Monday 11 October 2010

Free Audio Version of the Mysterious Forces of Civilization

I've recently completed an audiobook recording of the Mysterious Forces of Civilization by 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The Mysterious Forces of Civilization (Persian: Risálih-i-Madaníyyih) is a work written before 1875 by ‘Abbás Effendí, known as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (the Servant of Bahá) (1844-1921). The Persian text was first lithographed in Bombay in 1882 and printed in Cairo in 1911. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was the eldest son and appointed successor of Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith. The original text of this work was written and published anonymously, and the first English translation (by Johanna Dawud) was published in London in 1910 and Chicago in 1918, under the title ‘Mysterious Forces of Civilization’ written by "an Eminent Bahai Philosopher." This audiobook is based on the 1918 edition. Another translation was completed by Marzieh Gail and published in 1957, with an introduction by Horace Holley. The title was re-translated as “The Secret of Divine Civilization”.

The book was widely known in its time as an attempt to improve the degraded condition of Persia (Iran). The author frequently references current issues that were being debated, such as whether to modernize and accept Western technology, or to reject Western culture and rely on technology developed in Persia and the Islamic world.

There are many public domain Bahá’í texts available online (including scanned pdfs at Internet Archive). Others can be found at Bahá’í Library Online and H-Net Baha'i (both in English/French and Arabic/Persian). In general, works are in the public domain (in the US) if they were published before 1923. Only works which are public domain in the United States can be recorded for LibriVox, because files are stored in the Internet Archive, which is based in the US. More books (published after 1923) will apparently enter the public domain in the Holy Year 2019, thus increasing the number of potential Bahá’í audiobooks that could be recorded for LibriVox.

Nevertheless, many great Bahá’í books were published before 1923 and I look forward to seeing many more of them available as public domain audiobooks. It would be great to see more Bahá’ís involved in LibriVox and other projects to make free public domain Bahá’í audiobooks, so that the teachings may become more widely available in an audio format, for the benefit of all the waiting masses that shall enter into the Faith "by troops" (Baha'u'llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, v. 270, p. 135).

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