Experience of Taking the Most Holy Book to the Masses Using Structured Educational Material, On The

By Vadim Nomokonov

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #4
DePoort, Netherlands
November 4–6, 1994
(see list of papers from #4)

    During the last year a number of seminars and other educational events specifically focused on the Kitáb-i-Aqdas have taken place in Russia. The experience gained reflects great interest and expectations on the part of believers and non-believers. It also exposes considerable difficulty experienced by the teachers in revealing the majesty and extraordinary significance of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Even greater difficulties were encountered by the learners, who mostly were new Baháíís in such countries as Russia.

    The task is to promote a deeper perception in the masses of the spirit and the meanings of the concepts, laws, and ordinances revealed by Bahá'u'lláh so that the Kitáb-i-Aqdas becomes a powerful instrument for personal spiritual transformation.

    The Kitáb-i-Aqdas can and should be placed in the center of our major educational activities. This would enhance the process of teaching the Faith and uplift the consolidation of communities to a new level. For this purpose much has to be done in teaching methodology so that presentations of this unique Book are made in a much clearer, more dignified, and elevated mariner, appealing to the hearts and minds of people and capturing their attention.

    We have tried a number of approaches for the presentation of the text, such as discussion of successive verses, moving gradually from the beginning towards the end; putting an emphasis on specific laws, prescriptions and prohibitions; making broader presentations on certain subjects of the text; and presenting a general description of the text followed by answers to arbitrary questions. The following conclusions and recommendations have been made within the context of our present conditions. It has been found that it is preferable:

    • To put more emphasis on the fundamental concepts and basic matters before dwelling on concrete laws and regulations;

    • To restructure the material of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas for the purpose of study so that all verses and notes dealing with a specific topic are concentrated in a single section and the succession of sections is carefully designed;

    • To explore the inner spiritual meanings of every point of the Aqdas, however minor.

    It was found urgently necessary to produce educational material according to these recommendations which would be based on the following ideas:

    (1) the Book is not "a mere code of laws,"

    (2) in the Synopsis and Codification there already is an order in which the text can be studied, and

    (3) Bahá'u'lláh has allowed us to ask Him questions.

    Thus, the prepared material contains about 350 questions concerning topics which are important for teaching the masses today. The answers to them were taken exclusively from the Aqdas (from all parts of it) and grouped into twenty-six sections. The basic version of the material (130 pages) is finished. The preparation of an enlarged version, which will contain additional relevant information from other Bahá'í sources, is in progress. Special attention which needs to be given to particularly difficult to understand aspects of the Book could become an international project.

    Use of the material makes it comparatively easy to:

    • prepare a course for systematic study of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas;

    • to give a consistent presentation on a given topic;

    • to get a set of authoritative quotations on various subjects;

    • to organize an efficient self-study process.

    The material was produced in the spirit of Baháíí consultation with the participation and guidance of scholars from the Baháíí Academy in Panchgani under the supervision of Dr. Muhammad Afnan, to all of whom my deepest gratitude is expressed.

    January 1995

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