Evolution of Epitaphs:
from Islamic Inscriptions to Bahá'í Scripts

By Ami Schrager

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #89
Center for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
June 28 – July 1, 2009
(see list of papers from #89)

    The idea behind this paper is to bring together my two major interests of studying: Arabic Epigraphy and the Bahá'í Faith. These two fascinating subjects come across at Epitaphs.

    Epitaphs in any religion has there owns unique language. In the sphere of Islam, epitaphs usually consist of three major parts: the invocation to God (Basmalah) then a very carefully chosen Quránic verse and in the end a prayer for mercy and forgiveness. While in the Bahá'í Faith the invocation is changed and a new and esoteric lingo is introduced replacing the Quránic verses.

    The subject of this paper is to track these changes made in Epitaphs while trying to explain their meaning. For that purpose it starts with a short introduction about Arabic Epigraphy and its special language while using photos of specific Inscriptions for demonstration. Then it will concentrate on Islamic epitaphs and presents their unique features. After showing that a few epitaphs from the Bahá'í cemetery in Akka will be displayed and the changes and their meanings will be pointed out.

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