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The study of comparative religions impresses us with the fact of mystery, which exists in every religion.
Usually they are the same mysteries. The prophets and founders of the world’s great Faiths, separated from each other by centuries, have taught the same basic truths as if they all read from one book.
Scholars, however, having made this discovery usually go on to lose themselves in the petty differences that time and human inventions have added to religious truth. Religious scholars, perhaps because of their own beliefs, cannot accept the conclusion that there is an ancient truth in the world that goes far beyond mere intellectual understanding.
To the founders of the world’s religious systems alone, has been given this understanding, not acquired through human educational processes, but innate. They knew and understood truths so deep that they consistently challenged man’s limited knowledge. In this day, however, Baha’u’llah, the founder of the world’s newest global Faith, has revealed the truth and explained the mystery that all the world’s religions are one:
The purpose of religion as revealed from the heaven of God’s holy Will is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world; make it not the cause of dissension and strife. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 129.
The Oneness of Religion
Often in the past religion has caused strife. Sometimes co-religionists have fought about religious disagreement; sometimes men have attacked those of a different faith to force acceptance of their own belief. Still more often, differences of religion or sect have caused hatred, division and dislike, without physical violence. Even today millions of people consistently try to make others unhappy because they do not approve of their religious beliefs. Many more contribute to discord by narrow insistence on their religious view and refusal to investigate the views of others.
A casual but unprejudiced glance at the great religions of the world reveals that they have much in common. All teach that we should love one another, do good, be sincere, truthful and law-abiding; that we should seek out our own shortcomings before we presume to condemn the faults of others, and that we should not consider ourselves superior to our neighbors. Each Faith has a revered central figure and a scripture based on that person’s teachings.
With so much in common, it seems strange that the followers of different religions should be so antagonistic to each other’s beliefs.
The followers of these great spiritual leaders have caused differences between religions to appear which had no part in the message of their founders. Instead, the founders preached unity and concord because, although each revealed his message in a form suited to the needs of a particular age, their revelation was in essence one.
Baha’u’llah, the central figure of the Baha’i Faith, explains this in a beautiful passage:
Their revelation may be likened unto the light of the moon that sheddeth its radiance upon the earth. Though every time it appeareth, it revealeth a fresh measure of its brightness, yet its inherent splendour can never diminish, nor can its light suffer extinction.
It is clear and evident, therefore, that any apparent variation in the intensity of their light is not inherent in the light itself, but should rather be attributed to the varying receptivity of an ever-changing world. Every Prophet Whom the Almighty and Peerless Creator hath purposed to send to the peoples of the earth hath been entrusted with a Message, and charged to act in a manner that would best meet the requirements of the age in which He appeared. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 79.
Religion is essentially one, the Baha’i teachings explain, and everything that interferes with that oneness is superstition:
… it is necessary for a man to put aside all in the nature of superstition, and every tradition which would blind his eyes to the existence of truth in all religions. He must not, while loving and clinging to one form of religion, permit himself to detest all others. It is essential that he search for truth in all religions, and, if his seeking be in earnest, he will assuredly succeed. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 138.