A B C-D E-H I-L M N-R S T-Z
'Aba: Outer cloak or mantle. A loose, sleeveless, cloak-like outer garment worn by men.
Abhá: Bahá means “Glory". Abhá is its superlative, "Most Glorious". Both are titles of Baha’u’llah and of His Kingdom.
Abhá Beauty: A translation of Arabic Jamál-i-Abhá, a title of Baha’u’llah.
Abhá Kingdom: "The Most Glorious Kingdom": the spiritual world beyond this world
Abhá Pen: "The Pen of the Most Glorious"; that is, the power of the Holy Spirit manifested through the Prophet's writings.
Ablutions: The washing of one's hands and face before prayer.
'AD: A powerful Arabian tribe, destroyed, like Thamud, for its idolatry.
Adamic Cycle: The cycle of religious history that began withAdam and ended with the Dispensation of the Bab. The present cycle, called the Baha'i Cycle, or Cycle of Fulfillment, began with Baha’u'llah and is to last for five hundred thousand years. Also see Cycle.
Adhan: Muslim call to prayer
Administrative Order: The international system for the administration of the affairs of the Baha'i community. Ordained by Baha’u’llah, it is the agency through which the spirit of His revelation is to exercise its transforming effects on humanity and through which the Baha’i World Commonwealth will be ushered in. Its twin, crowning institutions are the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice. It is unique in religious history in that the institutions that make it up and the principles by which it operates are set forth in the writings of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha. Its structure was further clarified and raised up by Shoghi Effendi during his ministry as Guardian of the Faith (1921-57). This process of elucidation continues through guidance from the Universal House of Justice, the supreme governing and legislative body of the Baha'i Faith, which is supported by National and Local Spiritual Assemblies elected by members of the Baha'i community. These local and national bodies are invested with the authority to direct the Baha'i community's affairs and to uphold Baha'i laws and standards. They are also responsible for the education, guidance, and protection of the community. The Administrative Order also comprises the institutions of the Hands of the Cause of God, the International Teaching Center, and the Continental Boards of Counselors and their Auxiliary Boards and assistants, who bear particular responsibility for the protection and propagation of the Faith and share with the Spiritual Assemblies the functions of educating, counseling, and advising members of the Baha'i community. Other institutions of the Administrative Order include Huququ’llah, The Baha’i Fund, the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar, and the Nineteen Day Feast. The present Administrative Order is the precursor of the World Order of Baha'u'llah and is described by Shoghi Effendi as its "nucleus" and pattern."
Adrianople: Present-day Edirne, a city in European Turkey about 130 miles northwest of Constantinople (Istanbul) to which Baha’u’llah was exiled from 12 December 1863 to 12 August 1868; It was designated by Baha’u’llah as the ''remote prison”. It was the furthest point from His homeland that He reached and the first time in known history that a Messenger of God lived on the European continent. During the exile Baha’u’llah suffered an attempt on His life by Mirza Yahya that, together with subsequent acts of treachery, forced Him to sever ties with His half-brother. After this "most great separation" Baha'u'llah’s ministry reached its zenith with the revelation of the Suriy-i-Mulk (Tablet of the Kings) and Tablet to individual kings and leaders. In August 1868 Sultan ‘Abdu’l-Aziz banished Baha’u’llah from Adrianople to ‘Akka.
Afnan: Literally: “twigs". It denotes relatives of the Báb; specifically of His three maternal uncles and His wife's brothers.
Ages: The Baha'i Dispensation is divided into three Ages: the Heroic, Formative, and Golden Ages. The Heroic Age, also called the Apostolic or Primitive Age, began in 1844 with the Declaration of the Báb and spanned the ministries of the Báb (1844-53), Bahá'u'lláh (1852-92), and 'Abdu'l-Bahá (1892-1921). The transitional event most often identified with the end of the Heroic Age and the beginning of the Formative Age is the passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in 1921. The Formative Age, also known as the Age of Transition or the Iron Age, began in 1921 when Shoghi Effendi, according to instructions in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament, became the Guardian of the Cause of God and began to build Bahá'u'lláh's Administrative Order. The Formative Age is the second and current Age; it is to be followed by the third and final Age, the Golden Age destined to witness the proclamation of the Most Great Peace and the establishment of the Baha'i World Commonwealth. "The emergence of a world community, the consciousness of world citizenship, the founding of a world civilization and culture," Shoghi Effendi wrote, "- all of which must synchronize with the initial stages in the unfoldment of the Golden Age of the Bahá’i Era - should, by their very nature, be regarded, as far as this planetary life is concerned, as the furthermost limits in the organization of human society, though man, as an individual, will, nay must indeed as a result of such a consummation, continue indefinitely to progress and develop."
Aghsan: Arabic for 'Branches': The sons and male descendants of Baha'u'llah.
AH: Abbreviation for Anno Hegirae, Latin for "in the year of the Hegira," used to indicate a date reckoned according to the Muslim calendar, which began in 622 A.D. with Muhammad's emigration from Mecca to Medina – basis of Muhammadan chronology. The Muslim calendar is a lunar calendar with twelve months of twenty-nine or thirty days.
Ahmad, Tablet of: (Arabic) A Tablet revealed by Baha'u'llah around 1865 for a faithful believer from Yazd. Often read in times of trouble, it contains the remarkable promise, “Should one who is in affliction or grief read this Tablet with absolute sincerity, God will dispel his sadness, solve his difficulties and remove his afflictions." Another Tablet of the same name was revealed in Adrianople in Persian for Haji Mirza Ahmad of Kashan, who later sided with Miza Yahya.
Akbar: Arabic for “Greater”
Akhtar: 'The Star': A Persian reformist newspaper published in Constantinople and influenced by the Azalis.
‘Akka: Also called Akko and Acre: The four-thousand-year-old seaport and prison city in northern Israel surrounded by fortress-like walls facing the sea. In mid-1800s 'Akka became a penal colony to which the worst criminals of the Ottoman Empire were sent. In 1868 Baha'u'llah and His family and companions were banished to 'Akka by Sultan 'Abdu'l-Aziz. He arrived there on August 31, 1868. Baha'u'llah was incarcerated within its barracks for two years, two months, and five days. Restrictions were gradually relaxed, and He lived in a series of houses within 'Akka until June 1877, when He moved outside the city walls to the Mansion of Mazra'ih. Baha'u'llah named 'Akka "the Most Great Prison."
Alif, Lam, Mim: These and other disconnected letters appear at the head of twenty-nine surihs of the Qur'an.
Allah-u-Abha: Arabic, "God is Most Glorious": The Greatest Name, adopted as a greeting among Baha'is during the period of Baha'u'llah's exile in Adrianople (1863-68)
Al-Medina: Literally, "the city", so called as giving shelter to Muhammad: formerly Yathrib. The burial place of Muhammad; second only to Mecca in sanctity.
'Ama: Allegorical reference to Heaven.
Amir: “Lord”, “prince”, “commander”, “governor”
Amru'llah: Literally ‘the Cause of God’; also ‘the Command of God’. Name given to the house in which Baha’u’llah lived in Adrianople.
Andarun: Private inner rooms where the women of a household resided according to Persian custom.
Ancient Beauty: A translation of Arabic Jamal-i-Qadim, a name of God that is also used as a title of Baha'u'llah, Who is the latest Manifestation of God to humankind. One cannot say categorically in any passage whether the reference is to God, to Baha'u'llah, or to both.
Ancient of Days: A title of God, peculiar in the Bible to the Book of Daniel.
Apostolic Age: see Ages
Aqa: “Master”; an honorific title roughly equivalent to the English "Sir or "Mister." The title given by Baha’u’llah to ‘Abdu’l-Baha.
Aqdas: The greatest of Baha’u’llah’s works containing His laws and ordinances (1873).
Arc: A line of curved path laid out by Shoghi Effendi on Mount Carmel, stretching across the Baha’i properties near the Shrine of the Bab and centered on the Monument Gardens. On the Arc the seats of the "world-shaking, world-embracing, world-directing administrative institutions" of the World Order of Baha'u'llah are to be located. Within the Arc are the resting-places of the Greatest Holy Leaf; her brother, the Purest Branch; and her mother, the Most Exalted Leaf. Edifices already constructed on the Arc include the International Baha'i Archives building (completed in 1957), the seat of the Universal House of Justice (completed in 1982 and occupied in 1983), the International Teaching Center, and the Center for the Study of the Texts. The International Baha'i Library has yet to be completed.
Ark: The word "ark" means, literally, a boat or ship, something that affords protection and safety, or a chest or box. It is used in two senses in the Bible. In the first sense it refers to the Ark of Noah, which He was bidden to build of gopher wood to preserve life during the Flood. In the second sense it refers to the Ark of the Covenant, the sacred chest representing to the Hebrews God's presence among them. It was constructed to hold the Tablets of the Law in Moses' time and was later placed in the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem. The Ark, as a symbol of God's Law and the Divine Covenant that is the salvation of the people in every age and Dispensation, appears in various ways in the Baha'i writings. Baha'u'llah refers to His faithful followers as "the denizens of the Crimson Ark"; He refers to the Ark of the Cause and also to the Ark of His Laws. A well-known passage in which this term is used appears in the Tablet of Carmel: "Ere long will God sail His Ark upon thee, and will manifest the people of Baha who have been mentioned in the Book of Names." Shoghi Effendi explains that the Ark in this passage refers to the Baha'i Administrative Center on Mount Carmel and that the dwellers of the Ark are the members of the Universal House of Justice.
Army of light: Generally, the Baha'i community, but more particularly the "heavenly armies... those souls," according to 'Abdu'l-Baha, "who are entirely freed from the human world, transformed into celestial spirits and have become divine angels. Such souls are the rays of the Sun of Reality who will illumine all the continents".
Athim: Arabic, means Sinner.
Auxiliary Boards: An institution established by Shoghi Effendi in 1954 to act as "deputies, assistants and advisers" to the Hands of the Cause of God as they carry out their twin duties of protection and propagation. With the formation of the Continental Boards of Counselors in 1968, the Hands of the Cause of God were freed of responsibility for appointing, supervising, and coordinating the work of the Auxiliary Boards, and these functions were transferred by the Universal House of Justice to the Continental Boards of Counselors. There are two Auxiliary Boards, one for protection and one for propagation; members serve on one of the two boards. In a letter dated 7 October 1973, the Universal House of Justice authorized the appointment of assistants to Auxiliary Board members.
'Avalim: A compilation of Shi’ih traditions.
'Aynu’l-Baghar: An ancient spring in 'Akka.
Azali: Follower of Subh-i-Azal, or Mirza Yahya
A’zam: Arabic: “The greatest”
Babi: Follower of the Bab.
Badasht: A conference of Babis in a village on the borders of Mazindaran in 1848, convened and guided by Baha'u'llah, which established the independent nature of the Faith of the Bab.
Badi: Literally ‘Unique, wonderful’: title given by Baha'u'llah to Aqa Bozurg of Khurasan, the seventeen-year-old youth who delivered Baha’u’llah's tablet to Nasirid-Din Shah. Baha’u’llah praised his heroism and gave him the title "Pride of Martyrs." (see God Passes By, p.199)
Baghdad: Founded by the Caliph Al-Mansur in 762 A.D. on the site of a Christian village on the western bank of the Tigris. It remained for 500 years the seat of the Abbasid Government.
Baha: Literally, "Glory", "Splendor", “Light”, a title by which Baha’u’llah (Mirza Husayn-'Ali) is designated. This was the name by which He was known before He declared Himself as the Promised One of the Bab.
Baha'i Era (BE): The period of the Baha'i calendar beginning with the Declaration of the Bab on 23 May 1844, and expected to last until the next appearance of a Manifestation (Prophet) of God after the expiration of at leas 1,000 years.
Baha’i World Center: The spiritual and administrative center of the Baha’i Faith, comprising the holy places in the Haifa-Acre area and the Arc of administrative buildings on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel.
Baha'i: A follower of Baha'u'llah.
Baha'i International Community: A name used generally in reference to the worldwide Baha’i community and officially in that country’s external relations. In the latter context, the Baha'i International Community is an association of the National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world and functions as an international nongovernmental organization. Its offices include its Secretariat at the Baha'i World Centre, a United Nations Office in New York with a branch in Geneva, an Office of Public Information, an Office of the Environment, and an Office for the Advancement of Women.
Baha’i World Commonwealth: The future commonwealth of the nations of the world envisaged in the Baha’i writings. It will include a federal system of governance, to which all national governments will be accountable, a system of international communication; an international auxiliary language; a world script and literature; a uniform and universal system of currency, weights, and measures; and an integrated economic system with coordinated markets and regulated channels of distribution.
Bahji: Arabic for “delight". The name of the property north-east of the city of Acre where Baha’u’llah lived from 1880 until His ascension in 1892, and where His shrine is now situated. It is a place of pilgrimage for Baha’is which comprise the Shrine of Baha’u’llah, the mansion which was His last residence, and the surrounding gardens that serve to beautify the site. Baha’u’llah’s shrine is the point to which Baha'is turn in prayer.
Baqiyyatu’llah: “Remnant of God.” Title applied to the Bab and Baha’u’llah.
Bastinado: A form of corporal punishment in which the soles of the feet are exposed and beaten with a stick.
Bayan: Literally, “Explanation, exposition, utterance”. Title given by the Bab to His Revelation, particularly to His Books. The Persian Bayan, revealed by the Bab in the fortress of Mah-Ku is His chief doctrinal work. It is described in God Passes By (pp. 24-25) as a "monumental repository of the laws and precepts of the new Dispensation and the treasury enshrining most of the Bab's references and tributes to, as well as His warning regarding, ‘Him Whom God will make manifest’” (Baha’u’llah) …this Book of about eight thousand verses, occupying a pivotal position in Babi literature, should be regarded primarily as a eulogy of the Promised One rather than a code of laws and ordinances designed to be a permanent guide to future generations." The Bab also wrote "the smaller and less weighty Arabic Bayan."
Bifarma’id: Persian version of Arabic Bismillah, meaning “Please”. It is used when inviting those present to participate in an activity
Bihar: Reference to Shi’ih tradition.
Biharu’l-Anvar: A compilation of Shi’ih traditions
Biruni: Outer quarters, or men's quarters, in a Persian home
Bismillah: (Arabic). Literally means: ‘In the name of God’. In the 19th century Middle East, it was often used as 'Please'. It is used when inviting those present to participate in an activity.
Black Elk: (1863-1950) An Oglala Lakota Sioux Indian who was a holy man among the Lakota. He had a prophetic vision about the destiny of his people.
Black Pit: (Siyah-Chal): The subterranean dungeon of Tehran which Baha’u’llah was imprisoned August-December 1852 and in which He received the first intimations of His divine mission.
Black Standard: According to Islamic tradition, the flag alluded to by Muhammad that would one day signify the advent of the promised Mihdi.
Book of the Covenant: A translation of Kitab-i-‘Ahd or Kitab-i-‘Ahdi, meaning "the Book of the, or My, Covenant": Baha’u’llah’s last will and testament, written in His own hand, it designates 'Abdu'l-Baha as His successor and the Center of His Covenant and provides for the continuation of divine authority over the affairs of the Baha’i Faith in the future.
Book of Fatimih: The book revealed by Gabriel for Fatimih, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, as consolation after her Father's death. It is believed by Shi'ih Islam that this book would be in the possession of the Qa’im, their Promised One. This book is identified in the Baha’i Faith with the Hidden Words, revealed by Baha’u’llah.
Big: Honorary title; lower than Khan
Branch or branches: A description referring to the male members of Baha’u’llah’s family.
British mandate: Authorization given to Great Britain by the League of Nations to govern parts of the former territories of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. These territories included Iraq and Palestine.
Burning Bush: See Exod. 3.V.2. Symbolic of God's presence in the heart of Moses.
Caiaphas: The Jewish high priest who presided at the court which tried and condemned Jesus.
Cain and Abel: The two sons of Adam and Eve. See Genesis 4 and Qur'an, Surih 5.
Calendar, Baha'i: Year consisting of 19 months of 19 days each, with the addition of certain "intercalary days” (four in ordinary and five in leap years) between the 18th and l9th months in order to adjust the calendar to the solar year. Naw-Ruz, the Baha'i new year, is astronomically fixed, commencing at the vernal equinox (21 March). The Baha’i era (BE) begins with the year of the Bab’s declaration (1844 CE).
Caliphs: Also known in the west as Caliphate: Literally, "successors" or "vicegerents” to the Prophet Muhammad in the Sunni branch of Islam." The Shi’ih branch of Islam holds that the successors of the Prophet must be the members of His own family, but they do not use the title Khalifih or "Caliph." The Sultan of Turkey assumed this title early in the 16th century.
Caravansary: A Middle Eastern inn surrounding a court in which caravans can rest at night.
Carmel, Mount: One of the sacred spots in Baha'i history, where are the shrines of the Bab and of 'Abdu’l-Baha and memorials to other members of 'Abdu’l-Baha’s family.
Center of the Covenant: A title of 'Abdu’l-Baha referring to His appointment by Baha’u’llah as the successor to whom all must turn after Baha’u’llah’s passing.
Central Figures: Term used to refer collectively to Baha’u’llah, the Bab, and ‘Abdu'l-Baha.
Cherubim: In the Bible the Cherubim appear as distinct from the angels who are Jehovah's messengers, while the Cherubim are found where God is personally present: e.g. "And he [God] rode upon a cherub." (Psalms 18:10). Figures of Cherubim were wrought into the hangings of the Holy of Holies and were represented above the Mercy Seat within. In later tradition, the Cherubim were included among the nine orders of angels.
Circumambulation: Literally to circle on foot, especially ritualistically. A Muslim custom by which one expresses devotion for the Prophets of God or other holy souls.
City of Certitude: A condition of high spiritual attainment.
Constantinople: Present-day Istanbul, the former capital of the Ottoman Empire to which Baha’u’llah was banished in 1863.
Consultation: A form of discussion between individuals and within groups which requires the subjugation of egotism so that all ideas can be shared and evaluated with frankness, courtesy, and openness of mind, and decisions arrived at can be wholeheartedly supported. Its guiding principles were elaborated by 'Abdu'l-Baha.
Continental Boards of Counselors: An institution of the Baha’i Administrative Order established by the Universal House of Justice in 1968 to extend into the future the work of the institution of the Hands of the Cause of God, particularly its appointed functions of protection and propagation. With the passing of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, there was no way for additional Hands of the Cause to be appointed.. Its members are appointed to five-year terms by the Universal House of Justice and serve in five zones - Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australasia, and Europe. The duties of the Counsellors include directing the Auxiliary Boards in their respective areas, advising and collaborating with National Spiritual Assemblies, and keeping the Universal House of justice informed concerning the conditions of the Faith in their areas.
Convention: A gathering called at a regional, national, or international level for consultation on matters affecting the welfare of the Baha'i community and for the purpose, respectively, of electing delegates to a National Convention, electing members of a National Spiritual Assembly, or electing members of the Universal House of Justice.
Copt: The Copts were descendants of the ancient Egyptian stock. They were unbelievers in the time of Moses. The Septs were the tribes of Israel.
Covenant: A pact that involves obligations by both parties. According to Baha’u’llah, God has always guided and instructed humanity through a succession of Divine Messengers, Whom humanity has the obligation to accept and obey. This is called the Greater Covenant. The Lesser Covenant is that made between a Messenger and His followers. A reference to the provisions made in the Baha’i writings concerning the succession of authority in the Baha’i Faith after the passing of Baha’u’llah and the structure of the Baha’i Administrative Order. Baha’u’llah’s Covenant with His followers designates ‘Abdu'l-Baha as the perfect exemplar, and the Center of the Covenant and confers upon him the authority to interpret Baha’u’llah’s writings. The Covenant also formally established the institutions of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice as the twin successors of Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu'l-Baha.
Covenant-breaker: A Baha’i term used to describe a Baha’i who attempts to disrupt the unity of the Baha’i Faith by publicly denying the line of succession (i.e., Baha’u’llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha & Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice), or who rebels against the head of the Faith and actively works to undermine the Covenant. Baha’is who persist in these activities may be removed from membership in the Baha’i Faith. This is a very rate occurrence.
Crimson Ark: Each of the past Dispensations was referred to as an "Ark." This refers to the Cause of Baha'u'llah.
Crimson Book: Baha'u'llah's Book of the Covenant. See God Passes By, p. 238.
Crimson Pillar: An allusion to the Religion of Baha’u’llah, crimsoned with the blood of martyrs.
Cycle: A unit of time comprising the Dispensations of numerous consecutive Manifestations of God. For example, the Adamic, or Prophetic, Cycle began with Adam and ended with the Dispensation of Muhammad. The Baha'i Cycle began with the Bab and is to last at least five hundred thousand years.
Darughih: Arabic, means High constable
Dawlih: Arabic, means State, government
Day Star of Muhammad: Symbol of the Prophet as enlightening the world.
Dervish: Literally beggar, poor one: the name given to one of many orders of religious mendicants and Islamic mystics.
Dhabih: Means “sacrifice”, title given by Baha’u’llah to the famous Baha’i and brother of Mirz Jani of Kashan (see The Dawn-Breakers).
Dhi’l-Jawshan: An Arabian term meaning "clad in armor", applied to Mulla 'Abdu'llah the arch-killer of Imam Husayn.
Divine Elixir: Symbolic reference to the elixir of the alchemists, that was supposed to transform base metals into gold. It also symbolically represents the power of faith to confer eternal life upon man; from "elixir", an imaginary liquor supposed to prolong human life indefinitely.
Divine Lote-Tree: A reference to the tree beyond which there is no passing-in ancient times, the tree that Arabs planted to mark the end of a road. In Islam, the term symbolizes the point in the heavens beyond which neither humans nor angels can pass in their approach to God, thus delimiting the bounds of divine knowledge as revealed to humankind. In Baha’i usage it is a reference to the Messenger of God -i.e., Baha’u’llah
Divine Messenger: Prophet of God. The Great Saul, the All- Perfect One through whom such a Revelation is given.
Divine Messiah: The Divine King and Deliverer expected by the Hebrews.
Dispensation: The period of time during which the laws and teachings of a Prophet or Manifestation of God have spiritual authority. A dispensation begins with the Manifestation's declaration of His mission and ends with the advent of the next Manifestation of God.
Diyar-Bakr: A commercial city on the banks of the Tigris River in Turkey.
Farman: An order, command, or royal decree.
Farman-Farma: Title of Prince Husayn 'Ali Mirzia grandson of Fath- 'Ali-Shah of Persia.
Farrash: “Footman,” “lector,” “attendant”
Farrash-Bashi: The head farrash
Farsakh: Unit of measurement. Its length differs in different parts of the country according to the nature of the ground, the local interpretation of the term being the distance which a laden mule will walk in the hour, which varies from three to four miles. Arabicised from the old Persian “parsang,” and supposed to be derived from pieces of stone (sang) placed on the roadside.
Fi Aman'u'llah: (Arabic) 'May God protect you.' Used in dismissing a visitor.
First Leaf of Paradise: Quotation is from Baha'u'llah's Tablet "Words of Paradise" which has eleven numbered sections each called a "leaf."
Gabriel: Said to be the highest of the angels, and to hover over the throne of God and shelter it with his wings. It represents the Holy Spirit. It is his duty to write down the decrees of God; through him the Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad.
Galilee: A hilly region in northern Israel, the site of Jesus' ministry.
Garden of Ridvan (Paradise): Name given by Baha’u’llah to the Garden of Najibiyyih in Baghdad, where He publicly declared His mission in April 1863. He later gave the same name to the Na’mayn Garden near Acre.
Grand Vizier: Prime minister.
Greatest Branch: A title given by Baha’u’llah to ‘Abdu'l-Baha emphasizing ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s station in relation to Baha’u’llah.
Greatest Holy Leaf: A title given by Baha’u’llah to Bahiyyih Khanum, the saintly daughter of Baha’u'llah and Asiyih Khanum who beseeched her father to allow her to remain unmarried in order to devote herself to the service of His Faith. She was designated as the outstanding heroine of the Baha’i Dispensation.
Gallipoli: A seaport that lies west-southwest of present-day Istanbul.
Ghusn-i-A'zam: 'The Most Great Branch' A title of 'Abdu'l-Baha.
Guardian of the Cause of God and Guardianship: The institution, anticipated by Baha’u’llah in the Kitab-i-Aqdas and created by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in his Will and Testament, to which Shoghi Effendi was appointed. He held this office from 1921 until his death in 1957. The Guardian's chief functions were to interpret the writings of Baha’u’llah, the Bab, and ‘Abdu’l-Baha, to guide the development of the Baha’i world community, and to be the permanent head of the Universal House of Justice.
Ha: The letter H, the number of which is 5 in Abjad numerical system where each letter of Arabic alphabet has a number. It is sometimes used as a symbol of Baha’u’llah.
Hadith: Arabic means 'Tradition'. A sacred tradition of Islam.
Haifa: Seaport located in present-day Israel where the Baha’i World Center is located
Haji: A Muhammadan who has performed the pilgrimage to Mecca
Hajj: Pilgrimage taken by Muslims to Mecca at least once in a lifetime, as instituted in the Koran.
Handmaid or Handmaiden: A poetic term used in the Baha’i writings to refer to a female member of the Baha’i community
Hands of the Cause of God: Eminent Baha’is appointed by Baha’u’llah, and later by Shoghi Effendi, who were charged with the specific duties of protecting and propagating the Faith. (Four individuals were recognized posthumously as Hands of the Cause by 'Abdu'l-Baha) With the passing of Shoghi Effendi, there was no further possibility for appointing Hands of the Cause; hence, in order to extend into the future the important functions of propagation and protection, the Universal House of Justice in 1968 created Continental Boards of Counsellors and in I973 established the International Teaching Centre, which coordinates their work.
Haram: Means 'sanctuary'. It refers to an area near the Kaba in which blood revenge was forbidden, and also to four months in the Arabic Calendar to which the same prohibition applied.
Haziratu'l-Quds: Arabic, means ‘The Sacred Fold': Official title designating headquarters-of Baha’i administrative activity.
He (or Him) Whom God Will Make Manifest: Title that the Bab used to refer to the Promised One Whose advent was imminent- i.e., Baha’u’llah.
Hijaz: A region in southwestern Arabia which may be considered the holy land of the Muslims since it contains the sacred cities of Medina and Mecca and many other places connected with the history of Muhammad. The "language of Hijaz" is Arabic.
Holy Days: Eleven days commemorating significant Baha'i anniversaries, on nine of which work is suspended.
House of ‘Abbud: A house in Acre that once belonged to Ilyas 'Abbud and stands adjacent to the house of ‘udi Khammar (the two connected houses are known today as the House of ‘Abbud). It was occupied by Baha’u’llah and His family from late 1873 until June 1877, when He left Acre for Mazra‘ih.
Howdah: A litter, seat or covered pavilion, carried on the back of a camel, mule, horse, or elephant for travelling purposes.
Huququ’llah: Arabic for "the Right of God." As instituted n the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha’u’llah’s Book of Laws, payment to "the Authority in the Cause to whom all must turn" (at present, the Universal House of Justice) of 19 percent of what remains of one's personal income after one's essential expenses have been covered. Funds generated by the payment of Huququ’llah are used for the promotion of the Faith and for the welfare of society.
Imám: Title of the twelve shí’ah successors of Muhammad. Also applied to Muslim religious leaders.
Imám-Jum’ih: The leading imám in a town or city; chief of the mullas; the Muslim leader who recites the Friday prayers in the mosque.
Imáms: Title of the twelve Shi'ih successors of Prophet Muhammad.
Imám-Zadih: Descendant of an imám, or his shrine.
Insh‘allah: Arabic meaning 'God willing'.
International Teaching Center: An institution established by the Universal House of Justice in 1973 to bring to fruition the work of the Hands of the Cause of God in the Holy Land and to provide for its extension into the future. The duties of the International Teaching Center include coordinating and stimulating the activities of the Continental Boards of Counselors, serving as the liaison between them and the Universal House of Justice, keeping fully informed of the condition of the Baha’i Faith throughout the world, and stimulating the development of social and economic life both within and outside the Baha’i community. The membership of the International Teaching Centre comprises the surviving Hands of the Cause and also nine Counsellors appointed by the Universal House of Justice. The scat of the International Teaching Centre is located at the Baha’i 'World Centre in Haifa, Israel. Its Counselor members are appointed to a five-year term.
‘Iraq: Part of the Turkish Empire in 1862. Now an Arab Kingdom with Baghdad as its capital.
Isaiah: A Hebrew Prophet of the eighth century B.C.; also a book of the Bible.
Isfahan: An important city in central Persia.
Ishqabad: (also Ashkhabad) Capital of present-day Turkmenistan, site of the first Baha’i Mashriqu'l-Adhkar.
Islam: Literally ‘Submission to the Will of God’: The name given to the religion of Prophet Muhammad, upheld by Baha’is as divine in origin.
Jubbih: An upper coat
Kaaba or Ka'bih: Ancient shrine at Mecca. Now recognized as the most holy shrine of Islám. Literally means “Cube”: The cube-shaped building in the center of the courtyard of the great Mosque at Mecca which contains the Black Stone. It is the goal of Islamic pilgrimage and the point toward which Muslims turn in prayer.
Kad-Khuda: Chief of a ward or parish in a town; headman of a village.
Kalim: “One who discourses”
Karbila: A city about 55 miles southwest of Baghdad on the Euphrates. It is viewed as a Holy city by Shi’ih Muslims since Imam Husayn was martyred and buried there. It is considered in Islam as one of the two “supreme shrines”, the other being Najaf.
Karbila’i: A Muhammadan who has performed the pilgrimage to Karbilá.
Karim: Arabic, means Honorable.
Kawthar: A river in Paradise from which all other rivers flow. Part of its waters are fed into a great lake on the shores of which the souls of the faithful rest when they have crossed the terrible bridge which is laid over the midst of Hell.
Khan: “Prince,” “lord,” “nobleman,” “chieftain.”
Khanum: Literally lady, wife. When it appears after a woman's given name, it is an honorific meaning "gentlewoman."
Khaybar: A mountainous district on the northwest border of India.
Kheiralla, Ibrahim George: (1849-1929) Syrian Christian who became a Baha’i around 1888. He migrated to the United States in 1892 and began to teach the Faith in New York. In 1894 the Faith began to establish itself in North America through his classes. He began to question the authority of 'Abddu’l-Baha after February 1900 and eventually broke with the Baha’i Faith, creating a crisis in the Baha’i community.
Khidr: Name of a legendary immortal saint in Qura’n.
Khutbiy-i-Tutujiyyih: Title of an epistle in theology written by Imam 'Ali.
Kitab-i-‘Ahd: Means, ‘The Book of the (or My) Covenant’, Baha’u’llah’s will and testament, written in His own hand. It designates ‘Abdu'l-Baha as His successor and the one to whom all should turn for guidance after Baha’u’llah’s death.
Kitab-i-Aqdas: Means, ‘The Most Holy Book’, (Kitab, Arabic means "book"; Aqda, Arabic means "Most Holy"), revealed in Acre in 1873, it is the chief repository of Baha’u’llah’s laws and is considered by Baha’is to be the charter of a future world civilization
Kitab-i-Iqan: Means: The Book of Certitude. Revealed by Baha’u’llah in Baghdad in 1862 in response to questions from one of the Bab's uncles about the validity of his nephew's claim to be the Qa’im (Literally He Who Arises: a reference to the Twelve Imam in Shia Islam)
Knight of Baha'u'llah: Title initially given by Shoghi Effendi to those Baha'is who arose to open specified new territories to the Faith during the first year of the Ten Year Crusade (1953-1963) and subsequently applied to those who first reached the remaining unopened territories on the list at a later date.
Koran(Qur’an): Arabic, means literally ‘the reading; that which ought to be read’, the holy book of Islam, revealed in Arabic to Mohammad. It is comprised of 114suras, or chapters.
Kufih: A city on the west hank of the Euphrates, which has now entirely disappeared.
Kulah: The Persian lambskin hat worn by government employees and civilians.
Lamp of God, The: The spiritual light shed by God's prophet.
Land of Ta: Phrase used in the writings of Baha’u’llah to refer to Tehran, Persia.
Lavassan: A rural district lying to the east of Tihran.
Lawh-i-Fu’ad: Tablet to Fu'ad Pasha, Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Lawh-i-Ra’is: Baha'u'llah's Tablet to the Grand Vizir 'Ali Pasha.
Leaf or Leaves: a poetic term used in the Baha’i writings to refer to female members of the Baha'i community
Lesser Peace: A political peace to he established by the nations of the world in order to bring about an end to war. Its establishment will prepare the way for the Most Great Peace, a condition of permanent peace and world unity to be founded on the spiritual principles and institutions of the World Order of Baha’u’llah and signalizing humanity's coming of age.
Letters of the Living: Refers collectively to the first eighteen individuals who independently recognized and believed in the Bab. The first Letter of the Living was Mulla Husayn; the last was Quddus. Tahirih was the only female Letter.
Letters of Unity: Apostles of the Prophet Muhammad.
Leviathan: An unidentified aquatic monster; whale or serpent.
Local Spiritual Assembly: The local administrative body of the Baha’i community ordained in the writings of Baha’u’llah. Its nine members are elected annually from among the adult membership of the community and serve for one year. The Assembly oversees the affairs of the community. Its decisions are made after consultation.
Ma’ani: A reference to the Imams as the repositories of the inner meanings of the Word of God.
Madrisih: Religious college
Magi: A caste of priests and sages among the ancient Persians.
Maiden: Term used in the Baha’i writings to refer to the Spirit of God which descended upon Baha’u’llah while He was in the Black Pit.
Maidservant or maidservants: A designation applied to a female Baha’i signifying recognition of her commitment to conform her life to the precepts of the religion
Manifestation: The nature of a prophet or the Manifestation of God is thus described in Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah (pp. 66-67) : ". . . since there can be no tie of direct intercourse to bind the one true God with His creation, and no resemblance whatever can exist between the transient and the Eternal, the contingent and the Absolute, He hath ordained that in every age and dispensation a pure and stainless Soul be made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and heaven. . . . These Essences of Detachment, these resplendent Realities are the channels of God's all-pervasive grace. Led by the light of unfailing guidance, and invested with supreme sovereignty, they are commissioned to use the inspiration of Their words, the effusions of Their infallible grace and the sanctifying breezes of Their Revelation for the cleansing of every longing heart and receptive spirit from the dross and dust of earthly cares and limitations.”
Manifestation of God: One who is the "expressimage" of the perfections and attributes of God. The term used to describe a Prophet or Messenger of God Who is the Founder of a religious dispensation. The Manifestations are not God descended to earth, but They reflect God's attributes, just as a mirror reflects the sun but is not the sun itself.
Man-Yuzhiruh’llah: “He whom God will make manifest.” Title given by the Báb to the promised One.
Marhaba: Arabic means 'Bravo', 'Well done', also 'Welcome'.
Mashriqu’l-Adhkar: Arabic means ‘The Dawning-place of the Praise of God’: title designating a Baha’i House of Worship or Temple. Open to the public for devotional meetings, Baha’i Houses of Worship have been constructed in Wilmette, near Chicago, Illinois; Kampala, Uganda; Ingleside, near Sydney, Australia; Langenhain, near Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Panama City, Panama; Apia, Western Samoa; and New Delhi, India. Plans for construction of one in Santiago, Chile, are underway. The first Bahi'i House of Worship, built in 1902 in 'Ishqabad, Turkmenistan, was damaged by an earthquake in 1948 and, following heavy rains, had to be razed in 1963.
Masjid: Mosque, temple, place of worship.
Masjid-i-Shah: A great Mosque in Tihran built by Fath-'Ali Shah.
Master, the: A title of 'Abdu'l-Baha.
Maydan: A square or open place. A subdivision of a farsakh.
Mazindaran: A northern province of Iran bordering the Caspian Sea. Baha’u’llah's ancestral home was located there.
Mazra‘ih: A mansion situated just north of Acre that 'Abdu’l-Baha rented for Baha’u’llah. Baha’u’llah took up residence there in June 1877and stayed for two years before moving to the mansion of Bahji.
Mecca: The birthplace of Prophet Muhammad, the site of the Ka'bih, and the most sacred city of Islam. Muhammad declared His Mission as a Manifestation of God in Mecca.
Medina: The city which sheltered Muhammad and where He is buried; esteemed as second only to Mecca in sanctity.
Messenger: Term used in the Baha’i writings to refer to a Prophet, or Manifestation of God. Baha’u’llah likens the Messenger of God to a perfect mirror reflecting the sun; that is, His life and teachings are a pure reflection of the spiritual light, or attributes, of God, Who is the Source of life. The capacities of a Messenger of God are distinct from those of other humans, according to Baha’i writings, although the human soul is also created to reflect the attributes of God and is capable of “limitless perfections”.
Midian: A city and district on the Red Sea, southeast of Mt. Sinai, occupied by the descendants of Midian, son of Abraham and Keturah. See Qur'an, surih 7:83.
Mihdi: Literally ‘One Who Is Guided’; Title of the Manifestation expected by Islám.
Mihrab: The principal place in a mosque, where the imám prays with his face turned towards Mecca.
Mi'raj: “Ascent”; used with reference to Muhammad’s night journey to heaven with angle Gabriel.
Mirza: A contraction of Amir-Zadih, meaning ‘son of an Amir’. When it follows a name, it signifies ‘prince’; when prefixed, simply ‘Mr.’
Monument Gardens: Beautifully landscaped gardens at the heart of the Arc on Mount Carmel where befitting monuments have been erected over the graves of the daughter and the wife of Baha'u'llah, His son who died in prison in Acre, and the wife of 'Abdu'l-Baha.
Mosque of Aqsa, The: The name by which the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem is referred to in the Qur'an.
Mosque of Sultan Salim: The site in Adrianople Mirza Yahya chose for a public debate with and Baha’u’llah. The debate, which was suggested and organized by Mir Muhammad, never took place because Mirza Yahya did not attend.
Most Great Branch: A title of ‘Abdu’l-Baha.
Most Great Idol: Title Baha’u’llah gave to Mirza Yahya referring to Mirza Yahya’s pretense in claiming to be a Messenger of God.
Most Great Name, The: A title of Baha’u’llah
Most Great Peace: A condition of permanent peace and world unity founded on spiritual principles and the second of two major stages in which Baha’is believe peace will be established. The first stage, the Lesser Peace, refers to political peace established by the nations of the world. The Most Great Peace will then develop in gradual stages.
Most Great Separation: Phrase Baha’u’llah used to refer to a period of two months, starting 10 March 1866, during which He lived in seclusion from the Babi community in Adrianople. This period allowed the Babis, both faithful and unfaithful, to decide where their allegiances lay.
Mount Carmel: The mountain spoken of by Isaiah as the "mountain of the Lord." Today, the site of the Baha'i World Centre including several Baha'i holy places, the most important of which are the Shrine of the Bab and the Monument Gardens.
Muezzin (Mu’adhdhin): The one who sounds the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer. A Muslim crier who calls the hour of daily prayers.
Mufaddal: A devoted follower of Imam Sadiq, who has handed down many Muslim Shi’ih traditions from the Amma.
Mufti: A professional jurist responsible for the interpretation of Islamic law.
Muharram: First month of the Muslim year, the first-ten days of which are observed by Shi'ihs to commemorate the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn in Karbila
Mujtahid: A Muslim Doctor of Law. The highest rank of divine within Shia Islam. One who has the power to make authoritative decisions on points of law in the name of the Hidden Imam. Most of the mujtahids of Persia have received their diplomas from the most eminent jurists of Karbilá and Najaf.
Mulla: An Islamic priest, cleric, theologian, or judge.
Mustaghath: Literally, "He who is invoked"; the numerical value of which has been assigned by the Báb as the limit of the time fixed for the advent of the promised Manifestation. Referring to the appearance of Baha'u'llah at the time announced by the Bab. By reference to the numerical value of this word, the Bab reveals the ninth year of this Era (A.D. 1853) as date of Baha’u’llah’s manifestation.
Mystery of God: A title given by Baha’u’llah to ‘Abdu'l-Baha alluding to the unique blend of human nature with a knowledge and perfection beyond the scope of ordinary men that was evident in ‘Abdu'l-Baha.
Nabat: A Persian rock candy.
Nabil: Arabic, literally means: ‘noble’, ‘learned’; surname of Mulla Muhammad-i-Zarandi, who wrote the detailed history of the Babi Faith titled The Dawn-Breakers.
Najaf: A city in south central Iraq that was the site of the martyrdom of the Imam 'Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad whom Shia Muslims believe to be the Prophet's rightful successor. The shrine of the Imam ‘Ali is a place of pilgrimage for Shiites, and the city itself is considered holy.
National Spiritual Assembly: The national administrative body in the Baha'i Faith, ordained in the Baha'i sacred writings, with authority over all activities and affairs of the Baha'i Faith throughout its area. Among its duties are to stimulate, unify, and coordinate the manifold activities of Local Spiritual Assemblies and of individual Baha'is within its jurisdiction. The members of National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world constitute the electoral college for the Universal House of Justice. At Ridvan 2002, there were 182 National or Regional Spiritual Assemblies.
Navvab: Literally ‘Grace’, ‘Highness’: A title of great courtesy and respect used by Persian noblemen for their wives. The title that Baha’u’llah addressed ‘Asiyih Khanum, His wife and mother of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Bahiyyih-Khaum, and Mirza Mihdi. Baha’u’llah designated her as the "Most Exalted Leaf" and His "perpetual consort in all the wor1d.s of God."
Naw-Ruz: Literally ‘New Day’; the Babi, Baha’i, Persian, and Zoroastrian New Year's Day. It occurs on the date of the vernal equinox, which, in the Northern Hemisphere, normally falls on 21 March but sometimes on 20 or 22 March. According to the Persian calendar, it is the day on which the sun enters Aries.
Nayriz: A town in southern Iran, near Shiraz. Two episodes occurring in Nayriz in the province of Fars in 1850 and 1853, in which a number of Babis were forced to take up defensive positions against much superior Government forces. In both cases they were defeated by betrayal, followed by torture and massacres and cruel treatment of their women and children.
Nineteen Day Feast: A Baha’i institution inaugurated by the Bab and confirmed by Baha’u’llah in the Kitab-i-Aqdas. It is held on the first day of every Baha’i month, each consisting of nineteen days and bearing the name of one of the attributes of God. The Nineteen Day Feast is the heart of Baha’i community life at the local level and consists of devotional, consultative, and social elements. It is the principal gathering in each local Baha'i community, every Baha'i month, for the threefold purpose of worship, consultation, and fellowship.
Niyavaran: A village north of Tehran, in which there is a royal residence.
Nudbih, Prayer of: A "Lamentation" of the Imam 'Ali.
Nur: Literally ‘light’: A district of the province of Mazindaran in which Baha’u’llah’s ancestral home was located.
Ottoman Empire: The Turkish dynasty based in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) that ruled over regions including Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and Arabia during the time of Baha’u’llah. The empire lasted from the decline of the Byzantine Empire in the fourteenth century until the establishment of Turkey as a republic in 1922. Two of its leaders, Sultan ‘Abdu’l-‘Aziz and Sultan ‘Abdu’l-Hamid II, were responsible for the imprisonment and banishment of Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu'l-Baha in Constantinople, Adrianople, and Acre. Both leaders were eventually deposed.
Pahlavan: ‘Athlete,’ ‘champion.’ Term applied to brave and muscular men.
Paradise: A heavenly garden; a state of bliss. The Manifestation is "The Nightingale of Paradise"; His Revelation, "the rustling of the leaves of Paradise"; "the love of God" is itself Paradise.
Paran: Paran is a mountain range north of Sinai and south of Seir; all are sacred as places of revelation. Teman lies in northwest Edam, not far from Paran. See Habakuk 3:3. Moses himself uses "Paran" with special reference to Muhammad and "Seir" to Jesus Christ: "And he said, The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from His right hand went a fiery law for them." (Deut. 33:2). Here Moses foretells the coming of three revelations and three prophets after himself, the last being Baha'u'llah. Ishmael (Gen. 21:21) founded the Arabian peoples in Paran.
Pentateuch: Literally, "the fivefold volume," referring to the first five books of the Bible attributed to Moses.
People of Baha: Followers of Baha’u’llah
Pharaoh: The common title of the kings of Egypt. The Pharaoh of the oppression is usually held to be Ramesis II (about 1340 B.C.), and his son and successor Merenptah, the Pharaoh of the Exodus, but this is highly uncertain and the birth of Moses is dated as early as 1520 B.C.
Philosopher's Stone: An imaginary substance which the alchemists formerly sought as a means of converting baser metals into gold.
Phoenix: A bird fabled to exist single, to be consumed by fire by its own act, and to rise again from its ashes.
Pioneer: Any Baha'i who arises and leaves his or her home to journey to another country for the purpose of teaching the Baha'i Faith. "Home-front pioneer" describes those who move to areas within their own country that have yet to be exposed to the Baha’i Faith or where the Baha’i community needs strengthening.
Pride of Martyrs: A title bestowed by Baha’u’llah on the seventeen-year-old youth heroically who delivered His tablet to Nasirid-Din Shah of Persia.
Primal Will: "The first thing which emanated from God is that universal reality . . . which the people of Baha call the 'First Will.'" (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 237)
Prime mover of sedition: A reference to Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, a son of Baha’u’llah and younger half-brother of 'Abdu'l-Baha who attempted to subvert the provisions of Baha’u’llah’s written will and to seize leadership of the Baha’i community after the passing of Baha’u’llah
Promised Husayn: The prophesied return of the Imam Husayn anticipated in Shia Islam. Baha’is believe Baha’u’llah to be the fulfillment of that prophecy.
Promised One(s): A term used to refer to the Messenger(s) of God. Baha’is believe the Bab to be the Promised One of Islam (the Qa'im) and Baha’u’llah to be the Promised One of the Bayan and of all religions.
Prophet: The Baha'i writings allude to two distinct types of prophets, the Greater Prophets and the Lesser prophets. The Greater Prophets, also called Messengers or Manifestations of God, are the lawgivers and founders of a new religious cycle. The Lesser prophets are followers and promoters of the Greater Prophets and include such Old Testament prophets as Solomon, David, and Isaiah.
Purest Branch: A reference to Mrza Mihd, a son of Baha’u’llah. He served his Father as an amanuensis. He died in 1870 at the age of twenty-two after falling to his death in the Most Great Prison in ‘Akka.
Qaba: An ankle-length gown or caftan, open in front, and worn only by men.
Qa'im: Literally ‘He Who Arises’: The Promised One of Shi’ih Islam. A reference to the Twelfth Imam, the Mihdi, who was to return in the fullness of time and bring a reign of righteousness to the world. The Bab declared Himself to be the Qa’im and the Gate to a greater Messenger, "Him Whom God shall make manifest" -- Baha’u’llah.
Qadi: ‘Judge’: civil, criminal, and ecclesiastical
Qalyan: A pipe for smoking through water
Qayyum: Arabic, literally means: ‘Self-Subsisting, Self-existent, All-Compelling’: A term used in certain Islamic traditions in reference to the One who would come after the appearance of the Qa’im. Baha'is believe Baha’u’llah to be the Qayyum.
Qayyumu’l-Asma: One of the chief works of the Bab. A commentary on the Surih of Jospeh in the Qur'an, written by the Bab in 1844, and regarded by the Babis as in effect their Qur'an. (For an outline of its contents, see God Passes By, p. 23). It is the first work written by the Bab.
Qiblih: Arabic means ‘That which one faces; prayer-direction; point of adoration’; the direction to which the face must be turned in prayer; the focus to which the faithful turn in prayer. Qur'an, surih 2:136-145, establishes Mecca as the Qiblih for Muslims. The Qiblih for Baha’is is the Most Holy Tomb of Baha’u’llah at Bahji.
Quintessence: An imagined fifth "essence of heaven" in addition to the four elements of earth: hence, the last or highest essence of anything.
Qur'an: The Qur'an, Arabic, meaning "reading". It is the holy scriptures of the Muhammadan faith, revealed by Muhammad in Arabic language. The verses are built up into chapters called surihs. It contains 77,974 words and is slightly longer than the New Testament; it was composed over a period of 21 years. The whole book was not arranged until after the Prophet's death, but He is believed to have Himself divided the surihs and given most of them their present titles. Translation into English by G. Sale (1734) is the most authoritative. but that by J. M. Rodwell (Everyman's Series) is recommended as the best. See also A. J. Arberry, The Koran Interpreted.
Rasht: A city in the Province of Gilan in northerm Iran.
Rayy: An ancient city near which Tihran was built.
Regional Baha'i Council: An element of Baha'i administration between the local and national levels, established at the discretion of the Universal House of Justice in countries where the condition and size of the Baha'i community warrant. A means of decentralizing the work of the National Spiritual Assembly, a Regional Council may be formed either by election or by appointment, depending on local requirements and the condition of the Baha'i community. It provides for a level of autonomous decision making on both teaching and administrative matters. In some countries, State Baha'i Councils perform these tasks within specific civic jurisdictions.
Regional Spiritual Assembly: An institution identical in function to the National Spiritual Assembly but including a number of countries or regions in its jurisdiction, often established as a precursor to the formation of a National Spiritual Assembly in each of the countries it encompasses.
Revelation: The Unveiling by God to men of something which hitherto He had hidden from them. It generally include the laws, teachings and message of God transmitted through His Manifestations to humanity.
Rida: The Turk hired by Mirza Buzurg to seek out and kill Baha’u’llah. More than once Rida approached Baha’u’llah with the intention of taking His life, but each time he found himself overcome with fear and unable to carry out the task.
Ridvan: Arabic for “Paradise.” The annual Ridvan Festival, the holiest and most significant of all Baha'i festivals, commemorates Baha’u’llah’s declaration of His mission to His companions in the Garden of Ridvan in Baghdad in 1863. It is a twelve-day period celebrated from 21 April to 2 May. During this time, Local and National Spiritual Assemblies are elected and, once every five years, the Universal House of Justice is elected.
Sadratu'l-Muntaha: The name of a tree planted by the Arabs in ancient times at the end of a road, to serve as a guide. As a symbol, it denotes the Manifestation of God in His Day.
Sadrih: Literally, ‘Branch’. It is also a reference to Sadratu’l-Muntaha or the Burning Bush and to ‘Him Who taught it’ (i.e. God Himself)
Sahibu’z-Zaman: “Lord of the Age.” One of the titles of the promised Qá’im
Salsabil: Literally “softly flowing”. A fountain of Paradise
Salvan (Siloam): A spring in Mecca.
Sardari: A kind of redingote or long coat, pleated around the waist, closely buttoned up and having a straight collar.
Sarih: Older sister of Baha'u'llah; she remained faithful to His Cause throughout her life and was highly regarded by Him.
Sassanian kings: The kings of the Persian Sassanid dynasty during the third to seventh centuries from whom Baha’u’llah was descended through His father.
Seal of the Prophets: One of the titles of Prophet Muhammad, referring to the approaching close of the Prophetic Cycle.
Servant: A designation usually applied to a male Baha’i signifying recognition of his commitment to conform his life to the precepts of the religion.
Seven Martyrs of Tehran: Seven prominent and distinguished Babis in Tehran, including one of the Bab's uncles, Siyyid ‘Ali, who were arrested in 1850 and executed for their beliefs.
Seven Martyrs of Yazd: Seven Baha’is of the city of Yazd in southern Persia, who were brutally executed at the hands of a mob on May 19, 1891. Baha’u’llah described their unflinching faith as a victory celebrated by the inmates of the highest paradise.
Shah: Literally “king”, especially of Persia.
Shah Bahram: Title of the world savior foretold in Zoroastrian prophecy Who will triumph over evil and bring peace to the earth. Baha’is believe this prophecy was fulfilled with the coming of Baha’u’llah.
Shahid: “Martyr”; the plural of martyr is “Shuhada”
Shaykh: Title of respect given to old men, men of authority, elders, chiefs, professors, or superiors of a dervish order.
Shaykhu’l-Islám: Head of religious court, appointed to every large city by the Sháh
Shaykh Tabarsi: An episode in which 313 Babis defended themselves for some seven months in a hastily constructed fortress near a shrine about fourteen miles south-east of Barfush, October 1848 -May 1849. Vastly superior Government forces were unable to defeat them except by betrayal. Nine of the nineteen Letters of the Living (the first disciples of the Bib) were among the defenders; most lost their-lives, including -Mulla Husayn and Quddus, foremost of the Letters. The Guardian of the Baha'i Faith has characterized the episode as a 'rare phenomenon in the history of modern times'. (God Passes By, p.42)
Sheba: A town in southern Arabia, referred to in Genesis 10:28; I Kings 10; II Chronicles 9. Symbolically it stands for a dwelling, a home.
She-Serpent: Designation Baha’u’llah gave to Mir Muhammad-Husayn, the imam-jum’ih of Isfahan, who instigated the deaths of the two brothers known as the King of Martyrs and the Beloved of Martyrs.
Shi’ih , Shi’ah or Shia: One of the two main sects of Islam, distinguished by its spiritual doctrine of the Imamate. It is very dominant in Iran. The problem of succession divides Islam generally into two schools of opinion. According to one view, represented chiefly by the Shi’ihs, the regency is a spiritual matter determined by the Prophet and by those who so succeed Him. According to the other view, that of the Sunnites, the succession goes by popular choice. The Caliph of the Sunnites is the outward and visible Defender of the Faith. According to Shiites, the Shi’ih Imam is divinely ordained and gifted with more than human wisdom and authority. The Shi’ih followers view the descendants of 'Ali, son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, as the only rightful successors to Muhammad, and many await the return of the twelfth Imam.
Shiite: A Muslim of the Shia branch of Islam.
Shimran: A district in the northern section of Tihran.
Shiraz: The city in Iran where the Bib declared His mission in 1844.
Shiraz: The capital of the Province of Fars in Persia: the place of the Bab's birth and the scene of His Declaration in 1844.
Shrine of Baha'u'llah: The resting place of Baha’u’llah’s mortal remains, located near the city of Acre, Israel. The Shrine is the holiest spot on earth to Baha’is and a place of pilgrimage.
Shrine of the Bab: The resting place of the Bab’s mortal remains, located on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, a sacred site to Baha’is, and a place of pilgrimage.
Sinai: The mountain where God gave the Law to Moses (Qur'an, surih 7:I39 and Exodus 19). Sometimes it is viewed as an emblem of the human heart which is the place of God's descent.
Sirat: Literally, bridge or support; denotes the religion of God.
Siyah-Chal: Persian means “Black Pit”: The underground dungeon in Tihran, Iran where Baha’u’llah was chained and incarcerated for four months in 1852 (August through December), together with fellow Babis and 150 criminals. Here, in indescribable conditions, He received the first intimation of His world Mission.
Siyyid: Literally ‘lord, chief, prince’: an honorific title denoting a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.
Spirit of God: A tide used in the Qur’an and in the Baha’i writings to refer to Jesus Christ.
Spiritual Assemblies: The name of elected Baha’i administrative institutions that operate at the local and national levels of society and are elected according to Baha’i principles. They are responsible for coordinating and directing the affairs of the Baha’i community in their areas of jurisdiction.
Star of the West: The first Western Baha’i magazine, published in North America from 1910 to April 1324.
Sufis: An order of Muhammadan mystics.
Sunni: The larger and more powerful of the two major branches of Islam, which accepts the first four caliphs as the rightful successors of Muhammad and rejects the notion of hereditary successorship to authority over the Muslim community. Before the fall of the Ottoman empire it was represented by the Sultan as the outward and visible Defender of the Faith.
Suratu’l-Haykal: A Tablet of Baha'u'llah, at the end of which followed the Tablets to the Kings, the whole being written in the shape of a five-pointed star, the symbol of man.
Surih of Tawhid: The name of the first surih of the Qur'an; in which the oneness of God is explained.
Surih: A row or course, as of bricks in a wall. A term used exclusively for the chapters of the Qur'an of which there are one hundred and fourteen.
Suriy-i-Muluk: Literally ‘Surih of Kings’: tablet revealed by Baha’u’llah in Adrianople to the kings of the world. In it He boldly proclaims His station as Messenger of God.
Suriy-i-Ra’is: Tablet of Baha’u’llah revealed in Adrianople.
Ta, Land of: Meaning Tihran, being the initial letter of the name.
Tabarsi: A shrine lying 14 miles southeast of Barfurush, where Quddus, Mulla Husayn and many leading Babis suffered martyrdom.
Tablet: Divinely revealed scripture. The giving of the Law to Moses on tables, or tablets, is mentioned in Koran 7:142: "We wrote for him (Moses) upon tables (alwah, pl. of luh) a monition concerning every matter." In Baha’i scripture the term refers to denote writings revealed by Baha'u'llah, the Bab, and 'Abdu’l-Baha.
Tablet of Carmel: The charter for the world spiritual and administrative centers of the Baha’i Faith on Mount Carmel. The tablet was revealed by Baha’u’llah in 1890 during one of His visits to Mount Carmel.
Tablet of Ra’is: Epistle of Baha’u’llah to 'Ali Pasha, the Ottoman Grand Vizir.
Tabriz: City in resent-day Iran where the Bab was martyred.
Taff (land of): The plain of Karbila in which vicinity Imam Husayn was martyred.
Taj: Persian means 'crown'. A tall felt head-dress. Plural: Tajha.
Takur: Village where Baha’u’llah’s ancestral home was located. Takur is situated in the district of Nur, in the province of Mazindaran, Iran.
Talisman: Lit. a charm which drew down the power of heaven to protect its wearer. A symbol of man protected by the power of God.
Tehran: Capital of present-day Iran and birthplace of Baha’u’llah. Also the site of Baha’u’llah’s revelation in the underground dungeon known as the Black Pit, where He was falsely imprisoned after the attempted assassination of the shah in 1852.
Templers: Members of the Society of the Temple, founded in the mid-1800s in Germany. They believed that Christ's return was imminent and settled in the Holy Land in anticipation of the event. The first and largest of their settlements was in Haifa at the foot of Mount Carmel, where they built their homes.
Ten Year Crusade: (1953-1963) Ten Year Plan initiated by Shoghi Effendi for teaching the Baha'i Faith, which culminated with the election of the Universal House of Justice during the centenary of the declaration of Baha’u’llah. The objectives of the Crusade were the development of the institutions at the World Centre, the consolidation of the communities of the participating National Spiritual Assemblies, and the spread of the Faith to new regions.
Tenth Avatar: The tenth appearance of the God Vishnu, as anticipated in Hinduism.
Thamud: An idolatrous tribe of ancient Hamitic people, inhabiting the borders of Edom and living in caves. They were nearly exterminated by Chedorlaomer, the Elomite conqueror. The survivors fled to Mt. Seir where they dwelt in the time of Isaac and Jacob. (see Qur’an 7:71 and 9:71)
Tihran, or Tehran: The capital of Iran and the birthplace of Baha’u’llah.
Torah: The Pentateuch of Moses.
Towa: A holy vale in Sinai. (Qur'an 20: 10, 11, Exod. 3; 1 Kgs. 198.
Traditions: The authoritative record of inspired sayings and acts of the Prophet, in addition to the revelation contained in the Qur'an.
Tripolitania: A former Ottoman colony that is now part of present-day Libya.
Tuman: Unit of Iranian currency.
Universal House of Justice: Head of the Baha’i Faith after the passing of Shoghi Effendi and the supreme administrative and legislative body ordained by Baha’u’llah in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, His book of laws. Established in 1963, the Universal House of Justice is elected every five years by members of all National Spiritual Assemblies who assemble at an International Baha’i Convention. The Universal House of Justice directs and guides the administrative activities of the worldwide Baha’i community. It is the institution ordained by Baha’u’llah as the agency invested with authority to legislate on matters not covered in His writings. In his will and testament ‘Abdu’l-Baha elaborates on its functions and affirms that it is infallibly guided.
'Urvatu'l-Vuthga: Literally, "the strongest handle," meaning the Faith of God.
Vali-‘Ahd: “Heir to the throne”
Vizier: A high executive officer in various Muslim countries and especially of the Ottoman Empire.
Will and Testament of ‘Abdu'l-Baha: A document, in the handwriting of ‘Abdu'l-Baha, that establishes the institution of the Guardianship and appoints Shoghi Effendi as Guardian. It provides for the election of the Universal House of Justice and for the appointment of the Hands of the Cause of God, and it prescribes the functions of these two institutions. It also creates the institution of the National Spiritual Assembly.
World Order of Baha’u’llah: A critical element of the Baha’i teachings is the concept of a new World Order, which, in coming centuries, is destined to embrace the whole of mankind, to be a force for peace and justice, and to provide the basis for the emergence of a world civilization. Its details are set out in the writings of Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu'l-Baha and the letters of Shoghi Effendi, and its current Baha’i Administrative Order is viewed as the nucleus and pattern of the evolving world order.
Yahya: John, the forerunner of Jesus Christ. He was beheaded by Herod.
Yanbu: A compilation of Shi’ih traditions.
Yathrib: The ancient name of the city which was changed to Medinat un-Nabi, the City of the Prophet, or shortly Medina, the city par excellence.
Year Sixty: Meaning 1260 A.H., A.D. 1844, the year of the Bab's Declaration.
Young Turk Revolution: A revolutionary movement against the authoritarian regime of Ottoman Sultan ‘Abdu’1-Hamid II, which resulted in the establishment of a constitutional government in 1908 and the subsequent release of all political and religious prisoners-including ‘Abdu'l-Baha. In 1909 Sultan ‘Abdu’l-Hamid was deposed.
Za, Land of: Meaning Zanjan, being the initial letter of the name.
Zagros Mountains: A mountain range in southern and southwestern Iran bordering Iraq, Turkey, and the Persian Gulf.
Zamzam(well of): A well in Mecca regarded by the Muslims as sacred.
Zanjan: A town in western Iran and the capital of the district of Khamsih and the scene of the martyrdom of 1800 Babis led by Mulla Muhammad ‘Ali, surnamed Hujjat.
Zaqqum: A tree in the Infernal Regions.
Zion: A hill in Jerusalem, the site of the royal residence of David and his successors.
Zoroaster: (c.628 B.C. – c. 551 B.C.) Regarded by Baha’is as a Messenger of God and founder of the Zoroastrian religion. He predicted the coming of a World Redeemer, the Shah-Bahram, Who would create an era of world peace. Baha’is believe the figure referred to in this prophecy is Baha’u’llah, Who is also a descendant of Zoroaster.