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Morning and night, I read the daily news to Nahzy, my dear wife of thirty years. When politics gets too dismal, sometimes I read her news highlights from the world of science. A short while ago, I read an “abstract” (summary) of a “perspective” (scientific editorial), “Out of Beringia?” published online on February 28, 2014.
You may know “Beringia” as the Bering Land Bridge that once linked Siberia and Alaska. This report details the “Beringian standstill” and the spread of Native American founders from Siberia to Alaska, during what is called the “Last Glacial Maximum,” some 30,000–16,000 years ago.
What do the Baha’i Writings say, if anything, about this theory? Baha’i scriptures offer a treasure trove of wisdom. The sheer wealth of these texts staggers the imagination:
• For Baha’u’llah, nearly 20,000 unique works have been identified, comprising over six million words.
• For the Bab, over 2,000 unique works have been identified, comprising almost five million words.
• For Abdu’l-Baha, over 30,000 unique works have been identified, comprising over five million words.
That’s one big “Bible”!
In this ocean of Baha’i wisdom, there is a drop, a single “Tablet” from Abdu’l-Baha, which has been called the “Tablet to Amir Khan.” It’s very short, and to the point. Here’s an excerpt, in translation:
He is God! …
In ancient times the people of America were, through their northern regions, close to Asia, that is, separated from Asia by a strait. For this reason, it hath been said that crossing had occurred. There are other signs which indicate communication.
As to places whose people were not informed of the appearance of Prophets, such people are excused. In the Qur’án it hath been revealed: “We will not chastise them if they had not been sent a Messenger” (Q. 17:15)
Undoubtedly, in those regions, the Call of God must have been raised in ancient times, but it hath been forgotten now.
Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablet to Amir Khan is remarkable, and unique in the history of religions, because it authenticates the appearance of Messengers of God — i.e. “culture heroes,” “wisdom bearers,” “Prophets of God” — to ancient North America. This is one good example of Baha’i universalism.
The “Tablet to Amir Khan” offers no names of any of these Native American Messengers of God. But we don’t have to look far to find them. Let me give one example: Deganawida, “the Peacemaker.”
Space does not permit me to say much about Deganawida here. You can read more about this great, pre-Columbian American in chapter 2 of Religious Myths and Visions of America.
There is a Baha’i prophecy regarding the future of Native Americans. In what has been characterized as the sole “specific racial prophecy in all of the Baha’i scriptures,” ‘Abdu’l-Baha gives us this glimpse into the future:
Attach great importance to the indigenous population of America. For … there can be no doubt that they will become so illumined as to enlighten the whole world.
Perhaps this prophecy will become realized when both the ancient wisdom of the Native Americans is brought into scintillating harmony with Baha’i wisdom.
Here’s a similar prophecy from an authentic text of Deganawida’s teachings:
Thereupon Tekanawita [Deganawida] stood up in the center of the gathering place, and then he said:
First I will answer what it means to say, “Now it is arriving, the Good Message.” This, indeed, is what it means: When it stops, the slaughter of your own people who live here on earth, then everywhere peace will come about, by day and also by night, and it will come about that as one travels around, everyone will be related…
Now again, secondly I say, “Now it is arriving, the Power,” and this means that the different nations, all of the nations, will become just a single one, and the Great Law will come into being, so that all now will be related to each other, and there will come to be just a single family, and in the future, in days to come, this family will continue on.
Now in turn, the other, my third saying, “Now it is arriving, the Peace,” this means that everyone will become related, men and also women, and also the young people and the children, and when all are relatives, every nation, then there will be peace… Then there will be truthfulness, and they will uphold hope and charity, so that it is peace that will unite all of the people, indeed, it will be as though they have but one mind, and they are a single person with only one body and one head and one life, which means that there will be unity …
When they are functioning, the Good Message and also the Power and the Peace, these will be the principal things everybody will live by; these will be the great values among the people.
P.S. I’ll read the news to my dear wife, Nahzy, tonight — just like when she used read me untranslated Persian Baha’i Writings some 30 years ago, when she first introduced me to the Tablet to Amir Khan.
©2014 by Christopher Buck.
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