessly, by day and by night, shall heed neither trials
nor woe, shall suffer no respite in their efforts, shall seek no repose, shall
disregard all ease and comfort, and, detached and unsullied, shall consecrate
every fleeting moment of their lives to the diffusion of the divine fragrance
and the exaltation of God's holy Word. Their faces will radiate heavenly
gladness, and their hearts be filled with joy. Their souls will be inspired,
and their foundation stand secure. They shall scatter in the world, and travel
throughout all regions. They shall raise their voices in every assembly, and
adorn and revive every gathering. They shall speak in every tongue, and
interpret every hidden meaning. They shall reveal the mysteries of the Kingdom,
and manifest unto everyone the signs of God. They shall burn brightly even as a
candle in the heart of every assembly, and beam forth as a star upon every
horizon. The gentle breezes wafted from the garden of their hearts shall
perfume and revive the souls of men, and the revelations of their minds, even
as showers, will reinvigorate the peoples and nations of the world.
I am waiting, eagerly waiting for these holy ones to appear; and yet, how long
will they delay their coming? My prayer and ardent supplication, at eventide
and at dawn, is that these shining stars may soon shed their radiance upon the
world, that their sacred countenances may be unveiled to mortal eyes, that the
hosts of divine assistance may achieve their victory, and the billows of grace,
rising from His oceans above, may flow upon all mankind. Pray ye also and
supplicate unto Him that through the bountiful aid of the Ancient Beauty these
souls may be unveiled to the eyes of the world.
The glory of God rest upon thee, and upon him whose face is illumined with that
everlasting light that shineth from His Kingdom of Glory.
-- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 252
According to the passages below, there will be 24 Dependent Prophets in the
Bahá'í era; twice the number in each of the recent major revelations, an aspect
of the greatness of the Day of God.
4:4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon
the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment;
and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
-- Bible: Revelation.
The following sequence from the Book of Revelation verses 11:3 to 11:17
fortells the coming of Muhammad (first woe) and Imam Ali , followed by The Bab
(second woe) and Quddus, followed by Bahá'u'lláh (third woe) and the 24 holy
11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy
a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
-- Bible: Revelation
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand
two hundred and three-score days, clothed in sackcloth." These two witnesses
are Muhammad the Messenger of God, and `Alí, son of Abú Tálib.
In the Qur'án it is said that God addressed Muhammad, the Messenger of God,
saying: "We made You a Witness, a Herald of good news, and a Warner"--that is
to say, We have established Thee as the witness, the giver of good tidings, and
as One bringing the wrath of God. The meaning of "a witness" is one by whose
testimony things may be verified. The commands of these two witnesses were to
be performed for twelve hundred and sixty days, each day signifying a year.
Now, Muhammad was the root, and `Alí the branch, like Moses and Joshua.
-- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 48
11:11 And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into
them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them
which saw them.
-- Bible: Revelation
"And after three days and a half the spirit of life from God entered into them,
and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them that saw them."
Three days and a half, as we before explained, is twelve hundred and sixty
years. Those two persons whose bodies were lying spiritless are the teachings
and the law that Muhammad established and `Alí promoted, from which, however,
the reality had departed and only the form remained. The spirit came again into
them means that those foundations and teachings were again established. In
other words, the spirituality of the Religion of God had been changed into
materiality, and virtues into vices; the love of God had been changed into
hatred, enlightenment into darkness, divine qualities into satanic ones,
justice into tyranny, mercy into enmity, sincerity into hypocrisy, guidance
into error, and purity into sensuality. Then after three days and a half, which
by the terminology of the Holy Books is twelve hundred and sixty years, these
divine teachings, heavenly virtues, perfections and spiritual bounties were
again renewed by the appearance of the Báb and the devotion of Jináb-i-Quddús.
-- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 54
11:12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up
hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies
-- Bible: Revelation
"And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And
they ascended up to heaven," meaning that from the invisible heaven they heard
the voice of God, saying: You have performed all that was proper and fitting in
delivering the teachings and glad tidings; you have given My message to the
people and raised the call of God, and have accomplished your duty. Now, like
Christ, you must sacrifice your life for the Well-Beloved, and be martyrs. And
that Sun of Reality, and that Moon of Guidance, both, like Christ, set on the
horizon of the greatest martyrdom and ascended to the Kingdom of God.
-- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 55
11:14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
-- Bible: Revelation
"The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly." The first
woe is the appearance of the Prophet, Muhammad, the son of `Abdu'lláh--peace be
upon Him! The second woe is that of the Báb--to Him be glory and praise! The
third woe is the great day of the manifestation of the Lord of Hosts and the
radiance of the Beauty of the Promised One. The explanation of this subject,
woe, is mentioned in the thirtieth chapter of Ezekiel, where it is said: "The
word of the Lord came again unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus
saith the Lord God; Howl ye, Woe worth the day! For the day is near, even the
day of the Lord is near."
Therefore, it is certain that the day of woe is the day of the Lord; for in
that day woe is for the neglectful, woe is for the sinners, woe is for the
ignorant. That is why it is said, "The second woe is past; behold the third woe
cometh quickly!" This third woe is the day of the manifestation of
Bahá'u'lláh, the day of God; and it is near to the day of the appearance of the
-- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 56
11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven,
saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord,
and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
The seventh angel is a man qualified with heavenly attributes, who will arise
with heavenly qualities and character. Voices will be raised, so that the
appearance of the Divine Manifestation will be proclaimed and diffused. In the
day of the manifestation of the Lord of Hosts, and at the epoch of the divine
cycle of the Omnipotent which is promised and mentioned in all the books and
writings of the Prophets--in that day of God, the Spiritual and Divine Kingdom
will be established, and the world will be renewed;
-- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 56
"His Christ" is interpreted as a general reference to the manifestation, like
when Muhammad refers to himself as "Jesus".
Every discerning observer will recognize that in the Dispensation of the Qur'án
both the Book and the Cause of Jesus were confirmed. As to the matter of names,
Muhammad, Himself, declared: "I am Jesus." He recognized the truth of the
signs, prophecies, and words of Jesus, and testified that they were all of God.
In this sense, neither the person of Jesus nor His writings hath differed from
that of Muhammad and of His holy Book, inasmuch as both have championed the
Cause of God, uttered His praise, and revealed His commandments. Thus it is
that Jesus, Himself, declared: "I go away and come again unto you."
-- Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 21
11:16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell
upon their faces, and worshipped God,
11:17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which art, and wast,
and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and
-- Bible: Revelation
Such is the day of God. For all the days which have come and gone were the days
of Abraham, Moses and Christ, or of the other Prophets; but this day is the day
of God, for the Sun of Reality will arise in it with the utmost warmth and
"And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon
their faces, and worshipped God.
"Saying, We give Thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, Which art, and wast, and art
to come; because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power, and hast reigned." In
each cycle the guardians and holy souls have been twelve. So Jacob had twelve
sons; in the time of Moses there were twelve heads or chiefs of the tribes; in
the time of Christ there were twelve Apostles ; and in the time of Muhammad
there were twelve Imáms. But in this glorious manifestation there are
twenty-four, double the number of all the others, for the greatness of this
manifestation requires it. These holy souls are in the presence of God seated
on their own thrones, meaning that they reign eternally.
These twenty-four great persons, though they are seated on the thrones of
everlasting rule, yet are worshipers of the appearance of the Universal
Manifestation, and they are humble and submissive, saying, "We give thanks to
Thee, O Lord God Almighty, Which art, and wast, and art to come, because Thou
hast taken to Thee Thy great power and hast reigned" -- that is to say, Thou
wilt issue all Thy teachings, Thou wilt gather all the people of the earth
under Thy shadow, and Thou wilt bring all men under the shadow of one tent.
Although it is the Eternal Kingdom of God, and He always had, and has, a
Kingdom, the Kingdom here means the manifestation of Himself; and He will issue
all the laws and teachings which are the spirit of the world of humanity and
everlasting life. And that universal Manifestation will subdue the world by
spiritual power, not by war and combat; He will do it with peace and
tranquillity, not by the sword and arms; He will establish this Heavenly
Kingdom by true love, and not by the power of war. He will promote these divine
teachings by kindness and righteousness, and not by weapons and harshness. He
will so educate the nations and people that, notwithstanding their various
conditions, their different customs and characters, and their diverse religions
and races, they will, as it is said in the Bible, like the wolf and the lamb,
the leopard, the kid, the sucking child and the serpent, become comrades,
friends and companions. The contentions of races, the differences of religions,
and the barriers between nations will be completely removed, and all will
attain perfect union and reconciliation under the shadow of the Blessed Tree.
-- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 58.
Significance of Twelve
Thou didst ask as to the tenth to the seventeenth verses of the twenty-first
chapter of Saint John the Divine's Revelation. Know thou that according to
mathematical principles, the firmament of this earth's brilliant day-star hath
been divided among twelve constellations, which they call the twelve zodiacal
signs. In the same way, the Sun of Truth shineth out from and sheddeth its
bounties through twelve stations of holiness, and by these heavenly signs are
meant those stainless and unsullied personages who are the very well-springs of
sanctity, and the dawning-points proclaiming the oneness of God.
Consider how in the days of the Interlocutor (Moses), there were twelve holy
beings who were leaders of the twelve tribes; and likewise in the dispensation
of the Spirit (Christ), note that there were twelve Apostles gathered within
the sheltering shade of that supernal Light, and from those splendid
dawning-points the Sun of Truth shone forth even as the sun in the sky. Again,
in the days of Muhammad, observe that there were twelve dawning-points of
holiness, the manifestors of God's confirming help. Such is the way of it.
Accordingly did Saint John the Divine tell of twelve gates in his vision, and
twelve foundations. By `that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of
heaven from God' is meant the holy Law of God, and this is set forth in many
Tablets and still to be read in the Scriptures of the Prophets of the past: for
instance, that Jerusalem was seen going out into the wilderness.
The meaning of the passage is that this heavenly Jerusalem hath twelve gates,
through which the blessed enter into the City of God. These gates are souls who
are as guiding stars, as portals of knowledge and grace; and within these gates
there stand twelve angels. By `angel' is meant the power of the confirmations
of God--that the candle of God's confirming power shineth out from the
lamp-niche of those souls--meaning that every one of those beings will be
granted the most vehement confirming support.
These twelve gates surround the entire world, that is they are a shelter for
all creatures. And further, these twelve gates are the foundation of the City
of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and on each one of these foundations is written
the name of one of the Apostles of Christ. That is to say, each one maketh
manifest the perfections, the joyous message, and the excellency of that holy
-- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 165