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TAGS: 20th century; Bahai history; Century of Light (book); Emergence from obscurity; God Passes By (book); Historical overviews by Central Figures or BWC; History (general); Integration and disintegration; Materialism; One Common Faith (commentary); Oneness of mankind; Peace; Unity; War (general); World order (general); World peace (general)
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Survey of the history and dramatic changes of the 20th Century and the Bahá'í Faith's emergence from obscurity, "demonstrating on a global scale the unifying power with which its Divine origin has endowed it."
See also an outline of the Century of Light, a list of study questions, a review of the book, and an article.

See also this book in other formats at, and see also a Microsoft Word version prepared by M. Thomas (2021).

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Century of Light

by / on behalf of Universal House of Justice

Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 2001
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    Foreword and introduction
  1. Part I
  2. Part II
  3. Part III
  4. Part IV
  5. Part V
  6. Part VI
  7. Part VII
  8. Part VIII
  9. Part IX
  10. Part X
  11. Part XI
  12. Part XII
[Page numbers given in this online edition correspond with the editions printed by the Bahá'í Publishing Trust. Note that some pages in those printed editions are blank, and the notes which appear on pp. 147-157 in those editions have here been moved to the end of each part for the convenience of the reader. These endnotes are numbered consecutively from the beginning to the end of the whole document, as in the printed editions.]


The conclusion of the twentieth century provides Bahá'ís with a unique vantage point. During the past hundred years our world underwent changes far more profound than any in its preceding history, changes that are, for the most part, little understood by the present generation. These same hundred years saw the Bahá'í Cause emerge from obscurity, demonstrating on a global scale the unifying power with which its Divine origin has endowed it. As the century drew to its close, the convergence of these two historical developments became increasingly apparent.

Century of Light, prepared under our supervision, reviews these two processes and the relationship between them, in the context of the Bahá'í Teachings. We commend it to the thoughtful study of the friends, in the confidence that the perspectives it opens up will prove both spiritually enriching and of practical help in sharing with others the challenging implications of the Revelation brought by Bahá'u'lláh.
    Naw-Rúz, 158 B.E.


THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, the most turbulent in the history of the human race, has reached its end. Dismayed by the deepening moral and social chaos that marked its course, the generality of the world's peoples are eager to leave behind them the memories of the suffering that these decades brought with them. No matter how frail the foundations of confidence in the future may seem, no matter how great the dangers looming on the horizon, humanity appears desperate to believe that, through some fortuitous conjunction of circumstances, it will nevertheless be possible to bend the conditions of human life into conformity with prevailing human desires.

In the light of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh such hopes are not merely illusory, but miss entirely the nature and meaning of the great turning point through which our world has passed in these crucial hundred years. Only as humanity comes to understand the implications of what occurred during this period of history will it be able to meet the challenges that lie ahead. The value of the contribution we as Bahá'ís can make to the process demands that we ourselves grasp the significance of the historic transformation wrought by the twentieth century.

What makes this insight possible for us is the light shed by the rising Sun of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation and the influence it has come to exercise in human affairs. It is this opportunity that the following pages address.
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