Persian vs Arabic

A word should be said about the style of language in which the Kitáb-i-Aqdas has been rendered into English. Bahá’u’lláh enjoyed a superb mastery of Arabic, and preferred to use it in those Tablets and other Writings where its precision of meaning was particularly appropriate to the exposition of basic principle.

Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Aqdas - Universal House of Justice Introduction

Although there can be no question or doubt as to the sweetness of the Persian tongue, yet it hath not the scope of the Arabic. There are many things which have not been expressed in Persian, that is to say, words referring to such things have not been devised, whilst in Arabic there are several words describing the same thing. Indeed there existeth no language in the world as vast and comprehensive as Arabic. This statement is prompted by truth and fairness; otherwise it is clear that in this day the world is being illumined by the splendours of that Sun which hath dawned above the horizon of Persia, and that the merits of this sweet language can scarcely be overestimated.

Bahá’u’lláh, Tabernacle of Unity, par. 2.54-2.58

The distinguished Sáhib hath written: “Since the Beloved in this age is of Persian descent, the Arabic tongue should be abandoned and discarded.” In this connection these sublime words issued from the Pen of the Most High, magnified and exalted be His glory: “Both Arabic and Persian are laudable. That which is desired of a language is that it convey the intent of the speaker, and either language can serve this purpose. And since in this day the Orb of knowledge hath risen in the firmament of Persia, this tongue deserveth every praise.

Bahá’u’lláh, Tabernacle of Unity, par. 2.54-2.58

The Persian tongue is in truth exceedingly sweet and pleasing, and ever since this request was submitted in His most blessed and exalted court, numerous Tablets have been revealed in that language.

Bahá’u’lláh, Tabernacle of Unity, par. 2.54-2.58

Thou hast written concerning languages. Both Arabic and Persian are laudable. That which is desired of a language is that it convey the intent of the speaker, and either language can serve this purpose. And since in this day the Orb of divine knowledge hath risen in the firmament of Persia, that tongue deserveth every praise.

Bahá’u’lláh, The Tabernacle of Unity, p. 20

We have formerly referred to this subject in passages revealed in the Arabic tongue, in a language of exquisite beauty. God is Our witness! Whoever hath tasted the sweetness of those words will never consent to transgress the bounds which God hath fixed, neither will he turn his gaze towards any one except his Well-Beloved.

Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 297

Acquire the Persian tongue, so as to learn of the meanings of the divine words and to know the divine mysteries, to develop an eloquent speech and to translate the blessed Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh. The Persian language shall become noteworthy in this cycle; nay, rather, the people shall study it in all the world.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Vol. II, p. 306; also in Lights of Guidance, no. 1143

Exert thyself in studying the Persian language in order that with perfect eloquence and fluency thou mayest talk, read and write.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Vol. I, p. 210

Praise be to God! This is the dawn of the light of unity between the Eastern and Western people. In Persia the English language is being studied widely and in America the Persian tongue is beloved by some dear souls. In both countries the respective languages are being studied. This is in itself a proof that the East and the West (literally, place of sunrise and sunset) shall clasp hands as two families. The standard of unity shall be raised, and the means of love and friendship will be accomplished. Endeavor to complete the study of the Persian—thus mayest thou read the Tablets of the Blessed Beauty and mayest translate them, and without the interpreter’s aid thou mayest read all my letter to thee.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Vol. II, p. 426

Study Persian and acquire it more day by day, for by the study of this language great and boundless results are obtained.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Vol. II, p. 307

The purport of the study of the Persian tongue is this: That thou mayest memorize a commune in the Persian and at the time of communion and supplication, when present in the meeting of the maid-servants of the Merciful, thou mayest chant it.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Vol. II, p. 427

Shoghi Effendi was very glad to hear that you are planning to study Persian very seriously. Should you do it you will obtain ample reward for your labours, for you will then be able to go straight to the writings themselves.

Shoghi Effendi, The Light of Divine Guidance vol 2, p. 21

It would be a great service if, in every city and region where a number of Iranian Bahá’ís reside, some Persian friends would exert a special effort to teach this language to the children and youth, study together the Writings in Persian, and drink their fill from the billowing source of the Creative Word and the Sacred Writings.

The Universal House of Justice, 1997 Mar, BAHA 154 - From Persian, To Iranian Believers

The Beloved of the world speaks in the Persian language. It would be praiseworthy in His eyes if His loved ones also converse and write in this language.

Universal House of Justice, to the Iránian believers throughout the world, 154 B.E. at

With regard to Arabic, in several Tablets Bahá’u’lláh praises the vastness and eloquence of the Arabic language, but in none of His Writings does He state that His followers are required to learn that language. In a number of instances ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Guardian have both encouraged the believers in the West to learn Persian.

Universal House of Justice, an email dated 10 February 1998 to an individual

It is beloved of God that all should speak in Arabic, which is the richest and vastest of all languages. Were anyone to be aware of the richness and vastness of this perspicuous tongue, he would choose it as a universal language of communication. The Persian tongue is a beautiful language, and in this Dispensation God hath chosen to speak in two languages: Arabic and Persian. However, Persian is not as rich as Arabic; in fact all the languages of the earth seem limited when compared to the Arabic language.

Quoted in Soheil Bushrui, "The Style of the Kitab-i-Aqdas: Aspects of the Sublime," pp. 32-33

O thou maid-servant of God! Do not be slow in the study of the Persian language and be thou engaged in the service.

Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbás, vol. 1, p. 218