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Abstract:
Arabic terms such as "Alláh-u-Abhá", "Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá", “Mashriqu’l-Adhkár," "Ḥazíratu’l-Quds," and "Bahá" should generally not be translated into other languages, for translations are too inadequate.
Notes:
Contributed by recipient; original PDF on file. Title "Translation of Key Baha'i Terms" added for this online version, not in original. Later published in Lights of Irfan 17.

Translation of Key Bahá'í Terms

by / on behalf of Universal House of Justice

2015-05-19
19 May 2015

Dear Bahá’í Friend,

Your email letter of 10 March 2015, asking on behalf of a fellow believer whether it is appropriate to translate the phrase “Alláh-u-Abhá” into another language for purposes of its recitation 95 times a day, has been received at the Bahá’í World Centre and forwarded to our Office for reply. The following has been provided in response to a similar query posed to the Universal House of Justice on a previous occasion:

The Universal House of Justice has received your email letter of 29 December 2008, asking why such terms as “Alláh-u-Abhá” and “Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá” are used by Bahá’ís rather than being translated into their native tongues, and has asked us to respond as follows.

The House of Justice on another occasion has clarified that the Greatest Name is to be used in its original language for the recitation of “Alláh-u-Abhá” 95 times a day, as well as for its use in the Long Obligatory Prayer and the Prayer for the Dead. It has also clarified that to translate words such as “Alláh-u-Abhá”, “Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá”, “Mashriqu’l-Adhkár” and “Ḥazíratu’l-Quds” into one’s native language is not acceptable. One exception to this is the alternative use of the words “Right of God” or their equivalent into other languages while the term “Huqúqu’lláh” gradually becomes a part of Bahá’í vocabulary.

In general, one should bear in mind that all translations are, to some degree, inadequate. For instance, the beloved Guardian has pointed out in ... God Passes By that the word “Bahá” signifies at once the “Glory”, the “Splendour” and the “Light” of God; there is no single word in English which can express all these. It is, of course, desirable that there be no loss of meaning through translation; thus, it is preferable that certain terms directly related to the Manifestation of God remain in their original form.

    (From a letter dated 22 February 2009 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)
With loving Bahá’í greetings,
Office of Correspondence
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