Remember the old Y2K scare? We generally look back at that anxious time as an anticlimax, understanding that nothing much happened at the turn of the millennium. I remember how the Bahá’ís expected world peace to flower by the end of the 20th Century. Since then, many Bahá’ís have sought out alternative interpretations of their failed peace prophecy.
Mustaghath, shortly before his occultation
I say “failed,” but I know something that most Bahá’ís don’t. Truth be told, at the close of the year 2001, on the very last day that fell within the Y2K window, a young prophet discovered his calling. Evidence of this portentous moment can be found with the help of the tool known to nostalgic Web surfers as the WayBack Machine:
Dec 02, 2001
This page doesn’t provide any actual information on the youthful prophet, but information would soon be forthcoming:
The hour is approaching when the most great convulsion will have appeared. I swear by Him Who is the Truth! It shall cause separation to afflict everyone, even those who circle around Me….
—Baha’ullah (Mar 29, 2002)
Imagine what the Bahá’í Faith might become if its idols were stripped away. What if the burden of divine authority were cleansed from every portrait, every image, every institution, and every holy word?
Imagine there’s no Cov’nant. It isn’t hard to do.
What if the Bahá’í religion were not a cult of divine images (“manifestations”), but rather a fellowship of principles (or virtues)? What if Bahá’u’lláh had said, “never mind about me and my station; let’s get down to the business of world reform.”
I know. It’s a stretch.
Imagine, by Rachel Boden
If Bahá’ís were to forfeit their sense of divine entitlement, would they lose their famous, unquenchable sense of purpose?
Sorry. I couldn’t resist. I’ll try to keep it serious.
They’d have to give up some very comforting expectations, it’s true. I’m not saying it would be easy.
“The Seven Candles of Unity,” found in `Abdu’l-Bahá’s authoritative writings, was one of his approaches to foretelling the future progress of the world toward unity.
The most noteworthy—and controversial—of the seven is the fifth candle, of which `Abdu’l-Bahá’ says:
… is the unity of nations—a unity which in this century will be securely established, causing all the peoples of the world to regard themselves as citizens of one common fatherland.
Selections from the Writings of `Abdu’l-Bahá’, pg. 32
Because of prophecies such as this one which `Abdu’l-Bahá’ was fond of repeating, Bahá’ís expected world peace to be “securely established” in the 20th Century. This expectation was confirmed and encouraged by Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice. If any Bahá’ís believed otherwise, I didn’t hear of it.