Studying the Kitáb-i-Íqán on Your Own
Fazel Naghdy’s A Tutorial on the Kitáb-i-Íqán: A Journey through the Book of Certitude stands in a class by itself for comprehensiveness and ease of use. Naghdy is an educator and professor at the University of Wollongong in Australia and was a member of a committee that put together many online tutorials for the Yerrinbool Bahá’í School in the 1990s and early 2000s. The 658-page self-published work, presumably based on one of their online courses, is the culmination of Naghdy’s twelve years of study of the book. It is available through Amazon for $27.00 at http://www.amazon.com/tutorial-Kit%C3%A1b-i-%C3%8Dq%C3%A1n-journey-through-Certitude/dp/1466311002
The tutorial covers the 290 paragraphs of the Kitáb-i-Íqán in 57 chapters, each of which includes all the relevant text from the Book of Certitude. Each chapter begins with an introductory summary, followed by the relevant paragraphs from the Íqán (typically 3–6) and a series of paragraphs providing explanation and relevant background.
Each chapter in the tutorial then provides an “activities” section with study questions and space to write in the answers. The answers to the questions are easy to find both in the original text and in the explanatory paragraphs and thus are well chosen to reinforce the content of the chapter. Most chapters close with a glossary of key terms. Some have appendices that provide special information.
To give an example: Chapter 9, “Sun, Moon and Stars I,” covers paragraphs 31–37 of the Íqán. It opens with a list of the five meanings of the phrase “sun, moon, and stars” that Bahá’u’lláh offers and then comments on them after providing the seven paragraphs.
To give another example: In paragraph 33 Bahá’u’lláh refers to the “Prayer of Nudbih.” The tutorial provides a paragraph explaining what the prayer is. Ten study questions review the main points. The glossary includes eleven words.
Chapter 3, “Turning Away From His Face,” reviews paragraphs 3–5 in the Íqán. In paragraph 5, where Bahá’u’lláh mentions the Qur’an’s Súrih of Húd, the chapter’s appendix provides the entire 123 verses of the súrih in Yusuf Ali’s translation. The appendix is as long as the rest of the chapter, greatly enriching the learner’s experience with the opportunity to read the text that Bahá’u’lláh’s mentions.
In addition to 57 chapters on the content of the Kitáb-i-Íqán, the opening chapter of the tutorial provides many passages from the writings of Shoghi Effendi about the station and importance of the Íqán and study questions that help the reader assimilate the content. The tutorial closes with two indexes totaling 16 pages.
Copy on the back cover of the tutorial states that it “is not an interpretation or a critical analysis of the content of the book. Neither does it provide any personal opinion.” This is an overstatement. Dividing the Íqán into 57 sections is itself an interpretation. Giving each section a title is an interpretation. And deciding what to explain is an interpretation that is both potentially analytical and potentially personal. But this is not objection to what Fazel Naghdy has done, only to how it has been described.
Naghdy demonstrates both great erudition and good personal judgment in the content he has created. Such is the gift of scholarship: offering one’s considered understanding of a subject to others with great humility so that they can benefit from it and exercise their own critical reading and interpretive skills, both in critiquing the work they have read and in carrying its insights further forward creatively.
Naghdy has built on the insights of many who have gone before—especially in Persian sources unavailable in English—and provides a solid foundation for us to advance our own understanding of the “Lord of Books” and help the Bahá’í world develop new insights into its wisdom.