September-November 2009 Online Courses



Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas
Lead Faculty: Necati Alkan

Duration of course: Three months (Sept. 1 - Nov. 30, 2009)

After revealing the Kitab-i-Aqdas in 1873–74, Baha'u'llah penned a series of highly significant tablets enunciating "certain precepts and principles which lie at the very core of His faith." Many of the tablets complement provisions in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha'u'llah's Book of Laws. Others explore further the nature of the mystical life, describe basic theological teachings, examine important philosophical issues, and expound on the principles necessary for transforming human society. The bulk of these weighty epistles were published in 1978 in Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas. About these tablets from the last two decades of Baha'u'llah's life, Shoghi Effendi has written that they "must rank among the choicest fruits which His mind has yielded, and mark the consummation of His forty-year-long ministry." Using background information gleaned from a variety of publications, we will read and study the tablets and discuss their relationship with other works by Baha''u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha. Our aim will be to find, as `Abdu'l-Baha said about many of the Tablets, "a model of how to be and how to live" and to become a "center of attraction wherever people come together."


Century of Light
Lead Faculty: Farhad Rassekh
Faculty: Robert Sarracino

Duration of course: Three months (Sept. 15 - Dec. 15, 2009)

`Abdu'l-Baha referred to the twentieth century as the "century of light" while also forecasting terrible trials for humanity and events of great consequence for humanity's future. In 2001 the Universal House of Justice released a historical study of the century, noting that between 1900 and 2000 "our world underwent changes," mostly little understood, "far more profound than any in its preceding history" and, at the same time, the Baha'i Faith emerged from obscurity, "demonstrating on a global scale the unifying power with which its Divine origin has endowed it." In this course we will review, in the context of the Baha'i teachings, "the two processes detailed in The Century of Light and will "examine the relationship" between them. Our aim will be to tap into a perspective that is "spiritually enriching" and also "of practical help in sharing with others the challenging implications of the Revelation brought by Baha'u'llah."

Mining the Gems: Development of the Individual
Lead Faculty: William Huitt
Faculty: Rodney Clarken

Duration of course: Three months (Oct. 1 - Dec. 31, 2009)

In this course we will explore a central concern of all religions and a fundamental challenge for the advancement of civilization: the development of the individual through the life cycle. We will discuss physical, mental, emotional, moral, social, and, above all, spiritual development, thus looking at body, mind, and soul. We will examine insights into the development process found in the laws, metaphysical teachings, and mystical writings of the Baha’i Faith as well as in psychology. The course aims to make theory concrete by offering general advice personal transformation.


Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind
Lead Faculty: Arthur Lyon Dahl
Faculty: Peter Adriance, Sheila Flood, Melinda Salazar, and Daniel Truran

Duration of course: Three months (Oct. 15, 2009 - Jan. 15, 2010)

There is wide agreement about the need to achieve sustainable development, but its profound implications for human society are poorly understood. This course provides, from a Baha’i perspective, a general introduction to sustainable development and its goal, the prosperity of humankind. Its objectives include teaching us how to think about sustainability by integrating both the material and spiritual dimensions of life into a long-term perspective and how to apply that thinking to questions of everyday life and lifestyle.

In the course’s first unit we will survey the origins and definition of the concept of sustainable development as endorsed by world leaders. Then, in Units 2, 3, and 4, we will review both the economic, social, and environmental issues that humanity faces in achieving sustainability and the spiritual principles that can help us find solutions; our discussions will range over many problems, from the financial crisis to climate change. In Unit 5 we will examine perspectives for the future—both those that show the unsustainability of the present system, including constraints that limit women's contributions, and the need for fundamental change, contrasting them with the Baha’i vision of a new world order leading to the prosperity of humankind. In the final unit we will look at the importance for sustainable development of education, reinforced with spiritual values, as the basis for helping each of us to detach ourselves from Western materialistic civilization, to reexamine our lifestyles, and to begin to live more sustainably in accordance with the Baha’i teachings.

This course has been prepared in observance of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005–14).


Chinese Religions for Deepening and Dialogue
Lead Faculty: Phyllis Chew
Faculty: Theo Cope and Anne Pearson

Duration of course: Three months (Nov. 1, 2009- Jan. 31, 2010)

In this course we will cover the rise and development of the Taoist and Confucian traditions; explore their ideas, values, and practices; consider the ways they are being modified and applied in the modern world; and examine their similarities to and differences from the Baha’i teachings. By studying Chinese thought and values, Baha’is should obtain a greater appreciation of the Baha’i Faith and acquire experience in relating the Faith to Chinese people in an informed and respectful manner.





$150 Individual
$300 Study Group (3–12 members)
$120 Senior (65+)
$120 Full-Time University Student
$120 International Pioneer

For more information, see


News, Student and Otherwise

The Wilmette Institute on Social Networks

The Wilmette Institute is now on Twitter! We launched ourselves with a bang on August 14 when the #WilmetteInst (that’s our “hashtag”) became the first source of “live tweets” at the Association for Baha’i Studies annual conference in Washington, D.C. You don’t have to sign up for Twitter to see our tweets. Go to, and type #WilmetteInst in the search box to see what the latest news is. You can also access Wilmette Institute tweets by searching for #Bahai.

The Wilmette Institute’s Facebook page is now being updated every few days. The entire tentative 2010 course schedule is there (check it out). The page also features the latest online course.

To learn the latest, we invite you to become a “fan” of the Wilmette Institute on Facebook and to “follow” us on Twitter.

The Wilmette Institute on Blogs

On July 24 the Wilmette Institute popped up in “Google Alerts” for “Baha’i Faith.” A Baha’i, “Christina,” has a blog called “Christina’s Brain Journey,” which is a journey “into the world of migraine, TIA’s & MCI (mild cognitive impairment/a pre-dementia condition).” She noted in her blog: “My therapist recommended that I enroll in a class to encourage brain stimulation through reading and writing. . . . I remembered my Faith offers courses through the Wilmette Institute. . . . Many of the courses are history or literature based. When I looked it up I had ‘technically’ passed the start date, but enrollment doesn't close for 2 weeks. When I called to see if there was a possibility, the class only started the day before AND yes I could get in. I sent my payment this morning, set up my account, profile, completed my personal learning plan and downloaded the first two units to complete. I'm excited. The only thing I haven't committed to yet is a creative project, but if I do all three projects it will stimulate all areas of my brain.”

Christina registered for Women in the Baha’i Faith. Conclusion: Not only is the Wilmette Institute a great place to learn more about the Baha’i Faith. It could also be good for your health. Please blog about  the Wilmette Institute!

The Impact of the Wilmette Institute:
Student Earns Master’s Degree Credit in Kitab-i-Aqdas Course

Terry Robinson, who is enrolled in a Master’s Degree program at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut, recently obtained credit toward his degree by completing the Wilmette Institute’s course on the Kitab-i-Aqdas.  Robinson, whose degree focuses on Islamic Studies—a field for which the Hartford Seminary is famous—approached his advisor, Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub, a distinguished professor of Islamic studies, about receiving credit for a Wilmette Institute course. Dr. Ayoub agreed that he could be granted credit if the readings for the Wilmette institute course and the final paper were sufficiently rigorous. The 18-page paper Robinson wrote, “Explorations on Baha’i and Shi’i Jurisprudence,” was of very high quality. “The effort has certainly given me a deeper appreciation of the Aqdas, which was my goal going in to this study,” he wrote in an email about the paper. “Writing this paper forced me to read works that I would not have done otherwise. I've developed a strong appreciation for Nader Saiedi's scholarship—I am hoping he has a ‘following’ because his insights just lead you to studying the Aqdas, and the writings of the Bab, at a whole new level.”

The National Spiritual Assembly commended Robinson and the Wilmette Institute for the achievement and expressed the hope that such achievements will “increase in frequency, as our beloved Faith steadily gains the recognition it so clearly deserves from the academic community.”


The Impact of the Wilmette Institute: A New Look at the New Testament

Françoise Le Goff of Johannesburg, South Africa, acquired a new appreciation for the New Testament by taking the Wilmette Institute course Exploring the New Testament:

I was a Catholic all my life until I discovered the Bahá'í Faith in 2007. I have learned more about the Christians in the past few months than in my entire earlier life, as I never studied the Bible when I was Catholic. I did a lot of activities and followed rituals, but with little understanding and deepening.

 I have acquired better skills to read the Bible and to know where to find what, to better understand the different books, their chronology, and their interactions. I also now better understand the importance of commentaries and how to approach a difficult text. . . . As symbolism is very important in the Bible, understanding the issue of numbers, myths and stories, and the context of the first century of Christianity were key aspects of the learning to create a dialogue with Christians.

In the end I feel less frightened by the Bible. It is such a monument of literature, and without understanding its context and its structure, I was always reluctant to start it seriously and to make the effort to have quality time for reading. It is not a book to read when you are tired as you need attention and focus to understand it. In discussing with some Catholic friends, I realized that many of them never read the Bible and never attend any course; thus we had a very superficial discussion because they had no knowledge other than the customs and habits of attending Mass. However, I noticed that Protestant friends seem to have read the Bible and to have more knowledge and understanding, even if many cannot sustain deep discussion.

Today I feel more respectful of the Holy Book as I learned to read it and to better understand the context in which the Bible was written. I learned a lot, and this course reaffirmed my comprehension of the oneness of religion and the progressive revelation.


Even before the end of the course, I was able to apply the learning with Christian friends as it stimulated many valuable discussions, especially in my work place.

I was also very happy to share the learning in my Baha'i sector and motivate more friends to join a new course.

Working in a [local study] group was also a fantastic experience, and we were lucky that one of us was already very knowledgeable of the Bible; so, on many occasions, we were guided to understand key aspects of the course. We became friends and decided to continue together another course.

However, the most important is what I shall do with this learning: My first objective is to invite friends and colleagues to firesides as it seems a good way to present the Faith and respond to questions from people attending such event.

The Wilmette Institute was established in January 1995 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States. The Institute offers quality online courses on the Bahá'í Faith. It is committed to engaging a broad and diverse international community of learners in deep study of the Faith and to fostering love for study of the Faith.

All online courses include Web-based forums for students and faculty, systematic study plans, and a wide variety of aids to help students apply their learning in their local communities.

Information from the eNewsletter may be copied or reproduced, provided that the following credit is given: "Reprinted from the eNewsletter of the Wilmette Institute," followed by the issue's date. Recipients are encouraged to forward it to friends. If you have questions, please email us at

Upcoming Courses

September 1, 2009 - November 30, 2009:
Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed
after the Kitab-i-Aqdas

September 15, 2009 - December 15, 2009:
Century of Light

October 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009:
Mining the Gems:
Development of the Individual

October 15, 2009 - January 15, 2010:
Sustainable Development and the
Prosperity of Humankind

November 1, 2009 - January 31, 2010:
Chinese Religions for Deepening and Dialogue

December 15, 2009 - March 15, 2010:
How to Study the Baha'i Writings

January 15, 2010 - April 15, 2010:
The Tabernacle of Unity

February 1, 2010 - April 30, 2010:
Islam for Deepening and Dialogue

February 15, 2010 - May 15, 2010:
Charters of the Faith: The Tablet of Carmel, the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha,
and the Tablets of the Divine Plan

March 15, 2010 - June 15, 2010:
Building the Fortress:
Marriage and Family Life

April 1, 2010 – June 30, 2010

Epistle to the Son of the Wolf

April 15, 2010 – July 15, 2010

Science and Religion



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Phone 1.877.WILMETTE (1.877.945.6388) - Fax: 1.847.733.3563
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