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Hidden Words (Kalemát-i-Maknuna)

by Moojan Momen

published in Encyclopaedia Iranica
New York: Columbia University, 2011
KALEMÁT-E MAKNUNA (The Hidden Words), a collection of aphorisms (71 in Arabic and 82 in Persian) by Baháʾ-Alláh on spiritual and moral themes, dating from 1274/1857-58 and considered one of his most important writings.

There is also a work with the same title by Mollá Mohsen Fayż, concerning Shiʿite esotericism, mysticism, and mystical philosophy and quoting a wide variety of Islamic authors.  Other than the fact that it is written in both Arabic and Persian, it bears little resemblance to Bahá-Alláh’s work (Lawson, 1999).

History.  This work is reported to have been dictated by Bahāʾ-Allāh over a period of time as he walked along the banks of the Tigris River during his exile in Baghdad.  The original manuscript exists, and a facsimile is on display in the Mansion of Bahji, near ʿAkká in Israel.  This manuscript shows that the individual sections were written down randomly on a large piece of paper.  They were organized in the present order by Mollā Zayn-alʿÁbedin Najafábádi, known to Bahais as Zayn-al-Moqarrabin, one of Bahá'-Alláh’s secretaries, under Bahāʾ-Allāh’s instructions (Maʿani, I, pp. 1-2; Shoghi Effendi, p. 140).  The title of the work was given to it by Bahāʾ-Allāh, who also identified it as the Moshḥaf-e Fátema (The book of Fāṭema; Bahāʾ-Allāh, 2001, p. 12; tr., p. 15), a book said in Shiʿite traditions to have been dictated to the daughter of the prophet Moḥammad by the Angel Gabriel to console her after her father passing (Majlesi, pp. 79-80, 195; Ṭabari, pp. 105-6); it is also said to be in the possession of the Hidden Imam (for a more metaphorical explanation by Shoghi Effendi, see Universal House of Justice, 1999-2000, p. 256).


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