Chapter 87
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The two classes of Prophets -- Independent Prophets and Dependent/Lesser Prophets.

1)
The following passage on the two classes of Prophets names Abraham, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh as "Manifestations of universal Prophethood" (Independent Prophets). Solomon, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel are examples of Dependent/Lesser Prophets. Following it are a few more passages about the Prophets.

THE TWO CLASSES OF PROPHETS

Question.--How many kinds of Prophets are there? Answer.--Universally, the Prophets are of two kinds. One are the independent Prophets Who are followed; the other kind are not independent and are themselves followers.

The independent Prophets are the lawgivers and the founders of a new cycle. Through Their appearance the world puts on a new garment, the foundations of religion are established, and a new book is revealed. Without an intermediary They receive bounty from the Reality of the Divinity, and Their illumination is an essential illumination. They are like the sun which is luminous in itself: the light is its essential necessity; it does not receive light from any other star. These Dawning-places of the morn of Unity are the sources of bounty and the mirrors of the Essence of Reality.

The other Prophets are followers and promoters, for they are branches and not independent; they receive the bounty of the independent Prophets, and they profit by the light of the Guidance of the universal Prophets. They are like the moon, which is not luminous and radiant in itself, but receives its light from the sun.

The Manifestations of universal Prophethood Who appeared independently are, for example, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. But the others who are followers and promoters are like Solomon, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. For the independent Prophets are founders; They establish a new religion and make new creatures of men; They change the general morals, promote new customs and rules, renew the cycle and the Law. Their appearance is like the season of spring, which arrays all earthly beings in a new garment, and gives them a new life.

With regard to the second sort of Prophets who are followers, these also promote the Law of God, make known the Religion of God, and proclaim His word. Of themselves they have no power and might, except what they receive from the independent Prophets.
-- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p.165

It should first be noted that in one sense the stations of the Prophets of God differ one from another. For instance, consider Moses. He brought forth a Book and established ordinances, whilst a number of the Prophets and Messengers who arose after Him [Dependent/Lesser Prophets of Moses] were charged with the promulgation of His laws, insofar as they remained consonant with the needs of the age. The books and chronicles annexed to the Torah bear eloquent testimony to this truth.
-- Baha'u'llah, Tabernacle of Unity.

Thereupon God sent Elijah the prophet [a Dependent/Lesser Prophet of Moses] who redeemed the people, renewed the law of God and established an era of new life for Israel.
-- Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 95

Among the great prophets was His Holiness Abraham who being an iconoclast and a herald of the oneness of God, was banished from His native land. He founded a family upon which the blessing of God descended; and it was owing to this religious basis and ordination that the Abrahamic house progressed and advanced. Through the divine benediction, noteworthy and luminous prophets issued from the lineage of His Holiness. There appeared Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David and Solomon.
-- Compilations, Baha'i World Faith, p. 270

4:163. We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him; We sent inspiration to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, to Jesus Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms.
4:164. Of some Messengers We have already told thee the story; of others We have not; and to Moses [an Independent Prophet] Allah spoke direct.
-- The Qur'an (Yusuf Ali tr), Surah 4

Related compilation: God's Chosen Ones.


2)
The following passage on the "station of pure abstraction and essential unity" of the Manifestations of God includes Muhammad, Adam, Noah, Moses and Jesus, who are Independent Prophets; and Ali [Imam Ali] and the Holy Imams, who are Dependent/Lesser Prophets of Muhammad; who "are all invested with the robe of Prophethood [are all Prophets]". In the next passage, "prophethood", "messengership", "successorship" and "imamat" are used in reference to the Holy Imams; who are Manifestations of God (Dependent/Lesser Prophets of Muhammad):

These Manifestations of God have each a twofold station. One is the station of pure abstraction and essential unity. In this respect, if thou callest them all by one name, and dost ascribe to them the same attribute, thou hast not erred from the truth. Even as He hath revealed: "No distinction do We make between any of His Messengers!"[1] For they one and all summon the people of the earth to acknowledge the Unity of God, and herald unto them the Kawthar of an infinite grace and bounty. They are all invested with the robe of Prophethood, and honoured with the mantle of glory. Thus hath Muhammad, the Point of the Qur'án, revealed: "I am all the Prophets." Likewise, He saith: "I am the first Adam, Noah, Moses, and Jesus." Similar statements have been made by Ali [Imam Ali]. Sayings such as this, which indicate the essential unity of those Exponents of Oneness, have also emanated from the Channels of God's immortal utterance, and the Treasuries of the gems of divine knowledge, and have been recorded in the scriptures. These Countenances are the recipients of the Divine Command, and the day-springs of His Revelation. This Revelation is exalted above the veils of plurality and the exigencies of number. Thus He saith: "Our Cause is but one."[2] Inasmuch as the Cause is one and the same, the Exponents thereof also must needs be one and the same. Likewise, the Imams of the Muhammadan Faith, those lamps of certitude, have said: "Muhammad is our first, Muhammad our last, Muhammad our all."
[1 Qur'án 2:285.]
[2 Qur'án 54:50.]
-- Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 152

At this time the breeze of God is wafted and the spirit of God hath surrounded. The pen is withheld from motion and the tongue hath ceased utterance. Briefly: In this station the declaration of divinity and the like have appeared from them, while in the station of messengership they have declared prophethood. Likewise in every station they have made a declaration expedient thereto and have attributed all these to themselves; (declarations) concerning the world of command, the world of creation, the worlds of divinity, and the worlds of phenomena. Therefore whatever they may say and claim, including divinity, deity, prophethood, messengership, successorship, imamat or servitude is true and without doubt. Consequently these proven statements should be reflected upon, that no one may be overtaken in the sayings of the Manifestations of the Invisible and Dawning-places of Holiness.
-- Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá'í scriptures, p. 48

I shall restate here My theme, that perchance this may assist thee in recognizing thy Creator. Know thou that God - exalted and glorified be He - doth in no wise manifest His inmost Essence and Reality. From time immemorial He hath been veiled in the eternity of His Essence and concealed in the infinitude of His own Being. And when He purposed to manifest His beauty in the kingdom of names and to reveal His glory in the realm of attributes, He brought forth His Prophets from the invisible plane to the visible, that His name "the Manifest" might be distinguished from "the Hidden" and His name "the Last" might be discerned from "the First", and that there may be fulfilled the words: "He is the First and the Last; the Seen and the Hidden; and He knoweth all things!" Thus hath He revealed these most excellent names and most exalted words in the Manifestations of His Self and the Mirrors of His Being.
-- Baha'u'llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 33


3)
In the following passage, Muhammad is the "root" (Independent Prophet), while Imam Ali is the "branch" (Dependent Prophet); similarly, Moses is the "root" (Independent Prophet), while Joshua is the "branch" (Dependent Prophet). In next passage, it's stated, Imam Ali is to Muhammad as Aaron was to Moses. Further below, Abdu'l-Baha is referred to as follows, "the branch of command hath sprung forth from this root [Baha'u'llah]".

"And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three-score days, clothed in sackcloth."[1] These two witnesses are Muhammad the Messenger of God, and Ali, son of Abu Talib.
[1 Rev. 11:3.]

In the Qur'án it is said that God addressed Muhammad, the Messenger of God, saying: "We made You a Witness, a Herald of good news, and a Warner" -- that is to say, We have established Thee as the witness, the giver of good tidings, and as One bringing the wrath of God.[1] The meaning of "a witness" is one by whose testimony things may be verified. The commands of these two witnesses were to be performed for twelve hundred and sixty days, each day signifying a year. Now, Muhammad was the root, and Ali the branch, like Moses and Joshua.
-- Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 48

And narrated Sad that the Prophet [Muhammad] said to 'Ali [Imam Ali], "Will you not be pleased from this that you are to me like Aaron [branch] was to Moses [root]?"
-- Volume 5, Book 57, Number 57: (Hadith, Bukhari Vol 5).

"Whoso wishes to behold Adam and Seth, behold I am Adam and Seth; whoso wishes to behold Noah and his son Shem, behold I am Noah and Shem; whoso wishes to behold Abraham and Ishmael, behold I am Abraham and Ishmael; whoso wishes to behold Moses and Joshua, behold I am Moses and Joshua; whoso wishes to behold Jesus and Simon, behold I am Jesus and Simon."
-- Hadith from Imám Ja'far Al-Sádiq relating to the Twelfth Imám, quoted in al-Ahsá'í, "Risála fi `l-'Isma wa `l-raj'a," in Jawámi', vol. 1, part 1, p. 85; also quoted idem, Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 3, p. 92, and the Báb, Dalá'il, pp. 3-4.

Say: Verily, the ocean of pre-existence [Abdu'l-Baha] hath branched forth from this most great Ocean [Baha'u'llah]. Blessed, therefore, is he who abides upon Its shores, and is of those who are established thereon. Verily, this most sacred temple of Abha  -- -the Branch of Holiness -- - hath branched forth from the Sadratu'l-Muntaha. Blessed is whosoever sought shelter beneath it and is of those who rest therein.

Say: Verily, the branch of command hath sprung forth from this root which God hath firmly planted in the ground of the will, the limb of which has been elevated to a station which encompasses all existence. Therefore, exalted be He for this creation, the lofty, the blessed, the inaccessible, the mighty!

O ye people! Draw nigh unto It, and taste the fruits of its knowledge and wisdom on the part of the mighty, the knowing One. Whosoever will not taste thereof shall be deprived of the bounty, even though he hath partaken of all that is in the earth  -- - were ye of those who know.
-- Baha'u'llah, Tablet of the Branch.

Related compilation on the Twelve Messengers promoting the teachings of the Independent Prophet.


4)
In the following passage, Bahá'u'lláh is named as one of the Manifestations (Independent Prophets, Supreme Manifestations) that "possess some perfections which make the other Manifestations dependent upon Them". That is, Bahá'u'lláh has Dependent/Lesser Prophets who are also Manifestations of God; the same way Muhammad had Dependent/Lesser Prophets, the Holy Imams, who are also Manifestations of God.

Know that the attributes of perfection, the splendor of the divine bounties, and the lights of inspiration are visible and evident in all the Holy Manifestations; but the glorious Word of God, Christ, and the Greatest Name, Bahá'u'lláh, are manifestations and evidences which are beyond imagination, for They possess all the perfections of the former Manifestations; and more than that, They possess some perfections which make the other Manifestations dependent upon Them. So all the Prophets of Israel were centers of inspiration; Christ also was a receiver of inspiration, but what a difference between the inspiration of the Word of God and the revelations of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Elijah!
-- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 149-150


5)
In the following passage, David (a Dependent/Lesser Prophet in the era of Moses), is named as one of the Manifestations of God. Jesus (an Independent Prophet) is also named as a Manifestation of God .

None of the many Prophets sent down, since Moses was made manifest, as Messengers of the Word of God, such as David, Jesus, and others among the more exalted Manifestations who have appeared during the intervening period between the Revelations of Moses and Muhammad, ever altered the law of the Qiblih. These Messengers of the Lord of creation have, one and all, directed their peoples to turn unto the same direction.
-- Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 51


6)
Following is a prophecy in the Bible about Muhammad (an Independent Prophet) and the twelve Imams (Dependent Prophets of Muhammad).

The Law of God is also described as the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. It is evident that the New Jerusalem which descends from heaven is not a city of stone, mortar, bricks, earth and wood. It is the Law of God which descends from heaven and is called new, for it is clear that the Jerusalem which is of stone and earth does not descend from heaven, and that it is not renewed; but that which is renewed is the Law of God.

The Law of God is also compared to an adorned bride who appears with most beautiful ornaments, as it has been said in chapter 21 of the Revelation of St. John: "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."[1] And in chapter 12, verse 1, it is said: "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars." This woman is that bride, the Law of God that descended upon Muhammad. The sun with which she was clothed, and the moon which was under her feet, are the two nations which are under the shadow of that Law, the Persian and Ottoman kingdoms; for the emblem of Persia is the sun, and that of the Ottoman Empire is the crescent moon. Thus the sun and moon are the emblems of two kingdoms which are under the power of the Law of God. Afterward it is said: "upon her head is a crown of twelve stars." These twelve stars are the twelve Imams, who were the promoters of the Law of Muhammad and the educators of the people, shining like stars in the heaven of guidance.
[1 Rev. 21:2.]
-- Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 68


7)
All Prophets (i.e. both Independent Prophets and Dependent/Lesser Prophets) are seated on the same throne. As indicated in the next passage, Bahá'u'lláh (an Independent Prophet) rules on the same throne as David (a Dependent Prophet in the era of Moses). As indicated in the subsequent passage, Jesus (an Independent Prophet) ruled on the throne of David (a Dependent Prophet in the era of Moses).

It is clear and evident to thee that all the Prophets are the Temples of the Cause of God, Who have appeared clothed in divers attire. If thou wilt observe with discriminating eyes, thou wilt behold them all abiding in the same tabernacle, soaring in the same heaven, seated upon the same throne, uttering the same speech, and proclaiming the same Faith. Such is the unity of those Essences of being, those Luminaries of infinite and immeasurable splendour. Wherefore, should one of these Manifestations of Holiness proclaim saying: "I am the return of all the Prophets," He verily speaketh the truth. In like manner, in every subsequent Revelation, the return of the former Revelation is a fact, the truth of which is firmly established. Inasmuch as the return of the Prophets of God, as attested by verses and traditions, hath been conclusively demonstrated, the return of their chosen ones also is therefore definitely proven. This return is too manifest in itself to require any evidence or proof.
-- Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 153

The Most Great Law is come, and the Ancient Beauty ruleth upon the throne of David. Thus hath My Pen spoken that which the histories of bygone ages have related.
-- Bahá'u'lláh, Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 89

The obstacle which prevents the so-called religious man from accepting the teachings of God is literal interpretation. Moses announced the coming of Christ. The Israelites were awaiting him with the greatest impatience and anxiety, but when he came they called him Beelzebub. "The conditions laid down in the Bible for the coming of the expected one were not fulfilled," they said. They did not understand that the conditions were symbolical.

For instance, it is written -- "He will come from an unknown place." Jesus came from Nazareth. "How can this be the Messiah?" they reasoned. "It is written -- he will carry an iron scepter, that is to say, his shepherd's staff will be a sword. This man has no sword. It was prophesised -- he will be seated on the throne of David; behold this man has not so much as a mat whereon to sit. He was to spread the law of Moses; this man, on the contrary, seeks to destroy it. How can he be the promulgator of God's law?" they scornfully laughed.

It was prophesised that the east and west would be united under the Jewish law; the animals would be at peace one with another; that the wolf would no longer devour the sheep. They did not see these conditions fulfilled. Roman tyranny enveloped the world and they crucified the Christ.

The Jews were blind to reality. The real Christ came from the city of light in the eternal realms Christ is a king. His shepherd's staff, that is, his tongue, was a sword dividing the true from the false. The throne of David is not a material throne but an eternal kingdom. Christ re-established this kingdom; it has been forgotten. Christ conquered the east and the west. This means a spiritual victory, not a material one.
-- Abdu'l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 35

653. If Christians of all denominations and divisions should investigate reality, the foundations of His Holiness Christ would unite them. No enmity or hatred will remain for they will all be under the one guidance of reality itself. Likewise in the wider field, if all the existing religious systems will turn away from ancestral imitations and investigate the reality, seeking the real meanings of the Holy Books, they will unite and agree upon the same foundation, the reality itself. As long as they follow counterfeit doctrines or imitations instead of reality, animosity and discord will exist and increase. Let me illustrate this. His Holiness Moses and the prophets of Israel announced the advent of the Messiah but expressed it in the language of symbols. When His Holiness Christ appeared, the Jews rejected Him although they were expecting His manifestation, and in their temples and synagogues were crying and lamenting, saying "O God, hasten the coming of the Messiah!" Why did thy deny Him when He announced Himself? Because they had followed ancestral forms and interpretations and were blind to the reality of Christ [i.e. the Manifestation of God]. They had not perceived the inner significances of the Holy Bible. They voiced their objections, saying, "We are expecting His Holiness Christ, but His coming is conditioned upon certain fulfillments and prophetic announcements. Among the signs of His appearance is one that He shall come from an unknown place, whereas now this claimant of Messiahship has come from Nazareth. We home and we are acquainted with his mother.

"Second: One of the signs or messianic conditions is that his scepter would be an iron rod, and this Christ has not even a wooden staff.

"Third: He was to be seated upon the throne of David whereas this messianic king is in the utmost state of poverty and has not even a mat.
-- Compilations, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 331


8)
In the following passages, Imam Sadiq (the sixth Imam of Shi'i Islam) is referred to as 'son' of Muhammad -- i.e. his Dependent Prophet. The Holy Imams are descended from Imam Ali (the first Imam) and Fatima (the daughter of the Muhammad).

Behold, how, notwithstanding these and similar traditions, they idly contend that the laws formerly revealed, must in no wise be altered. And yet, is not the object of every Revelation to effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall manifest itself both outwardly and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner life and external conditions? For if the character of mankind be not changed, the futility of God's universal Manifestations would be apparent. In the "Avalim," an authoritative and well-known book, it is recorded: "A Youth from Bani-Hashim shall be made manifest, Who will reveal a new Book and promulgate a new law;" then follow these words: "Most of His enemies will be the divines." In another passage, it is related of Sadiq, son of Muhammad, that he spoke the following: "There shall appear a Youth from Bani-Hashim, Who will bid the people plight fealty unto Him. His Book will be a new Book, unto which He shall summon the people to pledge their faith.
-- Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 240

Thus hath Sadiq, son of Muhammad, spoken: "God verily will test them and sift them." This is the divine standard, this is the Touchstone of God, wherewith He proveth His servants. None apprehendeth the meaning of these utterances except them whose hearts are assured, whose souls have found favour with God, and whose minds are detached from all else but Him. In such utterances, the literal meaning, as generally understood by the people, is not what hath been intended.
-- Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 254


9)
Baha'u'llah refers to prophecies of Isaiah and Amos (both Dependent Prophets in the era of Moses):

O Shaykh! Peruse that which Isaiah hath spoken in His Book. He saith: "Get thee up into the high mountain, O Zion, that bringest good tidings; lift up Thy Voice with strength, O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings. Lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah: 'Behold your God! Behold the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him.'" This Day all the signs have appeared. A Great City hath descended from heaven, and Zion trembleth and exulteth with joy at the Revelation of God, for it hath heard the Voice of God on every side. This Day Jerusalem hath attained unto a new Evangel, for in the stead of the sycamore standeth the cedar. Jerusalem is the place of pilgrimage for all the peoples of the world, and hath been named the Holy City. Together with Zion and Palestine, they are all included within these regions. Wherefore, hath it been said: "Blessed is the man that hath migrated to 'Akká."

Amos saith: "The Lord will roar from Zion, and utter His Voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither." Carmel, in the Book of God, hath been designated as the Hill of God, and His Vineyard. It is here that, by the grace of the Lord of Revelation, the Tabernacle of Glory hath been raised. Happy are they that attain thereunto; happy they that set their faces towards it. And likewise He saith: "Our God will come, and He will not be silent."

O Shaykh! Reflect upon these words addressed by Him Who is the Desire of the world to Amos. He saith: "Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel, for, lo, He that formeth the mountains and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, the Lord, the God of Hosts, is His name." He saith that He maketh the morning darkness. By this is meant that if, at the time of the Manifestation of Him Who conversed on Sinai anyone were to regard himself as the true morn, he will, through the might and power of God, be turned into darkness. He truly is the false dawn, though believing himself to be the true one. Woe unto him, and woe unto such as follow him without a clear token from God, the Lord of the worlds.

Isaiah saith: "The Lord alone shall be exalted in that Day." Concerning the greatness of the Revelation He saith: "Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty." And in another connection He saith: "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the splendor of our God."

These passages stand in need of no commentary. They are shining and manifest as the sun, and glowing and luminous as light itself. Every fair-minded person is led, by the fragrance of these words, unto the garden of understanding, and attaineth unto that from which most men are veiled and debarred. Say: Fear God, O people, and follow not the doubts of such as shout aloud, who have broken the Covenant of God and His Testament, and denied His mercy that hath preceded all that are in the heavens and all that are on earth.
-- Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 146


10)
At the following link are prophecies of the Holy Imams (Dependent Prophets in the era of Muhammad) on the coming of the Bab and Baha'u'llah.



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