A Tablet of Baha’u’llah Counseling against Linguistic Particularism and Purism

What follows is my provisional translation (in other words, not official or authorized; see here for more) of a Tablet of Bahá’u’lláh, the original text of which has been published in Payám-i-Bahá’í, nos. 249–50, p. 3. A passage from it has also been published in Má’idiy-i-Ásmání, vol. 8, pp. 11617

FEBRUARY 2023 UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that an authorized translation of this Tablet is available on the Bahá’í Reference Library here. 

He is the All-Knowing, the All-Seeing

Certain peoples of the world have endeavored to speak in their own particular languages, and they have deemed this effort to be the cause of their elevation and exaltation, just as the people of Iran, who are adorned with the ornament of worthiness and capacity, have desired to speak in an older tongue, purging their language of all external influence.* What is beloved, however, in the sight of this Wronged One is that they regard the whole earth as a single country and endeavor to promote one language or two, as hath been stated previously, that all the world may attain to the light of concord, and its peoples take their portion from the Sun of knowledge and the Ocean of insight. That which conduceth to the unification of the earth and its kindreds hath been revealed by the Pen of the Most High in various Tablets. God grant that His servants may be adorned with the ornament of fairness and graciously aided to observe justice, that they may discover the fruits of what hath been mentioned, and attest to that whereunto God, exalted be His glory, hath bidden them. He it is Who showeth the way; He is the All-Knowing, the All-Seeing. Yield thanks unto the Best-Beloved of the world that He hath assisted thee, guiding thee to that which is hidden from the eyes of most men. He is indeed the True One, the Knower of things unseen. No God is there but Him, the Almighty, the Well-Beloved.

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* Bahá’u’lláh is probably referring to “pure Persian,” or fársíy-i-sarih. Exemplified in such works as the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi (completed in 1010), this variant of Persian developed with the intention of maintaining its linguistic integrity following the Muslim conquest of Persia in the seventh century. It thus avoids the use of words from Arabic and other languages, and certain Iranians have always striven to use it, even to this day. This also applies to the nineteenth century, when this Tablet was written. Bahá’u’lláh Himself employed pure Persian in a few of His Tablets, including the Lawḥ-i-Manikchí-Ṣáḥib and Lawḥ-i-Haft Pursish, as did Mírzá Abu’l-Faḍl in some of his letters. 

A typescript of the original Persian text of this Tablet appears below. 

اوست دانایِ بینا

بعضی از احزابِ عالم همّت بر آن گماشته‌اند که به لسان‌هایِ مخصوصۀ خود تکلّم نمایند و این فقره را سببِ علوّ و سموِّ خود دانسته‌اند، چنانچه اهلِ ایران، که به طرازِ قابلیّت و استعداد مزیّنند، اراده نموده‌اند به لسانِ قدیم تکلّم نمایند و آنچه از خارج داخل شده خارج نمایند. ولکن نزدِ مظلوم محبوب آنکه جمیعِ عالم را یک وطن مشاهده نمایند و در ترویجِ یک لسان یا دو، چنانچه از قبل گفته شد، همّت گمارند، تا جمیعِ آفاق به نورِ اتّفاق فائز شود و اهلِ ارض از آفتابِ دانائی و دریایِ بینائی قسمت برند. و آنچه سببِ اتّحادِ عالم و امم بوده از قلمِ اعلی در الواحِ متفرّقه جاری و نازل شده. انشاءالله عباد به طرازِ انصاف مزیّن شوند و به عدل موفّق گردند، تا آنچه ذکر شد ثمرات آن را بیابند و گواهی دهند به آنچه حق، جلّ جلاله، به آن امر فرمود. اوست راه‌نما و اوست دانا و بینا. شکر کن محبوبِ عالم را که ترا مؤیّد فرمود و به آنچه از اکثرِ ابصار مستور است راه نمود. إنّه لهو الحق علّام الغیوب. لا إله الّا هو العزیز المحبوب.