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                                  Reflections on the Bahai teachings

Shoghi Effendi’s prayers

Posted by Sen on May 18, 2010

One of the friends asked:

I recently found out the Bab, Baha’u’llah, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and Shoghi Effendi all revealed prayers. Only prayers of the first three have been translated into English. Why aren’t Shoghi Effendi’s prayers translated yet?

The short answer is, it has been done, but seldom, because Shoghi Effendi did not wish it, and the Universal House of Justice does not wish it – for now. It’s not a prohibition, more a question of priorities. The Research Department at the World Center wrote, in December 1994:

In her email letter of 12 November 1994 to the Universal House of Justice, Shohreh Mansouri enquires about the prayers written in Persian and Arabic by Shoghi Effendi. She wishes to know why these prayers have not been translated into the English language.

The following two extracts from letters written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice provide information which pertains to Miss Mansouri’s query:

Even though the beloved Guardian wrote some prayers in his letters to the eastern friends, he did not encourage their translation into the western languages. In a letter written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States on 23 February 1957, his secretary stated:

He sees no necessity for translating prayers that he has written in Persian into English. The Baha’is have a great many wonderful prayers already translated, and he feels that now is not the time to spend money on these things. (4 December 1985 to an individual believer)

In response to your Email message of 6 November 1986 regarding the possibility of publishing a selection of the prayers of Shoghi Effendi translated into English, the Universal House of Justice instructs us to advise that it does not feel that the time has come for this to be done. We are to convey its further comments.

There is no doubt that one day the general messages of the beloved Guardian addressed to the friends in the East, particularly to the friends in Iran and written in Arabic and Persian, will be translated for the benefit of the English-speaking world. In the context of such a project, the prayers of Shoghi Effendi, which usually form part of these communications, will of course be translated and made available to the friends. (23 November 1986 to a Baha’i Publishing Trust)

Having said that, prayers of Shoghi Effendi have been translated. For example the prayer ay rabb-i tavanaa to shaahedi (Prayers of Shoghi Effendi in Persian, Baha’i-Verlag, 1984, page 15) is translated in Bahai World XVIII, 1979-1983, p35, and is online at the Bahai library:

He is God

O Mighty Lord! Thou seest what hath befallen Thy helpless lovers in this darkest of long nights; Thou knowest how, in all these years of separation from Thy Beauty, the confidants of Thy mysteries have ever been acquainted with burning grief.

O Powerful Master! Suffer not Thy wayfarers to be abased and brought low; succor this handful of feeble creatures with the potency of Thy might. Exalt Thy loved ones before the assemblage of man, and grant them strength. Allow those broken-winged beings to raise their heads and glory in the fulfilment of their hopes, that we in these brief days of life may gaze with our physical eyes on the elevation and exaltation of Thy Faith, and soar up to Thee with gladdened souls and blissful hearts.

Thou knowest that, since Thy ascension, we seek no name or fame, that in this swiftly passing world we wish henceforth no joy, no delight and no good fortune.

Then keep Thy word, and exhilarate once more the lives of these, Thy sick at heart. Bring light to our expectant eyes, balm to our stricken breasts. Lead Thou the caravans of the city of Thy love swiftly to their intended goal. Draw those who sorrow after Thee into the hight court of reunion with Thee. For in this world below we ask for nothing but the triumph of Thy Cause. And within the precincts of Thy boundless mercy we hope for nothing but Thy presence.

Thou art the Witness, the Haven, the Refuge; Thou art He who rendereth victorious this band of the innocent.

There are also prayer included in Shoghi Effendi’s other writings, not separately in a prayer book. For example, the following invocation requesting the spiritual intercession of Bahiyyih Khanum, with respect to Abdu’l-Baha and Baha’u’llah:

Bear thou this my message to ‘Abdu’l-Baha, thine exalted and divinely-appointed Brother: If the Cause for which Baha’u’llah toiled and laboured, for which Thou didst suffer years of agonizing sorrow, for the sake of which streams of sacred blood have flowed, should, in the days to come, encounter storms more severe than those it has already weathered, do Thou continue to overshadow, with Thine all-encompassing care and wisdom, Thy frail, Thy unworthy appointed child.

Intercede, O noble and well-favoured scion of a heavenly Father, for me no less than for the toiling masses of thy ardent lovers, who have sworn undying allegiance to thy memory, whose souls have been nourished by the energies of thy love, whose conduct has been moulded by the inspiring example of thy life, and whose imaginations are fired by the imperishable evidences of thy lively faith, thy unshakable constancy, thy invincible heroism, thy great renunciation.
(Bahai Administration 196)

If one reads the text preceding this, in Bahai Administration 196) (follow the link), it serves as a good example in English of the way Shoghi Effendi embodies a prayer as part of a meditation which is part of a message to the Bahais. The prayers in Shoghi Effendi’s Persian letters have this quality: they would lose something if taken out of that context.

Iran Press Watch published this translation of a prayer by Shoghi Effendi for the persecuted Bahais of Iran:

He is God!

O God, Thy sincere servants are afflicted by the malice and cruelty of such as oppose Thee:
do Thou deliver them!

The beloved of that Resplendent Beauty are as oppressed sheep
in the claws of ignorant malicious wolves:
do Thou release them!

The nightingales of Thy Garden of Sanctity are sobbing among the owls of deceit and treachery:
be Thou their defender!

The fair-faced lovers of Thy Precious Cause are caught in the machinations of cruel and oppressive fiends:
set them free!

Although calamity is the well-spring of bounty, yet the hearts of Thy kindred are more delicate than a breeze from the East. While the tyranny of enemies is the herald proclaiming this Most Great, this glorious Cause, yet the weakened and fainting Friends are being pierced by the ceaseless darts of a hostile people.

There’s another prayer online here:

He is God!

Dispel our grief by the rising sun of Thy gracious promise, O Lord our God and our Refuge, and allay our sorrows by sending down upon us the company of Thy victorious angels, and illumine our sight by disclosing to our eyes the signs of Thy mighty Cause.

Pour out Thy calm upon us, O our Lord! Open before our faces the doors of happiness and prosperity, O Lord our God! Cause us to taste the sweetness of felicity and elevate us unto such stations as Thou didst promise in Thy Scriptures and in Thy Books.

How long will this iniquity and oppression last, O our God? How long will this injustice and tyranny endure? What Refuge is there besides Thee? Nay, by Thy Mercy! Thou art the Shelter of the afflicted and Thou hearest the call of them that yearn after Thee!

Aid and assist us by Thy grace, O Lord the All-Glorious, and disappoint not our hopes, O Thou the Desire of the world, Thou Who of those who show mercy art the Most Merciful.

(Shoghi Effendi, from مجموعه مناجات, p. 36-7; William McCants has also translated this, more elegantly I think)

Finally, this prayer relating to the martyrdom of the Bab:

O God, the Most High! We implore Thee by Thy Name and by Thy blood spread over the earth to grant our prayers and to enable us to nest under the shelter of Thy protecting wings and to shower upon us the rain of Thy generosity and Thy bounty. Assist and aid us to follow Thy path for love of Thee and draw us nigh unto the chord of Thy faithfulness and confirm us in Thy love and in the promulgation of Thy Message.

Preserve us from the darts of them that have denied Thee. Aid us to follow the pathway of Thy Will and to proclaim the Faith of Thy Best-Beloved, the Most Glorious, He in Whose path thou hast sacrificed Thyself, and for the sake of Whose love Thou hast wished for martyrdom.

Deliver us, O our Best Beloved, the Exalted, the Most High. Encourage us and make firm our steps. Forgive us our sins and expiate our trespasses, unloose our tongues, so that we may lift our voices and from our lips may flow Thy praise. Crown our deeds and our labours with the diadem of Thy grace. Make the end of our lives like unto that which Thou didst bestow on the faithful among Thy servants. We supplicate unto Thee to count us among them who have turned their faces unto Thee and have arisen in Thy service.

Intoxicate us with the glory of Thy presence, and render us immortal in the gardens of Thy holiness. Grant us the grace and bountiful favours of Thy heavenly Kingdom, O Thou Saviour of the world.

For the Persian-speaking friends, there is a 50-page collection of the Guardian’s prayers on the Bahai Reference Library.


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