The Lamp, volume 2 Number 3
A Newsletter Produced by the Wilmette Institute
Volume 2 Number 3, November 1997
During 1998 the Wilmette Institute will launch two new programs and
possibly a third. The new programs are different in conception and format from
the Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization program and will provide
learning opportunities tailored to a variety of interests.
Back to index for The Lamps
Distance Learning Courses
The first program involves distance-learning ("correspondence") courses. The
first course will focus on Bahá'u'lláh's revelation from 1853 to
1868. It starts January 1, 1998, and ends in early May. Open to 75 students,
the course will examine Bahá'u'lláh's writings during the Tehran,
Baghdad, Constantinople, and Adrianople periods, including such works as the
Hidden Words, the Seven Valleys, the Four Valleys, the Book of Certitude, the
Tablet of the Holy Mariner, the Tablet of Ahmad, and most of the tablets to the
The course will be divided into eighteen weekly units, each with its own
reading assignments. Students will have a choice of learning exercises to
complete, including artistic projects, writing assignments, firesides, or
deepenings. In addition, an electronic discussion group will be available for
those who have e-mail; conference calls for those who don't; and group study
exercises for those participating in small groups. Students will submit their
learning exercises to the correspondence course faculty so that comments and
suggestions can be given. Each weekly assignment will take five to eight hours
Among the faculty for the correspondence course are Habib Riazati, well-known
scholar of and speaker about the Bahá'í writings; Dann May,
instructor of religion and philosophy at Oklahoma City University; and Robert
Stockman, an instructor in world religions at De Paul University.
Registration for the course has begun and will end when the class is full. To
register, one must fill out a form (available from the Wilmette Institute) and
send the full tuition ($200; checks should be made out to "Bahá'í
Services Fund"; Visa and Mastercard accepted). To encourage the creation of
local discussion groups, the Wilmette Institute is offering a 20 percent
discount to each individual who is part of a local group of three or more who
have registered for the course and who pledge to study together.
A correspondence course on the revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, 1868-92
(the Akka period), is planned for spring 1998.
Weekend Minicourses at Bosch
The second new program is a joint effort of the Wilmette Institute and Bosch
Bahá'í School: a series of courses on world religions from a
Bahá'í perspective. Each will be held at Bosch
Bahá'í School starting on a Friday evening and ending at Sunday
noon. The class will be followed by five weeks of home study. The topics
planned to date are Hinduism and Buddhism (Jan. 9-11, 1998); Chinese Religion
and Philosophy (Feb. 20-22); Judaism and Christianity (March 27-29); the Old
and New Testaments (April 24-26); Islam (June 12-14); the Bahá'í
Faith and Philosophy (Sept. 11-13); and Bahá'í Theology (Oct.
30-Nov. 1). Teaching the courses will be Moeen Afnani, John Hatcher, Dann May,
Brian Miller, Behruz Sabet, and Robert Stockman.
Each course, which will be the equivalent of one quarter of a semester course,
will be conducted at the undergraduate level of difficulty. One need not take
all of the courses; one may take any one or combination of them. Those who wish
to obtain undergraduate credit may be able to do so through their
Preregistration is required. Each course costs $75 if you register two weeks in
advance; on-site tuition is $100. In addition, one must pay the costs of
staying at Bosch for a weekend (usually $110). The curricular materials were
originally developed for the Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization
program, the Institute's four-year program of study of the Bahá'í
Faith. They have been adapted for the mini-courses at Bosch and include
follow-up home study.
Courses in the Persian Language
The National Persian-American Affairs Office and the Wilmette Institute are
considering starting intensive courses in the Persian language this summer. The
courses would be held at the same time as the Spiritual Foundations residential
program (July 17 to August 9). Being discussed are three courses: a beginning
class on the basics of reading and writing Persian; an intermediate class for
those who know the basics and wish to improve their reading comprehension and
writing skills; and a special class for those who have good command of reading
and writing Persian and wish to be able to study the Bahá'í
writings in the original language.
If you are interested in taking one of the Persian language courses, you should
contact the National Persian-American Affairs Office at the
Bahá'í National Center (847-733-3526; FAX 847-869-0247; e-mail
email@example.com). The courses will be offered only if interest is sufficient.
Tuition, residence hall costs, and registration requirements will be announced
Wilmette Institute Inaugurates
24-hour Automated Information Line
To meet growing demand for information about the Wilmette Institute's programs,
the Institute has inaugurated an automated twenty-four hour information line in
To reach it, one calls 847-733-3595. The information line gives a quick
description of the Wilmette Institute, explains the way one can leave voice
mail, and describes a menu about the Institute's different programs. To learn
about the four-year Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization program,
one dials "1"; to hear about the Institute's correspondence course on the
revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, "2"; to hear about the Institute's
plan for courses on the Persian language, "3"; and to get information on the
Institute's joint course with Bosch on world religions, philosophy, and
Bahá'í theology, "4."
After pressing a number, one hears more information about that program and can
select from further menus with additional information. Finally, one can leave a
voice mail message or can hang up.
The Wilmette Institute's old telephone number (847-733-3415) remains the
fastest way to speak directly with a person.
Lisa Roy Returning to School,
Lisa Roy, the Wilmette Institute's indefatigable registrar, will be returning
to school in January to pursue her career in speech pathology. We will miss her
terribly. Even though she will be hard to replace, we must make an attempt.
The Wilmette Institute is, therefore, seeking a youth year of service or other
volunteer who can come to Wilmette for at least a year of service. The position
involves writing letters, responding to e-mails, managing financial information
in Quickbooks, maintaining files, and explaining the Wilmette Institute's
programs over the telephone (for which training will be provided). Excellent
organizational and telephone skills are required. The person should be able to
work independently but also to work well in a team environment. Depending on
skills available, the person may also be asked to grade homework assignments or
write and edit curricular and publicity materials. Contact Robert Stockman at
847-733-3425 or Lisa Roy at 847-733-3415.
News from the Spiritual Foundations for a
New Wilmette Institute Scholarship
Global Civilization Program
The Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Wilmette, on the
occasion of Dr. Betty J. Fisher's departure from Wilmette (her husband retired;
she is working offsite in Charlotte, N.C.), has set up a scholarship for the
Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization program to honor her many years
of service to that community. One does not need to be a Wilmette resident to
receive it. More details will be available in a future issue of The
Mentorship System Has Begun
In early October the Spiritual Foundations program began its mentorship
program. Students are assigned to mentors who are either faculty of the
Spiritual Foundations program or Board members. Students should call their
mentor monthly to discuss their progress and raise any questions they have.
Otherwise, the mentor will call to offer encouragement and suggestions for
completing the homework.
One of the difficulties with any home study program is that the students are
usually isolated from each other and cannot see the faculty. As a result, it is
often very difficult for them to get their home study assignments completed on
time. The mentoring system is meant to help overcome the students' isolation
and provide feedback. In addition, optional conference calls will also be held
for those who wish to participate in group discussions.
1997-98 Home Study Underway
The 1997-98 home study portion of the Spiritual Foundations program began in
September with a series of weekly assignments about the writings of
`Abdu'l-Bahá. Students read about various works of `Abdu'l-Bahá,
usually one each week. They also read through the work and write an assignment
of their choice about it. Most of `Abdu'l-Bahá's works are too long to
complete in a week; hence each assignment is designed to be completed after a
few hours of examination of the work (a comprehensive course on the writings of
`Abdu'l-Bahá would take a year and is beyond the scope of the Spiritual
In November the Spiritual Foundations students will turn to the nature of the
individual and complete a series of reading and writing assignments on the
subject. In mid-December they turn to marriage and family life. In late January
or early February they begin to study some of the writings of
Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. The home
study program then wraps up with a final examination exercise.
T-shirts for the Spiritual Foundations program are still available
through the Wilmette Institute. They are natural (off white) in color.
"Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization" is printed in dark green; the
Wilmette Institute logo in tan. The only sizes available are large and extra
large. Send $12 ($10 for the shirt and $2 for shipping) to the Institute.
Checks should be made out to "Bahá'í Services Fund"; we also take
Visa and Mastercard.
Spiritual Foundations Students in Action
From Patricia Haynie:
Hope all is well with you. I just wanted to share some of the local activities
and excitement from Palm Beach County. After returning from the Wilmette
Institute's Spiritual Foundations program, the Bahá'ís had been
invited to participate in a Unity Church's series titled "Unity in Diversity,"
with other religious organizations. Each group provided a speaker for a half
hour in the morning with a two hour seminar in the afternoon to present their
faith. John (our public speaker in the family) took the morning, and we shared
the afternoon. Thanks to your prayers, the day had a special energy, and there
is no doubt we felt the assistance. We used the topic of spiritual growth
through the five powers, including Dr. Saba Nolley's exercise with the rose. It
was very effective. We also used music to illustrate its power in comprehending
scripture. There were about 200 people in the morning, and we were welcomed
very warmly, as were several members of the Bahá'í community who
attended as support. They were instrumental in making friends with many members
of the church, and as a result we have had several new guests at our Center.
One woman came up immediately after the presentation and asked if she could go
to the Center right then! It has been very energizing for the community.
The next worship Service (first Sundays), after devotions we used the topic of
the diversity of Bahá'í music. Several songs were played, also
the opening of the third day of the World Congress as well as the closing,
mixed with quotes and stories of the artists, history of certain songs, and
illustrations of how music affects individuals and communities. Thank you Peter
Oldziey, for helping to inspire this activity. It was a lot of fun, very moving
for the participants, and will be developed into a fireside. Our Auxiliary
Board Member is going to appoint an assistant to focus on getting music
organized and into the community, and many people are recognizing that you
still have to sing, no matter how badly (thank you Dr. Michael Penn)!! We will
be deeping on the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, using material from Mr. Habib Riazati.
This is a direct result of the influence of the Wilmette Institute, and much
needed here, again, much gratitude for this material. We have adult as well as
children's classes on Sundays, and the past two classes we have taken the
prayer book and a huge dictionary and simply done a vocabulary lesson. Some
words were listed and defined in advance, but the participants were simply
asked to take five minutes and choose words for discussion. Very helpful for
all of us and requires little preparation.
Last weekend our Center hosted the Auxiliary Board Members from the Southeast
and the Islands with two Counselors and a surprise visit from a member of the
Universal House of Justice, Dr. Farzam Arbab, as he was returning to Haifa
(from South America via south Florida). He specifically asked about the
Wilmette Institute, and we (Mary K. Radpour was there as an Auxiliary Board
Member; I was there serving dinner!) were delighted to answer his questions.
Hope you are considering attending the Social and Economic Conference in
Orlando December 18-21, Sarah and I are planning on being there, and there will
be a booth to present the Institute. The program looks wonderful (as always)
and the cost is reasonable; $99 for registration, room rates are $44 per night
(this includes 2 double beds, daily maid service, and private bath with hot
From Warren Wittekind:
Greetings from Unit 129 in Washington State (and Oregon too). A Wilmette
Institute display along with a two-minute presentation on the Spiritual
Foundations for a Global Civilization program was made. Attendance was by
Warren Wittekind and Carol Bardin. A Verna Zeutermeister (whom Carol had been
in touch with for some time) does want to register and asked for the
registration packet. Carol agreed that I should send the 15 brochures and cover
letters to the 15 Spiritual Assemblies in this Area. A start for Wilmette
Institute to becoming a more well known Bahá'í resource and
avenue of service.
From Patricia Haynie:
Just reporting in to say that the Wilmette Institute was presented to
conventions twice in Florida today, on both coasts. Sarah and I both passed out
literature from our ambassador packets and are doing our best to recruit new
students from Florida! Hope all is well with each of you. I spoke with
Charlotte tonight and teaching opportunities in the Detroit area are exploding,
she should be joining in the e-mail conversations soon.
The Wilmette Institute and the Bahá'í Distribution
Service will soon be producing two sixty-minute videotapes by Dr. John Hatcher,
one on "Studying the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh" and the other on
"The Kitáb-i-Íqán." The tapes were made for the elective
course on the revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Baghdad period, that the
Institute held in August. Price and ordering information will be available in
the next issue of The Lamp.
Habib Riazati Writes about the Meaning of "Those Shafts were
(The Spiritual Foundations students study both the writings of
Bahá'u'lláh and Bahá'í theology. This letter by
Habib Riazati relates to both subjects.)
Question: In Gleanings, p. 54, on the subject of the station
of the Manifestations of God, in the quote that says "Those shafts were God's,
not Thine," does 'shafts' refer to the cane of Moses? If this interpretation
is correct, why is 'shafts' plural?
Answer: The passage you quote appears in a section which the beloved
Guardian has chosen to extract from the Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp.
178-179. The passage in the Íqán is:
Were any of the all-embracing Manifestations of God to declare: "I am God!" He
verily speaketh the truth, and no doubt attacheth thereto. For it hath been
repeatedly demonstrated that through their Revelation, their attributes and
names, the Revelation of God, His name and His attributes, are made manifest in
the world. Thus, He hath revealed: "Those shafts were God's, not Thine!" And
also He saith: "In truth, they who plighted fealty unto thee, really plighted
that fealty unto God."
In this passage there are two statements that Bahá'u'lláh
1) "Those shafts were God's, not Thine!"
2) "In truth, they who plighted fealty unto thee, really plighted that fealty
These two statements come from the Holy Qur'án. The first appears in
Sura 8 (The Spoils of War [Al-Anfal]), verse 17, and the second one is from
Sura 18, verse 110.
The first statement, which was the subject of your question, was revealed by
His holiness Muhammad about the defensive battles in which He was involved.
During one of the wars, He defended His troops by successfully throwing shafts
at the ones who were at war with Him and His followers.
His holiness Bahá'u'lláh is referring to the verses in
Qur'án in order to convey to mankind the various stations that the
Manifestations of God have. There are three:
1. Their station in relation to God
2. Their station in relation to other Manifestations of God
3. Their station in relation to humankind
The explanation of these stations of the Manifestations of God is one of the
major themes in the writings of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh.
In a way we can say that the whole Persian Bayán is about the nature of
the various stations of the Manifestations of God. The
Kitáb-i-Panj-Sha'n is, from beginning to end, about the
Manifestations of God and their various stations.
It is in regard to the station of the Manifestations of God in relation to God
Himself that Bahá'u'lláh quotes the above passages from the holy
Qur'án. In their relation to God, they are, as the Báb says in
the Seven Proofs, like the mirrors that reflect nothing beside the attributes
of God. Everything that pertains to their human nature becomes absolute
nothingness in this realm. By their words and their deeds They manifest the
will of God. In this station if all of them claim to be God, it is true because
they reflect nothing but His attributes. His holiness Bahá'u'lláh
in the Kitáb-i-Íqán explains this station in the [above
There are four extremely important principles about the Manifestations of God
that we need to understand:
1. The first and the most important principle is that we do not believe that
Manifestations have the same essence as God, rather they only reflect the
attributes of God. The only thing that we are saying is that they
represent God for us.
2. Each and every one of these Manifestations can be considered the "Lord of
the age" for the age in which they appear. For instance at the time of Christ
and until the coming of Muhammad, Jesus was the Lord of the whole mankind,
because it was through Him that mankind saw the attributes of God. When
Muhammad manifested, then it was Muhammad who acted as the Lord of the Age
until the coming of the Báb, and so on.
3. It is the light that is important and not the Lamp. That means David (who,
according to the Báb, appeared before Moses), Moses, Jesus, Muhammad,
the Báb, and even Bahá'u'lláh are like mirrors and what
they reflect is the light. The mirrors change, but the light is the same.
What makes the Lord of the age unique is the light He reflects. This being the
case, we need to realize that it is the latest Manifestation of God who should
be the focal point of all of mankind. It should be Him who is the Lord of the
age. To accept Him is to accept all of those who were before Him and to deny
Him is to deny all of those who were before Him. For some one at the time of
the Báb to still consider Muhammad the Lord of the Age is only an
indication that he or she has been a worshiper of the lamp and not the light.
For him to be considered a true Moslem he should believe in the return of the
true light which was in Muhammad and has appeared in a new temple named "the
Báb." The same holds true for all the ages.
4. The differences among the Manifestations of God has to do with the intensity
of their revelation, which in itself is a function of humanity's capacity and
needs of every age. The following passage from Íqán testifies to
These attributes of God are not and have never been vouchsafed specially unto
certain Prophets, and withheld from others. Nay, all the Prophets of God, His
well-favoured, His holy, and chosen Messengers, are, without exception, the
bearers of His names, and the embodiments of His attributes. They only differ
in the intensity of their revelation, and the comparative potency of their
light. (The Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 103-104)
In conclusion, the statement in Gleanings concerning shafts is just
another way to demonstrate the concept of divine unity.
Religion and Philosophy in Bahá'í Perspective
A Series of Courses Sponsored by The Wilmette Institute
and Bosch Bahá'í School
* Each course begins at Bosch Friday evening at 7:00 (with dinner) and
ends Sunday at noon
* Each course includes four weeks of homework after the weekend of
* Each course is taught at the undergraduate level of difficulty
* Each course is equivalent to 1/4 of a semester course
* Students may be able to obtain credit from their own university
(especially if they take any 4 of the 7 courses)
* Tuition per course is $75 if one registers two weeks in advance or
$100 at the door (in addition to meal and lodging costs at Bosch)
* Preregistration with Bosch is required
* Financial aid may be available
R105. Hinduism and Buddhism. An examination of both religions
historically and theologically, with an exploration of their points of
similarity to the Faith. Mr. Dann May. Jan. 9-11, 1998.
R106. Chinese Religions (Taoism and Confucianism) in their
historical development and in Bahá'í perspective. Mr. Dann May.
R107. Judaism and Christianity in comparative religious and
Bahá'í perspective. Mr. Dann May. March 27-29.
R108. Study of the Old and New Testaments as literature, as
revelation, and in relation to Bahá'í scripture. Dr. Robert
Stockman. April 24-26.
R109. Islam. Its Origins, Teachings, Scriptures, and its
Relationship to the Bahá'í Faith. Mr. Moeen Afnani and Mr. Brian
Miller. June 12-14.
R121. Philosophy and the Bahá'í Faith. A study of
philosophical ideas as they relate to Bahá'í teachings, and the
light they shed on the Bahá'í revelation. Dr. Behrooz Sabet.
R122. Bahá'í Theology. Bahá'í
teachings on God, revelation, Manifestation, the next world, creation,
humanity, and the afterlife. Dr. John Hatcher. Oct. 30-Nov. 1.
For more information contact Bosch Bahá'í School, 500
Comstock Lane, Santa Cruz, CA 95060-9677; 408-423-3387 (phone); 408-423-7564
(FAX); firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail); or the Wilmette Institute, 536 Sheridan Ave.,
Wilmette, IL 60091; 847-733-3595 (phone); 847-733-3563 (FAX);