The Style of the Persian Bayan

Ahanu

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,711
Reaction score
326
Points
83
Back from a short break! ;)

@mrym, would you mind sharing what your experience of reading the Bab's Persian Bayan is like? Would you say the use of the Persian language in this 19th century text is similar to how it is used today in Iran? I am wondering if your experience with the Persian text is similar to how a modern English speaker would feel reading Henry David Thoreau or other 19th century English writers?

Then again, some of these questions are completely inadequate. One must put "Persian" in quotations here. I am under the impression that it would be impossible to properly translate the Persian Bayan into English without losing its artistic value. To really capture its artistic value, one would have to know both Persian and Arabic, for, according to what I have read, in the Persian Bayan the Bab used Arabic for nouns and adjectives, whereas he used Persian for verbs, pronouns, and particles. Furthermore, the Persian Bayan is arranged according to Arabic syntax. In other words, you can keep the same word order, translate it into Arabic, and it would be rendered eloquent to an Arabic speaker. I find this concept to be fascinating!

"If a person knowledgeable of Arabic, but unfamiliar with the Writings, reads an Arabic translation of the Persian of the Báb (without altering the syntax), he would deem it eloquent. However, a Persian unfamiliar with the Writings would not be able to understand the Persian Writings of the Báb. Therefore, we can conclude that the Persian writings of the Báb are outwardly Persian but inwardly Arabic. This is not farfetched, as the Báb seems to allude to it in the Ṣaḥífa `Adliyya (p. 4), where He says that “Arabic truths” (ḥaqíqat `arabiyyat) have flowed from His “Persian verses” (áyát-i `ajamiyyih). Behmardi also remarks that the Báb‟s penchant for Arabic nouns and adjectives in His Persian writings is also evident in the Guardian‟s Lawh-i Qarn."

behmardi_stylistic_analysis.pdf (bahai-library.com)
 
Last edited:

Tone Bristow-Stagg

Well-Known Member
Messages
869
Reaction score
232
Points
43
Location
Normanton
Back from a short break! ;)

@mrym, would you mind sharing what your experience of reading the Bab's Persian Bayan is like? Would you say the use of the Persian language in this 19th century text is similar to how it is used today in Iran? I am wondering if your experience with the Persian text is similar to how a modern English speaker would feel reading Henry David Thoreau or other 19th century English writers?

Then again, some of these questions are completely inadequate. One must put "Persian" in quotations here. I am under the impression that it would be impossible to properly translate the Persian Bayan into English without losing its artistic value. To really capture its artistic value, one would have to know both Persian and Arabic, for, according to what I have read, in the Persian Bayan the Bab used Arabic for nouns and adjectives, whereas he used Persian for verbs, pronouns, and particles. Furthermore, the Persian Bayan is arranged according to Arabic syntax. In other words, you can keep the same word order, translate it into Arabic, and it would be rendered eloquent to an Arabic speaker. I find this concept to be fascinating!

"If a person knowledgeable of Arabic, but unfamiliar with the Writings, reads an Arabic translation of the Persian of the Báb (without altering the syntax), he would deem it eloquent. However, a Persian unfamiliar with the Writings would not be able to understand the Persian Writings of the Báb. Therefore, we can conclude that the Persian writings of the Báb are outwardly Persian but inwardly Arabic. This is not farfetched, as the Báb seems to allude to it in the Ṣaḥífa `Adliyya (p. 4), where He says that “Arabic truths” (ḥaqíqat `arabiyyat) have flowed from His “Persian verses” (áyát-i `ajamiyyih). Behmardi also remarks that the Báb‟s penchant for Arabic nouns and adjectives in His Persian writings is also evident in the Guardian‟s Lawh-i Qarn."

behmardi_stylistic_analysis.pdf (bahai-library.com)

That is interesting, I have not read that one before. Yahoo, more to consider. :D;)

Regards Tony
 

mrym

Well-Known Member
Messages
73
Reaction score
50
Points
18
Alaho Abha Ahanu and everyone
Sorry for my late answering. As you may know, we in Iran are in a real revolutionary stage, riots in the streets and everything (you can read about it in the news) and the internet connection is really weak, so I cannot check internet as much as I used to.

But as to the topic of this thread, yes, I have studied the Persian Bayan. To be honest, it was very difficult at first. Even though I was reading a text written in Persian, I had the feeling it was not Persian. As you mentioned, the syntax is very much Arabic which makes the whole text like an eloquent piece of poetry. It is not like an English person reading say Thoreau; it is more like an English reader reading Shakespeare.
Now, it is not just the syntax or the choice of words, it is also how Bab explains things; His ideology is very much mingled with the Shaikhy idealogy which has so much numerology stuff, symbolism, Talismans and stuff.

To tell the truth, I have heard from my Baha'i friends here that Bab's writings (persian Bayan but mostly also His Arabic writings) are so difficult that some Baha'is prefer to read an explanation of them rather than the original text.

Anyway, I managed to study that precious work and many more of the Bab's writings and slowly slowly I got used to His style; it is a matter of getting used to the style and to His symbolism.
 

Tone Bristow-Stagg

Well-Known Member
Messages
869
Reaction score
232
Points
43
Location
Normanton
Alaho Abha Ahanu and everyone
Sorry for my late answering. As you may know, we in Iran are in a real revolutionary stage, riots in the streets and everything (you can read about it in the news) and the internet connection is really weak, so I cannot check internet as much as I used to.

But as to the topic of this thread, yes, I have studied the Persian Bayan. To be honest, it was very difficult at first. Even though I was reading a text written in Persian, I had the feeling it was not Persian. As you mentioned, the syntax is very much Arabic which makes the whole text like an eloquent piece of poetry. It is not like an English person reading say Thoreau; it is more like an English reader reading Shakespeare.
Now, it is not just the syntax or the choice of words, it is also how Bab explains things; His ideology is very much mingled with the Shaikhy idealogy which has so much numerology stuff, symbolism, Talismans and stuff.

To tell the truth, I have heard from my Baha'i friends here that Bab's writings (persian Bayan but mostly also His Arabic writings) are so difficult that some Baha'is prefer to read an explanation of them rather than the original text.

Anyway, I managed to study that precious work and many more of the Bab's writings and slowly slowly I got used to His style; it is a matter of getting used to the style and to His symbolism.

That makes sense as to why it will be hard to translate!

Regards Tony
 

Ahanu

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,711
Reaction score
326
Points
83
Alaho Abha Ahanu and everyone
Sorry for my late answering. As you may know, we in Iran are in a real revolutionary stage, riots in the streets and everything (you can read about it in the news) and the internet connection is really weak, so I cannot check internet as much as I used to.

But as to the topic of this thread, yes, I have studied the Persian Bayan. To be honest, it was very difficult at first. Even though I was reading a text written in Persian, I had the feeling it was not Persian. As you mentioned, the syntax is very much Arabic which makes the whole text like an eloquent piece of poetry. It is not like an English person reading say Thoreau; it is more like an English reader reading Shakespeare.
Now, it is not just the syntax or the choice of words, it is also how Bab explains things; His ideology is very much mingled with the Shaikhy idealogy which has so much numerology stuff, symbolism, Talismans and stuff.

To tell the truth, I have heard from my Baha'i friends here that Bab's writings (persian Bayan but mostly also His Arabic writings) are so difficult that some Baha'is prefer to read an explanation of them rather than the original text.

Anyway, I managed to study that precious work and many more of the Bab's writings and slowly slowly I got used to His style; it is a matter of getting used to the style and to His symbolism.

Okay. You think the Persian Bayan is comparable to Shakespeare in the sense that it is difficult to read. In your opinion, how was the Bab able to captivate such large audiences since his impromptu writings were so difficult to understand? I'm assuming here. I'm not sure if the Bab used the same style for works written live for an audience. The Bab's speed and ability to reveal writings publicly (as was often the case in Isfahan) astounded many witnesses. See his proofs for Muhammad's prophethood written for Governor Manouchehr Khan Gorji, a Christian who reportedly offered to conquer Iran for him, or the Commentary on the Surah al-Asr.

I am not entirely clear about Iranian culture's expectations about impromptu religious writings that seem to function as a type of performance here. It reminds me of today's rap cipher, in which members attempt to rhyme on the spot and astound others in the circle with their lyrics. Todd Lawson compares the Bab's "performance" with a pianist that plays in unheard of ways.

 
Last edited:
Top