Presentation on Shaykhism by John Cotton
John Cotton recently took the Wilmette Institute’s course Introduction to Shaykhism. Using information and materials from the course, he gave a deepening to nine people.
I made a presentation Wednesday night (1/28/15) to our local study group . . . It was attended by nine people, 8 Baha’i’s and one non-Baha’i guest. Two of the attendees are a married couple from Iran who have recently declared after investigating the Baha’i Faith online while the husband is pursuing a Masters Engineering degree at our University. The husband had been told about the Baha’i Faith by someone in the army in Iran, and he knew much of what the government was telling them was untrue.
I prepared a Powerpoint presentation (44 slides), and spent perhaps 1/3 of the talk on the Shi’a context of the Shaykhi movement, covering developments in Iran and Iraq during the Safavid dynasty, Nadir Shah’s reign, and the Qajar dynasty. The remainder of the talk reviewed the biographies of Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim, a summary of their teachings, and the charges of heresy made by the Usuli ulama, and what became of the movement after the death of Siyyid Kazim.
At the end of my prepared presentation, I was prompted by one of the attendees to relate the story of how Mulla Husayn met the Bab. I was surprised I had left this out, but gladly gave an extemporaneous account of the declaration of the Bab. I was reassured that the Iranian couple didn’t catch me saying anything patently false or misinformed, and they helped me with the pronunciation of Arabic and Persian terms.
The talk was well received, and one attendee (the host of my presentation) posted on Facebook thanking me for “presenting Shakhism with both academic rigor & accessible explanations. I feel smarter.” I’ve attached a photo.
Two Baha’is who live about an hour away were unable to travel at night, and asked if I could give them a presentation, and we’ll get together next Friday.