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Just as the sun gives life to this world, the Baha’i teachings say, God enlivens the world of humanity by sending us the bright suns of the prophets and founders of the great Faiths.
In the first section of the Baha’i book Some Answered Questions, Abdu’l-Baha proceeds to describe the lives and circumstances of the great prophets. Humble and faithful men, they were inspired by God through the intermediary of the Holy Spirit, and brought the teachings that enlightened the moral and spiritual life of all people.
Abdu’l-Baha explains why we human beings, our souls and spirits which give us life in all the worlds of God, revolve around the teachings of the divine educators. He spends the next six chapters of Some Answered Questions demonstrating the need for a divine educator in every age, and describing the vicissitudes the prophets of God overcame, their teachings, and the power of love they established. That power, which attracted the hearts of millions, eventually overcome all the forces arrayed against them and established great civilizations.
Abdu’l-Baha cites several examples:
Among those who possessed this divine power and were assisted by it was Abraham. The proof is this: Abraham was born in Mesopotamia of a family that was ignorant of the oneness of God; He opposed His own people and government, and even His own kin; He rejected all their gods; and, alone and single-handed, He withstood a powerful nation. – Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, p. 14.
It was such a man [Moses] Who freed a great people from the fetters of captivity and persuaded them to leave Egypt and settle in the Holy Land. That people had sunk to the depths of degradation and were lifted up to the heights of glory. They were captives and were set free. They were the most ignorant of peoples and became the most learned. – Ibid., p. 17.
Briefly, this Man, [Christ] Who appeared lowly in the eyes of all, arose nonetheless with such power as to abrogate a fifteen-hundred-year-old Dispensation, notwithstanding that the least deviation from its laws would expose the offender to grave danger and bring about his death and annihilation. – Ibid., 20.
What objection, then, can be directed against Muḥammad? Is it this, that He did not, with His followers and their women and children, place himself at the mercy of these lawless tribes? Moreover, to free these tribes from their bloodthirstiness was the greatest gift, and to curb and restrain them was pure bounty. It is like a man who holds in his hand a cup of poison and who is about to drink it. A loving friend would certainly shatter the cup and restrain the drinker. – Ibid., p. 25.
As for the Bab —may my soul be His sacrifice!—it was at a young age, that is, in the twenty-fifth year of His blessed life, that He arose to proclaim His Cause. Among the Shí‘ihs it is universally acknowledged that He never studied in any school, nor acquired learning from any teacher…. The government, the nation, the clergy, and prominent leaders sought to extinguish His light, but to no avail. At last His moon rose, His star shone forth, His foundation was secured, and His horizon was flooded with light. – Ibid., pp. 30-31.
Baha’u’llah appeared at a time when Persia was plunged in the darkest ignorance and consumed by the blindest fanaticism… He was put in chains and thrown into a subterranean dungeon. His extensive hereditary possessions were entirely plundered, He was four times exiled from land to land, and in the end He came to abide in the Most Great Prison. – Ibid., pp. 32-33.
From his prison cell Baha’u’llah addressed summonses and warnings to the great leaders of the world:
Briefly, all that was recorded in the Tablets to the Kings is being fulfilled: if from the year A.D. 1870 we compare the events that have occurred, we will find everything that has happened has appeared as predicted: only a few remain which will afterward become manifested. – Ibid., p. 39.
All of these prophets, and more, served as the divine educators of their age, like the life-giver the sun sustains and warms the Earth. They provided humanity with spiritual sustenance, with moral guidance, with a connection to the Creator.
The greatness of these divine educators lies in the examples of their lives; the word of God shared with mankind as laws, principles and teachings; and the civilizations that have arisen and are arising, as a result of their foreordained appearances. The Baha’i teachings ask us to consider them all as one.