Some often wonder why the Baha’i Writings are all in ‘fancy old’ English? This can make the works of Shoghi Effendi challenging for some to read. The fact is, Shoghi Effendi was a master of the English Language. He studied at Oxford, and his book God Passes By is held on reserve in the Oxford library as a perfect example of the English language. If the language is difficult at first, this is only natural. Most Baha’is will tell you that it usually takes some getting used to. But after a while, Baha’is often learn to appreciate the poetry and beauty of Shoghi Effendi’s work.
Why are there so many strange names in the Baha’i Faith? This is because the Baha’i Faith has an Arabic and Persian background. It is something that people in the West often struggle with, just as the first believers in the West may have struggled with early Christian names that came from Jewish traditions.
Baha’is believe that the foundation for our lives is the spiritual connection we make with our Creator, and the Writings help to create that connection. Our Writings tell us, “For the core of religious faith is that mystic feeling which unites man with God.” (on behalf of Shoghi Effendi; LG p.544) But some people do not understand why Baha’is read prayers, rather than make them up on our own. They often feel that a prayer is more personal when it comes from their own hearts, rather than reading some other person’s prayers. They may forget that one of the most moving passages of the Bible is the Lord’s Prayer. These are the words of Jesus addressing God, and He taught us how to address God through His example. For Baha’is, reading prayers revealed by Baha’u’llah is an extremely personal and powerful experience. Baha’is believe that these Writings teach the language of prayer. This language elevates your own spiritual nature. The Words are noble, eloquent, and articulate. But more than the tone, the substance of these prayers teaches what is important. Baha’is learn to seek detachment, spiritual growth, and steadfastness in faith. They are reminded of God’s qualities of strength, power, knowledge, forgiveness, mercy, beneficence, love, and compassion. These prayers teach the language of prayer, not just in spirit, but in content. In one Prayer, Baha’u’llah points out that we could not know how to address our Creator unless He taught us when He wrote, “But for Thy leave, who is there that could venture to express Thy might and Thy grandeur; and were it not for Thine instruction, who is the man that could discover the ways of Thy pleasure in the kingdom of Thy creation?” (Baha’u’llah; PM 176).
In the end, the Baha’i Writings are a great ocean of knowledge and insight that are available to anyone. These Writings are the greatest treasure of the Baha’i Faith, and Baha’is hold them close to their hearts. As Baha’u’llah wrote, “Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths. Take heed that ye do not vacillate in your determination to embrace the truth of this Cause — a Cause through which the potentialities of the might of God have been revealed, and His sovereignty established. With faces beaming with joy, hasten ye unto Him.” (GWB, p. 136)