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Who Was Baha’u’llah, and How Can We Evaluate His Claims?

Andrew Mancey | May 29, 2022

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Andrew Mancey | May 29, 2022

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Today many people deny the existence of God. Discouraged by the confused state of religion – how can only one be right and the others condemned? – such a state of mind can easily lead us to pessimism or depression.

This skepticism about the existence of a divine Creator has happened, at least partly, because the original teachings of the founders of religion have become confused with superstitions that conflict with science. 

The advent of Baha’u’llah – the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith – has dramatically altered that perception, not only because he founded the most recent global religion, but because his nascent Faith renews the promise of the reality of God.

Also, while some historians have called into question the traditional accounts of the lives of past prophets, the remarkable record of Baha’u’llah’s life has a solid historical foundation. We know how and where he lived – and yet, we also know that he lived a life unlike that of a man, but comparable to the life of Jesus or Muhammad. 

RELATED: Baha’u’llah’s Book of Certitude: Illuminating Spiritual Wisdom

What Baha’u’llah brought into the world and what he did to spread those teachings to all people offer us clear evidence of the role of the Creator in the course of human history. 

In fact, his example vindicates the accounts of previous messengers and prophets of God. In his writings, Baha’u’llah specifically affirmed the divine nature of the missions and teachings of those previous messengers. However, he also stressed the need for new spiritual and social teachings in this modern age, and condemned the divisions and superstitious beliefs which have accumulated in religion and society.

If Baha’u’llah is the divine messenger he claimed to be, then his explanations of the nature of God, the purpose of life, and of the eternal existence of the soul sweep aside centuries of confusion and perplexity and construct a common foundation for all religions in harmony with science.  So let’s look, very briefly, at some of the attributes and achievements of Baha’u’llah.

His Character

Abdu’l-Baha, the son and successor of Baha’u’llah, described his father’s early days and how he lived, saying that Baha’u’llah:

… belonged to the nobility of Persia. From earliest childhood He was distinguished among His relatives and friends. They said, “This child has extraordinary power.” In wisdom, intelligence and as a source of new knowledge, He was advanced beyond His age and superior to His surroundings. All who knew Him were astonished at His precocity. It was usual for them to say, “Such a child will not live,” for it is commonly believed that precocious children do not reach maturity. During the period of youth the Blessed Perfection did not enter school. He was not willing to be taught. This fact is well established among the Persians of Ṭihran. Nevertheless, He was capable of solving the difficult problems of all who came to Him. In whatever meeting, scientific assembly or theological discussion He was found, He became the authority of explanation upon intricate and abstruse questions presented.

His Writings

Baha’is believe that Baha’u’llah’s writings reveal the word of God for this day and age. Baha’u’llah began writing tablets, letters, epistles and entire books in the 1850s, and that revelation continued until he left this world in 1892. Together, his writings constitute more than a hundred volumes. Never before has humankind received such a voluminous, powerful spiritual gift. 

In 1912, while traveling and speaking in North America, Abdu’l-Baha characterized the scope and substance of Baha’u’llah’s writings. He said:

The Tablets of Baha’u’llah are many. The precepts and teachings they contain are universal, covering every subject. He has revealed scientific explanations ranging throughout all the realms of human inquiry and investigation—astronomy, biology, medical science, etc. In the [Book of Certitude] He has given expositions of the meanings of the Gospel and other heavenly Books. He wrote lengthy Tablets upon civilization, sociology and government. Every subject is considered. His Tablets are matchless in beauty and profundity. Even His enemies acknowledge the greatness of Baha’u’llah, saying He was the miracle of humanity. 

Across the great breadth and depth of Baha’u’llah’s writings, we find the laws and teachings humanity needs to address our contemporary problems and form the basis for a new, peaceful global civilization. 

Baha’u’llah’s most important teaching – the fundamental oneness of all humanity – affirms that we are all members of one race with one origin. All prejudices, whether racial, religious, national, or gender-based must be eradicated, he said. We are destined to work together, men and women, for our common benefit. We need to be of service to all. 

A New World Order

The scriptures of the great Faiths all offer us prophecies of a better world to come. Throughout history, philosophers have consistently written about such a fruitful future – the promised “Golden Age” of human civilization. 

Baha’u’llah’s teachings make those promises real. In the Baha’i writings, they become much more specific, outlining and describing a roadmap for what needs to be done to achieve this long-promised objective. 

Toward these goals, the global Baha’i community has been developing essential skills such as community-building, promoting world unity, and decision-making using peaceful consultation rather than conflict, all based on Baha’u’llah’s teachings. In addition, Baha’is raise their children to become global citizens who live according to spiritual principles and dedicate themselves to serving humanity.

Prophecies fulfilled

For Christians, the 1800’s represented a time of great expectation. Many Biblical prophecies were understood by Christian scholars to predict the return of Christ around the years 1843 or 1844. Prophecies from the Old Testament, such as Isaiah and Daniel, aligned with prophecies from the Gospels and Revelation. These prophecies indicated not only the time of a great renewal, but also the places and circumstances involved.

Muslims experienced similar excitement around that same time. Prophecies from Sunni and Shi’a traditions also foretold the appearance of the Promised One in the year 1844, the year 1260 in the Muslim calendar. 

RELATED: The Passing and Ascension of Baha’u’llah

The Baha’i revelation, which began in 1844 with the revelation of the Bab, Baha’u’llah’s herald and predecessor, fulfills those prophecies. Baha’u’llah did not deny the previous prophets – instead, he included them in his profound concept of progressive revelation, the Baha’i belief that a loving Creator sends His messengers to people when they are in need of renewed spiritual guidance.

Baha’u’llah wrote about this chain of successive messengers: “These Mirrors will everlastingly succeed each other, and will continue to reflect the light of the Ancient of Days.” He described all of God’s holy prophets by saying:

Every one of them is the Way of God that connecteth this world with the realms above, and the Standard of His Truth unto every one in the kingdoms of earth and heaven. They are the Manifestations of God amidst men, the evidences of His Truth, and the signs of His glory.

Baha’is believe that every person is responsible for their own actions – and that accordingly, we all need to investigate the truth for ourselves. Anyone with an open mind who investigates Baha’u’llah will likely find it difficult to deny that he was more than an ordinary man, and that his teachings are divine in origin. Baha’is everywhere urge everyone to look into Baha’u’llah’s life, claims, and teachings, and decide the truth for themselves.

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