Ridvan celebrates Baha’u’llah’s time in the garden of Ridvan where He publicly declared His station as a Manifestation of God. The Ridvan Festival is 12 days long and is also the time of year where Baha’is elect their governing bodies.
This article is an abstract and hypothetical exploration of the far-flung future. Although it’s fantastical and based on my imagination, articulating my thoughts on this subject has broadened my perspective of the Baha’i Faith’s current state, given me a newfound appreciation for the significance of the times we are living in, and heightened my appreciation for the past. I hope you enjoy this exploration of the possibility of unity that extends beyond Earth into interplanetary federations and that it helps you ponder our collective future.
Throughout world history, humanity reached progressive levels of unity starting from the family unit, village or tribe, nation state and is now approaching its long-destined, highest level of unity on this planet which is the unity of mankind. This hallmark will be established in Baha’u’llah’s Dispensation as the culmination of all what the previous religions prepared for. This Day has been prophesized by all the Prophets, Manifestations, sages, etc. as the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, the Day of Judgement, the Day of God, and more.
World peace is not only possible but inevitable. It is the next stage in the evolution of this planet—in the words of one great thinker, “the planetization of mankind.” 1
The Revelation of Baha’u’llah, whose supreme mission is none other but the achievement of this organic and spiritual unity of the whole body of nations, should […] be regarded as signalizing through its advent the coming of age of the entire human race. It should be viewed […] not only as a further stage in a chain of progressive Revelations, nor even as the culmination of one of a series of recurrent prophetic cycles, but rather as marking the last and highest stage in the stupendous evolution of man’s collective life on this planet. 2
We also have been glimpses of the future by knowing how Baha’i history has been mapped in the past and how is has been charted moving forward: Abdu’l-Baha explained that time is comprised of Universal Cycles that can span hundreds of thousands of years. Within each Universal Cycle, many Manifestations of God appear. The Adamic Cycle, or Prophetic Cycle, began 6,000 years ago and ended with the Dispensation of Muhammad. Baha’u’llah is a great and universal Manifestation and the Baha’i Cycle, or the Cycle of Fulfilment, which began with the coming of His Herald, the Bab, and with His own advent. The Baha’i Cycle will last 500,000 years and will include many subsequent Manifestations of God. When a new Manifestation of God arrives, the Dispensation of Baha’u’llah (or Baha’i Dispensation) will end but the Baha’i Cycle will continue until another great and universal Manifestation arrives.
With this background in mind, I’d like to audaciously explore the far-flung future eons within the Baha’i Cycle. As aforementioned in the Shoghi Effendi quotation above, this Baha’i Faith marks the “…highest stage in the stupendous evolution of man’s collective life on this planet.” To me, the key words in this phrase are “this planet” which opens frontiers of imaginative explorations of what this Baha’i Cycle may further entail after the Baha’i Dispensation. After the unification of this planet maybe there will be an interplanetary federation in the next series of Revelations?! My understanding of the following sentence is that Baha’u’llah proclaimed the existence of extraterrestrial life:
Know thou that every fixed star hath its own planets, and every planet its own creatures, whose number no man can compute. 3
Every level of unity yields forth emerging properties. For example, when going from the family unit to the tribal unity the notion of “culture” emerges which isn’t found in a family unit nor individual members of a tribe. Analogously, combining a hydrogen atom with two oxygen atoms yields water (a radically new emergence). Therefore, once an interplanetary federation is achieved then technology, ideologies, principles, etc. that are totally unfathomed could emerge! This brings about fascinating thoughts of the possibilities of Manifestations emerging in other planets within this federation: interplanetary marriages, an extraterrestrial gene pool, intergalactic communication mediums, etc.
Beyond that, after an interplanetary federation is established, we may transition into unions of various solar systems within our galaxy. We may discover interplanetary federations already established prior to us meeting them. That could mean that other solar systems may have had their own Manifestations of God and their own Universal Cycles.
I’d like to imagine that although all our friends who are across a vast number of solar systems may call the Universal Prophetic Cycle by a different name it nevertheless is the Baha’i Cycle in the same way that one religion refers to Baha’u’llah as Jehovah, the 5th Buddha (Maitreya) and so on. In parallel, even though they may call their Universal Manifestation of God by a different name they are referring to the same universal indwelling Spirit, the Most Great Spirit.
There hath not been in My soul but the Truth, and in Myself naught could be seen but God.… The Holy Spirit Itself hath been generated through the agency of a single letter revealed by this Most Great Spirit… 4
Personally, when I think about this it further glorifies Baha’u’llah station in my mind: He is the Promised One of an entire Universal Cycle that possibly reaches cosmic levels of unifications and beyond—that several Manifestations may emerge on a vast array of planets under His shadow is awe-strikingly glorious!
… a universal cycle in the world of existence signifies a long duration of time, and innumerable and incalculable periods and epochs. In such a cycle the Manifestations appear … until a great and universal Manifestation makes the world the center of his radiance. His appearance causes the world to attain to maturity, and the extension of his cycle is very great. Afterwards other Manifestations will arise under his shadow. 5
The idea of this article is to further glorify Baha’u’llah’s overpoweringly glorious Station by stretching our imaginations and in turn our understanding of the far-reaching effects of what His Revelation unravels. The sheer staggering duration of His universal cycle which is 500,000 years and the possibilities that it entails such as interplanetary federations are stupendously grandiose!
Ali is a Baha'i architect, currently serving in the Holy Land, who is super passionate about art, design, and philosophy. In his spare time, he enjoys architectural sketching, conceptual creature artwork drawing, writing philosophical and theological articles online, and reading as well.