Conflict between Faiths

Faiths continue to fight across time and space. Across time, mother and daughter Faiths have fought from the day of birth—Judaism with Christianity, Christianity with Islam, and Hinduism with Buddhism. Across space, Faiths have fought over territory—Jews with Muslims over Israel; Muslims with Hindus over Kashmir, Catholics with Protestants over Northern Ireland; and Muslims with Christians over the Balkans, the Philippines, Chechnya, Nigeria, and Sudan.

In contrast, the founders of the Faiths would surely consort in perfect amity. If Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad were to meet today, they would sit together happily for a drink, chat in perfect friendship, and shake their heads sadly at what their followers have done in their names. Even though
the foundations of the religious systems are one…the followers of these systems have disagreed; discord, strife and warfare have arisen among them, for they have forsaken the foundation and held to that which is but imitation and semblance.They have extinguished…the light of true religion…and the Law of God a cause and pretext for perversity and hatred instead.[1]
Conflicts between Faiths invoke issues of religious successorship, literal interpretation of prophecy, doctrines of exclusive superiority, and religious identity.
1. Religious Successorship: With 20⁄20 hindsight, the faithful readily accept the idea of Messengers of God having Successors. Jews accept the serial succession of Adam, Noah, and Abraham as spiritual rungs on their ladder up to Moses. Christians accept the succession of Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses as spiritual rungs up to Jesus. Muslims accept the succession of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus as spiritual rungs up to Muhammad. Likewise, Hindus accept the serial succession of Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Nrisimha, Vamana, Bhrgupati, and Rama as spiritual rungs up to Krishna. Buddhists accept the succession of Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Nrisimha, Vamana, Bhrgupati, Rama, and Krishna as spiritual rungs up Buddha. Zoroastrians accept prior Prophets as spiritual rungs up to Zoroaster. And Baha’is accept the serial succession of all three lines of Asian Messengers as spiritual ladders up to the Bab and Baha’u’llah.
So far so good. On each spiritual ladder, the faithful readily see all the Messenger rungs leading up to their Faith, for every ancient prophet gave the glad tidings of the future, and every future has accepted the past.2] Yet as for the rungs that lead up from their Faith, this is a different story. While hindsight is 20/20, foresight is 0/20. They fail to see them, fail to hear them, and fail to grasp them. When it comes to Promised-Ones, future Messengers, the faithful wear theological blinkers, earplugs, and handcuffs. As a result
those who were attached to Abraham were deprived of [his] influences when [they]…illuminated the reality of Moses, and those who held fast to Moses when the Sun of Reality shone from Christ…were also veiled.…So still the Jews await the Messiah, the Christians the return of Christ, the Muslims the Mahdi, the Buddhists the fifth Buddha, the Zoroastrians Shah Bahram, the Hind[u]s the reincarnation of Krishna, and the Atheists—a better social organization![3]
Why the blinkers, earplugs, and handcuffs? The main reason is that False-Messiahs far outnumber true Messiahs. As a result, clergy reject anybody who claims to be a Promised-One in a heartbeat. In the process, they inevitably spin the baby of their Faith’s true Messiah down the spiritual plughole in the bathwater of False-Messiahs. Even though they and their flocks have searched
with such earnestness and longing…their attack hath been more fierce than tongue or pen can describe. Not one single Manifestation of Holiness hath appeared but He was afflicted by the denials, the repudiation, and the vehement opposition of the people around Him.…Each nation hath plotted darkly against their Messenger to lay violent hold on Him, and disputed with vain words to invalidate the truth.…Leaders of religion have hindered their people.…By their sanction and authority, every Prophet of God hath drunk from the chalice of sacrifice.…What unspeakable cruelties they that have occupied the seats of authority and learning have inflicted.…How many have…yearningly awaited the advent of the Manifestations of God.…How often have they expected His coming.…How frequently have they prayed that the breeze of divine mercy might blow, and the promised Beauty step forth from behind the veil of concealment, and be made manifest to all the world. And whensoever the portals of grace did open, and the clouds of divine bounty did rain upon mankind, and the light of the Unseen did shine above the horizon of celestial might, they all denied Him, and turned away from His face—the face of God Himself…which hath been recorded in every sacred Book.[4]
In the process, clergy and flocks lose serious hope of seeing their Faith’s Promised-One, cease to seek him seriously, take the prophecies predicting him with a pinch of salt, pay him lip-service as an ethereal dream, and hereby stay safe with their Messenger as the final act of their Faith.
2. Literal Interpretation of Prophecies: In addition, the Messiah who comes is never the one expected because of literal interpretations of the prophecies predicting him. Clergy refuse to read or teach them symbolically. As a result, Promised-Ones face absurd demands, expected to be supermen ushering-in instant golden Millennia,[5] or physically riding on clouds. In this way they block recognition of them. Thus
¼not¼conscious even for a moment.Jewish Pharisees…denied with the greatest obstinacy the explanations of Christ…saying ‘These prophecies are…of the Promised One Who shall come later according to the conditions mentioned in the Bible’. Some of these conditions were that he must have a kingdom, be seated on the throne of David, enforce the Law of the Bible, and manifest such justice that the wolf and the lamb shall gather at the same spring.…Thus they prevented the people from knowing Christ.…All the words of the prophets were fulfilled, but because the Jews held tenaciously to hereditary interpretations, they did not understand the inner meanings of the Holy Bible; therefore, they denied Jesus Christ, the Messiah.…‌Submerged in the sea of ancestral imitations, they could not comprehend the meaning of these prophecies—intoxicated with the wine of haughtiness[6]
Likewise, Christian divines have failed to apprehend the meaning of these words…the Son of man shall appear in heaven’…and did not recognize their object and purpose, and have clung to the literal interpretation of the words of Jesus.…They therefore became deprived of the streaming grace of the Muhammadan Revelation and its showering bounties…prevented from beholding the beauty of the King of glory, inasmuch as those signs which were to accompany the dawn of the sun of the Muhammadan Dispensation did not actually come to pass.…As the adherents of Jesus have never understood the hidden meaning of these words, and as the signs which they and the leaders of their Faith have expected have failed to appear, they therefore refused to acknowledge, even until now, the truth of those Manifestations of Holiness that have since the days of Jesus been made manifest.[7]
Further, the people of the Qur’án have perverted the text…concerning the signs of the expected Manifestation.…Corruption of the text…in which all Muslim divines are engaged…is the interpretation of God’s holy Book in accordance with their idle imaginings and vain desires.…So when Muslims say: ‘These words…have no interpretation other than their outward meaning’, then what objection can they raise against…people of the Book [Jews and Christians]? For when the latter heard the literal interpretations of their divines, they refused to recognize God in those who are the Manifestations of His unity…and failed to believe in them and submit to their authority. The reason was that they did not see the sun darken, or the stars of heaven fall to the ground, or the angels visibly descend upon the earth, and hence they contended with the Prophets and Messengers of God.[8]
Doubtless Sabaean, Zoroastrian, Hindu, and Buddhist clergy promote literal interpretations of prophecies about Promised-Ones too. Tortured enough, Scriptures will, like people, say whatever you want them to say!
3. Doctrines of Exclusive Superiority further block recognition of Promised-Ones. Early in the history of each Faith, clergy chose certain of its teachings that lent themselves to exaggeration as dogmas of exclusivity. Each sect hath picked out a way for itself and is clinging to a certain cord. Thus rabbis argue that Jews are specially chosen by God—for ever. Priests insist that Jesus is the only way to God—indeed is God. Imams assert that Muhammad is the supreme Word of God—the final one. And so on. With dogmas of exclusivity
leaders of religion…have hindered their people…some for the lust of leadership, others through want of knowledge and understanding.…So even though the beginnings of all great religions were pure…priests, taking possession of the minds of the people, filled them with dogmas and superstitions, so that religion became gradually corrupt.[9]
The set of select doctrines that boosts one Faith over another works as an exclusive operating system for the computer of that Faith and no other. Onto the bolts of its exclusive doctrines, each Faith locks down the nuts of its lesser material laws relatiing to food, clothes, hair, marriage, sexual conduct, property, and so on. Such idealized and idolized dogmas forever fester, fuel, and flame fights between Faiths. In this way
religionists have anathematized religionists, each considering the other as deprived of the mercy of God, abiding in gross darkness and the children of Satan. For example, the Christians and Muslims considered the Jews satanic and the enemies of God. Therefore, they cursed and persecuted them. Great numbers of Jews were killed, their houses burned and pillaged, their children carried into captivity. The Jews in turn regarded the Christians as infidels and the Muslims as enemies and destroyers of the law of Moses. Therefore, they call down vengeance upon them and curse them even to this day.[10]

4. Religious identity adds a catch-22 too. The faithful of a mother Faith who recognize its true Promised-One and convert to his daughter Faith stay true to the mother Faith nonetheless—just as you as an adult stays true to your “child within”. But the faithful who stay staunch in the mother Faith reject those members who have converted out, and brand them as heretics. In turn, the followers of the daughter Faith take on its mantle of a fresh new calendar and rituals. Regardless of having a common belief in the mother Faith, the communities split and enmity is sown.

[1] The foundations of the,‘Abdu’l-Bahá, PUP 198
Extinguishedthe light, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, PUP 141
The Law of God, Baha’u’llah, ESW12
[2] ‘Abdu’l-Baha in London 29
[3] Those who were attached, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, SAQ 14.76–77; the Jews await the Messiah,Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1.vii
[4] With such earnestness, Baha’u’llah, KI 4–5
Leaders of religion, Baha’u’llah, KI 15
How many have, Baha’u’llah, KI 4–5
[5] Eidelman, Arthur, 2004, personal communication, Jerusalem
[6] Phariseesdenied,‘Abdu’l-Bahá, SAQ13.71
All the words of the prophets, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, PUP 199
Intoxicated with the wine, Baha’u’llah, Scriptures, Tablet to the Jews 47.116–17
[7] Christian divines, Baha’u’llah, KI 24–25; as the adherents, Baha’u’llah, KI 80
[8] The people of the Qur’án, Baha’u’llah, KI 87
Corruption of the text, Baha’u’llah, KI 86
When Muslims say, Baha’u’llah, Gems 14.11–12
[9] Each sect hath picked, Baha’u’llah, TB6.60
Leaders of religion, Baha’u’llah, KI 15
The beginnings of all great religions, ‘Abdu’l-Baha in London 125
[10] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, PUP 266