Bahá'í Faith
Bahai star

Central figures

The Báb · `Abdu'l-Bahá

Key scripture
Kitáb-i-Aqdas · Kitáb-i-Íqán

The Hidden Words
The Seven Valleys


Administrative Order
The Guardianship
Universal House of Justice
Spiritual Assemblies


Bahá'í history · Timeline
Bábís · Shaykh Ahmad

Notable individuals

Shoghi Effendi
Martha Root · Táhirih
Badí‘ · Apostles
Hands of the Cause

See also

Symbols · Laws
Teachings · Texts
Calendar · Divisions
Pilgrimage · Prayer

Index of Bahá'í Articles

Bahá'í orthography refers to the standardized system of orthography when rendering Persian or Arabic words into English in the literature of the Bahá'í Faith. The set of guidelines uses certain accents and dots when transliterating the Arabic script that allows for a near-accurate representation of the original Arabic.

Bahá'ís use a particular and fairly precise system standardized by Shoghi Effendi, which he initiated in a general letter on March 12, 1923.[1] The Bahá'í transliteration scheme was based on a standard adopted by the Tenth International Congress of Orientalists which took place in Geneva in September 1894. Shoghi Effendi changed some details of the Congress's system, most notably in the use of digraphs in certain cases (e.g. sh instead of š), and in incorporating the solar letters when writing the definite article al- (Arabic: ال) according to pronunciation (e.g. ar-Rahim, as-Saddiq, instead of al-Rahim, al-Saddiq).

Arabic letter Name Transliteration Phonetic Value (IPA)
alif á, a various, including [aː] and [æː]
b [b]
t [t]
thá th [θ] (Arabic); [s] (Persian)
jím j [d͡ʒ]
ḥá [ħ] (Arabic); [h] (Persian)
khá kh [χ] (Arabic); [x] (Persian)
dál d [d]
dhál dh [ð] (Arabic); [z] (Persian)
r [r]
záy z [z]
sín s [s]
shín sh [ʃ]
ṣád [sˁ] (Arabic); [s] (Persian)
ḍád [dˁ] (Arabic); [z] (Persian)
ṭá [tˁ] (Arabic); [t] (Persian)
ẓá [ðˁ] (Arabic); [z] (Persian)
`ayn ` [ʕ], [ʔˁ] (Arabic); [ʔ] (Persian)
ghayn gh [ʁ] (Arabic); [ɣ] (Persian)
f [f]
qáf q [q] (Arabic); [ɢ], [ɣ] (Persian)
káf k [k]
lám l [l]
mím m [m]
nún n [n]
h [h]
wáw ú, v, w [uː], [w] (Arabic); [v] (Persian)
í, y [iː], [j]

Modified letters

The following are not actually full letters, but rather phonemic diacritics or different orthographical shapes for letters.

Arabic letter Name Transliteration Value
ء hamza ' [ʔ]
alif madda á [ʔæː]
tá marbúṭa t or h [ɛ̈], [ɛ̈t]
alif maqṣúra á [æː]

Since the Bahá'ís adopted their system in 1923, Middle Eastern scholars have modified the standard academic system adopted in 1894 in various ways, and have created a separate, related system for writing Persian (a principal change being use of e and o to write certain vowels, which have a different sound in Persian than in Arabic). The Bahá'í system, however, has now been used to print thousands of books and tens of thousands of pamphlets and booklets in dozens of languages, hence modifying it would create confusion and force authors to use two different spelling systems (one in passages being quoted exactly, the other in the rest of the text). For this reason, many academics have come to accept and use the Bahá'í system.

The correct forms used in the writings of the Bahá'í Faith referring to its name and central figures are "Bahá'í," "Bahá'ís," "Báb," "Bahá'u'lláh," and "`Abdu'l-Bahá." Because of typographic limitations, the forms "Bahai," "Bahais," "Bab," and "Bahaullah" are often used as a common spelling and are satisfactory for certain electronic uses.


  1. Effendi, Shoghi (1974). Bahá'í Administration. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 43. ISBN 0877431663. 

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