From: Bahá'í World Centre
Subject: English Translations of Bahá'í Writings
30 June 1999
To the National Spiritual Assemblies of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil,
Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, the Fiji Islands, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy,
Japan, Kenya, Korea, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway,
Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian
Federation, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and the
Dear Bahá'í Friends,
The Universal House of Justice has recently had opportunity to review
the procedures related to the translation of Bahá'í Writings into English,
whether involving whole works or extracts. We have been asked to share
with you the following conclusions, which may relate to your publishing
programs or to those of other Bahá'í publishers within your jurisdiction.
As in the past, certain Tablets or extracts translated into English
for use or publication by the Bahá'í World Centre or other publishers will
continue to be reviewed and approved in the Holy Land and designated as
However, because of the increasing need for translation of specific
material, particularly in relation to growing scholarly interest in the
Faith and its various Teachings, favorable consideration has been given to
allowing wider use of provisional translations. Individual believers, of
course, remain free to translate into English any of the Holy Writings for
their own use. Such translations may also be published in circulars and
journals without review other than by the editors of such publications.
They may also be shared electronically. In all such cases they should be
clearly identified as `provisional translations'.
The House of Justice has now established a mechanism which will allow
for inclusion in books and pamphlets of provisional translations which are
of sufficiently good quality for wide distribution. Arrangements have been
made for such translations to be checked at the World Centre. When these
items are to be included in works intended for publication by a Bahá'í
publisher, the trust or publisher involved should forward them here for
the necessary clearance. In the case of items to be included in works
submitted to non-Bahá'í publishers, the authors or translators themselves
should forward the items here for consideration prior to the involvement of
any non-Bahá'í publishers. Publications containing such translations, once
these have been cleared, should indicate that they are provisional
The translations submitted for checking at the World Centre should
include copies of the Arabic or Persian texts used by the translator(s).
The items sent will be considered both from the point of view of the
quality of the English rendering of the material and as to whether there
are any major doubtful points with regard to the accuracy of the translation
itself. Those which fall short on either of these counts will be returned
to the sender with an explanation. For instance, the translations may
need further refining or may contain mistakes of meaning, and, therefore,
necessitate improvement before re-submission.
It remains the prerogative of the World Centre to decide on the timeliness
and wisdom of publishing English translations of specific Tablets.
Some may be identified as not suitable for publication at the present time.
The House of Justice is hopeful that this new arrangement will lead
to the availability of a greater amount of translated material and avoid
the present delays in approving fully authorized translations.
With loving Bahá'í greetings,
Department of the Secretariat
cc: International Teaching Centre, Boards of Counsellors,
Bahá'í Publishing Trusts, George Ronald, Publisher, Kalimat Press, Oneworld
Publications, Palabra Publications, Office of Persian Affairs, U.S.A.