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Why do Prophets Suffer?

Rodney Richards | Mar 16, 2016

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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Rodney Richards | Mar 16, 2016

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

God sent all His Prophets into the world with one aim, to sow in the hearts of men love and goodwill, and for this great purpose they were willing to suffer and to die. All the sacred Books were written to lead and direct man into the ways of love and unity; and yet, in spite of all this, we have the sad spectacle of war and bloodshed in our midst.

When we look into the pages of history, past and present, we see the black earth reddened by human blood. Men kill each other like the savage wolves, and forget the laws of love and tolerance.

…only if material progress goes hand in hand with spirituality can any real progress come about, and the Most Great Peace reign in the world. If men followed the Holy Counsels and the Teachings of the Prophets, if Divine Light shone in all hearts and men were really religious, we should soon see peace on earth and the Kingdom of God among men. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 107-108.

Why does humanity treat its prophets so harshly?

Whenever a prophet of God appears, we persecute, torture, exile or execute him.

Why-do-Prophets-Suffer-3History has proven that pattern over and over again. The major prophets of God—Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, the Bab and now Baha’u’llah—all suffered tremendously when they tried to bring their message of love, peace and unity to the world.

They were persecuted by their own people, their neighbors, even the clergy of the faiths whose prophecies they came to fulfill.

Baha’u’llah’s mission, as just the latest example, was prescribed and definite: to unify humanity and bring an end to war. Baha’u’llah suffered enormously as he worked toward that mission, as did his early followers and martyrs, as do the innocent Baha’is in Iranian prisons today for their religious beliefs. Why? Baha’u’llah addressed that question this way:

We have accepted to be tried by ills and troubles, that ye may sanctify yourselves from all earthly defilements. Why, then, refuse ye to ponder Our purpose in your hearts? By the righteousness of God! Whoso will reflect upon the tribulations We have suffered, his soul will assuredly melt away with sorrow. Thy Lord Himself beareth witness to the truth of My words. We have sustained the weight of all calamities to sanctify you from all earthly corruption, and ye are yet indifferent. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 307.

Why do people cause such great suffering to the hearts and souls of these divine Gems of Holiness?

Baha’u’llah asks us the same question:

Consider the past. How many, both high and low, have, at all times, yearningly awaited the advent of the Manifestations of God in the sanctified persons of His chosen Ones. How often have they expected His coming, how frequently have they prayed that the breeze of Divine mercy might blow, and the promised Beauty step forth from behind the veil of concealment, and be made manifest to all the world. And whensoever the portals of grace did open, and the clouds of divine bounty did rain upon mankind, and the light of the Unseen did shine above the horizon of celestial might, they all denied Him, and turned away from His face — the face of God Himself…. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 17.

And then answers it this way:

Consequently, such behavior can be attributed to naught save the petty-mindedness of such souls as tread the valley of arrogance and pride, are lost in the wilds of remoteness, walk in the ways of their idle fancy, and follow the dictates of the leaders of their faith. Their chief concern is mere opposition; their sole desire is to ignore the truth. Unto every discerning observer it is evident and manifest that had these people in the days of each of the Manifestations of the Sun of Truth sanctified their eyes, their ears, and their hearts from whatever they had seen, heard, and felt, they surely would not have been deprived of beholding the beauty of God, nor strayed far from the habitations of glory. But having weighed the testimony of God by the standard of their own knowledge, gleaned from the teachings of the leaders of their faith, and found it at variance with their limited understanding, they arose to perpetrate such unseemly acts…. – Ibid., pp. 18-19.

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