|An introduction to the Hidden Words
Shoghi Effendi tells in God Passes By how Baha'u'llah in the year 1858 was inspired with the "gemlike utterances" which compose this book as He paced, wrapped in meditation, the banks of the Tigris. Shoghi Effendi indicates that the work is to be identified with the Hidden Book of Fatimih, which was believed to have been revealed by the Angel Gabriel through the Imam Ali for the consolation of Muhammad's grief-stricken daughter after the Prophet's death, but which has remained hidden from the world's knowledge till now made known. He describes it as "dynamic spiritual leaven cast into the life of the world for the reorientation of the minds of men, the edification of their souls and the rectification of their conduct," and ranks it as pre-eminent among the Author's ethical works.
It presents in sententious form the sum and inwardness of all the Revelations of the past. As according to prophecy all the Messengers and Prophets, including the Qaim, are gathered together beneath the shadow of the sacred standard which the Promised One has raised; so here beneath that standard is gathered their Teaching in its essence. The Hidden Words is not a digest, nor an ordered statement. It is a new creation. It is a distillation of Sacred Fragrances. It is a focus in which all the Great Lights of the past are joined into one Light, and all God's Yesterdays become Today.
It is given us as a single spiritual force, instinct with the presence of all the Spiritual Monarchs of the past, active, urgent, expansive, set now deep in the heart of man's life to effect the destined regeneration of the race.
The book appears in two parts, the first of which was originally written in Arabic, the second in Persian. The reader soon perceives that though the subject of the two sections and the manner in which the material is arranged are the same yet there are other distinctions than that of language. The Arabic past is shorter than the Persian, 19 pages as against 33; it is more simple, direct, definite, ethical, the other more personal, appealing, mystical, poetical. The Arabic verses are all addressed to 'Son' or 'Child'; the Persian addresses are greatly varied., as "O Fleeting Shadow", "O ye Dwellers in the Highest Paradise","O Essence of Desire", "O Companion of My Throne", "O Ye Rich Ones on Earth", "O Ye Peoples of the World", "O Oppressors on Earth", "O Emigrants", "O Weed that springeth out of Dust", and many such contrasted phrases. The Arabic verses are directed to individuals, with the exception of numbers 66, 68, 69; the Persian section has thirty-three directions to groups. The approach, the tone of the Author, is different in the two parts: the writer in Arabic is a loving teacher, the writer in Persian a teaching lover. The Persian refers more often to the Manifestation as such-e.g. in verses 15, 16, 17, 23, 24, 29, 34, 35, 45, 46, 52; and to historical events of the present period, as verses 19, 63, 71. Yet the Prologue to the Arabic portion, describing, the nature of the work: "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..." applies equally to the Persian portion. And the Epilogue at the end of the Persian, applies likewise to the Arabic. And all the stanzas that make up the work, one hundred and fifty and three, are in their meaning and substance so closely interwoven and interdependent that they form one integrated whole.