Is it possible to see the future? All of us can predict the future to a small degree, simply on the basis of past experience. Yet the idea that someone could see events far in the future raises scepticism. It is outside our common experience.
Some of us have subjective experiences of deja vu (a feeling we have seen some event before), or dreams which we see occur sometime in the future.
Bahá’u’lláh writes of this phenomenon.
Behold how the dream thou hast dreamed is, after the lapse of many years, reenacted before thine eyes. Consider how strange is the mystery of the world that appeareth to thee in thy dream.
An instance of a prediction of the future is found in Bahá’u’lláh’s prediction of the downfall of the Ottoman Sultan Abdu’l Aziz and his vizier Ali Pasha. Both had been involved in the further exile and imprisonment of Bahá’u’lláh in the prison city of Akka. The predictions were written in two of Bahá’u’lláh’s writings written in 1868-9: the Tablet of the Chief (Lawh-i-Rais) and the Tablet of Fuad (Lawh-i-Fuad).
A story in connection with these predictions is that of the head of an Islamic college in Tehran, Mirza Abu’l Fadl, who was later to become well-known as a Baha’i scholar. In the mid 1870’s, Mirza Abu’l Fadl had begun to encounter Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings and Baha’is and had become attracted to them. He read the two tablets to the Ottoman leaders and reading the prophecies in them, decided that if they were fulfilled he would become a Baha’i. When, in 1876, the predictions came to pass, he became a Baha’i.
Among the prophecies of Bahá’u’lláh is one involving the country of Germany which, of course, was one of the major centre of world events in the 20th Century. The prophecy, which is set out below, is recorded in the Most Holy Book, which was written around 1873 and was published in its original arabic as early as 1891.
In 1871, Germany had finally emerged from centuries of small princely states into a united empire stretching across central Europe. It led to the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War with France which, under Emperor Napoleon III, had tried to prevent the rise of Germany. When Germany united, Napoleon III attacked Germany: determined to prevent the rise in German power.
France was defeated and humiliated at the Battle of Sedan and forced to sign an armistice with Germany at Versailles. Napoleon III was deposed.
Germany became the leading power of continental Europe. The Prussian King Wilhelm I became an Emperor. Berlin was modernised as the capital of a new imperial power. Germany flourished as a centre of the arts, philosophy and sciences.
Bahá’u’lláh sometimes uses geographical features (such as rivers and cities) as metaphors for a country. In 1873, two years after the rise of the new German Empire, Bahá’u’lláh wrote:
O banks of the Rhine! We have seen you covered with gore, inasmuch as the swords of retribution were drawn against you; and ye shall have another turn. And We hear the lamentations of Berlin, though she be today in conspicuous glory.
Here we find a prophecy of major world events that later unfolded in the First and Second World Wars. By the end of World War II, Germany had been twice defeated and both her capital and country cut in two.
Retribution against Germany, at the end of World War I, for her victory in the Franco-Prussian War, is described in a history textbook written for high school students that I purchased many years ago and have in my home.
Having described France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, the author writes:
The combination of crushing military defeat and humiliating peace treaty served to scar the collective memory of the French nation. Its statesmen, generals, writers and ordinary people gave eager support to the mounting desire for “revance” or revenge. The French writer Charles Maurras described the idea of “revance” as the “Queen of France”.
…[7 May 1919] The moment of retribution was at hand. Representatives of 27 nations had crowded into the dining room of the Trianon Palace Hotel, at Versailles, to see the terms of the peace treaty being handed to the German delegation. The irony of the setting was apparent to both victor and vanquished.
There are other prophecies of Bahá’u’lláh in his writings. In a future article we will see both a prophecy and a warning concerned with the welfare of society.
Sources: 1991 John Traynor, Challenging History: Europe 1890-1990, pp 42, 43.
Image: Punch Cartoon, 1919. John Bernard Partridge, Public Domain.
(This article is the 13th in a series of what I hope will be 200 articles in 200 days for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh. The anniversary is being celebrated around the world on 21 and 22 October 2017, The articles are simply my personal reflections on Bahá’u’lláh’s life and work. Any inadequacies or inaccuracies in these articles are solely my responsibility.)