Changing Pronouns and Dropping “Say” in Prayers

In some of the revealed prayers and supplications it is written, “and make him.”  Is it considered interpolation if one recites, in a passage of entreaty, “and make me,” which is an addition by the speaker?  He replies that this does not constitute interpolation and both are permitted.  Likewise regarding the blessed words, “Say:  O Lord my God!” and “Say: Praise be God!”  It is correct to both drop “Say” and to pronounce it: pronouncing it on account of the sacredness of the blessed word, which issues forth from the mouth of the King of Oneness; and dropping it is permissible inasmuch as the appearance servitude and specificity is most evident in that mode.

Baha’u’llah, through his amanuensis Khadim Allah.  Excerpted in Amr va Khalq, 4:28.

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12 Responses to Changing Pronouns and Dropping “Say” in Prayers

  1. Amal says:

    Many thanks for another beautiful translation. We also have guidance from the Guardian on this topic which I presume applies to the English translations of prayers?

    "Regarding your question as to the changing of pronouns in Baha'i prayers: The Guardian does not approve of
    such changes, either in the specific prayers on in any others. They should be read as printed without changing a single word."

    (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 13, 1944: Baha'i News, No. 171, November 1944, p. 3)

    (Lights of Guidance, p. 458)

    "In regard to your question as to whether it is permissible to substitute the plural pronoun for the singular, the Guardian would strongly urge your N.S.A. to inform the friends to strictly adhere to the text of the Holy Writings, and not to deviate even a hairbreadth from what has been revealed by the Holy Pen. Besides, it should be noted that congregational prayer has been discouraged by Baha'u'llah, and that it is allowed only in the case of the prayer for the dead."

    (From a letter written of behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, October 17, 1934)

    (Lights of Guidance, p. 458)

  2. Yes, I think that must have been the case, otherwise he would surely have brought it to the attention of the community.

  3. Badi says:

    The Guardian himself didn't say anything about this matter. The two quotes from Lights of Guidance were written by the Guardian's secretaries and NOT by the Guardian. Shoghi Effendi made it very clear that the writings of his secretaries do NOT have the same status or authority as his own writings. The writings of Shoghi Effendi's secretaries contain numerous errors, and this issue is another good example of such an error.

  4. Amal says:

    Bi Badi. On what basis do you claim that "The Guardian himself didn't say anything about this matter"? The letters I cited above were written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. In a letter dated 7 December 1930, the beloved Guardian wrote, and I quote: "I wish to add and say that whatever letters are sent in my behalf from Haifa are all read and approved by me before mailing. There is no exception whatever to this rule."

    Please see here:
    http://bahai-library.com/uhj_letters_behalf_guard

    If anyone has a concern about the letters cited, they can do what the Universal House of Justice has recommended and seek clarification from that Body.

  5. tooba says:

    Thank you so much, Amal for the extremely important quote from the Guardian regarding the authenticity of the letters sent on his behalf by his secretaries.

    To Alison and Matt, you are speaking about the authorized interpreter of the Writings. That means his interpretation is what counts not your and my literal understanding of a passage from the Writings. I suggest that you read the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha.

  6. Aftab says:

    Dear Tooba and Amal, what is your explanation for this apparent contradiction between the Guardian's words and those of the Manifestation of God? thank you

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  8. Joshua says:

    However Tooba, in this case it is not our "literal understanding of a passage in the writings" that is in contradiction to the Guardian's instruction. This passage needs no interpretation because it is literal and absolutely clear. It is not obscure and thus the contradiction does not arise from our understanding. The contradiction exists objectively. The Guardian's ruling is in contradiction to that of Baha'u'llah's; it is likely that the Guardian was simply not aware of this letter, and thus made an personal interpretation. It is self-evident that the Guardian's ruling is in contradiction to this letter; the question is whether Baha'is should practice that which is clearly allowed by Baha'u'llah which needs no interpretation, or to cling to a secretary's letter, which would need mountains of rationalization to prove that the Guardian was not simply unaware of this letter and allowance of Baha'u'llah.

  9. Bill says:

    I think it is missing the point to manufacture a contradiction between what Baha'u'llah wrote and what the Guardian instructed.

    Baha'u'llah was directing Himself to specific phrases; He explicitly gives permission to change certain prayers, such as the prayer for the dead, to match the gender of the deceased.

    The Guardian was considering a wider issue of not giving the believers, especially in the West, a kind of carte blanche to change revealed prayers.

    While the Guardian stated that letters written on his behalf have a lesser rank, he did not state that they could be ignored or did not have the same force as letters written and signed directly by him. He explicitly stated a number of times that he reviewed letters written on his behalf and that the Baha'is should treat them as being as normative as his own.

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  11. That means his interpretation is what counts not your and my literal understanding of a passage from the Writings. I suggest that you read the Will and Testament of author.

  12. They are still vital in formal or even casual composed English. Oral dialect is regularly languid and messy, particularly when local speakers can without much of a stretch make sense of which pronoun has been dropped. It spares times. You see the same thing in daily paper features and instant messages. It spares space.

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