Jeg stod opp denne morgenen ved din nåde, o min Gud, og forlot mitt hjem i full fortrøstning til deg og med deg som mitt verge. Send derfor ned over meg, fra din barmhjertighets himmel, en velsignelse fra deg; og gjør meg i stand til å vende hjem i trygghet, likesom du gjorde det mulig for meg å begi meg ut under din beskyttelse og med tankene stadig rettet mot deg. Der er ingen annen Gud enn deg, den ene, den uforlignelige, den allvitende, den allvise.Bahá’u’lláh
طُوبَى لِمَحَلٍّ وَلِبَيْتٍ وَلِمَقَامٍ وَلِمَدِينَةٍ وَلِقَلْبٍ وَلِجَبَلٍ وَلِكَهْفٍ وَلِغَارٍ وَلِأَوْدِيَةٍ وَلِبَرٍّ وَلِبَحْرٍ وَلِجَزِيرَةٍ وَلِدَسْكِرَةٍ اِرْتَفَعَ فِيهَا ذِكْرُ اللهِ وَثَنَائُهُحضرت بهاءالله
In a letter written on his behalf (Lights of Guidance, no. 1633), Shoghi Effendi referred to The Hidden Words as “jewel-like thoughts cast out of the mind of the Manifestation of God to admonish and counsel men.” In an earlier letter (Unfolding Destiny, pp. 429–30), he noted that they were “dictated by Bahá’u’lláh to His secretary [Mírzá Áqá Ján] as He strolled on the banks of the river in Baghdád,” and that, according to ʻAbdu’l-Bahá Himself, they were revealed in 1274 A.H. (1857–58).
Since this publication was first posted, several of our viewers have noticed that the word sáliman has been translated as “under Thy protection” and that mustaqíman has been rendered as “with my thoughts fixed steadfastly upon Thee.” Why does it take so many words in English to unpack each of these single Arabic terms?
Let’s start with sáliman, which is derived from the word sálim. In this context, sálim means “safe.” When you add the accusative -an suffix, it becomes an adverb: “safely.” It makes contextual sense for Shoghi Effendi to have translated this as “under Thy protection.”
Now on to mustaqíman. This word is derived from mustaqím, which literally means “straight,” but it does come from a related word, istiqámat, which means “steadfastness.” That is what it means here, and again, it is in the form of an adverb here because of the -an suffix. Hence, Shoghi Effendi rendered this single word as “with my thoughts fixed steadfastly upon Thee.”
Arabic and Persian sometimes have a way of being concise that simply can’t be replicated in English translation. Take this passage from the beginning of the Kitáb-i-ʻAhd, for example:
Earthly treasures We have not bequeathed, nor have We added such cares as they entail.
In the original Persian, this is just six words:
ganj naguzáshtím va bar ranj nayafzúdím
Notice how the translation is nearly three times as long as the original.