And now for something completely different... Capital letters in Arabic

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Posted by Misagh ( on October 30, 2003 at 21:54:06:

Hello all,

(This question may have been posed before by anon a while back, I'm not sure... please bear with me)

I have a question for you. It is known that in the Arabic language there are no capital letters as one would find them in english. I was reading some passages from the Tablets that Baha'u'llah addressed to various rulers of the time, especially the Tablet to Nasir'idin Shah. It seems to me that without the capital letters for such words as "Servant", "He", "King", etc. the meaning of the sentences could be widely interpreted. Indeed, as I read some of the sentences, my mind can conjure up numerous meanings, and the suprising thing is that most, if not all of them, would be applicable to the subject matter and the person to whom Baha'u'llah is referring.

A case in point: At the beginning of the Tablet to the Shah, Baha'u'llah states, and I paraphrase, that this is a Servant (capital S) that has believed in God and in His signs, and suffered great hardship for this Cause. Now, in this sentence, the capital S would lead me to think that the Servant is Baha'u'llah. But it is interesting to note that the young Badi delivered this Tablet to the Shah, and this sentence, with a lowercase 's', could perhaps even refer to him! It's kinda cool to think about, if it can be meant to be understood in that way.

So my question is, how would these Tablets have looked to the rulers of the time, who didn't have access to the infallible interpretation of the Guardian and who probably didn't read the Tablets in their original Arabic? Are the words for 'S'ervant and 's'ervant different in Arabic? How about 'He' (as in, Baha'u'llah) and 'he'? From my limited understanding, there are no differences in these words... Is it possible that the rulers could have misconstrued some of the sentences therein?

Thinking on my feet, I would perhaps consider that if they had cleansed their hearts and souls from the world, they would have been able to clearly understand these holy sentences (after all, isn't that the case with all of the Writings?)


- M

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