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Commonwealth and government : a translation crux

Posted by Sen on January 3, 2020

An anti-Bahai site sponsored by the Iranian government has alerted me to a significant mistake in a Persian translation of a letter from Shoghi Effendi. Shoghi Effendi writes (in English):

… in the course of the Golden Age … the World Baha’i Commonwealth will have emerged in the plenitude of its power and splendor, … (Citadel of Faith, 6)

One Persian translation — available on the old Bahai Reference Library (title: حصن حصين شريعت الله) –- says :

در طيّ عصر ذهبی … حکومت جهانی بهائی بکمال قدرت و جلال چهره بگشايد
Which is to say:

[…in the course of the Golden Age…the Bahai World Government (hokumat) will have achieved power and glory ]

A correct translation would be, for example:
Jaame`eh-Moshtarek-almanaafe` Bahaa’i / جامعه مشترک ‌المنافع بهائی
– which is literally “the Bahai common-interest society,” or more idiomatically, “the Bahai world commonwealth.” The Perso-Arabic term Moshtarek-almanaafe` is not even difficult for a translator to find in a dictionary: it is already used for the former British Commonwealth, for the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States, and sometimes for the European Union. The 1997 Persian translation of this letter by Mr. Fo’aad Ashraf (فوأد اشرف), reviewed by “a number of Friends” and published on the Reference Library website, is incorrect, and the anti-Bahai site is using our own mistake against us. One can see why a web site devoted to anti-Bahai propaganda would pick out that translation to warn its readers of the danger or folly of the “deviant Bahai sect” seeking a “Bahai World Government.”

In another letter in that collection, Shoghi Effendi writes of the “Baha’i World Commonwealth in the Golden Age of the Baha’i Dispensation (Citadel of Faith, 32, June 5, 1947). In Fo’aad Ashraf’s Persian translation, this becomes :
سلطنت جهانی بهائی در عصر ذهبی [ the world-wide Bahai reign (sultanat) in the Golden Age …]

Oh dear!

The translations are incorrect, simply because the translator has not understood the various meanings of the term commonwealth in English generally, and does not know the specific ways in which Shoghi Effendi uses it. A commonwealth is not a government, nor is it exactly a form of government in the sense that democracy, autocracy, theocracy, military rule and oligarchy are forms of government. It can refer to an altruistic ethic of temporal sovereignty, as we will see in ‘a bit of history,’ but that is not how Shoghi Effendi uses the term ‘Bahai Commonwealth.’ For him, it is an ordered religious community providing mutual benefits for its members.

A bit of history (optional reading)

Commonwealth is a Middle English compound from common + weal (well-being), and usually refers to a political community founded for the common good. That’s very broad: it would encompass a Leviathan state in which people – for the common good – vest all power in one person. When Hobbes uses it, it means something like ‘public affairs,’ which must be kept functioning for the sake of bare existence. Hobbes does not give it the altruistic connotation of shared well-being. When applied to individual political communities, it often means a republic or representative democracy: a state founded for the common good in which the people vest power in laws and institutions and individuals, and retain the right to change all of these by means of elections. In this sense, England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland were called the English Commonwealth under Cromwell, from 1649 to 1660. Today, Australia, the Bahamas and Dominica are Commonwealths in name, and so are Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts (dating from 1776, 1777 and 1780 respectively), and Kentucky, which only adopted this name in 1792. When these four chose not to call themselves American states, they were deferring to historical precedent (Virginia was first called a commonwealth in Cromwell’s time), underlining their rejection of monarchy, but above all pointing to an altruistic ethic of government. They would be not just states, they would be states constituted and governed for the public weal.

In Cromwell’s day and the 18th century, a commonwealth was understood as contrary to a monarchy, but that is no longer the case. The Commonwealth of Australia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas both have Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. They are constitutional monarchies with the executive power vested in a cabinet government, thus avoiding the dangerous necessity of an elected President. The Commonwealth of Dominica, however, is a republic, with a President as head of state but executive power in a cabinet government.

That leads us to a second meaning of commonwealth. If Australia were to become a republic with an elected president (which God forbid), it would still be a commonwealth. Unlike the Bahamas, Dominica and the four American commonwealths, the Commonwealth of Australia only adopted its name in the early 20th century and meant by it both that it was about the common weal and that it was a federation of states. But they did not mean ‘we are not a monarchy.’ In 1901, when the six colonies of Australia joined to form the Commonwealth of Australia, the states were forming a commonwealth for the common well-being of the individual states.

Australia has been followed by two other commonwealths of states: the Commonwealth of Nations (formerly the British Commonwealth) and the Commonwealth of Independent States. In both cases, “commonwealth” is a way of underlying that they are NOT federal states, but rather partnerships of independent states working together for their common weal.

There is a third sense of commonwealth, in reference not to a state or association of states, but rather to a religious community that is internally ordered and administered. Edward Gibbons writes, in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire :

The primitive Christians were dead to the business and pleasures of the world; but their love of action, which could never be entirely extinguished, soon revived, and found a new occupation in the government of the church. A separate society, which attacked the established religion of the empire, was obliged to adopt some form of internal policy, and to appoint a sufficient number of ministers, intrusted not only with the spiritual functions, but even with the temporal direction of the Christian commonwealth.(Book 1, 15.6)

Shoghi Effendi

Shoghi Effendi refers to a commonwealth of nations in the sense of an association of “state members,” but not in the sense of retaining full autonomy :

The unity of the human race … implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded. This commonwealth must, as far as we can visualize it, consist of a world legislature, whose members will, as the trustees of the whole of mankind, ultimately control the entire resources of all the component nations, and will enact such laws as shall be required to regulate the life, satisfy the needs and adjust the relationships of all races and peoples. A world executive, backed by an international Force, will carry out the decisions arrived at, and apply the laws enacted by, this world legislature, and will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth.
(The World Order of Baha’u’llah, 203)

However Shoghi Effendi often follows Gibbons in using ‘commonwealth’ to refer to an ordered religious community, with reference to the Bahai Commonwealth. This is the Bahai community functioning with the framework of the Administrative Order :

The Declaration of Trust … stands in its final form as a worthy and faithful exposition of the constitutional basis of Baha’i communities in every land, foreshadowing the final emergence of the world Baha’i Commonwealth of the future.
(Baha’i Administration, 135, May 27, 1927)

Nor will the exertions … of those who within the precincts of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar will be engaged in administering the affairs of the future Baha’i Commonwealth, fructify and prosper unless they are brought into close and daily communion with those spiritual agencies centering in and radiating from the central Shrine of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar.
(Baha’i Administration, 186, October 25, 1929)

May the assembled believers — now but a tiny nucleus of the Baha’i Commonwealth of the future — so exemplify that spirit of universal love and fellowship as to evoke in the minds of their associates the vision of that future City of God which the almighty arm of Baha’u’llah can alone establish.
(Baha’i Administration, 131, April 12, 1927)

The two references to the World Baha’i Commonwealth and the Baha’i World Commonwealth, quoted at the beginning of this posting, are further examples of this usage.

Two commonwealths

ungenassyOn the one hand, Baha’u’llah and Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi in particular have outlined a vision of a new world order, based on democratic and independent governments, united in a “Commonwealth of all the nations of the world,” also called a “world super-state.” (WOB 40), This will be the “climax” of the historical evolution of humanity through the unities of “the tribe, the city-state, and the nation.” (PDC 118). This commonwealth of nations is to be based on an international pact, stipulating borders, armaments and international obligations, which is to be drawn up by the governments and sovereigns (WOB 192; TB 165; SDC 64), endorsed by “all the human race” and backed by military force (SDC 64; WOB 192). This commonwealth – a system of government – will permanently unite all nations and creeds (WOB 203) – not just the Bahais! Its members are states (WOB 203) who, after passing through the “chastening fires” of a “titanic struggle” (MA 27), out of “carnage, agony and havoc” (PDC 123; both references apparently to World War 2), following a “world catastrophe”, WOB 46) decide to weld humanity’s “antagonistic elements of race, class, religion and nation into one coherent system, one world commonwealth” (MA 27); a single, organically-united, unshatterable world commonwealth. (MA 80) and to cede to it their right to wage war (WOB 40), “certain rights to impose taxation, and all rights to maintain armaments, except for purposes of maintaining internal order within their respective dominions.” (WOB 40). The nerve centre of this commonwealth of nations is a “world metropolis” (WOB 203) whose location is unspecified, its supreme organs are a “world legislature, whose members will … ultimately control the entire resources of all the component nations,” (WOB 203) and are “elected by the people in their respective countries and whose election shall be confirmed by their respective governments” (WOB 40) … “a world executive, backed by an international Force,” which is able “to enforce supreme and unchallengeable authority on every recalcitrant member of the commonwealth,” and “a world tribunal” to be established by “the peoples and nations of the earth” (GPB 305) to adjudicate disputes between nations (WOB 203; GPB 281), whose members are legal experts, elected by a world convention, the delegates to which are elected by the members of national parliaments, in proportion to the population of each country (SWAB 306).

uhjbuilding
On the other hand, Shoghi Effendi refers to the Bahai Commonwealth – a Commonwealth whose present nucleus and “valiant forerunners” are the Bahai believers (MA 41, BA 131), whose “independent members” are the national Bahai communities (High Endeavours 37), whose fundamental constitutional basis is provided in the Aqdas and the Will of Abdu’l-Baha (WOB 19) and set out in detail in the ‘Declaration of Trust,’ drawn up by Horace Holley and approved by Shoghi Effendi (BA 134), whose local affairs are to be administered from the precincts of the Bahai House of Worship, known as a Mashriqúl- Adhkar (BA 186), whose foundation, rudiments and sole framework is the Baha’I “Administrative Order” (GPB 325, WOB 146, 152), whose structure is to be erected by the instruments of the Administrative Order (WOB 98), out of which it is “destined to evolve” (Summary Statement – 1947, Special UN Committee on Palestine), whose “Chief Stewards” are the Hands of the Cause (MBW 127), which operates “solely in direct conformity with the laws and principles of Baha’u’llah,” (ADJ 14), whose “World Administrative Center,” including both its spiritual and administrative seats, is in Haifa in Israel (GPB 277, 315, 348) and specifically on the Arc in the Bahai gardens in Haifa (MBW 79), and whose Supreme Organ and supreme legislative body is the Universal House of Justice (WOB 7; MBW 149), growing out of the Bahai International Court which grows out of the International Bahai Council. This supreme legislative body of the Bahai Commonwealth is headed by the Guardian or his representative (Will and Testament, 14), which is elected by the Bahai believers alone (Will and Testament, 14), acting through the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies (BA 84), and which exercises legislative, executive and judicial control of the Bahai community. Its growth will be marked by fierce challenges that “will be thrown at the verities it enshrines” (WOB 18), but the “final establishment” of the seat of this Commonwealth, on the arc “will signalize at once the proclamation of the sovereignty of the Founder of our Faith and the advent of the Kingdom of the Father repeatedly lauded and promised by Jesus Christ.” (MBW 74, 155). That ‘seat’ – the offices of the Universal House of Justice, and the institution of the House, have now been established. The process that Shoghi Effendi envisioned, may now be regarded as “established,” although its trajectory of growth continues.

This world Bahai Commonwealth is expected to emerge and reach the plenitude of its power and splendour in the Golden Age in which the banner of the Most Great Peace is unfurled. (CF 6 and 32; GPB 25); it is “at once the instrument and the guardian” of that Most Great Peace (WOB 196).

It’s not difficult to see that these are two different commonwealths : different in the process and agents of their creation, different in purpose, in membership, and in internal structure. The first is a political commonwealth of nations united in a superstate, and is in a sense a government, or better, an inter-governmental super-structure. The second is a Commonwealth of believers united in a religious community. Where Shoghi Effendi wrote that “the World Baha’i Commonwealth will have emerged in the plenitude of its power and splendor, ….(Citadel of Faith, p. 6), the Persian translator has misunderstood him as saying “the Bahai government …”

The Bahai Commonwealth in Persian

In his English letters, Shoghi Effendi often refers to the World Baha’i Commonwealth, or similar terms. He also wrote many many letters in Persian, writing extensively in his own hand. An multi-volume selection of these letters has been published in searchable form, under the series title Tawqi`aat (توقيعات).

One would expect Shoghi Effendi to have described the Bahai World Commonwealth just as extensively in Persian, for the Iranian Bahais. To find the correct translation of Bahai World Commonwealth, I only had to go to these letters, I thought, and I hoped that the Persian term would also illuminate what Shoghi Effendi meant by “Bahai World Commonwealth.”

Alas, I have not found any example in Shoghi Effendi’s Persian letters. I have approached the search in two ways: by thinking of likely equivalents such as ummah or ahl-e Bahaa and searching for them, and by looking at those English letters of Shoghi Effendi that refer to the Bahai World Commonwealth, and trying to locate a Persian parallel text. For example, in October 1957 Shoghi Effendi appointed eight Hands of the Cause, and referred to them as “Chief Stewards of Baha’u’llah’s embryonic World Commonwealth.” (Messages to the Baha’i World – 1950-1957, 127)
Naturally he would have announced this appointment also to the Persian-speaking Bahais, and with the help of a search engine, the date, and the unusual name “Muhaajer” (مُهاجر) it was not hard to find that announcement. However the Persian text does not refer to the Hands as “Chief Stewards of Bahá’u’lláh’s embryonic World Commonwealth.” The Persian letter follows the English one closely, but not at this point.

There is also no place where Shoghi Effendi translates a Persian/Arabic term used by Baha’u’llah or Abdu’l-Baha as “commonwealth,” so far as I can discover.

Postscript 1, January 4, 2020.

Qarn-e Badi`, and a suggested solution

I am not the first to face the question of the Persian equivalent of “Bahai Commonwealth.” Every Persian translator of Shoghi Effendi must have grappled with it too. In Qarn-e Badi`, which is the Persian translation of Shoghi Effendi’s God Passes By, the translator Nasru’llah Mavvidat has rendered “the world-embracing Baha’i Commonwealth” (page xvii of the Foreword) as جامعهء جهانی بهائی, the world-wide Bahai community. When Shoghi Effendi refers to Baha’u’llah’s “Order, attaining its full stature through the emergence of the Baha’i World Commonwealth – the Kingdom of God on earth” (page 26), Mavvidat translates this in the same way, as the world-wide Bahai community.

On page 273, when Shoghi Effendi refers to the institutions revolving around “the World Administrative Center of the future Baha’i Commonwealth,” Mavvidat renders this “the world administrative centre of the people of Baha (مرکز اداری جهانی اهل بهاء), omitting the “future” in the original.

On page 312, where Shoghi Effendi is looking forwards to “a single grand metropolis” in the Haifa and Akka area that will be home to the spiritual and administrative seats of “the future Baha’i Commonwealth,” Mavvidat renders this “the people of Baha” (اهل بهاء ), again omitting “future.”

On page 320, Shoghi Effendi again refers to “the future Bahai World Commonwealth” and Mavvidat translates it as “the world-wide Bahai community” (جامعهء جهانی بهائی). In this sentence, “future” is implied by the context.

On page 343, “of that permanent world Administrative Center of the future Baha’i Commonwealth” becomes “the administrative centre of the world-wide Bahai community” (مرکز اداری جامعهء جهانی بهائی), omitting “permanent.”

On page 359, Shoghi Effendi looks forward to “the establishment of the Bahai state and … [then] the emergence of the Bahai World Commonwealth.” This is translated :
تأسيس سلطنت الهی و استقرار حکومت جهانی بهائی
“the establishment of divine dominion and the foundation of the Bahai world government.” (page 729 in the translation).

The objections to this last translation have been discussed above: it is quite clear that the Bahai Commonwealth is not a government. And as for the earlier translations cited above: if Shoghi Effendi had meant to say “the Bahai community” or “the people of Baha” he could have said just that. What is the additional connotation Shoghi Effendi intends when he says “Bahai Commonwealth.”

Very tentatively, I suggest that it is that Shoghi Effendi envisages a Bahai Commonwealth as a society – eventually embracing the world – in which the people of Baha and the organized Bahai community take responsibility for the common weal of all. Indeed, where Gibbon uses the term “Christian Commonwealth,” it is followed a few lines later by a reference to the “public benefit” that church office-holders thought themselves able to bestow.

That clarifies the concept of “Bahai Commonwealth” for me, but I still do now know what Persian term Shoghi Effendi preferred to refer to the Bahai World Commonwealth. I have already studied “people of Baha” in Shoghi Effendi’s Persian letters, and found no proof that he felt it was equivalent to “Bahai Commonwealth.” I still do not know why his Persian letters are not – apparently – full of explanations about the Bahai Commonwealth. Readers’ suggestions will be most welcome. The review of Mavvidat’s translations suggests that I should check “world-wide Bahai community” (جامعهء جهانی بهائی), and another possibility is “party of God” (حزب الهی و حزب الله).

“Party of God” does indeed seem a likely candidate, although I have found nothing conclusive. One reason for focusing on this term, used by Baha’u’llah, ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, is that it demands a non-literal translation in English. Where ‘the party of God’ means the Bahais of the writer’s time, or individually, one can say “the Bahai community,” or “the Bahais,” but what English term would convey the “party of God” in the sense embracing believers, organisation, purposeful action and future development? “Party of God” has all of these connotation, and it seems plausible that the lack of a direct equivalent in English led Shoghi Effendi to use the term Bahai Commonwealth, which would be meaningful for English readers familiar with the term “Christian Commonwealth.”

PPS

I am continuing to look at Persian translations of Shoghi Effendi’s works, to see what terms his translators have found – in the hope that one of them may have done my research for me, and sourced Shoghi Effendi’s own terminology.

In Jelveh Madaniyyat Jahaani (India, 1986), which is a translation of “The Unfoldment of World Civilization” by Jamshid Fana`yan, there are two places where he must find a translation for the Bahai Commonwealth. In the first, Shoghi Effendi refers to the ‘”generation of the half-light,” living [during] the incubation of the World Commonwealth envisaged by Baha’u’llah …’ (published in The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 168). In Jamshid Fana`yan’s translation (page 18) this becomes جامعهی متحّد جهانی – a united world society.

Almost 30 pages later, as the letter is drawing to its conclusion, Shoghi Effendi says that “the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh is now visibly succeeding in demonstrating its claim and title to be regarded as a World Religion, destined to attain, in the fullness of time, the status of a world-embracing Commonwealth, ….” (The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 196). In Jamshid Fana`yan’s translation (page 86), this is نظامی جهان آرا و جهانگیر – a globally-oriented and world-renowned Order.

That is two more suggestions for what term Shoghi Effendi might have been thinking of, when he spoke of Bahai Commonwealth: nezaam and jaam`eh, order and society. But the fact that Fana`yan uses two different translations leads me to expect that neither is drawn from Shoghi Effendi’s usage.

In The Advent of Divine Justice (December 1938), page 14, Shoghi Effendi refers to :

the successive stages of [1]unmitigated obscurity, [2]of active repression, [3]and of complete emancipation, leading in turn to [4]its being acknowledged as an independent Faith, enjoying the status of full equality with its sister religions, [5]to be followed by its establishment and recognition as a State religion,
– which in turn must give way to [6]its assumption of the rights and prerogatives associated with the Baha’i state, functioning in the plenitude of its powers,
– a stage which must ultimately culminate in [7]the emergence of the worldwide Baha’i Commonwealth, animated wholly by the spirit, and operating solely in direct conformity with the laws and principles of Baha’u’llah.

Two translations are available on the older Bahai Reference Library site, by Houshmand Fatheazam and by Nasru’llah Mavvidat ( نصرالله موّدات), whose translation of God Passes By was discussed above.

1) Mr. Fatheazam does not translate this passage, instead inserting a direct quotation from Shoghi Effendi’s Tawqi’aat for B.E 110 (1954), beginning دورهء مجهوليّت که اوّلين مرحله در نشو و نمای جامعهٔ اهل بهاست
This substitution means that there is no equivalent for “Bahai Commonwealth.” Instead of “its establishment and recognition as a State religion” (stage 5), in the Persian equivalent there is a comparison to the stage that Christianity attained to under Emperor Constantine in the 4th century AD. For stage six, instead of “its assumption of the rights and prerogatives associated with the Bahá’í state, functioning in the plenitude of its powers” this Constantinian state is said to be gradually transformed, leading “ultimately to the establishment of divine Sovereignty and the manifestation of the temporal power of the Law Giver of this great Cause. And for stage 7, rather than the emergence of “the worldwide Baha’i Commonwealth,” Shoghi Effendi gives us “the foundation and establishment of the worldly sovereignty and the revelation of the splendour of the all-encompassing outward and spiritual dominion of the Founder of the Bahai Faith, the establishment of the supreme tribunal, and the promulgation of universal peace. (Tawqi`at-e Mubarakih, Bahai-Verlag 1992, p 501, my translation)

The problem with using Mr. Fatheazam’s substitution as a key is that there are sixteen years between these two formulations of the seven states of development. It is possible, but not I think certain, that “ the all-encompassing outward and spiritual dominion of the founder of the Bahai Faith,” (و جلوهٔ سيطرهٔ محيطهٔ ظاهری و روحانی مؤسّس آئين بهائی) is equivalent to “the world-wide Bahai Commonwealth,” and that the establishment of the supreme tribunal is either part of that or – as seems more likely – that the tribunal and the universal peace are results following from the emergence of the worldwide Bahai Commonwealth. But there are two difficulties: first, that if Shoghi Effendi was thinking of “the all-encompassing outward and spiritual dominion of the founder of the Bahai Faith,” there is no apparent reason why he would pick on the term ‘commonwealth’ to express this in English, and second that he has elsewhere placed the establishment of the supreme tribunal and the universal peace in the context of the Lesser Peace, where it logically belongs, both because it is a political development that must be initiated by statesmen, and because global security and global law is a necessary condition for the full development of the institutions of the Bahai community. A reasonable explanation would be that his thinking on these seven stages and on the place of the supreme tribunal changed over time.

(2) As for Mr. Mavvidat’s translation, he translates “the emergence of the world-wide Bahai Commonwealth” as استقرار سلطنت جهانی بهائی – the establishment of world-wide Bahai dominion. This is the same translation as Fo’aad Ashraf used at Citadel of Faith page 32.

Short link: https://wp.me/pcgF5-39I

6 Responses to “Commonwealth and government : a translation crux”

  1. Larry Roofener said

    Sen:

    First, thank you for your clear explanation of the parallel unfoldment of the two Systems, one within the Faith and the other without based on your in depth research and current perspective.

    You wrote, “One would expect Shoghi Effendi to have described the Bahai World Commonwealth just as extensively in Persian, for the Iranian Bahais. . . . Alas, I have not found any example in Shoghi Effendi’s Persian letters. . . . Readers’ suggestions will be most welcome.”

    Perhaps the absence of mention of the Bahai World Commonwealth in the Persian sources was because the Guardian, being “overshadowed by the unfailing, the unerring protection of Bahá’u’lláh and of the Báb”, was purposely not doing so in an effort to protect the Persian Bahá’ís “Since most people are feeble and far removed from the purpose of God, therefore one must observe tact and prudence under all conditions, so that nothing might happen that could cause disturbance and dissension or raise clamor among the headless.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Introduction to The Kitab-i-Aqdas/The Most Holy Book, p. 6) Even in this day, as you point out, the “anti-Bahai(s)” translating the Guardian’s carefully selected words have their own agenda. In his Cablegram of June 4, 1957 Shoghi Effendi referred to “the powerful antagonists in the Cradle of the Faith”; and the “the unquenchable animosity of its Muslim opponents” and of “Evidences of increasing hostility without, (as well as) persistent machinations within” the Faith. He emphasized the adoption of “wise, effective measures to counteract their treacherous schemes, protect the mass of the believers, and arrest the spread of their evil influence.” (Messages to the Bahá’í World: 1950-1957, pp. 122 – 123)

    As I understand it, three of those eight “Chief Stewards of Bahá’u’lláh’s embryonic World Commonwealth” (Hasan Balyuzi, an Afnán; Rahmatu’lláh Muhájir; and Abu’l-Qásim Faizí) were of Persian and/or Muslim descent which could have made them, more than the other five, a focus and/or target of “the powerful antagonists in the Cradle of the Faith”; and of “the unquenchable animosity of its Muslim opponents”, even to the extent of assassination.

    As initially suggested, “perhaps” this was “wise, effective measures” and necessary “tact and prudence” exercised by the Guardian.

  2. ایادی امرالله is Hands of the Cause of God we have seen which is literal and also sounds perfect. I am not clear why you looked for muhaajer
    مُهاجر

  3. Sen said

    Hi Larry,
    Shoghi Effendi wrote extensively about the Bahai Commonwealth in English, and had these works published and authorized further translations in other languages. So if he refrained from speaking of the Bahai Commonwealth in Persian, for reasons of wisdom, this would suppose first that he imagined that Iranian opponents would not read his English letters, and that his preferred term in Persian is one that would give ammunition to Persian-speaking antagonists. Another possibility is that he did speak of the Commonwealth, but the Persian term is one that I have not recognized. I have just added a postscript, showing that the translator Nasru’llah Mavvadat has used “people of Baha” and “the world-wide Bahai community” as equivalents for “Bahai Commonwealth.” “The party of God” is another possibility. The difficulty is to find a place where one of these terms is linked to one of the institutions that are specific to the Bahai Commonwealth, such as the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar, the House of Justice or the Hands, and the spiritual and administrative centre being in the Haifa-Akka area, in a way that makes it clear that the Persian term was, in the mind of Shoghi Effendi, equivalent to “Bahai Commonwealth.”

  4. Sen said

    Hi Hooshang, the text I found with this search method is linked in the posting:
    https://reference.bahai.org/fa/t/se/TM5/tm5-298.html
    and the English equivalent — including the term “Bahai Commonwealth” is also linked :
    https://bahai-library.com/writings/shoghieffendi/mbw/mbwall.html#127

    That result was the main purpose. I described the search method because other students of the Writings might like to see how it is done, and because I’ve used similar methods with the other — unproductive — searches I’ve made. It doesn’t matter if you can’t follow the logic of the search method, since you can read the results in the two links

  5. Aaron said

    Question: Your rendering of مشترک being mosharek leaves out the ‘te’. Wouldn’t it be moshatarek?

  6. Sen said

    Yes, thanks for noticing. That was a typo — or perhaps one of those slips that reveal. The moshrakin are the polytheists or blasphemers. I’ve fixed it ~ sen

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