Recently I asked a few of my Jewish, Christian and Muslim friends what they considered to be the primary proof establishing the truth of the claims of the founding prophet of their religion.
Most responded by mentioning the miracles performed by the prophet while he was alive, as recorded in their holy scriptures. Some talked about their personal transformation—a rebirth they personally experienced—after they converted; while others viewed the sacrifices made by that divine educator as the ultimate proof.
Although I didn’t disagree with any particular response, I wanted a more decisive proof—a proof that could not be refuted by anyone, common to all of these major religions. So I searched for an explanation that would satisfy that criteria.
The first and foremost testimony establishing His truth is His own Self. Next to this testimony is His Revelation. For whoso faileth to recognize either the one or the other He hath established the words He hath revealed as proof of His reality and truth. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 105.
My next task was to see how these criteria applied to the messengers of major religions. First was Moses—despite his banishment into the wilderness and fierce opposition from Pharaoh, he freed a captive nation from the bondage of slavery and oppression. Moses established laws through his words in the Pentateuch, which lifted his people from the depths of captivity and ignorance to such heights of civilization that it inspired great philosophers such as Socrates, Hippocrates, Aristotle, and Plato. How was it possible that a mere shepherd who could not even converse correctly bring such ordinances and teachings that sustained a nation for centuries and established so great a cause?
I had no doubt that he must have been assisted by a divine power.
Next was Christ, who, in all appearance, was a lowly young carpenter with only a few followers. He brought teachings that reformed the general morals of a confused, corrupt society. His teachings have touched the hearts of millions of people around the world, and transformed their lives.
Many Christians today reference a number of miracles associated with Christ, as mentioned in the Gospel, as proof of his station. But if we consider miracles as the ultimate proof, we must admit that they are only proofs for those who were present at that time, and not a convincing proof for those who were absent. Those who were absent at the time of these miracles might ask “What is the significance of a blind man receiving sight, or a dead person getting resuscitated?” After all, isn’t it true that when a person dies, he will be deprived of life, sight, and all his senses? Is it possible that the true miracle was when Christ’s teachings gave a person inner sight, spiritual healing, and eternal life?
The Baha’i teachings provide the following explanation as indisputable proof of Christ’s claim:
Consider how Christ, alone and singlehanded, with no helper or protector, with no legions or armies, and with the utmost meekness, raised aloft the banner of God before all the peoples of the world; how He withstood them; and how at last He subdued them all, even though outwardly He was crucified. Now this is an absolute miracle which can in no wise be denied. Indeed, the truth of Christ stands in no need of further proof. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, p. 114.
Then came Muhammad, who appeared in the Arabian Peninsula among people who were at that time uneducated, savage, and extremely barbaric. Women were particularly oppressed—some tribes even buried their newborn daughters alive, and considered it an honor. The tribes constantly warred with each other, engaging in pillage, robbery, and enslaving of their victims. After Muhammad declared his message, he endured thirteen years of persecution until he fled to Medina. Even then, he was sought after by his enemies and further persecuted.
However, under the shadow of the teachings of his holy book, the Qur’an, a profound transformation occurred in the Arabian peninsula over the next few centuries. When, during the medieval ages Europe sank to depths of materialism and barbarism, the Arabs rose to heights of learning—in the arts, mathematics, sciences, government, and social development. This profound change through the teachings of a single person, who was illiterate himself, provides an indisputable proof that Muhammad was inspired by divine assistance and his cause was aided by a higher power.
Moving forward, I next looked at the revelation of the Bab in the mid-19th century. The Bab, whose title means “the Gate,” was a young Persian merchant who never studied in any school. At that time, Persia was in a state of decadence, fanaticism, and ruin. In 1844, at the age of twenty-five, the Bab proclaimed that he was the newest messenger of God and the forerunner of the promised one of all ages. Through his writings, he instituted new social rules and laws that were far more progressive than the existing Islamic laws. Despite the fact that he and his followers were brutally persecuted by the government, the nation, and the religious fanatics of the time, his cause grew stronger and more widespread. In a very short period of time, he enlightened the thoughts, morals, customs, and conditions of those who became his followers. Even after his martyrdom in 1850, his teachings continued to transform multitudes of people throughout that region. Eventually, more than 20,000 of his followers sacrificed their lives for their beliefs. What caused such powerful influence and transformation in the hearts and minds of a populace? The Baha’i writings provide an answer to this question:
The manifestation of such marvellous signs and mighty undertakings, the influence exerted upon the thoughts and minds of the people, the laying of the foundations of progress; and the establishment of the prerequisites of success and prosperity by a young merchant constitute the greatest proof that He was a universal Educator—a fact that no fair-minded person would ever hesitate to acknowledge. – Ibid., p. 31.
A few years after the Bab’s martyrdom, Baha’u’llah declared that he was the latest divine messenger of God, the one promised by Bab. Because of the profound prejudice and ignorance prevalent at that time, he subsequently suffered over forty years of exile and imprisonment for promulgating his teachings. During that time, he revealed over 100 volumes of sacred writings and wrote a series of letters to the world’s leaders, declaring unequivocally his mission. The teachings of Baha’u’llah, whose title means ”The Glory of God” in Arabic, provide a blueprint for a completely new social organization of the planet and the establishment of a world civilization.
Today, the teachings of Baha’u’llah have been translated into more than 800 different languages; his followers are established in more than 200 countries and territories, representing more than 2,000 indigenous tribes and ethnic groups and racial backgrounds. The teachings of Baha’u’llah, who was for most of his life a prisoner in exile, have caused a worldwide spiritual transformation in a very short period of time. To a seeker of truth this should suffice as sufficient evidence of his claim.
When you examine the lives and revelations of the divine messengers of the great religions, you can see a common thread among all of them. They lived in corrupt, tyrannical societies; they generated vicious opposition from the religious and governmental authorities of their time; and they suffered unbearable persecution during their lives. Despite all of this, they gave us teachings that helped establish new foundations for society, uplifted and vivified souls, and spiritually and morally inspired succeeding generations to greater heights. Nothing short of a divine assistance can accomplish such great achievement. There lies the undisputed proof of their claims.