Excerpts from Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha Encouraging the Study of Persian

What follows is my provisional translation (in other words, not official or authorized; see here for more) of passages from several Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in which He encourages the study of Persian, and all of which are found in ‘Andalíb, no. 79, pp. 5–6. Also included there is a sixth Tablet from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on this subject that was written for Beatrice Davies; translated by Ameen U. Fareed; published in Tablets of Abdul Baha Abbas, p. 306; and reprinted in Lights of Guidance, selection no. 1143

[1]

. . . O handmaid of God! Study Persian and learn this language more and more with every passing day, for learning this tongue will yield prodigious and endless results . . .

[2]

. . . Strive to acquire the utmost proficiency in the Persian language—to read the Tablets of the Blessed Beauty and discover the heavenly significances of their words, to become a means for the attraction of people’s hearts and a cause for the edification of their souls . . .

[3]

. . . Endeavor to learn the Persian language correctly, that thou mayest recite the Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh and comprehend their meanings . . .

[4]

. . . Thou hadst written about studying Persian. In truth, this is very necessary. If it would be possible for Professor Barakatu’lláh* to make an effort and teach some people the Persian language, this would conduce both to the progress of those souls and also his own everlasting glory . . .

[5]

. . . Wert thou to recite the Hidden Words in Persian and Arabic and apprehend their realities and meanings, it would unveil a matchless beauty and splendor. However eloquent a translation may be, it can never equal the original . . .

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* Mohamed Barakatullah Bhopali, an Indian revolutionary who associated with Baháʼís in the first decade of the twentieth century (as documented in these early Baháʼí periodicals) but never identified as one himself. In Unfurling the Divine Flag in Tokyo: An Early Baháʼí History, Barbara R. Sims writes, “Professor Barakatullah, an Indian man living in Tokyo, who was a friend of the Baháʼís, arranged a meeting at which the men [Howard C. Struven and Charles Mason Remey] could speak. ʻAbdu’l-Bahá had asked Mr. Struven and Mr. Remey to meet Professor Barakatullah. He wrote a Tablet May 9, 1909 telling them to convey to Professor Barakatullah His hope that the professor would become the first conqueror of the people of Japan. Barakatullah not only did not heed ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s words but he later took the Teachings of the Faith and published them under the name of Islam. His loss.” This is corroborated in an authenticated utterance of ʻAbdu’l-Bahá published in Maḥmúd’s Diary: “This man culls the teachings of the blessed Cause and publishes them in the name of Islam in the illusive hope of building an imaginary castle and of deriving some profit by deceiving the Muslims. But in the long run he will see nothing but manifest loss” (8 July 1912). 

Typescripts of the original Persian texts of these passages appear below. 

[۱]

. . . ای امةالله، درس فارسی بخوان و روز به روز این زبان را بیش‌تر بیاموز زیرا از آموختن این زبان نتایج کلیّۀ بی‌پایان حاصل گردد . . .

[۲]

. . . بکوش که در زبان فارسی نهایت مهارت را حاصل نمائی و الواح جمال مبارک را بخوانی و استنباط معانی آسمانی کنی و سبب انجذاب قلوب شوی و علّت تهذیب نفوس گردی . . .

[۳]

. . . بکوش تا لسان فارسی را درست تحصیل نمائی تا الواح بهاءالله را تلاوت نمائی و معانی آن را ادراک کنی . . .

[۴]

. . . در خصوص تحصیل لسان فارسی مرقوم نموده بودید. فی الحقیقه بسیار لازم. اگر ممکن جناب پروفسور برکت الله همّتی فرمایند و بعضی را لسان فارسی تعلیم دهند، این سبب ترقّی نفوس و عزّت ابدیّۀ خود ایشان گردد . . .

[۵]

. . . اگر کلمات مکنونه را در لسان فارسی و عربی تلاوت می‌نمودی و به حقایق و معانی آن پی می‌بردی، جلوۀ دیگر داشت. ترجمه هر قدر فصیح باشد، اصل نمی‌شود . . .