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Note on Transliteration

In the over one hundred years since the first Bahá'í Writings began to appear in English there have been a variety of English spellings of Persian and Arabic words. This should not overly concern anyone.

In the early Bahá'í Writings, Bahá'u'lláh was spelled Baha'O'llah, as it is usually still pronounced today. There are also to be found spellings of Shoghi Effendi as Shoggi Effendi. As Islám, or what is most commonly referred to today in the West as the Moslem religion, became known in the West, there were a number of ways in which it was referenced. Sometimes we see it referenced as the Muhammadan or Mohammadan religion either of which somewhat raises the ire of Muslims. Muhammad Himself was referred to as Mahomet or Mohomet and His Book the Qur'án is very often presently spelled Koran.

There is a present Bahá'í convention regarding usage. Qur'án for Koran. Muslim for Moslem. Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá from a transliteration scheme adopted by Shoghi Effendi. The city of Tehran is spelled Tíhrán. Some of the desired markings (diacritics) above, below, preceding and following characters are impossible to obtain on some typesetting equipment so consequently these standards are not rigorously applied in the Bahá'í literature. The exercise, for example, of assuring that the spelling of 'Abdu'l-Bahá has the preferred diacritic over the terminal 'a' does not effect how one actually pronounces the word because each individual's pronunciation will have come audibly from someone whom they have felt to set the standard.

This whole matter will become academic at sometime in mankind's future when there is an universal language that is spelled phonemically. Then, at least, everyone will pronounce the words the same although we will have no way of knowing if our pronunciations are the same as that of the earlier speakers who spoke before the time of sound recording of speech. For example, we have no idea of how the Mother of Jesus spoke His Name.

The attempt has been made to bring all spellings in these pages, as much as the technology we used would permit, to the recommended standards - whether or not they appeared that way in the original sources. The purpose here is to reduce confusion and to bring a consistency within these writings as directed by the Universal House of Justice.

    Whatever "house styles" Publishing Trusts and other Bahá'í publishers may adopt, transliteration of oriental terms into languages using the Roman alphabet must at present be according to the system chosen by the Guardian and described in volumes of The Bahá'í World.
    (Letters of The Universal House of Justice,
    1998 Jul 21, Current Guidance on Bahá'í Publishing)

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