Hidden Words (Kalimát-i-Maknúnih, Arabic: کلمات مکنونه) is a book written in Baghdad around 1857 by Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. This work is written partly in Arabic and partly in Persian.
The Hidden Words is written in the form of a collection of short utterances, 71 in Arabic and 82 in Persian, in which Bahá'u'lláh claims to have taken the basic essence of certain spiritual truths and written them in brief form. Bahá'ís are advised by `Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of Bahá'u'lláh to read them every day and every night and to implement its latent wisdom into their daily lives. He also said that The Hidden Words is "a treasury of divine mysteries" and that when one ponders its contents, "the doors of the mysteries will open."
There is a Shi'a Muslim tradition called "Mushaf of Fatimah" (Arabic: مصحف فاطمة), which speaks of Fatimah upon the passing of her father, Muhammad. There are several versions of this tradition, but common to all are that the angel Gabriel appeared to her and consoled her by telling her things that she wrote in a book. According to one tradition they were prophesies. The book, if ever physical, did not survive, and was seen to be something that the Mahdi would reveal in the last days.
Bahá'ís believe that The Hidden Words was revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in fulfillment of this tradition. Indeed Bahá'u'lláh originally named the book The Book of Fatimah (Arabic: صحیفة فاطمیّه), though he later referred to it in its modern appellation. This aspect of fulfillment corresponds with the Bahá'í beliefs that end times prophesies of all the world's religions are to be interpreted mystically and metaphorically. This puts the Bahá'í understanding of what Gabriel revealed to Fatimah somewhat at odds with the Shi'a traditions.
The text of the Hidden Words is divided up into two sections: one from Arabic, and another from Persian. Each consist of several short, numbered passages. The Arabic has 71 passages, and the Persian has 82.
Each passage begins with an invocation, many of which repeat. Some common invocations include "O Son of Spirit", "O Son of Man", and "O Son of Being". Bahá'í prayers are written in the first person of humanity, so that the reader can feel like they are having a conversation with God. The Hidden Words are written in the first person of God, so that the reader feels like God is speaking to them.
From the Arabic, the following is the introduction written by Bahá'u'lláh:
- "HE IS THE GLORY OF GLORIES
- This is that which hath descended from the realm of glory, uttered by the tongue of power and might, and revealed unto the Prophets of old. We have taken the inner essence thereof and clothed it in the garment of brevity, as a token of grace unto the righteous, that they may stand faithful unto the Covenant of God, may fulfill in their lives His trust, and in the realm of spirit obtain the gem of Divine virtue."
From the Arabic
- 1. "O SON OF SPIRIT!
- My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.
- 7. "O SON OF MAN!
- If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself; and if thou seekest My pleasure, regard not thine own; that thou mayest die in Me and I may eternally live in thee."
- 49. "O SON OF MAN!
- The true lover yearneth for tribulation even as doth the rebel for forgiveness and the sinful for mercy."
From the Persian
- 3. "O FRIEND!
- In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love, and from the nightingale of affection and desire loosen not thy hold. Treasure the companionship of the righteous and eschew all fellowship with the ungodly."
- 12. "O MAN OF TWO VISIONS!
- Close one eye and open the other. Close one to the world and all that is therein, and open the other to the hallowed beauty of the Beloved."
- 27. "O SON OF DUST!
- All that is in heaven and earth I have ordained for thee, except the human heart, which I have made the habitation of My beauty and glory; yet thou didst give My home and dwelling to another than Me; and whenever the manifestation of My holiness sought His own abode, a stranger found He there, and, homeless, hastened unto the sanctuary of the Beloved. Notwithstanding I have concealed thy secret and desired not thy shame."
After the last passage, Bahá'u'lláh wrote:
- "The mystic and wondrous Bride, hidden ere this beneath the veiling of utterance, hath now, by the grace of God and His divine favor, been made manifest even as the resplendent light shed by the beauty of the Beloved. I bear witness, O friends! that the favor is complete, the argument fulfilled, the proof manifest and the evidence established. Let it now be seen what your endeavors in the path of detachment will reveal. In this wise hath the divine favor been fully vouchsafed unto you and unto them that are in heaven and on earth. All praise to God, the Lord of all Worlds."
- Bahá'u'lláh (1858). The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust: 2003. ISBN 0-87743-296-1.
- Banani, Amin (2007). The Hidden Words of Bahā’ullāh in Faridun Vahman and Claus V. Pedersen, eds., Religious Texts in Iranian Languages: In Honour of Professor Ahmad Tafazzoli and Professor Jes P. Asmussen. Copenhagen, Denmark. pp. 351–60.
- Hatcher, J.S. (1997). The Ocean of His Words: A Reader's Guide to the Art of Bahá'u'lláh. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 0-87743-259-7.
- Lewis, Franklin (1997). Scripture As Literature: Sifting through the Layers of the Text Bahaʾi Studies Review 7. pp. 125–46.
- Malouf, Diana (1997). Unveiling the Hidden Words: The Norms Used by Shoghi Effendi in His Translation of the Hidden Words. Oxford, UK.
- Savi, Julio (1997). The Love Relationship between God and Humanity: Reflections on Bahā’ullāh’s Hidden Words in Moojan Momen, ed., Scripture and Revelation, Oxford, UK. pp. 283–307.
- Taherzadeh, Adib (1976). The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Volume 1: Baghdad 1853-63. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. pp. 71–83. ISBN 0-85398-270-8.
Works related to Hidden Words at Wikisource