Baha'i Library Online

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COLLECTIONSProvisional translations, Study Guides
TITLEKitáb-i-Aqdas (Most Holy Book): "Multilinear" Translation project and Glossary
AUTHOR 1 Bahá'u'lláh
CONTRIB 1Jonah Winters, comp.
CONTRIB 2 Various, trans.
ABSTRACTSide-by-side comparisons of the authorized translation with earlier translations of Anton Haddad and Earl Elder. Includes short glossary to the Aqdas.
NOTES Though there's mention of Arabic text in this project, most verses do not have the Arabic text entered. (Both editors ran out of steam before completing it.) However, all verses are posted with the three translations side-by-side and many have comments and notes.

See also a parallel edition of the Haddad and the Authorized translations.

CROSSREFofficial authorized translation, and an online Arabic Aqdas, and side-by-side Arabic and English
TAGS- Cross-reference; - Glossaries; - Parallel translation; Kitáb-i-Aqdas (Most Holy Book); Translation
Kitab-i-Aqdas Multilinear Translation table of contents
Front page of translation | Glossary of select Arabic terms
Go to
No.:1-3 4-6 7-9 10-12 13-15 16-18 19-21 22-24
25-27 28-30 31-33 34-36 37-39 40-42 43-45 46-48 49-51 52-54 55-57
58-60 61-63 64-66 67-69 70-72 73-75 76-78 79-81 82-84 85-87 88-90
91-93 94-96 97-99 100-02 103-05 106-08 109-11 112-14 115-17 118-20 121-23
124-26 127-29 130-32 133-35 136-38 139-41 142-44 145-47 148-50 151-53 154-56
157-59 160-62 163-65 166-68 169-71 172-74 175-77 178-80 181-83 184-86 187-90
This project is intended to present a textual analysis of the central book of the Bahá'í Dispensation, Bahá'u'lláh's Kitab-i-Aqdas. This project is no more than a supplement to the authorized text of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, published 1992. This publication, available in an online edition, includes extensive notes and commentary, and should be consulted in conjunction with this multilinear translation project. See also the Kitab-i-Aqdas Windows Help File.

The schema of the multilinear translations, complete with brief notations, is given below. More detailed comments can be found in some of the "Notes" and "Correspondence" sections. A few individuals have been instrumental in bringing this project together: Robert Stauffer keyboarded the Haddad and Elder translations, Steve Cooney also keyboarded the Haddad, Iskandar Hai helped transliterate, and Ahang Rabbani proofread the Arabic .gif files.

Structure of files in this collection

Each verse has these sections:

Sentence #X: Verse x, part x
Authorized translation (ca. 1953-1992) Authorized Arabic text (1995)
This translation, by Shoghi Effendi and others, is the official translation of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. As Shoghi Effendi was the authorized Interpreter of the Bahá'í Revelation, those sections of this text he translated are considered, not just official translation, but official Interpretation. This cell contains the Arabic in Unicode format, from the first authorized (critical edition) Arabic publication of the Aqdas (Haifa: Bahá'í World Center, 1995). The sentence breaks in this text, rather than the verses in the English, form the basis of the multilinear series. I have included all diacritics included in print - the only discrepency between the printed text is in final yá' where I have opted to differ between dotted and dotless.
Haddad translation (1900-01) Provisional Arabic transliteration (1997)
Anton Haddad's translation of the Aqdas, from 1900 or 1901, was circulated widely in the early American Bahá'í community. As it was copied and re-copied by hand, this online text will contain scribal errors; comparison with other manuscript copies is needed to check the accuracy of this online version. In The Bahá'í Faith in America vols. 1 & 2, Robert Stockman offers much information on Haddad. This brief bio of him is from vol. 2:
"Anton Haddad (1862-1924) was taught the Bahá'í Faith by [Ibramim] Kheiralla. Haddad came to the United States in the summer of 1892 and later played one of the most important roles in keeping the American Bahá'í community loyal to 'Abdu'l-Bahá when Kheiralla became disaffected." (footnote, page 10)
This transliteration is grammatical, not oral. I have consulted other Arabists on it, so it is likely to be fully correct. However, transliteration can be tricky (for example, even a native speaker might occasionally not be sure whether a verb is active or passive), so it should be considered merely provisional. Accents were not used (e.g. alif is rendered "A" instead of "á") because current html cannot render the full diacritical set.
Provisional Literal translation (1997) Earl E. Elder translation (1961)
The meaning of the Aqdas may in places require extensive interpretation and its full significance may never be known, but a simple translation of the words of the Aqdas is relatively straightforward. In this translation I sought merely to render the text in English in as literal a manner as possible. While the resulting translation occasionally will not make sense, it provides a valuable foil for understanding the style and meaning of the authorized translation. William Miller was a Prebyterian missionary in Iran in the early part of this century. He had a considerable interest in the Bahá'ís and wrote two books on the Faith, both somewhat well-informed but thoroughly biased and methodologically unsound. For an appendix to the second book, The Bahá'í Faith: Its History and Teachings (South Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1974), he asked fellow Christian missionary Earl Elder, who knew fairly good Arabic, to produce this translation of the Aqdas. It, too, has not yet been proofread against the original hardcopy, and may contain errors.
Notes to Translations:
these brief notes address a few points of each sentence that I happened to find interesting. Notes and footnotes from the other translations are also included here. Due to shortness of time, diacritics have not been entered in notes from the authorized text; consulting its hard copy version, and the online version, is recommended.
Correspondence on Literal trans:
This rather random correspondence from a variety of individuals was occasioned by my posting the ongoing translation project to the listservs Irfan and Bahai-studies. All posts are here by permission. The first few sections of correspondence contain considerable information and useful discussion. New commentary for these sections will be welcomed.

Kitab-i-Aqdas Multilinear Translation table of contents
Front page of translation | Glossary of select Arabic terms
Go to
No.:1-3 4-6 7-9 10-12 13-15 16-18 19-21 22-24
25-27 28-30 31-33 34-36 37-39 40-42 43-45 46-48 49-51 52-54 55-57
58-60 61-63 64-66 67-69 70-72 73-75 76-78 79-81 82-84 85-87 88-90
91-93 94-96 97-99 100-02 103-05 106-08 109-11 112-14 115-17 118-20 121-23
124-26 127-29 130-32 133-35 136-38 139-41 142-44 145-47 148-50 151-53 154-56
157-59 160-62 163-65 166-68 169-71 172-74 175-77 178-80 181-83 184-86 187-90

Glossary for the Multilinear Translation of the Kitab-i-Aqdas

The following glosses on Arabic terms in the Kitab-i-Aqdas are excerpted from the section of notes accompanying each sentence. Since the following definitions refer back to the passage where they were first used, back-links have been provided so the reader can see the context of each definition. This glossary is not comprehensive, but just covers some points that I found especially interesting, or points out where a word may have various meanings. Initial ayns and hamzas are ignored in this English alphabetization.

  1. Abdu'l-Bahá (note from glossary in Authorized Edition): The "Servant of Baha", Abbas Effendi (1844-1921), the eldest son and appointed Successor of Bahá'u'lláh, and the Centre of His Covenant.

  2. Abjad (note from glossary in Authorized Edition): The ancient Arabic system of allocating a numerical value to letters of the alphabet, so that numbers may be represented by letters and vice versa. Thus every word has both a literal meaning and a numerical value.

  3. amr (notes from sentences 2 and 3): amr is sometimes translated as "laws." Here it is given in a verbal phrase: mA amara bi-hi man ladA al-maqSUd, "that which was commanded by him who is the desired one." The authorized translation renders it slightly differently here: "every ordinance of Him Who is the Desire of the world." In other places, the authorized and the Elder editions translate amr as "Cause," but my Hans Wehr dictionary does not offer this definition, giving instead "order, command, instruction; decree, imperative; power, authority."

  4. Bab, The (note from glossary in Authorized Edition): Literally the "Gate", the title assumed by Mirza Ali-Muhammad (1819-1850) after the Declaration of His Mission in Shiraz in May 1844. He was the Founder of the Babi Faith and the Herald of Bahá'u'lláh.

  5. Baha (note from glossary in Authorized Edition): Baha means Glory. It is the Greatest Name of God and a title by which Bahá'u'lláh is designated. Also, the name of the first month of the Bahá'í year and of the first day of eac h Bahá'í month.

  6. Bahá'u'lláh (note from glossary in Authorized Edition): The "Glory of God", title of Mirza Husayn-'Ali (1817-1892), the Founder of the Bahá'í Faith.

  7. bayAn (note from sentence 6): Bahá'u'lláh says that the "sea of bayAn" has swelled, likely a double entendre. BayAn means, among other things, "declaration, anouncement; clearness, plainness; elucidation, explanation," and can be translated as such because it immediately follows "wisdom," i.e. the explanations provided by revelation. However, as the name of the central book of the Babi religion was likewise BayAn, it is likely that Bahá'u'lláh here intends a double meaning. The Quran of Muhammad is also sometimes called the BayAn.

    Bayan (note from glossary in Authorized Edition): The Bayan ("Exposition") is the title given by the Bab to His Book of Laws, and it is also applied to the entire body of His Writings. The Persian Bayan is the major doctrinal work and principal repository of the laws ordained by the Bab. The Arabic Bayan is parallel in content but smaller and less weighty. References in the annotations to subjects found in both the Persian Bayan and the Arabic Bayan are identified by use of the term "Bayan" without further qualification.

  8. hAja (note from sentence 6): While the verb mAja can, in some forms, mean simply "to ripple," "to wave," or "to undulate," here it has the stronger sense of "heaving, rolling, surging, being agitated," hence the Elder translation as "raged." The second verb, hAja, can also have this sense of violent agitation, especially in reference to seas. This phrase--the verbs mAja and hAja (note the rhyme) and the noun nasama, "breeze, "breath," "waft," and even "wind"--provides a clear and consistent image of a sea swelling or even roiling under the breath of the words spoken by the Merciful. This is emphasized in the authorized translation which departs from the literal "seize the opportunity" to continue with the image: "Hasten to drink your fill."

  9. hamaj (note from sentence 4): The Arabic words which the authorized version renders "abject and foolish"--hamaj and ra`A`--were somewhat difficult to translate with exalted language, for they are most colorful terms. Wehr renders them as follows: hamaj: "small flies, gnats; riffraff, rabble, ragtag; savages, barbarians. ra`A`: "rabble, mob, riffraff, scum; ragtag; rowdies, hooligans."

  10. hawA: See HudUd, below.

  11. HudUd (notes from sentences 4 and 5): The term HudUd means "edge, border; boundary, limit" and by extension "ordinance, statute, punishment." In possessive construct with allAh, the Hans Wehr dictionary gives "the bounds or restrictions that God has placed on man's freedom of action." In sentence five, Bahá'u'lláh contrasts the HudUd allAhi, the HudUd of God, with the HudUd al-nafsi, the HudUd of self. The authorized translation renders these "precepts laid down by God" and "dictates of your evil passions," resp. In Sufism especially, the nafs is the seat of the lower desires, the animalistic passions, and often has an immediately negative connotation. Consequently, the authorized version adds the adjective "evil." This reading is also justified by the second Arabic term, hawA, which means "love, affection; passion; desire, longing, craving; whim, caprice." Thus, where the Arabic literally reads "the restrictions of the self and of passion," the authorized translation gives "the dictates of your evil passions and corrupt desires." In the Arabic text it is clear that these HudUd al-nafs are paralleled with the previously mentioned HudUd allAh, and the first two sentences of verse two are thus an exhortation to abandon natural law in favor of divine law, so to speak.

  12. Huququ'llah (note from glossary in Authorized Edition): The "Right of God". Instituted in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, it is an offering made by the Bahá'ís through the Head of the Faith for the purposes specified in the Bahá'í Writings.

  13. ilhAm (note from sentence 3): The common name Persian name Elham, transliterated as al-ilhAm, means "inspiration, instinct, illumination."

  14. imkAn (note from sentence 5): ImkAn, "the possible," is a term for all creation which occurs often in Kitab-i-Aqdas.

  15. `inAya (note from sentence 8): `inAya, often translated as "providence," can be a concept whose meaning is often not really understood. The American Heritage dictionary gives these meanings for "providence":
        1. Care or preparation in advance; foresight.
        2. Prudent management; economy.
        3. The care, guardianship, and control exercised by a deity; divine direction
    These meanings are paralleled by the Arabic term `inAya, which can mean "concern for; care, solicitude, providence; heed, notice, attention," all having a connotation of God's sense of loving care for his creation.

  16. khizAnah (note from sentence 9): khazA'in (plural of khizAnah) means "treasure houses; vaults, coffers, safeboxes; treasuries."

  17. mAja: See hAja, above.

  18. mAlik (note from sentence 8): The word mAlik is the active participle of malaka, which means "to possess, acquire; to be the owner of; to control, dominate, rule over; to exercise power." Many Arabic words relating to kingship derive from this root. Perhaps "master" is the English word that catches the most similarities in meaning.

  19. maqAma (note from sentence 3): Of interest is the term maqAma, "site, location, station," or even "place where a saint is buried." It literally means "place of standing," and the verbal root here--QWM--is where we get familiar words like Qa'im (the Bab) and Qayyum.

  20. mashriq (note from sentence 2): The two terms which the authorized version translates as "Dayspring" and "Fountain"--mashriq and maTla`--are virtually identical in meaning. The root of mashriq refers equally to "east" and to "sun," and with the prefix of place, ma-, means the "place of the sunrise." The root of maTla` refers to ascendence and appearance, and with the prefix of place, ma-, means both the rising place of celestial bodies or the opening or beginning of something, as in a poem. In this fashion the authorized version renders the two "Dayspring" and "Fountain," resp., and in my literal version I chose "dawning-place"and "rising-place."

  21. Mashriqu'l-Adhkar (note from glossary in Authorized Edition): Literally "the Dawning-place of the praise of God", the designation of the Bahá'í House of Worship and its dependencies.

  22. Mithqal (note from glossary in Authorized Edition): A unit of weight, equivalent to a little over 3 1/2 grammes, used in the Kitab-i-Aqdas with reference to quantities of gold or silver for various purposes, usually in amounts o f 9, 19 or 95 mithqals. The equivalents of these in the metric system and in troy ounces (which are used in the measurement of precious metals), are as follows:
    • 9 mithqals = 32.775 grammes = 1.05374 troy ounces
    • 19 mithqals = 69.192 grammes = 2.22456 troy ounces
    • 95 mithqals = 345.958 grammes = 11.12282 troy ounces
    This computation is based on the guidance of Shoghi Effendi, conveyed in a letter written on his behalf, which states "one mithqal consists of nineteen nakhuds. The weight of twenty-four nakhuds equals four and three-fifths grammes. Calculations may be made on this basis." The mithqal traditionally used in the Middle East had consisted of 24 nakhuds but in the Bayan this was changed to 19 nakhuds and Bahá'u'lláh confirmed this as the size of the mithqal referred to in the Bahá'í laws (Q and A 23).

  23. maTla`: See mashriq, above.

  24. nafaqa (note from sentence 9): nafaqa means "to sell well; find a brisk market; to use up, to exhaust one's stores," and in Form IV, the form used here, means "to spend, expend, disburse; consume, use up, exhaust, dissipate." It refers to the total dissipation of the khazA'in (plural of khizAnah) the "treasure houses; vaults, coffers, safeboxes; treasuries."

  25. nafs: See HudUd, above.

  26. Nakhud (note from glossary in Authorized Edition): A unit of weight. See "mithqal".

  27. Qayyumu'l-Asma' (note from glossary in Authorized Edition): The Bab's commentary on the Surih of Joseph in the Qur'an. Revealed in 1844, this work is characterized by Bahá'u'lláh as "the first, the greatest, and mightiest of all books" in the Babi Dispensation.

  28. ra`A`: See hamaj, above.

  29. Shoghi Effendi (note from glossary in Authorized Edition): Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957), Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith from 1921-1957. He was the eldest grandson of Abdu'l-Bahá and was appointed by Him as the Head of the Faith.

  30. Siyah-Chal (note from glossary in Authorized Edition): Literally "the Black Pit". The dark, foul-smelling, subterranean dungeon in Tihran where Bahá'u'lláh was imprisoned for four months in 1852.

  31. thabata (note from sentence 9): The verb thabata as used here (form IV) has the primary meaning of "establish," but with the connotations of proving a truth, as in "to corroborate, confirm, substantiate; to bear witness."

  32. ufq (note from sentence 3): I believe that the term I translated as "horizon" can be vocalized as either ufq or ufuq. This is an interesting term: besides "horizon," its connotations are of distant lands, far reaches.

Kitab-i-Aqdas Multilinear Translation table of contents
Front page of translation | Glossary of select Arabic terms
Go to
No.:1-3 4-6 7-9 10-12 13-15 16-18 19-21 22-24
25-27 28-30 31-33 34-36 37-39 40-42 43-45 46-48 49-51 52-54 55-57
58-60 61-63 64-66 67-69 70-72 73-75 76-78 79-81 82-84 85-87 88-90
91-93 94-96 97-99 100-02 103-05 106-08 109-11 112-14 115-17 118-20 121-23
124-26 127-29 130-32 133-35 136-38 139-41 142-44 145-47 148-50 151-53 154-56
157-59 160-62 163-65 166-68 169-71 172-74 175-77 178-80 181-83 184-86 187-90
VIEWS23077 views since 2003-10-16 (last edit 2022-06-19 03:03 UTC)
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