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The advent of Baha’u’llah two centuries ago marked the promised return of the prophets of old, the renewal of religion and the revelation of a new, divine spiritual and social cycle destined to spread peace and unity around the globe.
You may not have heard of Baha’u’llah before, but millions of people called Baha’is, in every country on Earth, follow his teachings.
Baha’is regard Baha’u’llah as the promised Lord of Hosts of the Jews; the reincarnation of Krishna and the Tenth Avatar to the Hindus; the fifth Buddha, named Maitreye, the Buddha of universal fellowship to the Buddhists; the return of Christ “in the glory of the Father” to the Christians; the return of the Imam Husayn to the Shi’a Muslims; the descent of the “Spirit of God” to the Sunnis. Baha’u’llah fulfills the prophecies and promises of the world’s great Faiths, consummating and confirming all of the religious revelations of the past.
Baha’is see the appearance of Baha’u’llah as the return of the spiritual springtime, revivifying the souls and establishing a new Faith, a new reality and a new spiritual oneness among all humanity:
… this day is the day of the advent of the Lord of Hosts, and this Dispensation the merciful Dispensation of the divine Providence. It has been promised and recorded in all the Sacred Books and Scriptures that in this Day of God His divine and spiritual sovereignty will be established, the world will be renewed, a fresh spirit will be breathed into the body of creation, the divine springtime will be ushered in, the clouds of mercy will rain down, the Sun of Truth will shine forth, the live-giving breezes will blow: The world of humanity will be arrayed in a new garment; the face of the earth will become even as the highest paradise; humanity will be educated; war, dissension, strife, and contention will vanish; truthfulness, uprightness, peace, and godliness will prevail; love, concord and union will encompass the world; and God will rule forevermore—that is, a spiritual and everlasting sovereignty will be established. Such is the Day of God. For all the days which have come and gone were the days of Abraham, Moses, Christ, or of the other Prophets, but this day is the Day of God, inasmuch as the Sun of Truth will shine forth therein with the utmost intensity and radiance. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, pp. 65-66.
This passage from the Baha’i writings announces the revelation of Baha’u’llah, referred to here as “the Sun of Truth” and “the Blessed Beauty:”
O peoples of the world! The Sun of Truth hath risen to illumine the whole earth, and to spiritualize the community of man. Laudable are the results and the fruits thereof, abundant the holy evidences deriving from this grace. This is mercy unalloyed and purest bounty; it is light for the world and all its peoples; it is harmony and fellowship, and love and solidarity; indeed it is compassion and unity, and the end of foreignness; it is the being at one, in complete dignity and freedom, with all on earth.
The Blessed Beauty saith: ‘Ye are all the fruits of one tree, the leaves of one branch.’ Thus hath He likened this world of being to a single tree, and all its peoples to the leaves thereof, and the blossoms and fruits. It is needful for the bough to blossom, and leaf and fruit to flourish, and upon the interconnection of all parts of the world-tree, dependeth the flourishing of leaf and blossom, and the sweetness of the fruit.
For this reason must all human beings powerfully sustain one another and seek for everlasting life; and for this reason must the lovers of God in this contingent world become the mercies and the blessings sent forth by that clement King of the seen and unseen realms. Let them purify their sight and behold all humankind as leaves and blossoms and fruits of the tree of being. Let them at all times concern themselves with doing a kindly thing for one of their fellows, offering to someone love, consideration, thoughtful help. Let them see no one as their enemy, or as wishing them ill, but think of all humankind as their friends; regarding the alien as an intimate, the stranger as a companion, staying free of prejudice, drawing no lines.
In this day, the one favoured at the Threshold of the Lord is he who handeth round the cup of faithfulness; who bestoweth, even upon his enemies, the jewel of bounty, and lendeth, even to his fallen oppressor, a helping hand; it is he who will, even to the fiercest of his foes, be a loving friend .… – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 1.
These startling claims—that another major prophet of God has come; that humanity has been given a new revelation; that the Creator has spoken to us once more—challenge each person on Earth to investigate, evaluate and decide on their veracity. Baha’u’llah did not insist on dogmatic obedience or blind adherence, however. Instead, he simply invited everyone to independently and freely investigate and determine the truth of the Baha’i Faith, deciding for themselves what they believe. In the next essay in this series, you’ll read a few suggestions for undertaking this spiritual process.
Meanwhile, since today is the 200th anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s birth, why not join your local Baha’i community in its joyous celebration?