Talk:Bahá'u'lláh/Archive language skills

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Furthermore, in regards to his schooling "In his early life he had a relatively limited education (which was normal for the class from which he came). He learned horsemanship (he was known as a fine horseman), swordsmanship, poetry and calligraphy (he was also renowned as an excellent poet and calligrapher). His Islamic education was strictly non-technical, but despite this, his knowledge of Islam (and of other religions) was far beyond what could have been expected of someone from the wealthy governing class." [1] In general the BBC site confirms a lot of the stuff I removed in the past couple days. NavidAzizi 22:36, Jan 15, 2005 (UTC)

Poor command of language

Amir had appended following bit to the early years

The fact that he had no formal schooling may explain why his writings, both in Persian and in Arabic, are noticeably substandard, in terms of the command of the langauge. It is nevertheless curious that a "nobleman in the court of the Persian King" would not provide formal schooling for his son.

I moved it down to the section on the books and re-adjusted the sentences somewhat. Reason for the move was that a longer discussion of the literary merits of his language would have interrupted the flow and would have been out of place there. At the same time, I assume Amir wanted to throw doubt on Baha'ullah's aristocratic background. Fine, I am the last person to be able to comment on this, but it should be explicit e.g. "Some historians (names and sources) doubt this account and believe he is from a much humbler background than made out. Reasons quoted are... " The lack of adequate literacy might then well re-appear, but if this is all there is then it should be rather debated where his literary works are mentioned and discussed, unless the doubts in the aristocratic upbringing are made explicit. BTW - any sources for your judgement on his literary skills, Amir? Refdoc 09:56, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I was under the distinct impression that it was Baha'u'llah's exquisit command of both Persian and Arabic that so many have enjoyed AND why it has be exhibited in a fair few non-Baha'i museums around the world. Definitely POV though. -- Tomhab 10:24, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Your distinct impression is probably not good enough, though if you could find evidence for the "enjoyment" by non-Bahai Farsi speakers? Refdoc 11:55, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Tom, I know you will think that I am exaggerating this, because you think I dislike Bahaism. Nevertheless, I will speak the truth. Bahaullah's Persian not only isn't high level and charming, in fact it is like the language of a half-literate mullah. It is far from a high class literary language, or showing any sort of literary talent. Furthermore, his Persian is filled with bombastic, odd or obscure Arabic words (mostly the kind of words you would learn from the Howza or in certain Sufi circles) and even by standards of the 19th century Persian, his language is over arabicized. As for his Arabic writings, his numerous Arabic mistakes have also been subject of significant ricidule, although his Arabic mistakes were not as obvious or as funny as the ones made by the Báb in his Arabic Bayan. --Amir 17:40, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Amir's insertion about Baha'u'llah's schooling and literary skills is contradicted by scholarly comment and should be removed. The following two quotes are from "Scripture as Literature", by Frank Lewis, in Research Notes in Shaykhi, Babi and Baha'i Studies,Vol. 3, no. 2 (April 1999) :

"Read as a philosophical or mystical genre of literature, as many secular non-believing people now read the Bible or the Qur'an, several of the works of Baha'u'llah are of a literary quality that ought to secure for them a place in the pantheon of 19th century Persian and Arabic literature."
"Though not formally educated in a *madreseh*, Baha'u'llah was tutored at home..."

Home tutoring in the nineteenth century was not unusual for those that could afford it and could not be assumed to result in a poor education. Also, though Amir may not appreciate the source, the following is from para 25 of the Universal House of Justice's introduction to the Kitab-i-Aqdas:

"Baha'u'llah enjoyed a superb mastery of Arabic, and preferred to use it in those Tablets and other Writings where its precision of meaning was particularly appropriate to the exposition of basic principle. Beyond the choice of language itself, however, the style employed is of an exalted and emotive character, immensely compelling, particularly to those familiar with the great literary tradition out of which it arose." --Occamy 14:46, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Thanks Occammy. The comments on "home tutoring" somehow remind me of Jane Eyre and Victorian governesses, which was often the choice for rich or aristocratic families in Victorian England. I don't know the details of the differences for high class Persians as opposed to British nobs, but it seems like an apt comparison to me. Nice to see someone doing a bit of research before editing here... - PaulHammond 16:39, Feb 6, 2005 (UTC)
It's funny, every time I have introduce a new FACT about Bahaism or Bahaullah that was not favourable from the Bahai point of view, a new user ID was created to "refute" my facts with "authentic sources". I would like to point out that this new ID, Occamy was created yesterday shortly after my new additions to the article, and his ONLY involvement in wikipedia, as of the time of this writing, has been in this discussion area. --Amir 19:08, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)
And this is about Frank Lewis, from his own employer's profile: "Lewis, who was born in Virginia and raised in southern California, first became interested in Rumi—and Persian in general—for religious reasons. A member of the Bahá’í Faith, Lewis wanted to read the religion’s original texts, which are in Persian and Arabic. As an undergrad, he majored in Persian and Arabic, thus becoming an expert on a country (Iran) he has never visited." --- so he is a Bahai and he learned Persian and Arabic out of his interest in Bahaism. Now, learning Persian and Arabic in USA at an undergraduate level, I guess makes him such an authority to determine Bahaullah's Persian and Arabic writings are at what level !! Give me a break. This guy can probably hardly speak either Persian or Arabic, or write a paragraph all by himself at a mediocre level in those langauges. Anyway, he is a Bahai. --Amir 19:41, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I would probably also discount the second source as being biased. The first one is authorative. WRT home schooling then I think the first paragraph re early years must be altered too. Refdoc 17:22, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

The claim above that Bahaullah's Persian works ought to secure for them a place in the pantheon of 19th century Persian and Arabic literature. is truly funny. His Persian is not even at the level of an average mullah. The good thing is that his works are abailable online. As for his Arabic, his Arabic was clearly that of a person who in his mind directly translates from Persian to Arabic, and in the process makes numerous construction mistakes. I can give you numerous examples of that. --Amir 17:40, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

If you think, that Mullahs speak good Farsi....WRT numerous examples - this would be completly pointless as you then simply try to put your authority as a master of literary Arabic against that of the man quoted above. More fruitful would be - and indeed re-open the debate on this subject - iof you could support your claim with other authorities. If you are a master of literary Arabic indeed than this should be easily done. At the moment the case is simply shut. Refdoc 17:51, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

You had better stay out of this discussion since you have already shown your incompetence. In a span of less than 24 hours, you made changes to the article which said "his writing were poor" and "were superb" .... without even having examined any of this writings yourself (assuming you can even read his works in the original). So it is best if you stop making a fool of yourself publicly again. --Amir 17:57, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Excuse me Mr. IQ, "not even at the level of an average mullah" implies that I think Mullahs know good Persian? It is quite the contrary. --Amir 18:13, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Amir - please cease using personal attacks! It is perfectly possible to contribute to an article without knowing the subject well or even at all. You do this all the time. Trouble is there are ways of doing this in a useful way and there are other ways. You chose other ways so far. The point is knowing which questions to ask, by ironing out poor formulations , by recognising POV for what it is etc.

WRT changing from "bad" to "good" - what I have done should be abundantly clear to anyone who has a single synapsis working - I have taken your edit, straightened its language, put it into the place where the final verdict on the question raised would end up (literary skills next to the list of his books) and raised the question here on the talk page. As it is you have not come back with one bit of evidence for your edit, while Occamy delivered what was required - an authorative quote.

The next step forward could be sooo simple. You - or someone else brings a referenced quote saying essentially "Prof. A from the the Arabic Literature Department, University of B , examined the verb constructions of Bahahullah in the Book XYZ and realised that 30% of teh time the wrong tense was used". Bang! The sentence in the article would change to

The literary quality of the Baha'ullah's writings is subject to intense debate. While some authorities feel his writings are of high quality, others have shown on in-depth examination of certain of his books numerous grammatical and stylistical mistakes.

You are writing so grandiously about your love for the open source process on your user page. are you even aware of what this means??? Gradual improvements of a text, by adding and counterbalancing it with referenced detail??? Refdoc 18:51, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

There have been numerous scholarly works poiting out to Bahaullah's gross Arabic mistakes. One of the best examples is the late Ahmad Kasravi's book "Bahaigari". Kasravi had a scientific, scholarly and critical mind and his works were always methodical and reasoned, not just expression of personal opinions. His books (particularly his criticism of Shia islam) are banned in the Islamic Republic of Iran. So he was not "attacking" bahais, because he was some sort of muslim zealot. His approach is methodical, logical and with examples. That is just one of many books. But what did you do? Without any competence on this matter, you decide on your own that you can shift the article and vacillate any which way you want, depending on your mood, I guess. Open source does not mean that you should contribute when you have no competence on a given subject. It means you should contribute where you have some knowledge. Your increasing involvement in the two bahai articles seems to be more out of obstinacy and argumentativeness rather than out of competence on the subject matter. --Amir 18:39, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

--- Amir, you still do not get it. I took your edit and put it onto the location where it should be. I asked you for sources - which you in (until just now) typical manner did not bring. Others brought sources. The first sources. Subsequently the next draft reflected solely these sources. You start editwarring. This is so utterly pointless. Now finally you have brought a verifyable source. Thanks. The right step forward now is not' to change everything to "the man writes bad Arabic", but to show that there is a debate and a difference in opinion between scholars. NPOV. To make this now easier to follow for those who do not know of Kasravi, give some more references, particularly some English language website would be a great addition. Refdoc 18:51, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)