Unsolved:Baháʼí prophecies

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The writings of founding members of the Baháʼí Faith include prophetic statements of future events, some of which are viewed by Baháʼís as having been fulfilled. According to Baháʼí belief, individuals throughout history are Manifestations of God, who founded major world religions and have certain supernatural powers, such as the ability to prophecy. The belief in fulfilled prophecies is presented by Baháʼí authors to demonstrate the validity of Baháʼu'lláh's claim to divinity.[1][2][3]

Prominent among Baháʼí predictions of the future is a coming golden age of mankind, and the future appearance of another Manifestation of God. Among the predictions that Baháʼís regard as fulfilled, Peter Smith summarizes: "the downfall of various world leaders; the loss of Ottoman territory; political revolution and popular rule in Iran; the twice-repeated sufferings of Germany; and what is interpreted as a reference to nuclear power. ʻAbdu'l-Bahá also predicted the outbreak of World War I (originating in a Balkan conflict), and of a further global conflict in the future; the rise of communism; and racial conflict in the United States."[1]

An earlier Baháʼí author, John Esslemont, in 1923 dedicated a chapter in Baháʼu'lláh and the New Era to prophecies made by Baháʼu'lláh and ʻAbdu'l-Bahá. He mentioned the fall of Napoleon III, the outbreak of World War I and Germany's and Turkey's losses in it, the fall of the Ottoman Sultan, the rise of the Baháʼí Faith in North America, and a period of social upheaval and irreligion as prophecies that had been fulfilled. He also mentioned several prophecies that he considered yet unfulfilled: the restoration of just rule in Iran, the role of America in establishing international peace, the establishment of the unity of nations, the acceptance of the Baháʼí Faith by the majority of the people of the world, and the merging of ‘Akká and Haifa into one metropolis.[2]

Baháʼí author Gary Matthews, writing in 1993, described 30 Baháʼí prophecies related to world trends, historical events, or anticipated scientific developments that he views as fulfilled; he also lists a handful of prophecies that relate to the future.[4]

Critics of the Baháʼí Faith (e.g. Christian minister John Ankerberg) point to a prediction of universal peace arriving in the 20th century as an example of an unfulfilled prophecy.[5]

Most Baháʼí statements regarded as prophecies can be found in Baháʼu'lláh's tablets to the kings and rulers of the world[6] and in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.

The downfall of leaders

Sultan Abdu'l-Aziz

Baháʼu'lláh wrote a condemnatory letter to then Sultan ʻAbdu'l-ʻAzíz (r. 1861–1876), the original of which has been lost. Originals of three other letters addressing two of the Sultan's ministers are recorded in Summons of the Lord of Hosts, which also mention the Sultan. The letters condemn their misrule, abuse of civil power, and character; especially their role in Baháʼu'lláh's banishments and imprisonment.[7]

Two of the three letters, the Súriy-i-Ra'ís and the Lawh-i-Fu'ád, predict that ʻAbdu'l-ʻAzíz will lose control of the Ottoman Empire.[8] In 1868 Baháʼu'lláh wrote:

The day is approaching when the Land of Mystery (Adrianople) and what is beside it shall be changed, and shall pass out of the hands of the King, and commotions shall appear, and the voice of lamentation shall be raised, and the evidences of mischief shall be revealed on all sides, and confusion shall spread by reason of that which hath befallen these captives at the hands of the hosts of oppression.

Later in 1869, Baháʼu'lláh compares the Sultan and his Prime Minister ʻAlí Páshá to Nimrod and Pharaoh who rose up against Abraham and Moses and writes that they will lose power:

Soon will We dismiss the one who was like unto him [ʻAlí Páshá], and will lay hold on their Chief who ruleth the land [the Sultan]...

Sultan ʻAbdu'l-ʻAzíz was deposed on May 30, 1876 and a fortnight later he was found dead in the palace where he had been confined, and trustworthy medical evidence attributed his death to suicide although many people believed he was murdered by a conspiracy.

The prediction and apparent fulfillment of the downfall of the Sultan played an important role in the conversion of Mírzá Abu'l-Faḍl, one of the Baháʼí Faith's foremost scholars.[9][10]

ʻAlí Pashá and Fu'ád Páshá

Baháʼu'lláh addressed two letters to ʻAlí Páshá (Súriy-i-Ra'ís and Lawh-i-Ra'ís) and an additional letter written reflecting on the death of Fu'ád Páshá (Lawh-i-Fu'ád), both of whom served at different times as Grand Viziers of Sultan ʻAbdu'l-ʻAzíz. Among the strong condemnations of the ministers, written from 1868–1869, Baháʼu'lláh also predicts the downfall of ʻAlí Pashá (referred to as the "Chief").[11] Baháʼu'lláh wrote to him in the Súriy-i-Raʼís:

Soon thou shalt find thyself in manifest loss!

And in the Lawh-i-Ra'ís, Baháʼu'lláh wrote:

Soon will He seize you in His wrathful anger, sedition will be stirred up in your midst, and your dominions will be disrupted. ... Neither will your glory last, nor will Mine abasement endure.

Fu'ád Páshá died of a heart disorder in February 1869. ʻAlí Páshá tried to perform the vacant role of foreign minister as well as prime minister, but also began having health problems, later getting tuberculosis and dying in September of 1871.[12] After his death, his reforms were changed and his enemies returned from exile. Five years later the government was reformed, and the steady decline of the empire culminated in its dissolution during World War I.

Juan Cole wrote a commentary on the prophecies, suggesting that "predictions of the Sultán's downfall, such as Baháʼu'lláh made in that Tablet, were not unusual but rather were commonplaces..."[13] He continues,

Baháʼu'lláh predicts that Alí Páshá, then grand vizier, will be deposed (the verb is 'azala, which is used of deposing kings). He says, too, that God will "lay hold" (the verb is akhadha, to take, seize) of Sultán AbdulAzíz (he is called amiruhum, literally, "their prince" or "their commander"). Although Baháʼu'lláh was correct that neither of these powerful men had long at the top in 1869, his prophecy, if taken literally, actually reverses their true fates... Taken together with Baháʼu'lláh's prediction in the Tablet of the Premier that turmoil would overtake the Ottoman empire and his advocacy from his early Acre years of parliamentary democracy, he does seem to have been prescient about the imminence of the First Constitutional Revolution. Indeed, the matter of Alí Páshá never being deposed seems minor in comparison.[13]

Napoleon III

Napoleon III (r. 1852–1870) was the emperor of France. In 1869 Baháʼu'lláh wrote to him in one of the five chapters that compose the Súriy-i-Haykal.[2] In the tablet Baháʼu'lláh writes that Napoleon III will lose his kingdom and that commotion will occur in France:[1]

For what thou hast done, thy kingdom shall be thrown into confusion, and thine empire shall pass from thine hands, as a punishment for that which thou hast wrought.

Within the year, in battle against Prussia in July 1870, the Emperor was captured at the Battle of Sedan (September 2) and was deposed by the forces of the Third Republic in Paris two days later; he was sent into exile to England where he died.

After Napoleon's capture by the Prussians, General Louis Jules Trochu and the politician Léon Gambetta overthrew the Second Empire and established the "Government of National Defence" which later became the conservative Third Republic. Its creation was overshadowed by the subsequent revolution in Paris known as the Paris Commune, which maintained a radical regime for two months until its bloody suppression in May 1871.

The outbreak of wars in Europe


Wilhelm I (r. 1871-1888), the German Emperor, was addressed by Baháʼu'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas in 1873 and given a warning to learn from the example of the Napoleon. Later he addressed the "banks of the Rhine", a reference to the river that runs through western Germany. He wrote:

We have seen you covered with gore, inasmuch as the swords of retribution were drawn against you; and you shall have another turn. And We hear the lamentations of Berlin, though she be today in conspicuous glory.

The Notes of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, as compiled by the Universal House of Justice, say:

In one of His Tablets written before the first World War (1914–1918), ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá explained that Bahá’u’lláh’s reference to having seen the banks of the Rhine “covered with gore” related to the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), and that there was more suffering to come. In God Passes By Shoghi Effendi states that the “oppressively severe treaty” that was imposed on Germany following its defeat in the first World War “provoked ‘the lamentations [of Berlin]’ which, half a century before, had been ominously prophesied.”

The statement of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas is widely read by Baháʼís as a prophecy that was fulfilled with the defeat and abdication of Wilhelm II in 1918.[14] Baháʼí author John Esslemont wrote in 1923 that during a period of German successes in World War I, this "well-known prophecy was extensively quoted by the opponents of the Bahá’í Faith in Persia, in order to discredit Bahá’u’lláh," but the German loss at the end of the war "became a powerful means of enhancing the reputation of Bahá’u’lláh."[2]

War in Europe

ʻAbdu'l-Bahá made tours of western countries from 1911-1913, and frequently made reference to the danger of war in Europe. In 1912, ʻAbdu'l-Bahá was quoted as saying:[15]

We are on the eve of the Battle of Armageddon referred to in the sixteenth chapter of Revelation... The time is two years hence, when only a spark will set aflame the whole of Europe... by 1917 kingdoms will fall and cataclysms will rock the earth.[16]

World War I began two years later, in 1914, and formally ended in November of 1918. Baháʼís viewed it as a fulfillment of the prophecy. After the war and before his death in 1921, ʻAbdu'l-Bahá made references to the inability of the treaties of the Paris Peace Conference to maintain order, that the vanquished powers would continue to agitate, that the Balkans would continue to be a source of tension, that communism would rise in importance, and that a new fiercer war would break out.[17] In 1920 he made further comments that would also be interpreted by later Baháʼís as references to World War II:

The Balkans will remain discontented. Its restlessness will increase. The vanquished Powers will continue to agitate. They will resort to every measure that may rekindle the flame of war. Movements, newly born and worldwide in their range, will exert their utmost effort for the advancement of their designs. The Movement of the Left will acquire great importance. Its influence will spread.[18]

Future events

A ruler who will raise up the Baháʼí Faith

In 1873 Baháʼu'lláh wrote in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas:[19]

"How great the blessedness that awaiteth the king who will arise to aid My Cause in My kingdom, who will detach himself from all else but Me! Such a king is numbered with the companions of the Crimson Ark—the Ark which God hath prepared for the people of Bahá. All must glorify his name, must reverence his station, and aid him to unlock the cities with the keys of My Name, the omnipotent Protector of all that inhabit the visible and invisible kingdoms. Such a king is the very eye of mankind, the luminous ornament on the brow of creation, the fountainhead of blessings unto the whole world. Offer up, O people of Bahá, your substance, nay your very lives, for his assistance."
(Baháʼu'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, 1873)

This is elaborated specifically:

"In the Lawh-i-Ra'ís He actually and categorically prophesies the rise of such a king: "Erelong will God raise up from among the kings one who will aid His loved ones. He, verily, encompasseth all things. He will instill in the hearts the love of His loved ones. This, indeed, is irrevocably decreed by One Who is the Almighty, the Beneficent." In the Ridvánu'l-ʻAdl, wherein the virtue of justice is exalted, He makes a parallel prediction: "Erelong will God make manifest on earth kings who will recline on the couches of justice, and will rule amongst men even as they rule their own selves. They, indeed, are among the choicest of My creatures in the entire creation.""
(Baháʼu'lláh, 1868, quoted by Shoghi Effendi in Promised Day is Come)

Signs for the coming of age of the human race

Baháʼu'lláh wrote in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas:[20]

"We have appointed two signs for the coming of age of the human race: the first, which is the most firm foundation, We have set down in other of Our Tablets, while the second hath been revealed in this wondrous Book."
(Baháʼu'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, 1873)

The first sign refers to the selection of a single language and the adoption of a common script:

"O members of parliaments throughout the world! Select ye a single language for the use of all on earth, and adopt ye likewise a common script. ... This will be the cause of unity, could ye but comprehend it, and the greatest instrument for promoting harmony and civilization, would that ye might understand!"
(Baháʼu'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, 1873)

The second sign refers to the emergence of a "divine philosophy" which will include the discovery of a radical approach to the transmutation of elements:

"Consider the doubts which they who have joined partners with God have instilled into the hearts of the people of this land. “Is it ever possible,” they ask, “for copper to be transmuted into gold?” Say, Yes, by my Lord, it is possible. Its secret, however, lieth hidden in Our Knowledge. We will reveal it unto whom We will. Whoso doubteth Our power, let him ask the Lord his God, that He may disclose unto him the secret, and assure him of its truth. That copper can be turned into gold is in itself sufficient proof that gold can, in like manner, be transmuted into copper, if they be of them that can apprehend this truth. Every mineral can be made to acquire the density, form, and substance of each and every other mineral. The knowledge thereof is with Us in the Hidden Book."
(Baháʼu'lláh, Gleanings from the Writing of Baháʼu'lláh, Section XCVII, undated)

In Baháʼu'lláh's tablet addressed to Shaykh Salmán, he mentions a third sign, which is that no one will accept to bear the weight of kingship:

"One of the signs of the maturity of the world is that no one will accept to bear the weight of kingship. Kingship will remain with none willing to bear alone its weight. That day will be the day whereon wisdom will be manifested among mankind. Only in order to proclaim the Cause of God and spread abroad His Faith will anyone be willing to bear this grievous weight. Well is it with him who, for love of God and His Cause, and for the sake of God and for the purpose of proclaiming His Faith, will expose himself unto this great danger, and will accept this toil and trouble.”"
(Baháʼu'lláh, undated, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come)

The establishment of a World Commonwealth

Shoghi Effendi wrote:[21]

"The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Baháʼu'lláh, implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded…"
"A world federal system, ruling the whole earth and exercising unchallengeable authority over its unimaginably vast resources, blending and embodying the ideals of both the East and the West, liberated from the curse of war and its miseries, and bent on the exploitation of all the available sources of energy on the surface of the planet, a system in which Force is made the servant of Justice, whose life is sustained by its universal recognition of one God and by its allegiance to one common Revelation—such is the goal towards which humanity, impelled by the unifying forces of life, is moving."
(Shoghi Effendi, The Unfoldment of World Civilization, 1936)

This commonwealth must consist of:

  • a world legislature.
  • a world executive, backed by an international Force.
  • a world tribunal.

Further features:

  • a mechanism of world inter-communication.
  • a world metropolis which will act as the nerve center of a world civilization.
  • a world language, a world script, and a world literature.
  • a uniform and universal system of currency, weights and measures.
  • science and religion will be reconciled and will harmoniously develop.
  • the press will be liberated from the influence of contending governments and peoples.
  • the economic resources of the world will be organized, its sources of raw materials will be tapped and fully utilized, and the distribution of its products will be equitably regulated.
  • national rivalries, hatreds, and intrigues will cease.
  • the causes of religious strife will be permanently removed.
  • economic barriers and restrictions will be completely abolished, and the inordinate distinction between classes will be obliterated.
  • destitution on the one hand, and gross accumulation of ownership on the other, will disappear.
  • an increase of human inventions, technical development, productivity, and scientific research.
  • the extermination of disease and the raising of the standard of physical health.
  • the sharpening and refinement of the human brain.
  • the prolongation of human life.
  • the furtherance of any other agency that can stimulate the intellectual, the moral, and spiritual life of the entire human race.
  • the gradual adoption of a vegetarian diet by the majority of mankind.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Unfoldment of World Civilization, 1936)
"The second [Baháʼí] century [1944–2044 CE] is destined to witness a tremendous deployment and a notable consolidation of the forces working towards the world-wide development of that Order, as well as the first stirrings of that World Order."
(Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, 1946)

Future Manifestation of God

On Ridván 1863, the period in which Baháʼu'lláh made public his claim to have received a revelation from God, he stated that the next Manifestation of God will not appear before 1000 years have passed:[1]

"...ere the expiration of one thousand years whosoever advanceth a prophetic claim is false. By “year” a full year is intended, and no exegesis or interpretation is permitted in this matter."
(Baháʼu'lláh, Days of Remembrance, section 9.

In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas Baháʼu'lláh stated:

"Whoso layeth claim to a Revelation direct from God, ere the expiration of a full thousand years, such a man is assuredly a lying impostor. We pray God that He may graciously assist him to retract and repudiate such claim. Should he repent, God will, no doubt, forgive him... Whosoever, interpreteth this verse otherwise than its obvious meaning is deprived of the Spirit of God and of His mercy..."
(Baháʼu'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, 1873)

In a similar verse he says:

"Should a man appear, ere the lapse of a full thousand years—each year consisting of twelve months according to the Qurʼán, and of nineteen months of nineteen days each, according to the Bayán—and if such a man reveal to your eyes all the signs of God, unhesitatingly reject him!"
(Baháʼu'lláh, quoted in World Order of Baháʼu'lláh)

In the Maʼidiy-i-Asmani, Baháʼu'lláh anticipates a different “proof ” for the next Manifestation of God:

"...we have ordained that a proof other than the revelation of divine verses be produced to vindicate the truth of the next Manifestation."
(Baháʼu'lláh, Ma'idiy-i-Asmani, Vol. IV, 93.)[22]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Smith 2000, p. 278.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Esslemont 1980.
  3. Matthews 1993, pp. 36-37.
  4. Matthews 1993, p. Ch. 4-6.
  5. John Ankerberg Show (2017-06-15). "A Critical Look at the Baha'i Faith – Part 2". https://christiansanswerbahai.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/a-critical-look-at-the-bahai-faith-part-2-by-john-ankerberg-show/. 
  6. Smith 2000, p. 300.
  7. Baháʼu'lláh 2002, p. Introduction.
  8. Smith 2000, pp. 13-14.
  9. Smith 2000, pp. 22-23.
  10. Taherzadeh 1984, pp. 91–107.
  11. Smith 2000, p. 34.
  12. Ali Pasha (Mehmet Emin), http://www.biyografya.com/biyografi/16664 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Cole 1997.
  14. Smith 2000, p. 356.
  15. Lambden 1999.
  16. Quoted in Esslemont 1980, citing Corinne True in The North Shore Review, September 26, 1914.
  17. Smith 2000, p. 354.
  18. ʻAbdu'l-Bahá 1978, p. no. 202.
  19. Smith 2000, pp. 219-220.
  20. Smith 2000, pp. 186-187.
  21. Smith 2000, pp. 363-364.
  22. Provisional translation quoted in: Nakhjavani 2014


  • Katirai, Foad (2001). Global Governance and the Lesser Peace. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 0-85398-453-0.