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How can a single individual—one human being—change the world? Let’s ask that question a different way: what individuals have changed the world the most?
Many historians and philosophers would respond with a list of the founders of the world’s great Faiths: Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad and now Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith.
Each one of those remarkable individuals, even though they had no earthly power or position, changed the entire course of human history.
Millions follow their teachings and their examples. Entire civilizations emerged from those teachings. In each era when they appeared, an effulgence of knowledge and scientific discovery occurred. During the period of the flowering of their revelations, humanity advanced far beyond what anyone thought possible.
How did this happen? Abraham’s father had a small shop that made carved idols; Buddha was a prince-turned-beggar; Moses was a humble shepherd; Christ was a carpenter; Muhammad a merchant; Baha’u’llah an exile and a prisoner. None of them possessed any worldly dominion or authority. None of them had access to the traditional levers of power. None of them wielded any temporal influence.
But somehow, the Baha’i writings affirm, these founders of the world’s great Faiths changed everything:
These Essences of Detachment, these resplendent Realities are the channels of God’s all-pervasive grace. Led by the light of unfailing guidance, and invested with supreme sovereignty, They are commissioned to use the inspiration of Their words, the effusions of Their infallible grace and the sanctifying breeze of Their Revelation for the cleansing of every longing heart and receptive spirit from the dross and dust of earthly cares and limitations. Then, and only then, will the Trust of God, latent in the reality of man, emerge, as resplendent as the rising Orb of Divine Revelation, from behind the veil of concealment, and implant the ensign of its revealed glory upon the summits of men’s hearts.
… in the kingdoms of earth and heaven there must needs be manifested a Being, an Essence Who shall act as a Manifestation and Vehicle for the transmission of the grace of the Divinity Itself, the Sovereign Lord of all. Through the Teachings of this Day Star of Truth every man will advance and develop until he attaineth the station at which he can manifest all the potential forces with which his inmost true self hath been endowed. It is for this very purpose that in every age and dispensation the Prophets of God and His chosen Ones have appeared amongst men, and have evinced such power as is born of God and such might as only the Eternal can reveal. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, pp. 67-68.
In that spirit, Baha’is follow the teachings of Baha’u’llah, who proclaimed the Baha’i Faith during the middle of the 19th Century, and who taught world peace, the oneness of all humanity and the essential unity of all religions. Born Mirza Husayn Ali in Tehran, Persia in 1817, Baha’u’llah was known early in his adult life as “the father of the poor” for his selfless work assisting the destitute and homeless. In 1863, Baha’u’llah began openly teaching the Baha’i Faith, with its revolutionary messages of human unity, the oneness of all Faiths, the equality of men and women, the agreement of science and religion and the establishment of world peace through a global system of governance.
We spend our lives trying to unlock the mystery of the universe, but there was a Turkish prisoner, Baha’u’llah, in Akka, Palestine who had the key. – Leo Tolstoy
The Baha’i Faith is consolation for humanity. – Mahatma Gandhi
The Baha’i teaching brings peace and understanding.
It is like a wide embrace gathering together all those who have long searched for words of hope.
It accepts all great prophets gone before, it destroys no other creeds and leaves all doors open.
Saddened by the continual strife amongst believers of many confessions and wearied of their intolerance towards each other, I discovered in the Baha’i teaching the real spirit of Christ so often denied and misunderstood: Unity instead of strife, hope instead of condemnation, love instead of hate, and a great reassurance for all men. – Queen Marie of Romania
After the proclamation of his Faith, Baha’u’llah suffered forty years of exile, torture and imprisonment—all for announcing that a new revelation had been born. This divine educator and messenger, despite the severe persecutions he bore, then wrote a series of epistles to the political and religious rulers of the world from his prison cell. Those letters, called the Tablets to the Kings, openly announced Baha’u’llah’s station and mission, and warned the world’s most prominent leaders that humanity faced disastrous consequences unless they laid down their weapons and convened to unite the world and end warfare.
Baha’u’llah called the entire world to love, collective action, and unity. That call, Baha’is believe, has inaugurated a new age of spirituality, harmony and human maturation.