This article examines the reception of Kafka in modern Persian literature. Ṣādiq Hidāyat’s Kafka’s Message (Payām-i Kāfkā 1948) is the catalyst of this reception as one of the first critical Persian texts to discuss a European writer and the first sustained, critical text on Kafka in any Islamic cultural context. Hidāyat’s efforts in repackaging Kafka as a Manichean, downplaying Kafka’s Jewish ethnicity and religion, are placed in dialogue with past, present, and future critical readings of Kafka in academic circles. By shedding light on Hidāyat’s introduction to Khayyām’s Melodies (Tarānahā-yi Khayyām 1934) and Kafka’s Message, this article moves beyond previous scholarship, which focuses exclusively on Hidāyat as a surrealist novelist and short story writer, to draw attention to his contributions to Persian literary criticism. It shows how Hidāyat perceived and articulated a critical humanism in a tradition which he traces from ‘Umar Khayyām, through Kafka, to his own literary enterprise. An appendix offers an original English translation of the opening pages of Kafka’s Message.