Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, did not consider himself in any way superior to the messengers of God who came before him.
The Baha’i teachings identify the only difference between their revelations and his as the relative outpouring of God’s Word and the special time of fulfillment that Baha’u’llah has inaugurated. In his writings, Baha’u’llah repeatedly explains that all of the messengers reveal the same Holy Spirit. In this way their stations are one and the same, even though they have different names and distinct individual identities:
Know thou assuredly that the essence of all the Prophets of God is one and the same. Their unity is absolute. God, the Creator, saith: There is no distinction whatsoever among the Bearers of My Message. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 78.
Furthermore, it is evident to thee that the Bearers of the trust of God are made manifest unto the peoples of the earth as the Exponents of a new Cause and the Bearers of a new Message. Inasmuch as these Birds of the Celestial Throne are all sent down from the heaven of the Will of God, and as they all arise to proclaim His irresistible Faith, they therefore are regarded as one soul and the same person. For they all drink from the one Cup of the love of God, and all partake of the fruit of the same Tree of Oneness. These Manifestations of God have each a twofold station. One is the station of pure abstraction and essential unity. In this respect, if thou callest them all by one name, and dost ascribe to them the same attribute, thou hast not erred from the truth. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 152.
At first, this concept may seem to contradict what we have read in other scriptures. In the Bible we find passages that seem to equate Jesus with God, and others that imply that he is subordinate to God. In the Qur’an it is made perfectly clear that Muhammad is not God.
Baha’u’llah explains that all of the prophets have a human nature as well as a divine nature. Sometimes they speak with the voice of God, but this does not mean that they are the same as God. Baha’u’llah touches upon this in the following passage, which is part of a prayer:
When I contemplate, O my God, the relationship that bindeth me to Thee, I am moved to proclaim to all created things ‘verily I am God!’; and when I consider my own self, lo, I find it coarser than clay! – quoted by Shoghi Effendi in The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 113.
Baha’u’llah states time and again that he is God’s chosen messenger and the manifestation of His attributes, but he is not God Himself. (In a later essay in this series we will examine how other scriptures support this concept.)
Baha’u’llah warned us not to judge the Word of God according to human standards and beliefs. On the contrary, the Word of God is itself the standard by which all else is to be judged. For that reason we must take care not to summarily reject a prophet because his teachings do not conform with our own prior expectations or wishes. The tendency on the part of human beings to do just that is the main reason for the sufferings of all of God’s messengers. The consequences reverberate down through centuries and ages, for humanity itself then becomes deprived of the influence of their teachings.
Baha’u’llah taught that we must investigate the truth for ourselves with sincerity and purity of motive. This is what God expects—not blind adherence to the opinions of others, or tradition, or personal prejudices, or anything else that might stand in the way of our recognition of the messenger of God.