Who Can Justify These Linguisitc Mistakes of Bab and Bahaullah?

How Can Someone Who is Helpless in Learning Another Language but His Mother Tongue, Order Other People to Learn Many Languages?

The Bab and Bahaullah wrote many of their works in Arabic but since this wasn’t their mother tongue, their Arabic works have a fair amount of etymological and syntactical errors. We have showed in Chapter 4 some of the grammatical errors Bahaullah had made in the book of Iqan that were subsequently fixed. Since this topic is fairly advanced and only suitable for a special audience, we will only mention a few of the more obvious errors here that can be understood with little explanation and without delving into Arabic linguistics.

a- Using non-Arabic characters and words in Arabic sentences
Arabic and Farsi share almost the exact same alphabet. The only difference between them are four characters that exist in Farsi but not in Arabic: p, ch, g, zh. Interestingly enough, the Bab wrote in the Arabic Bayan:

If possible acquire all the writings of the Point (meaning the Bab) even if they are in printed form (not hand-written).
(Bab, Arabic Bayan, unit 9, chap. 10)

The Farsi word for print is chap. The characters ‘ch’ and ‘p’ used in this word do not exist in Arabic. The Bab used this Persian word with non-existent characters in an Arabic sentence. This is while the Arabic word for printing is tab`, which he could have been easily used!

A similar fallacy can be seen in the works of Bahaullah. In a tablet addressed to Pope Pius IX he says:
O Pope! Rend the veils asunder. He Who is the Lord of Lords is come overshadowed with clouds, and the decree hath been fulfilled by God.
(Bahaullah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 54-55)

The Farsi word for Pope is Pap. The Arabic word is al-Baba. Bahaullah has used the Farsi word with non-existent Arabic characters in the Arabic sentence. Here is an image of what he has written:

(For the original Arabic sentence see Bahaullah, Athar-i Qalam-i A`la, vol. 1, no. 1, p. 33)

The errors in these works were so obvious that the Bab decided to justify them in one of his writings:
Finding errors in diacritics (‘irab), recitation (qira’at), and linguistics of the Arabic [works] is invalid, because the linguistic laws are derived from these verses and not (the opposite) where the verses are based on these (laws). There is no doubt that the owner of these verses (meaning himself) has denied having any knowledge about these (linguistic) laws.
(The Bab, Farsi Bayan, unit 2, chap. 1)

What the Bab is saying here boils down to this: Any mistakes you find in my words and any inconsistencies with the Arabic language are due to your own ignorance. From now own, Arabic language laws and linguistics must be updated to become in conformity with my words!

As we mentioned earlier, Bahaullah had made the exact same justification when he was questioned about the errors in his writings and the writings of the Bab:
Say, oh you ignorant man; look at the words of God using His Eyes so that you may realize they are free of the allusions and the grammatical conventions of the people for He possesses the knowledge of the worlds. Say, if the words of God were revealed based on your grammatical conventions and (the laws) that are with you, then they would be like your words, oh group of people who are veiled (from the truth).
(Bahaullah, Majmu`iy-i alwah-i mubarak-ih, p. 71)

You and your kind have said that the words of the Great Bab and the Most Complete Remembrance are wrong and not in conformance with the grammatical conventions of the people. You still haven’t understood that the divine revealed words are the yardstick for all and what is lower than it cannot be a yardstick. Every grammatical convention that is not in accordance with the divine verses has no credibility.
(Bahaullah, Majmu`iy-i alwah-i mubarak-ih, p. 78)

These words are senseless. According to Bahaullah the criterion for the truth is he and only he. Reason, knowledge, language and everything imaginable are to be measured by his words even though his words are unscientific, illogical, unreasonable, and in many cases simply wrong. He uses similar reasoning in the Aqdas:

Say: O leaders of religion! (In the Arabic version of the Aqdas, the words used are ya ma`shar al-`ulama which translates to “O group of scholars.” This has been translated to “O leaders of religion,” in the official Bahai version) Weigh not the Book of God with such standards and sciences as are current amongst you, for the Book itself is the unerring Balance established amongst men. In this most perfect Balance whatsoever the peoples and kindreds of the earth possess must be weighed, while the measure of its weight should be tested according to its own standard, did ye but know it.
(Bahaullah, The Kitabi Aqdas, p. 56)

b- Using Meaningless Arabic Words and Phrases
The use of meaningless words and Arabic phrases is especially apparent in the works of the Bab. For instance the Bab says:

The water of life (semen) is pure and you have been created from it. You must taltufanna [!] your bodies from it so that you may have great pleasure.
(The Bab, Arabic Bayan, unit 5, chap. 15)

The underlined word is totally meaningless in this context and does not make sense. We will not refer to any more examples of this kind. We will simply mention a quote from Professor John Walbridge of Indiana University:

The Aqdas is written in a lofty and austere Arabic with little rhetorical ornamentation, a style somewhat similar to that of the Qur’an. As is usual in Bahaullah’s Arabic, there are some deviations from Arabic norms reflecting Persian usage. There are occasional grammatical innovations but many fewer than in the Arabic writings of the Bab.
(This is part of an article authored in 1999 and titled Kitab-i Aqdas, the Most Holy Book. It was intended for possible inclusion in The Bahai Encyclopedia: http://bahai-library.com/walbridge_encyclopedia_kitab_aqdas (retrieved 12/2/2014))

Professor Walbridge is clearly stating the works of the Bab have even more mistakes in them than the works of Bahaullah. He solves the problem of the errors in the writings of these figures by stating these errors are simply innovations or deviations from Arabic norms. Is it really that hard to see that these obvious mistakes were made because neither the Bab nor Bahaullah had sufficient knowledge about the Arabic language?


About imranshaykh
I am a student of comparative religion with a special interest in Islam and The Bahai Faith

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