In answer to a question regarding the Prophets

Know thou assuredly that the essence of all the Prophets of God is one and the same. Their unity is absolute. God, the Creator, saith: There is no distinction whatsoever among the Bearers of My Message. They all have but one purpose; their secret is the same secret. To prefer one in honor to another, to exalt certain ones above the rest, is in no wise to be permitted. Every true Prophet hath regarded His Message as fundamentally the same as the Revelation of every other Prophet gone before Him. If any man, therefore, should fail to comprehend this truth, and should consequently indulge in vain and unseemly language, no one whose sight is keen and whose understanding is enlightened would ever allow such idle talk to cause him to waver in his belief.

The measure of the revelation of the Prophets of God in this world, however, must differ. Each and every one of them hath been the Bearer of a distinct Message, and hath been commissioned to reveal Himself through specific acts. It is for this reason that they appear to vary in their greatness. Their Revelation may be likened unto the light of the moon that sheddeth its radiance upon the earth. Though every time it appeareth, it revealeth a fresh measure of its brightness, yet its inherent splendor can never diminish, nor can its light suffer extinction.

It is clear and evident, therefore, that any apparent variation in the intensity of their light is not inherent in the light itself, but should rather be attributed to the varying receptivity of an ever-changing world. Every Prophet Whom the Almighty and Peerless Creator hath purposed to send to the peoples of the earth hath been entrusted with a Message, and charged to act in a manner that would best meet the requirements of the age in which He appeared. God’s purpose in sending His Prophets unto men is twofold. The first is to liberate the children of men from the darkness of ignorance, and guide them to the light of true understanding. The second is to ensure the peace and tranquillity of mankind, and provide all the means by which they can be established.

Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp. 78-79

6 comments:

Sanisha said...

thank you again for the beauty of this site.I have a question :

Is there not a dstinction ,in the Bahai Writings, between a 'Prophet of God' and 'Messenger of God' , and so there is some distinction between the stations of the Prophet Muhammad and the Messenger of God, Jesus Chrsit and as well as Baha'u'llah ?

this is only heresay and i have not gone to Gleanings to see the context but this is an intersting topic all the same.

Sanisha said...

In the Íqán, Bahá’u’lláh, wishing to emphasize the transcendent character of this new Day of God, reinforces the strength of His argument by His reference to the text of a correct and authorized tradition, which reveals the following: “Knowledge is twenty and seven letters. All that the Prophets have revealed are two letters thereof. No man thus far hath known more than these two letters. 25 But when the Qá’im shall arise, He will cause the remaining twenty and five letters to be made manifest.” And then immediately follow these confirming and illuminating words of Bahá’u’lláh: “Consider: He hath declared knowledge to consist of twenty and seven letters, and regarded all the prophets, from Adam even unto Muhammad, the ‘seal,’ as expounders of only two letters thereof. He also saith that the Qá’im will reveal all the remaining twenty and five letters. Behold from this utterance how great and lofty is His station! His rank excelleth that of all the prophets, and His revelation transcendeth the comprehension and understanding of all their chosen ones. A revelation, of which the prophets of God, His saints and chosen ones have either not been informed or which, in pursuance of God’s inscrutable decree, they have not disclosed—such a revelation, these vile and villainous people have sought to measure with their own deficient minds, their own deficient learning and understanding.”


please read the preceeding and the rest here : http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/se/WOB/wob-12.html

Sanisha said...

Consider: He hath declared knowledge to consist of twenty and seven letters, and regarded all the prophets, from Adam even unto Muhammad, the ‘seal,’ as expounders of only two letters thereof. He also saith that the Qá’im will reveal all the remaining twenty and five letters. Behold from this utterance how great and lofty is His station!


//the part i wanted you to see

Gaijin21 said...

Thank you soooo much for your comment quotes and question. You can find a post I made recently on this site. It goes over my views/understanding on the Unity and Oneness of the Prophets and Messengers of God.


-----------------Here is the short answer------------

“No distinction can be made amongst the Prophets in the sense that They all proceed from one Source, and are of one essence. But Their stations and functions in this world are different.” (Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá'í Community, p. 448)

----------------Here is my long answer------------
Q. "Is there not a distinction in the Bahá'í Writings, between a 'Prophet of God' and 'Messenger of God’?”

My understanding is that we do see a difference in a Lesser Prophet and Greater Prophet. The Lesser Prophets do not have their own Dispensation that comes with a Book, while the Greater Prophets do have their own Dispensation that comes with a Book. However, the Unity of the Prophets would not see them apart in terms of their Source or purpose. However, their mission and function may be different.

In my understanding the term Prophet, Messenger of God or Manifestation of God can be used interchangeably to point at the same, but each refers to a different aspect of Their function.

in response to your posted reference stating the greatness of the Báb compared to all the past messengers:

From what I read and understand the greatness is in reference to the Revelation of the Messengers. The best example I could give is that of a school, often used to in explaining this concept. Each year as you pass through one grade to another, the new teachers "reveals" new truth to you. The teacher before will always point out to you that "the teacher next year would reveal you with more information than I have given you up till now, since at this point in time, you would not understand or know what to do with the information."

The promised Qa'im referred in your quote is the Báb. That reference speaks to how much more the Báb (the promised Qa'im) would reveal in comparison to the past ages. It is not hard to attest to this once we realize that the Báb was the first of the Messengers to take the pen Himself and reveal so much more than ever before. His Writings revealed and unlocked many of the hidden mysteries of the past Holy traditions and Books and for that, indeed His station is far above and beyond Those of the past. However, this does not take away from the essential equality of the Prophets, because what has been revealed has always depended upon our own receptivity, and not the other way around.

I spoke with my six year old son yesterday regarding this subject as well. Here is basically how the conversation went:

Me: "Your current teacher is a great teacher. But when you go to second grade, do you refuse the new teacher because he or she will teach you something new or different?"
My son: "No."
Me: "It would be silly if somebody from one grade claimed their teacher is better than the other grade's teacher just because they are teaching different grades, wouldn't it?"
My son: "Yeah. It would be funny."
Me: "If the teacher, no matter how great he or she is, if the student does not pay attention to what the teacher is teaching, who's fault would it be for the student not learning?"
My son: "The student's fault."
Me: "If your teacher told you that next year you would have a new teacher, and that teacher is going to teach you more than she could this year - but you didn't show up to class because you don't want to learn something new or because you like your current teacher so much, would it be right?"
My son: "No. (Laugh)."
Me: "If your teacher teaches you how to add and subtract, and your second grade or third grade teacher teaches you how to multiply and divide, does that mean your second grade or third grade teacher is smarter than the first grade teacher?"
My son: "No."
Me: "Right. What is taught is never about the teacher but rather about the student's potential and ability to learn. Each teacher was has an important task of teaching you what you need to learn before the next teacher can teach you something new."

So in this way I spoke to my son regarding progressive revelation, the station of the Prophets in relation to Each Other and to us, and that it is entirely up to us to learn what is being taught.

I went on to discuss some of the examples of missed opportunities that we as Bahá'ís had by not asking questions that would have been a great question to ask.

Bahá'u'lláh Writes:
"In the treasuries of the knowledge of God there lieth concealed a knowledge which, when applied, will largely, though not wholly, eliminate fear. This knowledge, however, should be taught from childhood, as it will greatly aid in its elimination. Whatever decreaseth fear increaseth courage. Should the Will of God assist Us, there would flow out from the Pen of the Divine Expounder a lengthy exposition of that which hath been mentioned, and there would be revealed, in the field of arts and sciences, what would renew the world and the nations....

(Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 32)

But to this in a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer dated 5 January 1948, it is stated:

“We have no way of knowing what science Bahá'u'lláh meant when He said it would largely eliminate fear; as no further mention of it was ever made in the teachings, the Guardian cannot identify anything with this statement. To do so would depart from his function as interpreter of the teachings; he cannot reveal anything apart from the given teachings.”

(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 237)

I told my son that the "Teacher" knows more than They teach, but if the students don't ask the questions, sometimes we miss out on learning something great. Perhaps this knowledge "which could largely eliminate fear" would have to be explained by the next "Teacher." It is like we are on summer break and we need to wait until the new school year to ask the question we forgot to ask when we had the chance. In the mean time, we need to make use of what we have learned and try not to forget what the teacher taught you already.

So, with this in mind, going back to the stations, my understanding is that the greatness is indeed attributed to the specific mission, the amount of Knowledge revealed, and the overall influence such a Revelation would have on the world for centuries to come. However, to make a distinction as one being greater than the other is like pointing to the different Mirrors and saying that one Mirror reflects more Sun Light than the other. It is not that one is greater than the other in reflecting the Light, but rather the fact that one was selected at a specific time to reflect more Light than the others and he fact that each of the past Mirrors have been preparing us for that Day where upon the Sunlight will shine in its full glory through the appointed Mirror at the appointed time makes This Revelation special.

“…But in the sense that Bahá'u'lláh is the greatest Manifestation to yet appear, the One who consummates the Revelation of Moses, He was the One Moses conversed with in the Burning Bush. In other words, Bahá’u’lláh identifies the glory of the God-Head on that occasion with Himself. No distinction can be made amongst the Prophets in the sense that They all proceed from one Source, and are of one essence. But Their stations and functions in this world are different.”

(Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá'í Community, p. 448)

“The Revelation of which I am the bearer,” Bahá'u'lláh explicitly declares, “is adapted to humanity’s spiritual receptiveness and capacity; otherwise, the Light that shines within me can neither wax nor wane. Whatever I manifest is nothing more or less than the measure of the Divine glory which God has bidden me reveal.”

(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order ofBahá'u'lláh, p. 59)


The greatness of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh even in comparison to the promised Qa'im Who “revealed the remaining 25 letters” can be seen in this following passage:

"He Whom Bahá'u'lláh has acclaimed in the Kitáb-i-Iqán as that promised Qa'im Who has manifested no less than twenty-five out of the twenty-seven letters which all the Prophets were destined to reveal-so great a Revealer has Himself testified to the preeminence of that superior Revelation that was soon to supersede His own. “The germ,” the Báb asserts in the Persian Bayan, “that holds within itself the potentialities of the Revelation that is to come is endowed with a potency superior to the combined forces of all those who follow me.” “Of all the tributes,” He again affirms, “I have paid to Him Who is to come after Me, the greatest is this, My written confession, that no words of Mine can adequately describe Him, nor can any reference to Him in My Book, the Bayan, do justice to His Cause.” “The Bayan,” He in that same Book categorically declares, “and whosoever is therein revolve round the saying of ‘Him Whom God shall make manifest,’ even as the Alif (the Gospel) and whosoever was therein revolved round the saying of Muhammad, the Apostle of God.” “A thousand perusals of the Bayan,” He further remarks, “cannot equal the perusal of a single verse to be revealed by ‘Him Whom God shall make manifest.' ... Today the Bayan is in the stage of seed; at the beginning of the manifestation of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest’ its ultimate perfection will become apparent.... The Bayan and such as are believers therein yearn more ardently after Him than the yearning of any lover after his beloved.... The Bayan deriveth all its glory from ‘Him Whom God shall make manifest.’ All blessing be upon him who believeth in Him and woe betide him that rejecteth His truth.”

(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 100)


And yet, we know from the examples of missed opportunities based on our own receptivity as students, Bahá'u'lláh had more to say but He didn't. Let me end with the following excerpt from the Adib Taherzadeh’s “Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh”:

O Son of Justice!
In the night-season the beauty of the immortal Being hath
repaired from the emerald height of fidelity unto the
Sadratu'l-Muntaha, and wept with such a weeping that the
concourse on high and the dwellers of the realms above
wailed at His lamenting. Whereupon there was asked, Why
the wailing and weeping? He made reply: As bidden I waited
expectant upon the hill of faithfulness, yet inhaled not from
them that dwell on earth the fragrance of fidelity. Then
summoned to return I beheld, and lo! certain doves of holiness
were sore tried within the claws of the dogs of earth.
Thereupon the Maid of heaven hastened forth unveiled and
resplendent from Her mystic mansion, and asked of their
names, and all were told but one. And when urged, the first
letter thereof was uttered, whereupon the dwellers of the
celestial chambers rushed forth out of their habitation of
glory. And whilst the second letter was pronounced they fell
down, one and all, upon the dust. At that moment a voice
was heard from the inmost shrine: 'Thus far and no farther.'
Verily we bear witness to that which they have done and
now are doing.(13)

‘Sadratu'l-Muntaha' in this passage literally means the tree beyond which there is no passing. The Arabs used to plant trees along certain roads and the last tree indicating the end of the road was known as ‘Sadratu’l-Muntaha’. This term which has been used by Bahá’u’lláh in many of His Writings is, in one sense, the symbol of the station of the Manifestation of God, a station which is beyond the reach and understanding of men. The 'Maid of Heaven' in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh is a symbolic term and assumes different meanings.[1]
[1 See p. 242.]

The two letters mentioned in the above passage, according to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá’s interpretation, are B and H of the word ‘Baha'.(14) This means that only two letters out of three (B, H and A) have been revealed in this Dispensation, that the full significance and potency of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh which have been symbolically contained within the three letters of His name, have not been disclosed to mankind and that only a limited measure of His light and glory has been shed upon humanity in this age.[1] To this Bahá'u'lláh has testified in one of His Tablets:
[1 The word ‘Baha' in Arabic is composed of three letters. This statement should not be confused with a tradition of Islam that knowledge consists of twenty-seven letters, only two of which were revealed by the Prophets preceding the Báb. See p. 216.]

Know verily that the veil hiding Our countenance hath not
been completely lifted. We have revealed Our Self to a degree
corresponding to the capacity of the people of Our age.
Should the Ancient Beauty be unveiled in the fullness of His
glory mortal eyes would be blinded by the dazzling intensity
of His revelation.(15)

(Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh v 1, pp. 82-84)

Gaijin21 said...

The link I tried to make to did not work in the above post. It was a comment I made regarding the subject. This blog I am refering to inspired me to post this long excerpt here.

Here is the site:
http://chewindafat.blogspot.com/2006/05/religious-experience.html#comments


My comment is from "What you are planning to do sounds great. As a Bahá'í,..." and in response to that, the blogger asked me a question that leads to a similar answer. The blogger wants to try different religions, two weeks at a time.

Sanisha said...

yes i went to that blogspot there, and i will go back, too, because the questions they ask are good/ interesting and your answers were very applicable and appropriate

esp. for someone who has never heard it before, i guess it must be like the break of long drought so >> let it flow . ..i also think we must never overderstimate the understanding of the fundamentals and whatever comes aftewards, because often its like the crux, the key, the missing piece which we thought we had figured out, but no,I am always learning something .

and by the way, thank you for your notes on my site,and i like your change to Calvinism (of Calvin and Hobbes :)