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Progressive Revelation & the Unity of Religions

Progressive Revelation

Baha'i Progressive Revelation

Religious truth has been manifested relative to time and location. Whenever a society has  become spiritually weak and has been inflicted by complex social problems, God has appointed a divine educator from among the people. This educator breathes a new spiritual life into the society and gives guidance on how to deal with the social problems.

Bahá’u’lláh explains that God created humanity because of His love for it. Humanity was then given the ability to reflect the qualities and attributes of God. Every human being has the duty in their lifetime to:


  • know God

  • worship Him

  • develop God’s qualities and attributes within us to serve others

  • assist with the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth


Humanity is not able to achieve these results on its own. Hence, God has progressively sent Manifestations to guide and assist humanity to grow. They help individuals to grow spiritually and have provided the necessary teachings and laws to solve society’s social and economical problems. Therefore, humanity has individually and collectively evolved and grown along a path leading towards its final destiny.

Unity of Religions

God has given humanity the ability to reflect His attributes and qualities, but this will not occur until the heart is cleaned and polished to reflect this light. The Manifestations of God are like clear mirrors that perfectly reflect the true image and attributes of God. They also have the power to assist humanity to polish its spiritual mirror. Hence, the Manifestations of God are the reflections of God in the world of creation and knowing them is equivalent to knowing God. Since all the Manifestations of God reflect the attributes of one God, then they are one.

The unity of religions is described very clearly by `Abdu’l-Bahá in the following Tablet:


“In the Word of God there is still another unity - the oneness of the Manifestations of God, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. This is a unity divine, heavenly, radiant, merciful - the one reality appearing in its successive Manifestations. For instance, the sun is one and the same, but its points of dawning are various. During the summer season it rises from the northern point of the ecliptic; in winter it appears from the southern point of rising. Each month between, it appears from a certain zodiacal position. Although these dawning points are different, the sun is the same sun, which has appeared from them all. The significance is the reality of Prophethood which is symbolized by the sun, and the holy Manifestations are the dawning places or zodiacal points.”[1]


Reasons for Differences in Religions

The differences seen today among the different religions are the result of a number of factors:


  • Each Manifestation of God has three stations. The first station is physical, which is phenomenal (perceivable to the senses). The second station is the rational soul or the human station, which is similar to other human beings. This is also phenomenal. In this station the Manifestation of God is an individual and hence is different from other people. Each has a different name and a different life story. The last station is the station of prophethood, which is the station of divine appearance. This station is eternal and has no beginning or end—it is not phenominal. This is the station that is common among all the Manifestations of God.

  • Bahá’u’lláh says: “… every age requireth a fresh measure of the light of God. Every Divine Revelation hath been sent down in a manner that befitted the circumstances of the age in which it hath appeared.[2] This means that the teachings of each religion is also different as the religions are revealed at different times, in different places, and to solve specific problems. This means religious truth is relative to time and place—i.e. when and where the religion has appeared. This is another source of difference among the world’s religions.

  • The Manifestations of God differ in the intensity of their revelations depending on the stage mankind’s spiritual development has reached. This is similar to the physical sun that has different degrees of heat and light depending on the season when it appears.

  • Generally, man-made teachings and superstitions dim the light of old religions. Hence, what is known of a religion is not the reality of that religion as it was originally revealed by its Manifestation of God.

In summary, there is only one religion—the religion of God—the nature of which has been progressively revealed by various Manifestations of God. In addition, every religion has seasons or a period of its cycle during which it is fresh and powerful (spring and summer), a season when it transforms individuals and societies. When those seasons or that period passes (autumn and winter), then the religion looses its power and influence, and practically dies.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá compares the cycles of birth, growth and death of a religion to the four seasons of the physical world. Every religion is a living entity that goes through the cycles of spiritual birth and death. With the death of a religion, a new spiritual springtime starts and a new religion is born.[3]


[1] `Abdu’l-Bahá , Promulgation of Universal Peace, p192.

[2] Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 81

[3] Refer to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 10–11, 95, 126–7, and 151–2.



Baha'i Holy Places & Pilgrimage
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