What system does the Bahá’í Encyclopedia Project use for transliterating Persian and Arabic names and terms?


The Encyclopedia Project adheres in general to the Bahá’í system used for transliterating Persian and Arabic names and terms that was adopted by Shoghi Effendi some eight decades ago. This system employs an accent mark (e.g., á), rather than the flat macron (overlining) more commonly found at present, as well as the ‘ayn (‘) and the hamza (’).

The Bahá’í system also includes underdots and underlining of certain letters; however, because of the constraints of Web publishing, these diacritical marks have been eliminated from the Encyclopedia articles published online.

The Encyclopedia Project uses the standard Bahá’í spelling for the names of the religion’s central figures: the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Names of well-known people, places, and things found in standard English reference works are generally not transliterated. They are presented in their preferred anglicized forms (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed., being among the first points of reference). Names that are not as widely known are transliterated. For names commonly found in Bahá’í sources, we use the Bahá’í system. An article may thus present a mixture of both transliterated and anglicized names and terms, and the transliterated names and terms may be done according to the Bahá’í system or another system.

Often a name or term may have several acceptable anglicized spellings. One spelling has been chosen as Encyclopedia style and is used consistently—for example, “Qur’an,” rather than Koran or Quran.

Terms in quotations are reproduced as they appear in the source, not according to Encyclopedia style.

An exception to the policy of anglicizing is made for terms such as mullá (often spelled mullah in reference works) because they also appear as titles attached to transliterated names. To avoid creating a hybrid that combines an anglicized title and a transliterated proper name, the transliterated term is used throughout the articles.

Encyclopedia transliteration style minimizes the use of hyphens in proper names.