Many people have the impression the Baha’i faith is very eclectic in its beliefs because we accept all the divine prophets of the world’s great religions.
People sometimes say, “Oh, you’re a Baha’i—you’re the ones who believe everything. You kind of take a little from each religion, right?” Not exactly.
Baha’is believe in progressive revelation—that is, God sends messengers or divine teachers as part of a great promise or covenant to never leave humanity without guidance. Baha’is accept the teachings of all prophets, viewing each religion as a chapter in one great book.
Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder of the Baha’i faith, emphatically declared that the unity of the prophets of God is absolute, stating there is no distinction among them. Their missions and the intensity of their light vary because the needs of the world vary from age to age. Baha’u’llah explains:
“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 ...
“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 tranquility of mankind, and provide all the means by which they can be established.”
The strength and unity of the Baha’i faith resides in the claim the faith does not seek to destroy or belittle any of the previous revelations, but rather to connect, unify and fulfill them. In fact, the Baha’i writings clearly underscore the faith never seeks to undermine the basis of anyone’s allegiance to their cause stating:
“Its declared, its primary purpose is to enable every adherent of these faiths to obtain a fuller understanding of the religion with which one stands identified, and to acquire a clearer apprehension of its purpose ... Unequivocally and without reservation it proclaims all established religions to be divine in origin, identical in their aims, complementary in their functions, continuous in their purpose and indispensable in their value to mankind.”
In his most holy book, Baha’u’llah asserts, “All the prophets of God abide in the same tabernacle, soar in the same heaven, are seated upon the same throne, utter the same speech, and proclaim the same faith,” emphasizing that “all their utterances are, in reality but the expression of one truth.”
Referring to every one of the prophets as a “mirror of God,” reflecting the beauty and glory of God, Baha’u’llah also confirms that God’s guidance is eternal saying: “These mirrors will everlastingly succeed each other, and will continue to reflect the light of the Ancient of Days.”
In thinking about our collective life, one could say humanity is coming of age—having gone through the stages of infancy, childhood and adolescence. So, naturally the teachings and remedy for society’s ills would be progressively revealed by these divine prophets in accordance with the capacity, maturity and receptivity of each prophet’s time. Imagine if we all recognized the divine revealers of the world’s great religions as one soul and the same spirit, as Baha’u’llah proclaimed:
“For they all drink from the one Cup of the Love of God, and all partake of the fruit of the same Tree of Oneness.”