The Long Obligatory Prayer:
A linguistic and theological exploration

By Ismael Velasco

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #48
Center for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
July 10–13, 2003
(see list of papers from #48)

    This paper will look at the Baha'i concept of obligatory prayer, introduce the history and significance of the Long Obligatory Prayer, and carry out a detailed commentary on some of the allusions and implications of the text of this important Baha'i prayer. Drawing on both, the text in the original language, and the interpretive translations of Shoghi Effendi, as well as on the scriptural and theological background of key concepts, it will seek to discover possible allusions and significances that branch out from the root meaning of the text. Themes that emerge from this analysis include obligatory prayer as a developmental process; the significance of spiritual intent in the practice of obligatory prayer, the three realms of being (God, Manifestation, Creation) as the theological context for obligatory prayer; themotif of the Twin Manifestations and the Cycle of Fulfillment; the significance of Bábi and Islamic motifs in the text of the prayer, and more.

    This exercise will permit some tentative reflections on what Professor Bausani designated Bahá'u'lláh's "expressive style", and its particular ties to the "realized eschatology" which underpins the logic of Bahá'u'lláh's allusions.

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