Happy Naw Ruz to all! On this happy day, I thought I’d share my translations of Arabic hidden words 44-46. I have already shared no 45, but I wanted to share the hidden words immediately before and after no 45 in order to show the conceptual link between them. This link was pointed out to me by Sen McGlinn and I am grateful to him for that. Here are the translations:
“Child of the throne, your hearing is my hearing, listen with it. Your sight is my sight, look with it. In so doing, you can confirm for me in your secret thoughts an absolute sanctity, and I can confirm for you in myself a seat of honour.” (AHW 44)
“Awakened child, articulate your truth about me as you see it, satisfied with me and thankful for what I have done, that you may rely on me and rest easy in the retreats of greatness behind the canopy of might.” (AHW 45)
“Human child, consider your situation and what you will do: do you want to die on a bed or die as a martyr in my path on the ground, as the dawn of my cause and the arrival of my light in the highest Paradise? Decide fairly, O servant.” (AHW 46)
In a previous post, I discussed the clause in no 45 “articulate your truth about me” because it had resulted in questions about why it seemed to differ so much from Shoghi Effendi’s translation “Seek a martyr’s death in My path”. I explained that the issue hung on the meaning of the Arabic verb “istashhid”. It is the 10th form of the root sh-h-d, which has the foundational meaning “He told, or gave information of, what he had witnessed, or seen or beheld with his eye:” (Lanes Lexicon p1609) However, dictionaries also say that for form X in the passive, the word means to die as a martyr. One argument against that translation is that the word Baha’u’llah uses in no 45 is not in the passive; it is in the imperative – meaning that it is an instruction to do something, so there is no passive form. But in the end, a person might translate that word either way.
What is interesting is that Baha’u’llah uses the same root sh-h-d in the hidden words that come immediately before and after no 45. By focusing on Baha’u’llah’s use of this root in the three hidden words, you can see how he has gradually shifted the meaning from the idea of testifying to one’s truth to the idea of martyrdom. The clauses in question are:
44: “you can confirm for me in your secret thoughts an absolute sanctity” (form I, active)
45: “articulate your truth about me as you see it” (form X, active)
46: “die as a martyr in my path on the ground” (form X, passive)
In all of these cases, Baha’u’llah has used the root sh-h-d, which has the foundational meaning “He told, or gave information of, what he had witnessed, or seen or beheld with his eye:” You can see in these three clauses a movement in meaning from the inner to the outer. In 44, the activity is taking place within the individual’s spiritual world, where the person is communing with Baha’u’llah. That is where the foundational testimony is initiated and established. In 45, the activity is taking place at the social or discourse level, where the person speaks the testimony, and in 46, the activity is taking place at the physical level, where the person testifies using their physical body.
The concept of marrying up the inner person with the outer person is important in Baha’u’llah’s thought. He makes it plain in his Persian Tablet of the Holy Mariner, where he says:
“Now, they must put forth their utmost effort and give their unswerving attention, so that their inward secrets not be contrary to their overt behavior, nor their outward deeds at variance with their inner mysteries.”Baha’u’llah: Tablet of the Holy Mariner, from the Persian, trans Juan Cole
By marrying up one’s inner self with one’s outer self, a person avoids being a hypocrite.