Shaykhism Course Prompts Presentations in West Virginia and Minnesota

The Wilmette Institute’s course Introduction to Shaykhism, first offered in December 2014, with lead faculty Peter Terry, drew twenty-two learners. Several of their final projects are amazing. In our March eNewsletter we highlighted a PowerPoint deepening given by Arkansas learner John Cotton (“Shaykhism Course Prompts Deepening”). That was only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. This month we share with you two additional projects from learners in California, Minnesota, and West Virginia.—The Editor

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Edward Grych, from Princeton, West Virginia, a first-time learner in the Wilmette Institute course Introduction to Shaykhism, chose, as his final project, to prepare a fifty-minute presentation for his wife, Diane. Now he plans to refine the presentation and take it on the road, offering it to “nearby” Bahá’ís who live fifty miles away. Here is Edward’s enthusiastic description of the experience, ending with how much the course deepened his understanding of the beginnings of the Bahá’í Faith.

“I presented ‘An Introduction to Shaykhism’ to my wife, Diane, on Friday evening, March 6. It consisted of a fifty-minute, PowerPoint presentation (free software courtesy of OpenOffice.org). I also used a 43″ x 29” National Geographic world map to show important locations relating to Shaykh Ahmad, Siyyid Kázim, and the Báb.

“The slides mainly provided highlights of the material. Details were added when required. I tried to avoid getting too deep in the ‘weeds.’

“Diane got a lot out of the presentation. I didn’t catch her with glazed eyes or nodding off even once. She had just finished reading God Passes By and was beginning Martha Root’s book Tahirih. So, she was primed for this information.

“Trying to condense the seven-week course into roughly an hour’s worth of material proved daunting. I found myself asking more questions than I had before. I intend to refine this presentation and offer it to nearby communities (fifty miles away being the closest ‘nearby’).

“This course gave me a new perspective on the beginnings of the Bahá’í Faith as well as enlarging my knowledge of Shia Islam. Hopefully, many more seekers after knowledge will opt for this experience.”

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James MuehlbachJames Muehlbach, from Faribault, Minnesota, another learner in the Wilmette Institute Course Introduction to Shaykhism, made a presentation in Rochester, Minnesota, and now has plans for expanding the course for a break-out session at the Green Lake Conference, in Green Lake, Wisconsin.

“I did a presentation on Shaykhism in Rochester, Minnesota, that was attended by five people. I started out with an historical overview of the Imams, the Gates, the concentrations of the Arab Shia, the development of the Atabat and the Saffavid period in Persia before getting into the life of Shaykh Ahmad.  When I got to the point of Siyyid Kázim joining Shaykh Ahmad in Yazd I introduced the Shaykhi doctrines. Resuming the narrative of the life of Shaykh Ahmad, I discussed the charges of heresies and the Baraghani family. In talking about Siyyid Kázim, I discussed Shaykhi doctrine specifically relating to the coming Qá’im and the Letters of the Living recognizing the Báb.

“The presentation was well received by the group. One of those attending mentioned a desire to start reading The Dawn-Breakers as soon as he returned home.

“There was no PowerPoint, but I am considering creating one, further developing the presentation, and offering it for a summer-school class or perhaps a breakout session at the Green Lake Conference.”

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