M E M O R A N D U M
|To:||The Universal House of Justice||Date:||19 August 2002|
Recommendations Concerning Translations of the Qurán and
Introductory Books on the Baháí Faith
The Research Department has studied the questions on the above-mentioned subjects raised by Mr. Brett zamir in his email message of 8 June 2002 to the Universal House of Justice. We provide the following comments.
Mr. Zamir explains that he is aware of Shoghi Effendis statements concerning the positive features of the early English translations of the Qurán by Rodwell and Sale. He indicates that, since the Sale translation has long been out of print, he has contemplated typing the Sale translation of the text and the accompanying notes to make them available online. Before embarking on such a project, Mr. Zamir seeks guidance as to whether the Rodwell and Sale translations may have been superseded by more recent translations of the Qurán.
The Research Department has not been able to locate any specific guidance of the Universal House of Justice concerning the use of more recent translations of the Qurán. It is interesting to note that in relation to the use of more recent renderings of the Bible1 the Universal House of Justice, in the letter written on its behalf to a National Spiritual Assembly on 2 December 1987, affirms that there is nothing in statements made by Shoghi Effendi to indicate that the friends may not use other translations of the Bible, and in response to an inquiry from the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia concerning the permissibility of using other versions of the Bible for readings in the Mashriqul-Adhkár, the letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice stated:
...there do not appear to be any grounds for limiting selected readings from the
Bible to the Authorized Version onlly [and] the decision is left entirely to your discretion. (13 November 1974)
In the light of the guidance from the Universal House of Justice concerning the Bible, and in the absence of specific authoritative statements concerning new translations of the Qurán, it seems reasonable to assume that individuals are free to exercise their discretion when choosing which translation of the Qurán to use.
As to translations of the Qurán, it is the view of the Research Department that there are a number of very good translations, in addition to those done by Sale and Rodwell. To some extent, the choice of a particular translation is dictated by the specific needs and purpose of the readersome translations have helpful notes, others number each verse, others include both the
1 In the case of the Bible, a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 28 October 1949 states, Shoghi Effendi himself uses the King James version of the Bible, both because it is an authoritative one and in beautiful English.
|Recommendations Concerning Translations of the||19 August 2002|
|Qurán and Introductory Books on the Baháí Faith||Page 2|
Aware of the Guardians praise of J. E. Esslemonts Baháulláh and the New Era, Mr. Zamir enquires whether the Universal House of Justice would recommend any more recent introductions to the Baháí Faith. As suggested by Mr. Zamir, in the years since Esslemonts book was first published, the range and scope of Baháí literature has been greatly enhanced. While Baháulláh and the New Era continues to be an invaluable textbook on the Faith, it is now possible to select Baháí literature appropriate to the needs and interests of specific audiences. We provide below the short list of Introductory Works, prepared by the Baháí Office of Public Information, which appears in The Baháí World, 2000-2001:
Baháí International Community, Office of Public Information, 1991.
A brief statement detailing Baháulláhs life and work issued on the occasion of
the centenary of His passing.
Baháulláh and the New Era
John Esslemont. 5th rev. paper ed. (Wilmette: Baháí Publishing Trust, 1980)2.
The first comprehensive account of the Baháí Faith, written in 1923 and updated for subsequent editions.
The Baháí Faith: The Emerging Global Religion
William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin. rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baháí Publishing
Textbook providing an overview of Baháí history, teachings, administrative structure, and community life.
All Things Made New
John Ferraby. 2d rev. ed. (London: Baháí Publishing Trust, 1987).
A comprehensive outline of the Baháí Faith.