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Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era

  • Author:
  • J. E. Esslemont

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 286
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Pages 244-248

Social Troubles After the War

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:—
O ye lovers of truth! O ye servants of mankind! As the sweet fragrance of your thoughts and high intentions has breathed upon me, I feel that my soul is irresistibly prompted to communicate with you.

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 245 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 246 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 first teaching is the search after truth. Blind imitation, He declared, killeth the spirit of man, whereas the investigation of truth frees the world from the darkness of prejudice.

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. 247 Were a government or people to dissent, the world as a whole should rise against it.
And among His teachings is the equality in right of men and women, and so on with many other similar teachings that have been revealed by His pen.

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.
In a talk given in November 1919, He said:—
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 248 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.