"This is the Day, in which God's most excellent favours have been poured out upon men..."
We are passing through a moment of history of great difficulties and trials. Many people think that humankind only needs of material wealth, education and laws to bring happiness to all. And many people are investing all their efforts, money and work to obtain these noble aspirations for all. The thing is that many places have all these things and more, and although they are important, they haven’t brought the age of happiness that was predicted. A materialistic view has taken over the world and it’s peoples, muffling their essences and souls. We are still menaced with yet more trials and ordeals, possibly greater than any others in the past, and that they can certainly bring us material and spiritual death: wars, religious apathy, moral bankruptcy and conflict. Are all part of a great list that is constantly expanding.
"Witness how the world is being afflicted with a fresh calamity every day. Its sickness is approaching the stage of utter hopelessness, inasmuch as the true Physician is debarred from administering the remedy, whilst unskilled practitioners are regarded with favour, and are accorded full freedom to act."
What is happening?
There is evident destruction and ordeal, but hope is not lost: besides the destruction there is a parallel process of construction and creation, brought about by what many believe is a greater plan of God, that marks the coming of age of all humanity and is the only cure for it’s afflictions: one common faith. And this is what Bahá’ís believe Bahá’u’lláh has brought to all.
"This is the Day, in which God's most excellent favours have been poured out upon men, the Day in which His most mighty grace hath been infused into all created things.... Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead."
“Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.”
"That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled -- what harm is there in this?...Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the `Most great Peace' shall come... These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease, and all men be as one kindred and one family...Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind..."
Our mission would be then, to be in line with the processes of construction and unity and leave the destruction to itself, since it’s inevitable, as is the peace that comes after. This process of construction is both social and individual and Bahá’ís believe it is spiritual in nature.
Bahá’u’lláh means “The Glory of God” in Arabic and it is the title of Mirza Husayn-`Alí, that was born in Teheran, Iran, at that time the Persian Empire, on November 12, 1817. He was born to a wealthy and influential family, but he gave it all up when he became the follower of The Báb (See My Hero Story), who had declared himself the Qaim, the Promised One of Islam. Bahá'u'lláh was persecuted, plundered, and finally imprisoned, in the most repugnant of places for embracing this new faith, and after three months he was exiled from His home country to Irak, that at that time was the Ottoman Empire.
During His exile, the last week before leaving Baghdad, from 21 April to 2 May 1863, Bahá'u'lláh shared with those Bábís in His company that He was the Promised One foretold by the Báb – a Messenger of God foretold, indeed, in all the world's scriptures.
“Incline your ears to the sweet melody of this Prisoner. Arise, and lift up your voices, that haply they that are fast asleep may be awakened. Say: O ye who are as dead! The Hand of Divine bounty proffereth unto you the Water of Life. Hasten and drink your fill. Whoso hath been re-born in this Day, shall never die; whoso remaineth dead, shall never live.”
His exile took him from Baghdad to Istambul, Edirne and finally to Akka (St John of Acre), a prison city near what is now Haifa, Israel, where He died on May 29, 1892. His mission lasted thirty years, in which he was a prisoner and an exile, and continually under grave threat from the two most powerful rulers of the time, that had unsurpassing material and spiritual authority, the Sultan Abdu’l Aziz and the Shah of Persia, along with their ministers and the priests and divines.
From his exile in Edirne, he wrote letters to all the most influential leaders of the time announcing His mission and giving them warnings of what was to come if they didn’t listen to His counsels. He addressed, among others, Emperor Napoleon III, Queen Victoria, Kaiser Wilhelm I, Tsar Alexander II of Russia, Emperor Franz Joseph, Pope Pius IX, Sultan Abdul-Aziz, and the Persian ruler, Nasiri'd-Din Shah.
Where are all their authority and empires now?
|The Entrance to the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh (http://www.shininglamp.org/postcard/)
Bahá’ís believe that Bahá’u’lláh is the most recent, but not the last, of a series of Messengers of God, equal in nature, with the same spiritual truths, but with different missions according to the needs of their time: Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. They all bring one same religion of God, that enables mankind to come closer to it’s Creator and to fulfill His will.
"It is clear and evident to thee that all the Prophets are the Temples of the Cause of God, Who have appeared clothed in divers attire. If thou wilt observe with discriminating eyes, thou wilt behold Them all abiding in the same tabernacle, soaring in the same heaven, seated upon the same throne, uttering the same speech, and proclaiming the same Faith."
"This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future."
Humanity as a whole is like a living organism, that goes through different stages, such as childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Bahá’ís believe that this coming of age of humanity, brings all the turmoils and chaos characteristic of the adolescence. Humanity has developed a new and great material body, but this body is in need of a spirit, in need of a soul, if not it is like dead.
"The religion of God and His divine law are the most potent instruments and the surest of all means for the dawning of the light of unity amongst men. The progress of the world, the development of nations, the tranquillity of peoples, and the peace of all who dwell on earth are among the principles and ordinances of God. Religion bestoweth upon man the most precious of all gifts, offereth the cup of prosperity, imparteth eternal life, and showereth imperishable benefits upon mankind."
|The Bahá'í Lotus Temple in India (http://www.indtravel.com/delhi/places.html)
According to what was said earlier, the process of construction is both social and individual, and is spiritual in nature. Both kinds of principles to satisfy the needs of this present age. Some of the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith are directed to both the peoples and the spiritual and material leaders of the world. Bahá’ís think that now is the time for these teachings and that humanity has all the means and is ready for the task:
- The fundamental unity of humankind
- The double nature of human beings: spiritual and material
- The individual and independent search for truth
- The purpose of life is the development of spiritual qualities
- Importance of meditation and prayer
- The existence of life after death
- The harmony of science and religion
- The equality of men and women
- The importance and the need of justice
- The need for a universal second (auxiliary) language
- The need for a world governing body
- The need for a world penal court
- The end of the armament race
All the citations in this text are from the writings of Bahá’u’lláh Himself, and I would like to end with one more:
"O peoples of the world! Forsake all evil, hold fast that which is good. Strive to be shining examples unto all mankind, and true reminders of the virtues of God amidst men. He that riseth to serve My Cause should manifest My wisdom, and bend every effort to banish ignorance from the earth. Be united in counsel, be one in thought. Let each morn be better than its eve and each morrow richer than its yesterday. Man's merit lieth in service and virtue and not in the pageantry of wealth and riches. Take heed that your words be purged from idle fancies and worldly desires and your deeds be cleansed from craftiness and suspicion. Dissipate not the wealth of your precious lives in the pursuit of evil and corrupt affection, nor let your endeavours be spent in promoting your personal interest. Be generous in your days of plenty, and be patient in the hour of loss. Adversity is followed by success and rejoicings follow woe. Guard against idleness and sloth, and cling unto that which profiteth mankind, whether young or old, whether high or low. Beware lest ye sow tares of dissension among men or plant thorns of doubt in pure and radiant hearts.
O ye beloved of the Lord! Commit not that which defileth the limpid stream of love or destroyeth the sweet fragrance of friendship. By the righteousness of the Lord! Ye were created to show love one to another and not perversity and rancour. Take pride not in love for yourselves but in love for your fellow-creatures. Glory not in love for your country, but in love for all mankind. Let your eye be chaste, your hand faithful, your tongue truthful and your heart enlightened."