The Baha’i Holy Writings consist of the written works of the Three Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith: The Báb, Baha’u’llah, and Abdul’-Baha.
Are any books more important than others? Baha’is believe that the most important Writings are those written by Baha’u’llah. Baha’u’llah wrote over 100 volumes of Holy Texts. Additionally, we believe that the Bab revealed the Word of God, as He was also an independent Manifestation of God. But we believe that Abdu’l-Baha’s works are secondary to these Manifestations’ works, (note #165 in the KA), as Abdu’l-Baha was not a Manifestation of God, but rather the greatest servant of the Manifestations.
The works of Shoghi Effendi (the appointed Guardian of the Faith after Abdu’l Baha passed) are regarded to be infallible interpretations of the works of the Central Figures, but we believe that Shoghi Effendi’s writings are below in spiritual rank. Additionally, the writings of the Universal House of Justice are divinely inspired. It is worth noting that Shoghi Effendi would often dictate messages to his secretaries who would take notes and compose the letters later. This is why many of the quotes from Shoghi Effendi say ‘written on behalf of.’
The Three Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith wrote and spoke Arabic and Persian. Therefore, Shoghi Effendi spent much of his life translating the works of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha into English. Translation is a very difficult process. It was critical that Shoghi Effendi, the authorized ‘interpreter’ of the Baha’i Faith, taught the Baha’is how to translate these Holy Texts in a proper way—a way that would not confuse meanings. For Baha’is, therefore, Shoghi Effendi set the bar for how we translate these works today. Baha’is have many volumes of tablets and books that are yet to be translated. There are teams of translators at the Baha’i Center in Haifa, Israel, who dedicate much of their lives to this work.
Some wonder how Baha’is can be sure they know what is in the religion if Baha’u’llah wrote so much, and it has not yet all been translated. This is where understanding Shoghi Effendi’s station as a divinely inspired interpreter becomes critical. Baha’is can be sure that Shoghi Effendi translated the most important books and tablets for the Baha’i World. Baha’is can trust that these works clearly articulate the Message to humanity and give the proper mandate to the Baha’i world. In this way, we can trust that the core of our Faith is available. The rest of the many volumes of untranslated works written by the Baha’i Central Figures will be translated over the coming centuries. The Baha’i world community eagerly anticipates these works, as every newly translated Word of the Lord only adds to their love and appreciation for this new Faith.