This document lists the Roman script transliteration forms of many of the Arabic and Fársí (some are of Turkish origin) names and words used in the Bahá’í Writings as a guide to their transliteration. Hence, there is no need to include all possible combinations of those words used in the names of people and places. However, additional root words have been added as a guide to an understanding of the meaning of the words.*
Why use transliteration?..
“Regarding the transliteration of Persian and Arabic words the House of Justice requests that the method adopted by the beloved Guardian, and which is described in the various volumes of ‘The Bahá’í World’, be followed, as it permits all languages which use the Roman alphabet to transliterate such terms in the same way throughout the Bahá’í world.”1
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.2
Some sources of information are given in brackets. Authors of books, tablets, etc., “(by _____)”. The most reliable sources of information are to be found in documents issued by the Universal House of Justice (caution: these contain errors); and books by Shoghi Effendi, Hasan Balyuzi and Adib Taherzadeh. New entries are checked using digital copies of Arabic (Hans Wehr, also a printed copy) and Persian dictionaries—older entries will gradually be updated using these dictionaries. If these sources lack the required information, then information is sought from a few knowledgeable individuals. ma‘rifa
Arabic and Fársí do not have capital letters. When transcripted, capital letters should only be used for proper names and attributes of God, otherwise, lower case letters should be used. This document uses capital letters for all words/names as if they were proper names—these should be converted to lower case for other uses.
Most words (there are some commonly accepted exceptions, e.g. Bahá’ís) that have an English suffix should not be transcripted (e.g. Islamic, Qur’anic, Shi’ite, Shi’ism). Adding an ‘s’ to many words to represent the plural form is more recognizable to the English reader (bábs) than the often very different transcripted Arabic plural word (abváb). These and some other words are often better replaced by an English equivalent, e.g. Gate-hood for Bábíyyat instead of the incorrect hybrid forms: “Bábhood” or “Babhood”, etc.
Any variations in transliteration by the authors listed under the Information sources heading, and information from all other Bahá’í authors have been subjected to the following progressive checks:
a) Consistency with transliteration rules as used by Shoghi Effendi, and similar words.
b) An internet search of transliterated forms of the words.
c) An internet search for the original Arabic of the words that are then manually transliterated.
e) Consulting knowledgeable Bahá’ís who are Arabic and/or Fársí speakers. However, this information needs to be cross checked with the above sources.
Although every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of this document, many older entries need to be rechecked or require additional information. Any corrections or suggested changes are welcomed.
Phonetic or common spelling..
Some words in brackets in the third column indicate an old-style phonetical spelling that can be found in some older Bahá’í publications.
‘Ayn and Hamza consonants..
These Arabic consonant letters for ‘ayn and hamza are represented by left and right curly apostrophes respectively—they are not quote marks nor are they interchangeable. The alternative plain text characters are ` and ' respectively.
Always include any initial ‘Ayn, and ending Hamza or ‘Ayn. It is important not to confuse any quote marks used in the text together with an ‘Ayn or a Hamza.
An ‘Ayn in the middle or at the end of a word/name can be entered by inserting a space, an apostrophe, and then removing the leading space. Alternatively, use the appended Word macro to insert the left curly apostrophe.