Covering up a discredited Baha’i prophecy

When I was a Baha’i, I spent a summer at the home of an elderly Baha’i couple, and I looked at their Baha’i books. One thing I noticed was a copy of the classic introduction to the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah and the New Era by J. E Esslemont. It contained a reference to 1957, the year Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, died, yet it had been published before that year. After searching online this year, I finally found a reference to this older edition. (original link)

(new and improved version)

Read the text for yourself. Yes, it is poorly edited, so I will copy it to here and clean it up.

{{{We quote here from J. E. Esslemont’s Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, a book published by the Bahá’í Publishing Committee and copyrighted by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the USA. Originally the manuscript of Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era was revised and approved by `Abdú’l-Bahá and after his death, by Shoghi Effendi as well as by a committee of the National Bahá’í Assembly of England.[1]

Esslemont writes:

“In the last two verses of the Book of Daniel occur the cryptic words:—‘Blessed is he that waiteth and cometh to the thousand, three hundred and thirty-five days. But go thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.’ Many have been the attempts of learned students to solve the problem of the significance of these words.

In a table-talk at which the writer was present, `Abdu’l-Bahá said that these 1,335 days mean 1,335 solar years from the Hijrat. (Flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, marking the beginning of the Muhammad era.) As the Hijrat occurred in 622 A.D. the date referred to is, therefore, 1957 (i.e. 622+1,335) A.D. Asked:

‘What shall we see at the end of the 1,335 days?’ he replied: Universal Peace will be firmly established, a Universal language promoted. Misunderstandings will pass away. The Bahá’í Cause will be promulgated in all parts and the oneness of mankind established. It will be most glorious!” [emphasis mine]

Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, the book that records the above quoted prophecy, was first published in 1923. Instead of world peace and such utopian dreams, a small sample of what we got from 1923 until 1957 was things like nation wide poverty in the Depression in the USA and World War II which yielded ten to twelve million massacred by the hands of Hitler’s army. Stalin caused the death of some twenty million people.
In fact, Shoghi Effendi himself wrote, “We who have killed some forty-five million human beings in the past thirty-five years.”[3] And so there is absolutely no question that this prophecy is false. Perhaps, it should be noted that one significant event that occurred in 1957 was Shoghi Effendi’s sudden death.

Not so fast though, in later editions of the same book that records the false prophecy there is a section titled “Note on Revisions” in which the false prophecy is explained away:

“‘the end of the 1,335 days.’ The Guardian has written that in the Bahá’í teachings themselves there is nothing to indicate that any definite degree of world peace will be established by 1957, nor by 1963, the one hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh.” Another Bahá’ísm publication has stated, “Regarding the Prophecy of Daniel: The passage in Esselmont should be changed to state that this prophecy refers to the one-hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh, in the Garden of Ridván, Baghdád.”[4] [emphasis mine]

The Guardian is Shoghi Effendi, grandson of, and third in line to, Bahá’u’lláh. He is one of the only two individuals to be appointed as the interpreter of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings. What the Guardian does however is to contradict the teachings of `Abdú’l-Bahá, son of, and second in line to, Bahá’u’lláh. He was the other of the only two individuals ever to be appointed as the interpreter of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings.
Of `Abdú’l-Bahá it is said that he is “the authorized interpreter of the teachings, and declaring that any explanations or interpretations given by Him are to be accepted as of equal validity with the words of Bahá’u’lláh Himself[5] [my underlining]. After these two the authority of Bahá’ísm was given to committees, these committees alone can publish authoritative Bahá’í writings, which they did so when they published the book from which we quoted the false prophecy.

The 1950 edition of the book carries with it the Note on Revisions, which explains that in future editions of the book the text would be reworked and the changes would the be made with no indication that it ever contained false prophecy.[6]

Consulting the 1976 edition of Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, pp 251-252 (or 1980 ed., p. 250) we find the new reading of this text:

“…In a table-talk at which the writer was present, `Abdú’l-Bahá reckoned the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy from the date of the beginning of the Muhammadan era. `Abdú’l-Bahá’s Tablets, make it clear that this prophecy refers to the one hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdád, or the year 1963:—Now concerning the verse in Daniel, the interpretation whereof thou didst ask, namely, ‘Blessed is he who cometh unto the thousand, three hundred and thirty-five days.’

These days must be reckoned as solar and not lunar years. For according to this calculation a century will have elapsed from the dawn of the Sun of Truth, then will the teachings of God be firmly established upon the earth, and the Divine Light shall flood the world from the East even unto the West. Then, on this day, will the faithful rejoice!” [emphasis mine]
First, we note that Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era was revised in 1937, 1950, 1970, 1976, 1980 and reprinted in 1990. The Bahá’í were able to do this since taking over the “copyright and other interests” from George Allen & Unwin Ltd., of London England. Also note that in 1957 the prophecy was not fulfilled, but remember that the Note on Revisions stated, “there is nothing to indicate that any definite degree of world peace will be established by 1957, nor by 1963 [emphasis mine].”

But the reworked explanation also fails because a century from the dawn of the Sun of Truth [Bahá’u’lláh] is 1963 and still we do not see the teachings of God be firmly established upon the earth [emphasis mine].

In conclusion, what is the meaning of the last two verses of the Book of Daniel? Apparently after two different explanations we still don’t know. Obviously what we have is an attempt to cover up a false prophecy with an equally impotent explanation that is meaningless, its only meaning is that it demonstrated some degree of Bahá’í manipulation.}}}

Gee, did it ever occur to this Christian apologist that simular stunts of making false prophecies and covering them up could have been done to passages in the Bible as applied to Jesus?
Anyway, here is the text of the 1950 edition of Baha’u’llah and the New Era:
And these are the text of the same book in 1976:
Later, the blogger defends his position:
Thanks for pointing that out. I am aware of “Pilgrim’s Notes” but, surely, many are not. These are considered mere anecdotes “With the exception of those that have been reviewed and approved by `Abdu’l-Baha Himself-and there are notable exceptions, such as Some Answered Questions—they do not have the status of Bahá’í scripture. They are of historical interest, but the original motives for their publication are not as compelling today. Nonetheless, for Bahá’ís, such accounts must certainly rank above some biblical chronicles.”
[From the introduction by Richard Hollinger to Thornton Chase’s, In Galilee and Arthur S. Agnew, In Wonderland (Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1985 “Originally published as In Galilee and In Spirit and In Truth in 1908 by the Bahá’í Publishing Society”), pp. vi-vii]
Note that:
1) Abdu’l-Baha spoke a statement.
2) Esslemont wrote it down.
3) Abdu’l-Baha reviewed, revised and approved the text—he being the only infallible individual on Earth at the time.
4) Shoghi Effendi reviewed, revised and approved the text—he being the only infallible individual on Earth at the time.
5) A committee of the National Baha’i Assembly of England reviewed and approved the text.
6) The Baha’i Publishing Committee reviewed and approved the text.
7) The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the USA reviewed and approved the text.
Yet, it is still discardable.
You will pardon me but I am quite skeptical of Baha’i claims of what is and what is not official for various reasons including:
There are vast, vast amounts of Baha’i writings, particularly the tablets of Baha’u’llah, that remain unknown, un-reproduced, un-translated, and even un-tallied to the point that the UHJ admits that they do not even have an account of what is in their possession and Baha’i scholars complain that the UHJ denies them access to primary source manuscripts.
Considering that only a mere and meager portion, a very, very small percentage of Baha’u’llah’s original, official, infallible writings are known to mankind I cannot help but think that we do not really know the warp and woof of his thoughts. It is very easy for me to think that his successors, even till the UHJ, pick and choose that which they want to put forth as Baha’u’llah’s revelation. But what is known and particularly what has been published is a miniscule representation of his voluminous writings.
Also, Baha’is are constantly revising and updating texts, and I do not here mean texts such as New Era, so that what was once official is now unofficial and what is official is the new version (yes, I understand that you are told that this is based on pure and innocent updated research but I cannot help but wonder).

Very interesting and, quite rightly, emotive story about 1963—I must say quite frankly.

See, I knew that I detected a missionary streak in you. I am not sure how it is relevant to this post since the above reference to the rewritten failed prophecy is apocryphal. However, this does bring to mind something about Baha’ism that I find, let us say fascinating/troubling: constant redefinitions and reinterpretations to the point that those who know that originals of that which Baha’ism is redefining and reinterpreting readily discern conveniently self-serving, yet fallacious, utilitarianism.

For example, “world peace” does not mean “world peace,” it does not mean what anyone reading the term would logically and grammatically understand rather, it means the establishment of the UHJ.
Or: Baha’ism has no sects only “covenant breakers.”
Baha’ism has no missionaries only pioneers.
Baha’ism has no clergy only people who take turn performing the duties of the clergy (an armature clergy).
Etc., etc., etc.

Well said! But again, I wonder how he would react if a Jew or atheist made simular arguments against Christianity. This is the problem with investigating other religions; too often, the investigator is not looking for objective truth, but seeking to undermine one religion to promote another. But if the other religion is also severely flawed, what’s the point? And does this guy really call himself a True Freethinker? He is not one if he doesn’t take into account the failings and falsehoods associated with Christianity!

13 thoughts on “Covering up a discredited Baha’i prophecy

  1. May I just point out that 1957 signified the end of the 10 year crusade. So basically, the spread of the Faith throughout the world will signal the fulfilment of the prophecy of Daniel.

    Shoghi Effendi states:

    “…They will lay the foundations of the service of the Baha’is of the world for the great Ten Year Crusade ahead — which, God willing, will be consummated in the fulfilment of the prophecies of Daniel, and the achievement of the initial goals set by `Abdu’l-Baha in the Tablets of the Divine Plan…”

    And, in a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, we find the following statement:

    ” …when we fulfil the Ten Year Crusade, we will have brought into fulfilment Daniel’s great prophecy of ‘Blessed is he who waits and comes to the 1335 days’.”

    I hope this clears things up 🙂

    • Are you saying the Ten Year World Crusade actually began in 1947? Not so, because everything I read about it indicates it started in 1953 and ended in 1963.

      Interpreting the prophecies of Daniel to refer to the spread of the Baha’i Faith around the world is an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’m sure many Christians would disagree and argue that THEIR religion is the one being referred to (Christian missionaries work hard to spread their faith even today). Despite all these efforts, the Baha’i Faith is not nearly as well known as relatively minor Christian sects like Mormonism.

      Why would God even allow the Guardian to die before the Crusade could end and lead to the election of the Universal House of Justice with him as its head?

      Finally, there is the issue of why a book written to introduce people to the Baha’i Faith would have to be rewritten to eliminate an original interpretation of prophecy that was clearly wrong. That is flatly dishonest. But if the editors of the book had been truly honest, they would have had to give up their dogma of the leadership of the Baha’i Faith being infallible!

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  4. “Baha’u’llah and the New Era” a general introduction to the Baha’i Faith that has been revised many times and not considered “scripture”. Writings are authoritative for Baha’is not reported pilgrim notes…

    (Dale Husband: So what?! Fraud is still fraud even if it does not involve supposedly revealed “scripture”.)

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  8. I have now identified that blogger above.

    {{{True Freethinker presents my writings. My name is Ken Ammi, I am an Argentinean-American , a Jewish-Christian, an essayist and lecturer.

    While I was raised in a 100% secular manner, I did attend private Jewish school and had my Bar Mitzvah in Israel (only secular Jews may be able to understand this oddity). I was also involved in the New Age Movement and was a practitioner of Reiki, Tai Chi Chuan, Chi Kung and the I’Ching.}}}

    What he seems to be is a pathological liar, bigot and hypocrite, like most Christian apologists tend to be. I will make a new blog entry about him later.

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