'Aql doesn't mean Wisdom!

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'Aql doesn't mean Wisdom!

Postby Irish » Mon May 14, 2007 5:39 am

I know this is an old question, and that it has already been asked by many others (including Professor Cole in Millenium and Modernity), but why do the Baha'i translations consistently use the word 'Wisdom' to translate the Arabic word "'Aql", which can mean (according to Wehr) "Sense, Reason, Intelligence, Understanding, Intellect". Wisdom is something different, both in English and Arabic (Hikma).
Good example is Kalimat-i Firdawsiyyih 6, where 'Aql is mentioned several times.
Is this based on a precedent set by Shoghi Effendi?

And the same goes for translating the "'ulama" (learned), which in places is translated as "Men of Wisdom". It isn't exactly accurate, if the intention is to convey the range of meanings of the underlying Arabic.
Maybe I'm just being pedantic?
But given that the Guardian's translationshave a special authority, in that, since they are interpretations, they can't be wrong. However, they don't exhaust the meanings. But what is the "wisdom" in this sort of translation?

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Postby British_Bahai » Mon May 14, 2007 7:19 am

Arabic is a complete language - i.e. it is very precise.

You are right, Aql doesnt translate into "wisdom"

In persian, Aql can be used in different ways to have different meanings, when used in different contexts.
e.g. "Aghlesh naresid" = "(someone) never thought of that"
"khoda bahash aghl bedeh" = "God: give that person a brain (has negative implications)"
etc etc

I cant comment on the word "Ulama" because that is a Muslim word, and i dont use it.

that is why i am teaching myself to read and write persian.
When I hear a persian hidden word and read the english version, theyre quite different.

My advice is not to get too caught up with specific words, - i know it sounds a bit "touchy-feely", but just focus on the feeling of the sentence (if that makes any sense!) - i.e. the essence of what its trying to say.

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