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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 252-254

Chapter 15: Retrospect and Prospect

I bear witness, O friends! that the favor is complete, the argument fulfilled, the proof manifest, and the evidence established. Let it now be seen what your endeavors in the path of detachment will reveal. In this wise hath the divine favor been fully vouchsafed unto you and unto them that are in heaven and on earth. All praise to God, the Lord of all worlds.—BAHÁ’U’LLÁH, The Hidden Words.

Progress of the Cause

Unfortunately it is impossible, within the space at our disposal, to describe in detail the progress of the Bahá’í Faith throughout the world. Many chapters might be devoted to this fascinating subject, and many thrilling stories related about the pioneers and martyrs of the Cause, but a very brief summary must surface.
In Persia the early believers in this revelation met with the utmost opposition, persecution and cruelty at the hands of their fellow countrymen, but they faced all calamities and ordeals with sublime heroism, firmness and patience. Their baptism was in their own blood, for many thousands of them perished as martyrs; while thousands more were beaten, imprisoned, stripped of their possessions, driven from their homes or otherwise ill-treated. For sixty years or more anyone in Persia who dared to own allegiance to the Báb or Bahá’u’lláh did so at the risk of his property, his freedom and even his life. Yet this determined and ferocious opposition could not more check the progress of the Movement than a cloud of dust could keep the sun from rising. 253
From one end of Persia 1 to the other Bahá’ís are now to be found in almost every city and town, and even amongst the nomad tribes. In some villages the whole population is Bahá’í and in other places a large proportion of the inhabitants are believers. Recruited from many and diverse sects, which were bitterly hostile to each other, they now form a great fellowship of friends who acknowledge brotherhood, not only with each other, but with all men everywhere, who are working for the unification and upliftment of humanity, for the removal of all prejudices and conflict, and for the establishment of the Kingdom of God in the world.
What miracle could be greater than this? Only one, and that the accomplishment throughout the entire world of the task to which these men have set themselves. And signs are not lacking that this greater miracle, too, is in progress. The Faith is showing an astonishing vitality, and is spreading, like leaven, through the lump of humanity, transforming people and society as its spreads. 2
The relatively small number of Bahá’ís may still seem insignificant in comparison with the followers of the ancient religions, but they are confident that a divine Power has blessed them with the high privilege of serving a new order into which will throng the multitudes of East and West at no distant day. 254
While, therefore, it remains true that the Holy Spirit has reflected from pure hearts in all countries still unconscious of the Source, and the growth of the Faith can be witnessed in the many efforts outside the Bahá’í community to promote one or another of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings, nevertheless the lack of any enduring foundation in the old order is convincing proof that the ideals of the Kingdom can only become fruitful within the framework of the Bahá’í community.
1. [Lord Curzon, in his book, Persia and the Persian Question, published in 1892, the year of Bahá’u’lláh’s death, writes:—

“The lowest estimate places the present number of Babis in Persia at half a million. I am disposed to think, from conversations with persons well qualified to judge, that the total is nearer one million. They are to be found in every walk of life, from the ministers and nobles of the Court to the scavenger or the groom, not the least arena of their activity being the Mussulman priesthood itself. …

“If Babism continues to grow at its present rate of progression, a time may conceivably come when it will oust Mohammedanism from the field in Persia. This, I think, it would be unlikely to do, did it appear upon the ground under the flag of a hostile faith. But since its recruits are won from the best soldiers of the garrison whom it is attacking, there is greater reason to believe that it may ultimately prevail.” (Vol. i, pp. 449–502).]   [ Back To Reference]

2. The number of Bahá’ís is increasing every year and by 1979 the number of localities throughout the world where Bahá’ís reside has risen to over 103,000. (See Epilogue).   [ Back To Reference]