And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
God, and God alone, has the power to do whatever He wills, and the greatest proof of a Manifestation of God is the creative power of His word—its effectiveness to change and transform all human affairs and to triumph over all human opposition. Through the word of the Prophets God announces His will, and the immediate or subsequent fulfillment of that word is the clearest proof of the Prophet’s claim and of the genuineness of His inspiration.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from the heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.—Isa. lv, 10–11.
When the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus with the question: “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” the answer of Jesus was simply to point to the effects wrought by His words:—
Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.—Matt. xi, 4–6.
Bahá’u’lláh commanded the rulers to establish universal peace, and their prolongation of the policy of war since 1869–1870 has overthrown many ancient dynasties, while each successive war has produced less and less fruits of victory, until the European War of 1914–1918 revealed the historically startling fact that was has become disastrous to victor and vanquished alike.1
Bahá’u’lláh bade the rulers likewise to act as trustees of those under their control, making political authority a means to true general welfare. The progress toward social legislation has been unprecedented.
He commanded limitation of the extremes of wealth and poverty, and ever since, legislation for the establishment of minimum subsistence levels and for graduated taxation of wealth by income and inheritance taxes has been a constant concern. He commanded the abolition of both chattel and economic slavery, and ever since, the progress toward emancipation has been a ferment in all parts of the world.
Bahá’u’lláh declared the equality of men and women, expressed through equal responsibilities and equal rights and privileges, and since that declaration, the bonds by which women have been bound for ages have been breaking, and woman has rapidly been securing her rightful place as the equal and partner of man.
He declared the fundamental oneness of religions, and the succeeding interval has witnessed the most determined efforts of sincere souls in all parts of the world to achieve a new degree of tolerance, of mutual understanding and of cooperation for universal ends. The sectarian attitude has everywhere been undermined, and its historical position has become more and more untenable. The basis of exclusiveness in religion has been destroyed by the same forces making nationalism of the self-contained type incapable of survival.
He commanded universal education, and made the independent investigation of truth a proof of spiritual vitality. Modern civilization has been stirred to its depths by this new leaven. Compulsory education for children, and the extension of educational facilities for adults, have become a primary policy of government. Nations which deliberately seek to restrict that very policy have aroused revolution within and suspicion and fear outside their boundaries.
Above all, Bahá’u’lláh imbued humanity with a new spirit, arousing new longings in minds and hearts and new ideals for society. Nothing in all history is so dramatic and impressive as the course of events since the dawn of the Bahá’í era in 1844. Year by year, the power of a dead past prolonged through outworn ideas, habits, attitudes and institutions has weakened, until at present every intelligent man and woman on earth realizes that humanity is passing through its most terrible crisis. On the one hand we see the new creation arising as the light of Bahá’u’lláh’s teaching has revealed the true path of evolution. On the other hand we see naught but disaster and frustration in all realms where that light is resisted or ignored.
Yet, to the faithful Bahá’í, these and countless other evidences, impressive as they are, fail to give the real measure of the spiritual majesty of Bahá’u’lláh. His life on earth, and the irresistible force of His inspired words, stand as the only true criterion of the will of God.
A study of the more detailed prophecies of Bahá’u’lláh and their fulfillment will give powerful corroborative evidence. Of these prophecies we shall now proceed to give a few examples, about the authenticity of which there can be no dispute. They were widely published and known before their fulfillment came about. The letter which He sent to the crowned heads of the world, in which many of these prophecies occur, were compiled in a book which was first published in Bombay in the late nineteenth century. Several editions have since been published. We shall also give some examples of noteworthy prophecies by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
In the year 1869 Bahá’u’lláh wrote to Napoleon III, rebuking him for his lust of war and for the contempt with which he had treated a former letter from Bahá’u’lláh. The Epistle contains the following stern warning:—
For what thou hast done, thy kingdom shall be thrown into confusion, and thine empire shall pass from thine hands, as a punishment for that which thou hast wrought. Then wilt thou know how thou hast plainly erred. Commotions shall seize all the people in that land, unless thou arisest to help this Cause, and followest Him Who is the Spirit of God (Jesus Christ) in this, the Straight Path. Hath thy pomp made thee proud? By My Life! It shall not endure; nay, it shall soon pass away, unless thou holdest fast by this firm Cord. We see abasement hastening after thee, whilst thou art of the heedless.
Needless to say, Napoleon, who was then at the zenith of his power, paid no heed to this warning. In the following year he went to war with Prussia, firmly convinced that his troops could easily gain Berlin; but the tragedy foretold by Bahá’u’lláh overwhelmed him. He was defeated at Saarbruck, at Weisenburg, at Metz, and finally in the crushing catastrophe at Sedan. He was then carried prisoner to Prussia, and came to a miserable end in England two years later.
Bahá’u’lláh later gave an equally solemn warning to the conquerors of Napoleon, which also fell on deaf ears and received a terrible fulfillment. In the Book of Aqdas, which was begun in Adrianople, and finished in the early years of Bahá’u’lláh’s imprisonment in ‘Akká, He addressed the Emperor of Germany as follows:—
O King of Berlin! … Do thou remember the one whose power transcended thy power (Napoleon III) and whose station excelled thy station. Where is he? Whither are gone the things he possessed? Take warning, and be not of them that are fast asleep. He it was who cast the Tablet of God behind him, when We made known unto him what the hosts of tyranny had caused Us to suffer. Wherefore, disgrace assailed him from all sides, and he went down to dust in great loss. Think deeply, O King, concerning him, and concerning them who, like unto thee, have conquered cities and ruled over men. The All-Merciful brought them down from their palaces to their graves. Be warned, be of them who reflect.…
O banks of the Rhine! We have seen you covered with gore, inasmuch as the swords of retribution were drawn against you; and you shall have another turn. And We hear the lamentations of Berlin, though she be today in conspicuous glory.—Kitáb-i-Aqdas.
During the period of German successes in the Great War of 1914–1918, and especially during the last great German offensive in the spring of 1918, this well-known prophecy was extensively quoted by the opponents of the Bahá’í Faith in Persia, in order to discredit Bahá’u’lláh; but when the forward sweep of the victorious Germans was suddenly transformed into crushing, overwhelming disaster, the efforts of these enemies of the Bahá’í Cause recoiled on themselves, and the notoriety which they had given to the prophecy became a powerful means of enhancing the reputation of Bahá’u’lláh.
In the Book of Aqdas written when the tyrannical Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh was at the height of his power, Bahá’u’lláh blesses the city of Ṭihrán, which is the capital of Persia, and His own birthplace, and says of it:—
Let nothing grieve thee, O Land of Tá (Ṭihrán), for God hath chosen thee to be the source of the joy of all mankind. He shall, if it be His will, bless thy throne with one who will rule with justice, who will gather together the flock of God which the wolves have scattered. Such a ruler will, with joy and gladness, turn his face towards, and extend his favors unto, the people of Bahá. He indeed is accounted in the sight of God as a jewel among men. Upon him rest forever the glory of God, and the glory of all that dwell in the kingdom of His Revelation.
Rejoice with great joy, for God hath made thee “the Dayspring of His light,” inasmuch as within thee was born the Manifestation of His Glory. Be thou glad for this name that hath been conferred upon thee—a name through which the Daystar of Grace hath shed its splendor, through which both earth and heaven have been illumined.
Erelong will the state of affairs within thee be changed, and the reins of power fall into the hands of the people. Verily, thy Lord is the All-Knowing. His authority embraceth all things. Rest thou assured in the gracious favor of thy Lord. The eye of His loving-kindness shall everlastingly be directed towards thee. The day is approaching when thy agitation will have been transmuted into peace and quiet calm. Thus hath it been decreed in the wondrous Book.—Kitáb-i-Aqdas.
So far, Persia has only begun to emerge from the period of confusion foretold by Bahá’u’lláh, but already constitutional government has been started, and signs are not lacking that a brighter era is at hand.
To the Sulṭán of Turkey and his Prime Minister ‘Alí Páshá, Bahá’u’lláh, then (in 1868) confined in a Turkish prison, addressed some of His most solemn, grave warnings. To the Sulṭán He wrote from the Barracks at ‘Akká:—
… O thou who hast imagined thyself to be the most exalted of men … Thou, too, shalt … find thyself in grievous loss. Even if this Lifegiver and World Reformer be in thine estimation guilty of sedition and strife, what crime could have been committed by a group of women, children, and suckling mothers that they should be thus afflicted with the scourge of thine anger and wrath? Ye have plundered and unjustly despoiled a group of people who have never rebelled in your domains, nor disobeyed your government, but rather kept to themselves and engaged day and night in the remembrance of God.… A handful of clay is greater in the sight of God than all your dominion and your sovereignty, and all your might and your fortune. Should it be His wish, He would scatter you in dust. Soon will He seize you in His wrathful anger, sedition will be stirred up in your midst, and your dominions will be disrupted. Then will ye wail and lament, and will find none to help or succor you.… Be expectant, however, for the wrath of God is ready to overtake you. Erelong will ye behold that which hath been sent down from the Pen of My command.
Thou hast, O Chief, committed that which hath caused Muḥammad, the Apostle of God, to lament in the most sublime Paradise. The world hath made thee proud, so much so that thou hast turned away from the Face through whose brightness the Concourse on high hath been illumined. Soon thou shalt find thyself in manifest loss! Thou didst conspire with the Persian Ambassador to harm Me, though I had come unto you from the source of majesty and grandeur with a Revelation that hath solaced the eyes of the favored ones of God.…
Hast thou imagined thyself capable of extinguishing the fire which God hath kindled in the heart of creation? Nay, by Him Who is the Eternal Truth, couldst thou but know it. Rather, on account of what thy hands have wrought, it blazed higher and burned more fiercely. Erelong will it encompass the earth and all that dwell therein.…
The day is approaching when the Land of Mystery [Adrianople] and what is beside it shall be changed, and shall pass out of the hands of the King, and commotions shall appear, and the voice of lamentation shall be raised, and the evidences of mischief shall be revealed on all sides, and confusion shall spread by reason of that which hath befallen these captives at the hands of the hosts of oppression. The course of things shall be altered, and conditions shall wax so grievous, that the very sands on the desolate hills will moan, and the trees on the mountain will weep, and blood will flow out of all things. Then wilt thou behold the people in sore distress.…
Thus hath the True One come and the command of Him Who is the Ordainer, the All-Wise, been fulfilled. The hosts of earth and heaven are powerless to resist His Cause, nor can all the kings and rulers of the world ever frustrate His purpose. Say: Adversity is the oil which feedeth the flame of this Lamp and by which its light is increased, did ye but know. Indeed, the repudiation of the froward serveth but to proclaim this Faith and to spread the Cause of God and His Revelation throughout the world.
O Spot [Constantinople] that art situate on the shores of the two seas! The throne of tyranny hath, verily, been established upon thee, and the flame of hatred hath been kindled within thy bosom, in such wise that the Concourse on high and they who circle around the Exalted Throne have wailed and lamented. We behold in thee the foolish ruling over the wise, and darkness vaunting itself against the light. Thou art indeed filled with manifest pride. Hath thine outward splendor made thee vainglorious? By Him Who is the Lord of mankind! It shall soon perish, and thy daughters and thy widows and all the kindreds that dwell within thee shall lament. Thus informeth thee the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
O Rulers of America and the Presidents of the Republics therein … Give ear unto that which hath been raised from the Dayspring of Grandeur: Verily, there is none other God but Me, the Lord of Utterance, the All-Knowing. Bind ye the broken with the hands of justice, and crush the oppressor who flourisheth with the rod of the commandments of your Lord, the Ordainer, the All-Wise.—Kitáb-i-Aqdas.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His addresses in America and elsewhere frequently expressed the hope, the prayer and the assurance that the banner of international peace would be first raised in America. At Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 5, 1912, He said:—
America is a noble nation, the standard-bearer of peace throughout the world, shedding light to all regions. Foreign nations are not untrammeled and free from intrigues and complications like the United States; therefore, they are not able to bring about universal harmony. But America—praise be to God!—is at peace with all the world and is worthy of raising the flag of brotherhood and international agreement. When this is done, the rest of the world will accept. All nations will join in adopting the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh revealed more than fifty years ago. In His Epistles He asked the parliaments of the world to send their wisest and best men to an international world conference which should decide all questions between the peoples and establish universal peace.… This would be the highest court of appeal, and the parliament of man so long dreamed of by poets and idealists would be realized.
The appeals of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have already been responded to, in a large measure, by the United States of America, and in no country of the world have the Bahá’í teachings met with readier acceptance. The role assigned to America, of summoning the nations to international peace, has as yet, however, been only partially played, and Bahá’ís are awaiting with interest the developments which the future has in store.2
Both Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on many occasions foretold with surprising accuracy the coming of the Great War of 1914–1918. At Sacramento, California, on October 26, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:—“The European continent is like an arsenal, a storehouse of explosives ready for ignition, and one spark will set the whole of Europe aflame, particularly at this time when the Balkan question is before the world.”
The social unrest in all countries, the growing religious skepticism antecedent to the millennium, and already here, will set aflame the whole of Europe as is prophesied in the Book of Daniel and in the Book (Revelation) of John.
A great melee of the civilized nations is in sight. A tremendous conflict is at hand. The world is at the threshold of a most tragic struggle.… Vast armies—millions of men—are being mobilized and stationed at their frontiers. They are being prepared for the fearful contest. The slightest friction will bring them into a terrific crash, and there will be a conflagration, the like of which is not recorded in the past history of mankind. (At Haifa, August 3, 1914.)
Both Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also foretold a period of great social upheaval, conflict and calamity as an inevitable result of the irreligion and prejudices, the ignorance and superstition, prevalent throughout the world. The great international military conflict was but one phase of this upheaval. In a Tablet dated January, 1920, He wrote:—
Ponder in your hearts how grievous is the turmoil in which the world is plunged; how the nations of the earth are besmeared with human blood, nay their very soil is turned into clotted gore. The flame of war has caused so wild a conflagration that the world in its early days, in its middle ages, or in modern times has never witnessed its like. The millstones of war have ground and crushed many a human head, nay, even more severe has been the lot of these victims. Flourishing countries have been made desolate, cities have been laid level with the ground, and smiling villages have been turned into ruin. Fathers have lost their sons, and sons turned fatherless. Mothers have shed tears of blood in mourning for their youths, little children have been made orphans, and women left wanderers and homeless. In a word, humanity, in all its phases, has been debased. Loud is the cry and wailing of orphans, and bitter the lamentations of mothers which are echoed by the skies.
The prime cause for all these happenings is racial, national, religious, and political prejudice, and the root of all this prejudice lies in outworn and deepseated traditions, be they religious, racial, national, or political. So long as these traditions remain, the foundation of human edifice is insecure, and mankind itself is exposed to continuous peril.
Now in this radiant age, when the essence of all beings has been made manifest, and the hidden secret of all created thing has been revealed, when the morning light of truth has broken and turned the darkness of the world into light, is it meet and seemly that such a frightful carnage which brings irretrievable ruin upon the world should be made possible? By God! that cannot be.
Christ summoned all the people of the world to reconciliation and peace. He commanded Peter to return his sword unto its scabbard. Such was His wish and counsel, and yet they that bear His name have unsheathed the sword! How great the difference between their deeds and the explicit text of the Gospel!
Sixty years ago Bahá’u’lláh, even as the shining sun, shone in the firmament of Persia, and proclaimed that the world is wrapt in darkness and this darkness is fraught with disastrous results, and will lead to fearful strife. In His prison city of ‘Akká, He apostrophized in unmistakable terms the Emperor of Germany, declaring that a terrible war shall take place, and Berlin will break forth in lamentation and wailing. In like manner, whilst the wronged prisoner of the Sulṭán of Turkey in the citadel of ‘Akká, He clearly and emphatically wrote him that Constantinople will fall a prey to grave disorder, in such wise that the women and children will raise their moaning cry. In brief, He addressed epistles to all the chief rulers and sovereigns of the world, and all that He foretold has been fulfilled. From His pen of glory flowed teachings for the prevention of war, and these have been scattered far and wide.
His second teaching is the oneness of mankind. All men are but one fold, and God the loving Shepherd. He bestoweth upon them His most great mercy, and considers them all as one. “Thou shalt find no difference amongst the creatures of God.” They are all His servants, and all seek His bounty.
His third teaching is that religion is the most mighty stronghold. It should be conducive to unity, rather than be the cause of enmity and hate. Should it lead to enmity and hate better not have it at all. For religion is even as medicine, which if it should aggravate the disease, its abandonment would be preferred.
Likewise, religious, racial, national, and political prejudice, all are subversive of the foundation of human society, all lead to bloodshed, all heap ruin upon mankind. So long as these remain, the dread of war will continue. The sole remedy is universal peace. And this is achieved only by the establishment of a supreme Tribunal, representative of all governments and peoples. All national and international problems should be referred to this tribunal, and whatsoever be its decision that should be enforced. Were a government or people to dissent, the world as a whole should rise against it.
At present it has been made evident and manifest that these principles are the very life of the world, and the embodiment of its true spirit. And now, ye, who are the servants of mankind, should exert yourselves, heart and soul, to free the world from the darkness of materialism and human prejudice, that it may be illumined with the light of the City of God.
Praise be to Him, ye are acquainted with the various schools, institutions and principles of the world; today nothing short of these divine teachings can assure peace and tranquillity to mankind. But for these teachings, this darkness shall never vanish, these chronic diseases shall never be healed; nay, they shall grow fiercer from day to day. The Balkans will remain restless, and it condition will aggravate. The vanquished will not keep still, but will seize every means to kindle anew the flame of war. Modern universal movements will do their utmost to carry out their purpose and intentions. The Movement of the Left will acquire great importance, and its influence will spread.
Wherefore, endeavor that with an illumined heart, a heavenly spirit, and a divine strength, and aided by His grace, ye may bestow God’s bountiful gift upon the world … the gift of comfort and tranquillity for all mankind.
Bahá’u’lláh frequently predicted that there would be a period when irreligion and consequent anarchy would prevail. The chaos will be due to too great liberty among people who are not ready for it, and in consequence there will have to be a temporary reversion to coercive government, in the interests of the people themselves and in order to prevent disorder and chaos. It is clear that each nation now wishes complete self-determination and freedom of action, but some of them are not ready for it. The prevailing state of the world is one of irreligion, which is bound to result in anarchy and confusion. I have always said that the peace proposals following the great war were only a glimmer of the dawn, and not the sunrise.
Amid these troublous times, however, the Cause of God will prosper. The calamities caused by selfish struggle for individual existence, or for party or sectarian or national gain, will induce the people to turn in despair to the remedy offered by the Word of God. The more calamities abound, the more will the people turn to the only true remedy. Bahá’u’lláh says in his Epistle to the Sháh:—
God hath made afflictions as a morning shower to this green pasture, and as a wick for His Lamp, whereby earth and heaven are illumined.… Through affliction hath His Light shone and His Praise been bright unceasingly; this hath been His method through past ages and bygone times.
Both Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá predict in the most confident terms the speedy triumph of spirituality over materiality and the consequent establishment of the Most Great Peace. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote in 1904:—
Know thou that hardship and privation shall increase day by day, and the people shall thereby be afflicted. The doors of joy and happiness shall be closed on all sides, and terrible wars shall occur. Frustration and despair shall encompass the people until they are forced to turn to the One True God. Then will the light of most joyful tidings so illumine the horizons that the cry of “Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá” will be raised from every direction. This shall come to pass.—Tablet to Isabella D. Brittingham.
All the people of the world will become believers. Should you compare the beginning of the Cause with its position today, you would see what a quick influence the Word of God has, and now the Cause of God has encompassed the world.… Unquestionably, all will come under the shadow of the Cause of God.
… All the members of the human family, whether peoples or governments, cities or villages, have become increasingly interdependent. For none is self-sufficiency any longer possible, inasmuch as political ties unite all peoples and nations, and the bonds of trade and industry, of agriculture and education, are being strengthened every day. Hence the unity of all mankind can in this day be achieved. Verily this is none other but one of the wonders of this wondrous age, this glorious century—the century of light—has been endowed with the unique and unprecedented glory, power and illumination. Hence the miraculous unfolding of a fresh marvel every day. Eventually it will be seen how bright its candles will burn in the assemblage of man.
In the last two verses of the Book of Daniel occur the cryptic words:—“Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. But go thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.”
Many have been the attempts of learned students to solve the problem of the significance of these words. In a tabletalk at which the writer was present, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reckoned the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy from the date of the beginning of the Muḥammadan era.
Now concerning the verse in Daniel, the interpretation whereof thou didst ask, namely, “Blessed is he who cometh unto the thousand, three hundred and thirty-five days.” These days must be reckoned as solar and not lunar years. For according to this calculation a century will have elapsed from the dawn of the Sun of Truth, then will the teachings of God be firmly established upon the earth, and the Divine Light shall flood the world from the East even unto the West. Then, on this day, will the faithful rejoice!
Mírzá Aḥmad Sohrab recorded in his diary the following prophecy about ‘Akká and Haifa uttered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá while seated by the window of one of the Bahá’í Pilgrim Homes at Haifa on February 14, 1914:—
The view from the Pilgrim Home is very attractive, especially as it faces the Blessed Tomb of Bahá’u’lláh. In the future the distance between ‘Akká and Haifa will be built up, and the two cities will join and clasp hands, becoming the two terminal section of one mighty metropolis. As I look now over this scene, I see so clearly that it will become one of the first emporiums of the world. This great semicircular bay will be transformed into the finest harbor, wherein the ships of all nations will seek shelter and refuge. The great vessels of all peoples will come to this port, bringing on their decks thousands and thousands of men and women from every part of the globe. The mountain and the plain will be dotted with the most modern buildings and palaces. Industries will be established and various institutions of philanthropic nature will be founded. The flowers of civilization and culture from all nations will be brought here to blend their fragrances together and blaze the way for the brotherhood of man. Wonderful gardens, orchards, groves and parks will be laid out on all sides. At night the great city will be lighted by electricity. The entire harbor from ‘Akká to Haifa will be one path of illumination. Powerful searchlights will be placed on both sides of Mount Carmel to guide the steamers. Mount Carmel itself, from top to bottom, will be submerged in a sea of lights. A person standing on the summit of Mount Carmel, and the passengers of the steamers coming to it, will look upon the most sublime and majestic spectacle of the whole world.
From every part of the mountain the symphony of “Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá!” will be raised, and before the daybreak soul-entrancing music accompanied by melodious voices will be uplifted towards the throne of the Almighty.
Indeed, God’s ways are mysterious and unsearchable. What outward relation exists between Shíráz and Ṭihrán, Baghdád and Constantinople, Adrianople and ‘Akká and Haifa? God worked patiently, step by step, through these various cities, according to His own definite and eternal plan, so that the prophecies and predictions as foretold by the Prophets might be fulfilled. This golden thread of promise concerning the Messianic Millennium runs through the Bible, and it was so destined that God in His own good time would cause its appearance. Not even a single word will be left meaningless and unfulfilled.