Spread Peace

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Feast of Beauty (Jamal)

Though my body be pained by the trials that befall me from Thee, though it be afflicted by the
revelations of Thy Decree, yet my soul rejoiceth at having partaken of the waters of Thy Beauty,
and at having attained the shores of the ocean of Thine eternity. Doth it beseem a lover to flee 
from his beloved, or to desert the object of his heart's desire? Nay, we all believe in Thee,
and eagerly hope to enter Thy presence. 
-- Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations, p. 96

Consider the past. How many, both high and low, have, at all times, yearningly awaited the advent
of the Manifestations of God in the sanctified persons of His chosen Ones. How often have they
expected His coming, how frequently have they prayed that the breeze of divine mercy might blow, 
and the promised Beauty step forth from behind the veil of concealment, and be made manifest to 
all the world. And whensoever the portals of grace did open, and the clouds of divine bounty did
rain upon mankind, and the light of the Unseen did shine above the horizon of celestial might,
they all denied Him, and turned away from His face--the face of God Himself. Refer ye, to verify
this truth, to that which hath been recorded in every sacred Book. 

-- Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 4

Although both Arabic and English are languages with rich vocabularies and varied modes of expression,
their forms differ widely from one another. The Arabic of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas is marked by intense
concentration and terseness of expression. It is a characteristic of this style that if a 
connotation is obvious it should not be explicitly stated. This presents a problem for a reader 
whose cultural, religious and literary background is entirely different from that of Arabic.
A literal translation of a passage which is clear in the Arabic could be obscure in English. 
It therefore becomes necessary to include in the English translation of such passages that element 
of the Arabic sentence which is obviously implicit in the original. At the same time, it is vital
to avoid extrapolating this process to the point where it would add unjustifiably to the original 
or limit its meaning. Striking the right balance between beauty and clarity of expression on the 
one hand, and literalness on the other, is one of the major issues with which the translators have
had to grapple and which has caused repeated reconsideration of the rendering of certain passages. 
Another major issue is the legal implication of certain Arabic terms which have a range of meanings 
different from those of similar terms in English.

-- Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 10

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