Glossary :: S
Sacred Fold
See   Ḥaẓíratu’l-Quds
Sacred Scriptures, Sacred Texts
The Holy Books of the world’s religions. Also refers to the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
A-Z : Sacred ~ Text;   Verses
Sacred Threshold
A term used metaphorically and respectfully to denote approach to the Presence of God and, hence, to the precincts of a holy place such as a shrine. It is also sometimes used literally to denote the actual outer or inner threshold of a holy shrine.
Refers to Ṣadru’l-‘Ulamá of Iṣfahán, a follower of Mírzá Yaḥyá.
See   Abú-‘Abdi’lláh
Reference to the Sadratu’l-Muntahá or the Burning Bush: ‘Him Who taught it,’ i.e., God Himself.
A-Z : Burning Bush
See   Divine Lote-Tree
Literally “Branch”.
A-Z : Sadrih
See   Ṣád-i-Iṣfahání
Ṣafá and Marwa
Ṣafá and Marwa are two little hills near Mecca, close to the well of Zam-zam
See   Lord of the Age
An ancient Prophet to the Arabs, mentioned in the Qur’án, súrih 7:73-79. Some commentators identify him with the Ṣalíḥ of Genesis 11:13.
A-Z : Ṣáliḥ
See   Rúz-bih
Literally “soft flowing”. A fountain in Paradise.
A-Z : Salsabíl
A spring in Mecca.
A magician employed by Pharaoh as a rival to Moses. According to Muslims, it was he, not Aaron, who made the golden calf.
A-Z : Sámirí
the poet Ḥakím Abu’l-Majd Majdu’d ibn Ádam Saná’í Ghaznáví
A-Z : Saná’í
Sarah Jane Farmer
Sarah Jane Farmer
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Bahá’ís of the
United States
1847 — 1916
An early American Bahá'í who founded Green Acre.
Shoghi Effendi named Sarah as one of the nineteen disciples of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
For an account of Sarah Farmer’s life and the founding of Green Acre, see Anne Gordon et al, Green Acre on the Piscataqua: A Centennial Celebration (Eliot, Maine: Green Acre Bahá’í School Council, 1991).
Sardár ‘Azíz Khán
He was present with the Sháh’s troop attacking Bábís in Zanján. (See Travellers Narrative, p. 181 note.) During his tenure as governor of Tabríz several believers were executed in that city.
Also known as the Evil One, Evil Spirit, Iblís, the Devil, Prince of Darkness.
“..., by which we mean the natural inclinations of the lower nature. This lower nature in man is symbolized as Satan—the evil ego within us, not an evil personality outside.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 287)
Sassanid dynasty
ad 224–650
Last Zoroastrian dynasty of Persia
School, International
See   International School
Schopflocher, Siegfried (“Fred”)
See   Siegfried Schopflocher (“Fred”)
The form that books took before invention of the codex. Sometimes made of separate pages glued together edge to edge, sometimes a single length of material with page marks. Usually only one page is visible at a time, the remaining pages rolled up to the left and to the right. Made from paper, papyrus or parchment
Sea of Lights
See   Biḥáru’l-Anvár
Seal of the Prophets
One of the titles of Muḥammad.
A-Z : Seal ~ of the Prophets
Seat of the Universal House of Justice
Seat of the Universal House of Justice
Image copyright ©
Romane Takkenberg, 2009
Architect: Ḥusayn Armánat
Located at the peak of the Arc on Mount Carmel.
Construction of the Seat of the Universal House of Justice began in 1975. It is faced “with stone from Italy, and surrounded by a stately colonnade of … Corinthian columns.(Letter dated 5 June 1975, The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, Message 164, page 316.). Completed in 1982, it was occupied by the Universal House of Justice in 1983.
Secret of Divine Civilisation
Written by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in 1875, it delineates “the spiritual character of true civilisation”, and was addressed to “the rulers and the people of Persia” (Introduction, “The Secret of Divine Civilisation”, p. v and p. viii)
Volume : Secret of Divine Civilisation
Seeker, Tablet of
See   Tablet of the Seeker
See   Párán
The Septs were the tribes of Israel.
See also : Copt.
A-Z : Sept
Servant of Bahá’
See   ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Seven Martyrs of Ṭihrán
Seven followers of the Báb in Ṭihrán who were executed for their refusal to recant their belief in the Báb.
See also : Amír Kabir;   Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Turshízí.
A-Z : Ṭihrán ~ martyrs of
“Martyr.” The plural of martyr is “Shuhadá’”
Shamsu’ḍ-Dín Muḥammad
Of Shíráz, died ca. ad 1389. One of the greatest of Persian poets.
Shaykh Aḥmad-i-Aḥsá’í
Shaykh Aḥmad-i-Aḥsá’í
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of Wikipedia
1753 — 1831
A forerunner of the Báb and the first of two founders of the Shaykhí School, a sect of Shí‘íh Islám. Author of 96 books.
For an account of his life and his role as a herald of the Báb, see Nabíl-i-A‘ẓam, The Dawn-Breakers, chapter I, pages 1-18.
See also : Siyyid Káẓim-i-Rash.
A-Z : Shaykh(i) ~ Aḥmad-i-Aḥsá’í
Shaykh Muḥammad-Báqir
Shaykh Muḥammad-Báqir
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of Wikipedia
The “Wolf”.
An influential Islamic leader, who, in concert with Mír Muḥammad-Ḥusayn, schemed to bring about the deaths of Mírzá Muḥammad-Ḥasan and Mírzá Muḥammad-Ḥusayn.
For more information, see Mírzá Muḥammad-Ḥasan and / or Mírzá Muḥammad-Ḥusayn.
See also the Lawḥ-i-Burhán in which Bahá’u’lláh directly addresses Shaykh Muḥammad-Báqir and condemns his act.
Shaykh Muḥammad Taqí
“The Son of the Wolf”
Known as Áqá Najafí, a priest of Iṣfahán whose father had caused the death of the King of Martyrs and the Beloved of Martyrs.
See also : Áqá Mírzá Ashraf
Volume : Epistle to the Son of the Wolf
Shaykhí School
See   Shaykh Aḥmad-i-Aḥsá’í
Head of religious court, appointed to every large city by the Sháh.
See   Mír Muḥammad-Ḥusayn
A town in southern Arabia, referred to in Genesis 10: 28; I Kings 10; II Chronicles 9.
Symbolically it stands for a dwelling place, a home.
A-Z : Sheba
Divine title projecting feminine aspect of God, Hebrew for Presence (of God)
Literally “faction, party, sect”: partisians of ‘Alí and of his descendents as the sole lawful successor of the Prophet Muḥammad.
The problem of succession divides Islám generally into two schools of opinion. According to one view, represented chiefly by the Shí‘ihs, the regency is a spiritual matter determined by the Prophet and by those who succeed Him. According to the other view, that of the Sunnites, the succession goes by popular choice. The Caliphs of the Sunnites is the outward and visible Defender of the Faith.
The Shí‘ih Imám is divinely ordained and gifted with more than human wisdom and authority.
A-Z : Shí‘ih(s)
A district in the northern section of Ṭihrán
1. An Arabic consonant
2. A symbol for the unknown
The capital of the Province of Fárs in Persia (now known as Írán); the place of the Báb’s birth and the scene of His Declaration in 1844.
A-Z : Shíráz
Priest of Midian (Exodus 2:16-21). Moses married his daughter; Exodus 18 gives his name as Jethro.
A-Z : Shoeb
Shoghi Effendi
1 March 1897 — 4 November 1957
Shoghi Effendi
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Bahá’í International
The title by which Shoghi Rabbani, great-grandson of Bahá’u’lláh, is generally known to Bahá’ís. (Shoghi is an Arabic name meaning “the one who longs”; Effendi is a Turkish honorific signifying “sir” or “master”.)
He was appointed Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will and assumed the office upon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing in 1921.
See also : Guardianship; This Decisive Hour.
A-Z : Shoghi Effendi
The original meaning of the word is a casket or case for books, but it later acquired the special meaning of a casket containing sacred relics, and thence a tomb of a saint, a chapel with special associations, or a place hallowed by some memory.
It is used to denote the latter in Bahá’í terminology. The term “Holy Shrines”, for example, refers to the burial places of Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The House associated with the visit of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to Montreal was designated by Shoghi Effendi as a Bahá’í shrine. Also, when referring to the All-American Convention held in 1944 to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the inception of the Bahá’í Faith, the Guardian wrote of the representatives of the American Bahá’í community’s being “Gathered within the walls of its national Shrine—the most sacred Temple ever to be reared to the glory of Bahá’u’lláh” (God Passes By, page 400).
A-Z : Shrine(s)
Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh
Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh
Image copyright ©
Romane Takkenberg, 2009
Located in Bahjí, a short distance from ‘Akká, and next to the Mansion of Bahjí where Bahá’u’lláh lived the last days of His life. Called by Shoghi Effendi the Daryá-yi-Núr (“Ocean of Light”)
The Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh is the the most sacred place of the Bahá’í world, and is the Qiblih toward which Bahá’ís turn when offering Obligatory Prayers.
A-Z : Shrine(s) ~ of Bahá’u’lláh
Shrine of Shaykh Ṭabarsí
A shrine lying 14 miles southeast of Bárfurúsh, where Quddús, Ḥusayn and many leading Bábí’s suffered martyrdom.
See : Battle of Fort Ṭabarsí
Shrine of the Báb
Shrine of the Báb
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Bahá’í International
The location for the Shrine of the Báb was specified by Bahá’u’lláh to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in 1891, while they were camped across from Mount Carmel. In 1909, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá built the Shrine, and on March 21, 1909, the remains of the Báb were interred in the Shrine. For a brief description of this event, see God Passes By, page 276.
Later, during the ministry of Shoghi Effendi, the arcade and superstructure, designed by the architect Sutherland Maxwell, was completed, with the dedication in 1953.
A-Z : Shrine(s) ~ of the Báb
Shrines, Twin Holy
See   Twin Holy Shrines
See   Sháhid
Siegfried Schopflocher (“Fred”)
1877 — 1953
Siegfried Schopflocher (“Fred”)
Image copyright ©
Bahá’í International
A distinguished Canadian Bahá’í who played an important role in the development and expansion of the facilities at Green Acre Bahá’í School in Eliot, Maine, and in regenerating enthusiasm for completing the exterior ornamentation of the House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, which earned him the appellation of “the Chief Temple Builder” from Shoghi Effendi.
He served as a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, eventually being appointed in 1952 as a Hand of the Cause of God.
For a brief account of his life and service to the Faith, see The Bahá’í World 7: 644-66.
See   Salván
The mountain where God gave the Law to Moses. (Qur’án, súrih 7:143-5 and Exodus 19).
A-Z : Sinai
Literally “path, way; The Way of God; The Religion of God; The Bridge Leading to Heaven.”
Denotes the True Faith of God. According to Muslim tradition, a bridge will be extended over Hell in the Last Days, and men will have to cross over it to reach Paradise.
A-Z : Ṣiráṭ
See   Mystery of God
Sixty, Year
See   Year Sixty
“Black Pit”: the subterranean dungeon in Ṭihrán in which Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned August — December 1852. Here, chained in darkness three flights of stairs underground, in the company of his fellow-Bábís and some 150 thieves and assassins, He received the first intimations of His world mission.
A-Z : Síyáh-Chál
Literally “chief, lord, prince”: descendents of the Prophet Muḥammad.
A-Z : Muḥammad   (Apostle of God) ~ descendants
Siyyid ‘Alí Muḥammad Shírází
See   The Báb
Siyyid Ashraf-i-Zanjání
Martyred with ‘Abá-Baṣír. Shoghi Effendi, in his work God Passes By, p. 199, describes it as follows:
“‘Abá-Baṣír and Siyyid Ashraf, whose fathers had been slain in the struggle of Zanján, were decapitated on the same day in that city, the former going so far as to instruct, while kneeling in prayer, his executioner as to how best to deal his blow, while the latter, after having been so brutally beaten that blood flowed from under his nails, was beheaded, as he held in his arms the body of his martyred companion. It was the mother of this same Ashraf who, when sent to the prison in the hope that she would persuade her only son to recant, had warned him that she would disown him were he to denounce his faith, had bidden him follow the example of Abá-Baṣír, and had even watched him expire with eyes undimmed with tears.”
See Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 135
Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-Turshízí
A mujtahid, or doctor of Muḥammadan law, one of the Seven Martyrs of Ṭihrán.
A-Z : Siyyid(s) ~ Ḥusayn-i-Turshízí
Siyyid Ibráhím
Surnamed ‘Khalíl’ by the Báb; a deeply trusted disciple of the Báb from the earliest days. Later in Baghdád recognised the true station of Bahá’u’lláh, Who protected him against Yaḥyá’s designs.
Siyyid Ismá‘íl
A believer from the time of the Báb, who sacrificed his life for love of Bahá’u’lláh, and was given the title ‘Zabíḥ’.
Siyyid Javád
Known as Karbilá’í
Brought up in Karbilá, a disciple of Siyyid Káẓim-i-Rash, and a friend of the Báb’s great uncle, he met the Báb as a child and later through Mullá ‘Alíy-i-Basṭámí became a Bábí. He recognized Bahá’u’lláh before His Declaration, in Baghdád, and was known for his sanctity as ‘Siyyih-i-Núr’. He passed away in Kirmán, Persia.
A-Z : Javád ~ Siyyid;
Siyyid Káẓim-i-Rash
Siyyid Káẓim-i-Rashtí
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1793 — 31 December 1843
The appointed successor to Shaykh Aḥmad-i-Aḥsá’í, the leader of the Shaykhí movement. Among his students were Mullá Ḥusayn and other distinguished Bábís.
Siyyid Káẓim did not appoint a successor, instead telling his disciples that on his death, they were to search for the Promised One (Qá’im).
A-Z : Siyyid(s) ~ Káẓim
Siyyid Muḥammad-i-Iṣfahání
“… described by Shoghi Effendi as the ‘Antichrist of the Bahá’í Revelation.’ He was a man of corrupt character and great personal ambition who induced Mírzá Yaḥyá to oppose Bahá’u’lláh and to claim prophethood for himself. Although he was an adherent of Mírza Yaḥyá, Siyyid Muḥammad was exiled with Bahá’u’lláh to ‘Akká. He continued to agitate and plot against Bahá’u’lláh. …” (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Note 192.)
In the Kitáb-i-Íqán, Bahá’u’lláh alludes to him as “a one-eyed man” (page 229).
Though Bahá’u’lláh had strictly, in writing and verbally, forbidden any form of retaliation by any of the Friends against those who persecuted them, not long after Bahá’u’lláh had moved to the House of ‘Údí Khammar seven of the believers sought out and murdered Siyyid Muḥammad-i-Iṣfahání, as well as Áqá Ján and Mírzá Ridá-Qulíy-i-Tafríshí.
A-Z : Siyyid(s) ~ Muḥammad-i-Iṣfahání
Siyyid of Findirisk
See   Mír Abu'l Findiriski
Siyyid Yaḥyá
Surnamed Vaḥíd.
A distinguished divine of great learning who became a Bábí and was martyred after the siege of Nayríz on June 29 1850, ten days before the death of the Báb
A-Z : Siyyid(s) ~ Yaḥyá
Sohrab, Ahmad
See   Ahmad Sohrab
Son of ‘Imrán
See   Moses
Son of the Wolf
See   Shaykh Muḥammad Taqí
In current usage, a person who is supposed to be able to tell the future. Its origin is from middle English "sooth" in the sense of truth, and so a speaker of truth.
Spirit, Holy
See   Holy Spirit
Spiritual Assemblies
Administrative institutions of Bahá’u’lláh’s World Order that operate at the local and national levels and are elected according to Bahá’í principles. They are responsible for co-ordinating and directing the affairs of the Bahá’í community in their areas of jurisdiction.
The institution of the Local Spiritual Assembly is ordained by Bahá’u’lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (referred to there as the “House of Justice”); the institution of the National Spiritual Assembly is established by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will and Testament.
The term “Spiritual Assembly” was introduced by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá so that, while the Faith is still generally unknown, people will not make the erroneous deduction from the term “House of Justice” that it is a political institution.
Regional Spiritual Assemblies have been elected in many areas and are gradually reduced in size and eventually replaced by National Spiritual Assemblies as the Faith expands and consolidates itself.
See also : Bahá’í Elections.
A-Z : Assemblies ~ Spiritual, Bahá’í;   House(s) ~ of Justice
Compilations : Local Spiritual Assemblies;   The Local Spiritual Assembly;   The National Spiritual Assembly
Stearns, John P.
See   John P. Stearns
Stewards, Chief
See   Hands of the Cause of God
Stone, Black
See   Black Stone
Stone, Philosopher’s
See   Philosopher’s Stone
See   Mírzá Yaḥyá
Successors, Twin
See   Twin Successors
An order of Muslim mystics.
Súfíya: Ṣúfí way of life (Sufism)
A-Z : Ṣúfí(s)
Title of Sunni Ottoman rulers; Arabic for Sovereign
Sulṭán ‘Abdu’l-‘Azíz
Sulṭán of Turkey, 1861-76.
Sulṭán ‘Abdu’l-‘Azíz
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of Wikipedia
Responsible for Bahá’u’lláh’s banishments to Constantinople, to Adrianople, and to the prison-fortress of ‘Akká, Palestine.
Wilful and headstrong, ‘Abdu’l-‘Azíz was known for his lavish expenditures. Bahá’u’lláh stigmatized him in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas as occupying the “throne of tyranny”. His fall was prophesied in a Tablet (circa 1869) addressed to Shaykh Káẓim-i-Samandar of Qazvín (see Fu’ád Páshá).
As a result of public discontent, heightened by a crop failure in 1873 and a mounting public debt, he was deposed by his ministers on 30 May 1876 and was found dead a fortnight later in the palace where he had been confined.
A-Z : Sulṭán ~ ‘Abdu’l-‘Azíz
See   Mírzá Muḥammad-Ḥasan
Arabic for Way, Rule, or Norm
Supreme Concourse
See   Concourse on High
Supreme House of Justice
See   Universal House of Justice
Also called Súriy-i-Haykal. “Súrih of the Temple”
A Tablet of Bahá’u’lláh, at the end of which followed The Tablets to the Kings, the whole being written in the shape of a five-pointed star, the symbol of man.
A-Z : Súrah | Súrih ~ ...-i-Haykal
Text : The Summons of the Lord of Hosts ~ Súriy-i-Haykal / Súrih of the Temple
A row or course, as of bricks in a wall.
A term used exclusively for the chapters of the Qur’án, of which there are 114
A-Z : Súrah | Súrih
Súrih of Húd
The eleventh chapter of the Qur’án, which tells of the successive calls of God’s Prophets and of the terrible consequences resulting to those who rejected them.
See also : Húd.
A-Z : Húd ~ Súrih of
Text : Húd — The Prophet Húd
Súrih of Joseph, Commentary on
See   Qayyúmu’l-Asmá’
See   Tablet to the Kings
Susan Moody
1851 — 1934
A distinguished early American Bahá’í who spent some fifteen years serving the Faith in Iran.
A doctor with training in obstetrics and gynecology, she was chosen by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to reside in Írán for the purpose of caring for the women of Írán, who lacked competent medical care at a time when the medical profession in that country was entirely male. Besides her medical work, Dr. Moody was an active advocate for the education of girls and helped to start the well-known Tarbíyat School for Girls.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá designated her Amatu’l-A‘lá, “the handmaid of the Most High.”
For a brief account of her life and service to the Faith, see The Bahá’í World 6: 483-86.
Sutherland Maxwell, William
See   William Sutherland Maxwell