A Universal Auxiliary Language

A Summary and Conclusion

1) Is a Universal Auxiliary Language a new principle?

The need for a universal auxiliary language has always existed and depending on the conditions, one of the existing languages in the world has played this role either nationally or internationally. Before Bahā’u’llāh had spoken about this principle, Communicationssprache, was created by Joseph Schipfer and published in 1839 to serve this purpose. Subsequently many other auxiliary languages were introduced the most important ones being Universalglot in 1868, Volapuk in 1879, and Esperanto in 1887.

 

2) Did the leaders of Baha’ism act upon this principle?

This principle was ignored by Baha’i leaders to such an extent that they produced their teachings in three different languages: Arabic, Farsi, and English, and ordered their followers to learn five languages other than their mother tongues.

 

3) Is this principle rational and logical?.

The nations of the world, for many different reasons, will not accept a Universal Auxiliary Language chosen for them by another group or party. Furthermore, `Abdu’l-Bahā believes this principle is a cause of unity and friendship which in most cases is incorrect.

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Contradictions – Let us Read and Ponder

Bahā’u’llāh:
“Contradiction has and will not ever have a way in the sanctified realm of the Divine Manifestations.”

Reference: Bahā’u’llāh, Badī`, p. 126.

Q1. How Many Languages Must One Learn Other than His Mother’s Tongue?

`Abdu’l-Bahā and Bahā’u’llāh: At most two languages are needed: the mother tongue and the Universal Auxiliary Language. Great effort must be put to limit this to one language.

“A universal language would make intercourse possible with every nation. Thus it would be needful to know two languages only, the mother tongue and the universal speech,”

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Paris Talks, pp. 155–156.

“We have decreed before that it has been destined to speak with two tongues and a great effort must be put to limit this to one [tongue] and the same [applies] to the handwriting. So that the lives of the people will not be wasted and nullified in learning different languages,”

Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Payām-i malakūt, p. 33 (citing Bahā’u’llāh)

Bahā’u’llāh, `Abdu’l-Bahā’, and Shoghi: Other than your mother tongue learn the Auxiliary language, Arabic, Farsi, English, and German!

Reference: For source reference refer to the post:- https://12principlesofthebahaifaith.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/bahais-have-been-ordered-to-learn-multiple-languages/

 

Q2. The Meaning of “Putting Great Effort to Limit the Languages of the World to One”

Bahā’u’llāh: Great effort must be put to limit the languages to one.

Bahā’u’llāh, Abdu’l-Bahā, and Shoghi reveal verses, utter words, and give orders in Arabic, Farsi, English, and Turkish.

Bahā’u’llāh, Abdu’l-Bahā, and Shoghi order their followers to learn five languages other than their mother tongues: the Universal Auxiliary Language, Arabic, Farsi, German and English.

The Universal House of Justice: Translates Baha’i literature into 800 different languages worldwide.

 

Q3. Is Learning Foreign Languages a Waste of Time?

Bahā’u’llāh: Definitely!

Shoghi and `Abdu’l-Bahā and Bahā’u’llāh: Of course not. Learn your mothers tongue, the auxiliary language, Arabic, Farsi, German, and English!

 

Q4. Why Reveal Arabic Verses for a Persian Audience?

The Bāb and Bahā’u’llāh reveal verses in Arabic for a Persian audience, many of which are vague and sometimes incomprehensible.

Adib Taherzade (former UHJ member): The reason someone speaks Arabic to a Persian audience is to excite their imagination and fascinate them into thinking he is knowledgeable. – Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahā’u’llāh, vol. 1, pp. 18–19.

 

Reference: Sayings and source reference for the above are published in the previous posts, hence we have refrained from repeating the same here. Readers are requested to refer to previous posts for exact saying and reference.

Is This Principle Correct From a Rational and Logical Perspective?

Learning a new language is no simple task and can only be justified when there is a need or necessity for such an action. Currently, there are millions (if not billions) of people in the world who do not need to learn a new language for it has no benefit to them. Why force a peasant or farmer working in a remote part of Africa or South America to learn a second language? Why force the ordinary people of any country who are living their lives peacefully and without any problem to learn a new language for no reason at all?

When the need is felt, people will themselves strive to learn a new language. For instance, students will probably feel the need to learn English as a scientific language. Merchants and businessmen might feel the need to learn the language of the countries they are trading with. Dignitaries and ambassadors will probably have this attitude too, but the majority of the people will have no need to learn a new language and it will be a complete waste of time.

Furthermore, the poor reception of auxiliary languages like Esperanto show that such languages are failure prone because many people—based on their social, national, and cultural beliefs—will under no circumstance accept a predefined language that they do not favor as a universal auxiliary language.

The greatest flaw in this principle, by far, is the farfetched argument `Abdu’l-Bahā puts forward to justify it. He believes that the differences between nations and people are caused by differences in their languages and these will only be dispelled once a universal language is implemented:

“What is the difference between Germany and France? It is only the difference of language.”

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Khaṭābāt (Egypt), vol. 1, p. 234.

Is there no difference between Germany and France, but the difference in their languages?

Will the differences between these two countries disappear overnight if they speak the same language?

Are misunderstandings only caused because of differences in languages?

Are there no misunderstandings between people with the same language living in the same country?

Are all differences rooted in misunderstandings and differences in languages?

The answer to all the above questions is clearly: No. This is how `Abdu’l-Bahā justifies the aforementioned reasoning:

“We can see how in the past ages, the unification of language became a cause of friendship and unity. Thirteen-hundred years ago, the Copts, Syriacs, and Assyrians were different nations and had great quarrels and wars with each other. When they were forced to speak Arabic, their language became unified and they are now all Arabs and a single nation. Even though Egyptians were Copts, Syrians were Syriacs, Baghdadis were Chaldean, and the people of Mosul were Assyrians, but the unification of language made them all a common nation related to each other in such a way that this relationship will never break apart. Also, in Syria, there are different religions like Catholic, Orthodox, Druze, Shia, Sunni, and Alawites, but because they have a single language they are like a single nation. If you ask any of them (about his race), he will reply I am an Arab even though some are Romans, some Hebrew, some Syriacs, and others Greek. It is the unification of language that has integrated all of them.”

Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Payām-i malakūt, p. 37.

We will not delve into the incorrect historical and geographical facts in this speech. But how can we, in any sense of the word, claim that the mostly Arab Middle-East, with all the countries and tribes mentioned in this quote, is integrated in a way that it will never break apart?

Has there ever, in the past century, been even a short period of peace between all these groups because they all became Arabs?

Did the unity of language make all these different groups friends, and iron out their differences?

This simply is unreasonable, for in contrast to what `Abdu’l-Bahā claims, the unification of language is not a definite cause for affection, harmony, or peace.

 

It is up to you to draw your own conclusions!

 

 

Why Did the Universal House of Justice, in Contrast to `Abdu’l-Bahā’s Orders and Advice, Disregard Esperanto???

At an Esperanto meeting in Paris in 1913, `Abdu’l-Bahā uttered the following words about this language:

“Now, praise be to God that Dr. Zamenhof (The creator of Esperanto) has invented the Esperanto language. It has all the potential qualities of becoming the international means of communication. All of us must be grateful and thankful to him for this noble effort; for in this way he has served his fellowmen well. With untiring effort and self-sacrifice on the part of its devotees Esperanto will become universal. Therefore every one of us must study this language and spread it as far as possible so that day by day it may receive a broader recognition, be accepted by all nations and governments of the world, and become a part of the curriculum in all the public schools. I hope that Esperanto will be adopted as the language of all the future international conferences and congresses, so that all people need acquire only two languages—one their own tongue and the other the international language. Then perfect union will be established between all the people of the world. Consider how difficult it is today to communicate with various nations. If one studies fifty languages one may yet travel through a country and not know the language. Therefore I hope that you will make the utmost effort, so that this language of Esperanto may be widely spread.

Reference: J. E. Esslemont, Bahā’u’llāh and the New Era, p.165

Although `Abdu’l-Bahā had made explicit statements about making great effort to spread this language as far as possible, the UHJ is yet to accept this language as a universal auxiliary language.

courtesy:- Twelve Principles – A Comprehensive Investigation on the Bahai Teachings

The Baha’i Administration Has Failed in Implementing This Principle

Bahā’u’llāh has said:

“Ere this, in Our Epistles, have We commanded the Trustees of the House of Justice, either to choose one of the existing tongues, or to originate a new one, and in like manner to adopt a common script, teaching these to the children in all the schools of the world, that the world may become even as one land and one home.”

Reference: J. E. Esslemont, Bahā’u’llāh and the New Era, p.163.

Although Baha’is propagate this principle with great pride and regard it as one of their greatest teachings in achieving oneness of humanity, the Baha’i administration has failed after more than 150 years, in implementing Bahā’u’llāh’s direct order in implementing this principle or even selecting or creating a single language to serve this purpose!

`Abdu’l-Bahā too had put great emphasis on the implementation of this principle:

“Were we in possession of a universal language, the Western books could easily be translated into that language, and the Eastern peoples be informed of their contents. In the same way the books of the East could be translated into that language for the benefit of the people in the West. The greatest means of progress towards the union of East and West will be a common language. It will make the whole world one home and become the strongest impulse for human advancement. It will upraise the standard of the oneness of humanity. It will make the earth one universal commonwealth. It will be the cause of love between the children of men. It will cause good fellowship between the various races.”

Reference: J. E. Esslemont, Bahā’u’llāh and the New Era, pp.164-165.

Instead of starting a campaign for a universal auxiliary language and translating Baha’i works into a single universal language, Baha’is have started a campaign of translating their literature into every possible language in the world and according to official Baha’i figures, Baha’i literature has been translated into 800 different languages worldwide!

For example see http://news.bahai.org/media-information/statistics (retrieved 25/01/2014)

In a letter from the Universal House of Justice (UHJ) to an individual dated 8 June 1980, the UHJ simply puts the blame on governments for not implementing this language:

You are quite correct in stating that there are two different provisions in the Sacred Texts for the selection of an International Auxiliary Language. On the one hand, this task is given to the governments of the world, on the other it is given to the House of Justice. It is not possible now to see how this will come about, but it would seem reasonable to assume that, long before the Bahā’ī community is large enough or can exercise the authority to produce such a world-embracing change, events will compel the governments, either progressively or all in concert, to select an International Auxiliary Language to be taught as a second language in all schools and to be used in all international commerce. At a much later stage, possibly at the time of the Bahā’ī World Commonwealth, the Universal House of Justice may well decide to review the situation and either confirm the decision that the governments had made, or change the choice to a more suitable language.

Reference: Paul Desailly, Making World Peace Real: The Baha’i Faith and Esperanto (Melbourne: Howard Perkins, 2003), p. 40 (electronic version: http://www.bahaindex.com/documents/Making_World_Peace_Real.pdf)

Why does a person who claims to be a manifestation of God with Divine Knowledge fail to point the Baha’i administration to an appropriate and specific language to be used for this task?

Why is the UHJ waiting all these years to see which language will be universally accepted as a universal language?

If these figures were Divinely Inspired and had superhuman knowledge, then why did they not tell the world about the auxiliary language of the future and why did they not propagate that specific language?

Is it not because neither `Abdu’l-Bahā nor Bahā’u’llāh could foresee the future, and the UHJ fears that any language they select for this purpose will result in a failure, like what happened when `Abdu’l-Bahā selected Esperanto to serve this purpose?

Courtesy: Twelve Principles – A Comprehensive Investigation on the Bahai Teachings

 

Baha’is Have Been Ordered to Learn Multiple Languages!

Bahā’u’llāh: “We have decreed before that it has been destined to speak with two tongues and a great effort must be put to limit this to one [tongue],”

Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Payām-i malakūt, p. 33.

`Abdu’l-Bahā says: “Make as much effort as possible to learn the Farsi language, for this language will soon be sanctified on all of earth and it will have great use in spreading the Breath of God, elevating the Word of God, and deducing the meanings of God’s verses.”

Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Payām-i malakūt, p. 114.

Bahā’u’llāh says: “God-willing, everyone will mention the Destination of the People of the World (probably referring to himself) by using the creative Farsi language, for this language has and will always be sweet.”

Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Payām-i malakūt, p. 111.

Apart from Farsi a great emphasis has also been placed on learning Arabic:

The beloved Guardian has stressed that the children and the youth of the friends must also learn the Arabic language and use this eloquent language to benefit from the tablets and blessed writings.

Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Ganjīniy-i ḥudūd wa aḥkām, chap. 25, p. 206.

Not content with this, Baha’is have been ordered to learn English and German:

The exalted decision of the beloved Guardian has been for the Baha’i youth to learn firstly English and secondly German and show the utmost effort and seriousness [in learning these languages].

Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Ganjīniy-i ḥudūd wa aḥkām, chap. 25, pp. 205–206.

And finally, `Abdu’l-Bahā advises his followers to teach children foreign languages without specifying what or how many languages:

And further, as well as in the ideals of character, instruction in such arts and sciences as are of benefit, and in foreign tongues.

Reference: Helen Bassett Hornby, Lights of Guidance: A Bahā’ī Reference File, chap. VIII, no. 494.

Thus an average Baha’i is expected to learn or be able to communicate in six languages: Arabic, Farsi, English, German, their mother tongue, as well as the universal auxiliary language proposed by Bahā’u’llāh.

Apparently, Bahā’u’llāh had forgotten too soon what he had uttered about people’s lives being wasted in learning more than one language:

“We have decreed before that it has been destined to speak with two tongues and a great effort must be put to limit this to one [tongue] and the same [applies] to the handwriting. So that the lives of the people will not be wasted and nullified in learning different languages.”

Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Payām-i malakūt, p. 33.

One day, while in Constantinople, Kamāl Pāshā visited this Wronged One. Our conversation turned upon topics profitable unto man. He said that he had learned several languages. In reply We observed: “You have wasted your life. It beseemeth you and the other officials of the Government to convene a gathering and choose one of the divers languages, and likewise one of the existing scripts, or else to create a new language and a new script to be taught children in schools throughout the world. They would, in this way, be acquiring only two languages, one their own native tongue, the other the language . . . and the people would be relieved and freed from the necessity of acquiring and teaching different languages.”

Reference: Bahā’u’llāh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 137–138.

Is Bahā’u’llāh really serious when he claims the people would “be acquiring only two languages” while he reveals his writings in two different ones and his followers are expected to communicate in six languages?

We will leave it to the readers to judge these words for themselves.

Courtesy: Twelve Principles – A Comprehensive Investigation on the Bahai Teachings

Did the Founders of Baha’ism Implement This Principle?

Baha’i Scripture and Official Documents Have Been Written in Three Languages

Although `Abdu’l-Bahā announces that an auxiliary language is needed and will be

“one of the great factors in the unification of man,”

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 182.

Baha’i scriptures have been authored in at least three different languages. Shoghi Effendi’s book, God Passes By, was written in English as are most letters and announcements from the Universal House of Justice. The books written by the Bāb, Bahā’u’llāh, and `Abdu’l-Bahā have been written in a mixture of both Arabic and Farsi, thus rendering them useless for a great range of audiences. Furthermore, there are even Turkish Poems written by `Abdu’l-Bahā.

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Majmū`iy-i munājāt-hāyi ḥaḍrat `Abdu’l-Bahā (Germany: Lajniyi Millī Nashr Āthār Amrī), pp. 396–397

Bahā’u’llāh insists that although only two languages are needed—the mother tongue and the auxiliary language—much effort must be put to limit the languages of the world to one, that is the auxiliary language:

“We have decreed before that it has been destined to speak with two tongues and a great effort must be put to limit this to one [tongue] and the same [applies] to the handwriting. So that the lives of the people will not be wasted and nullified in learning different languages.”

Reference:`Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Payām-i malakūt, p. 33.

One becomes speechless when reading these words. How can someone who has revealed his own words in two different languages, and whose successors have added a third and fourth language in their writings, give the order to make as much effort possible to limit the world’s languages to one? Why does a person that claims to be the Manifestation of God not practice what he preaches?

With this attitude, instead of kick starting the Auxiliary Language by revealing their words in a single unified language, Baha’i leaders have significantly retarded its creation by revealing texts in multiple languages.

Courtesy: Twelve Principles – A Comprehensive Investigation on the Bahai Teachings