A Course on Teaching
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Sect 1. Teaching Stories and Quotes (1:1)

Teaching Stories (1:2)

Despite this position, his [Mirza Abu'l-Fadl] interest in the Bahá'í Faith was sparked by the teaching efforts of an ordinary blacksmith. The story is well known and often told, but it is worth retelling: It seems Abu'l-Fadl's donkey needed reshodding and, as he waited for the work to be done, the blacksmith approached him (1:3)

'"Mulla, I have heard some holy traditions of the blessed Imams which I have difficulty understanding. Can you help me?" (1:4)

'"I have heard the mullas quoting a holy tradition on the subject of God's mercy in sending the rains: that every drop of rain is entrusted to an angel of God who carries it down to earth. Is that tradition true?" (1:5)

'"Again I have heard," the blacksmith continued, "on the subject of the ritual uncleanliness of dogs: there is a holy tradition that no angel will visit the house where dogs are kept. Is this true?" (1:6)

'"Then, how is it," the blacksmith asked, "that rain falls on the houses that have dogs? The rains, when they come, fall everywhere alike." (1:7)

'Of course, the learned scholar had no answer for the blacksmith's questions, which suddenly no longer seemed innocent. Abu'l-Fadl was both perturbed and astonished. How could this ignorant blacksmith so easily have trapped him with his riddles? (1:8)

'Abu'l-Fadl's companions urged him to pay no attention to the man. They explained that he was only a "misguided Babi.." But for Abu'l-Fadl, the encounter was important. Naturally, he had known of the Bahá'í Faith and had been approached by Bahá'í teachers before. But this brief conversation, in which he was defeated in argument by a blacksmith, alerted him to the subtlety of the Bahá'í message-and to the bankruptcy of a narrow, literal, unthinking reliance on scripture and tradition. He began to study the Bahá'í religion seriously. In 1876, he found his faith and became a believer. (1:9)

'There followed, for Abu'l-Fadl, a lifetime of service to his new religion. First, at the direction of Baha'u'llah himself, he traveled in Iran,. and then in the Russian realms of Ashkabad, Samarqand, and Bukhara. ''Abdu'l-Baha called him to Palestine, to Cairo, and then to New York. But, Bahá'ís have argued since over whose services to the Faith were greater, Abu'l-Fadl's or those of the blacksmith who taught him the Message.'" (1:10)

"Many of the local villagers came to the classes which were held in a very large fale. On Saturday night, the Bahá'ís were having a fia fia (party, literally it means happy happy), when a Christian minister came in and shouted for us to stop the party. It was 10:00 p.m., curfew time. The chief of the village, who was really enjoying himself, got up and told the minister to go home. "This is a Bahá'í fia fia," he said, "and if we want, we'll go on all night." The minister was terribly angry and left. The next morning in his sermon, he attacked the Bahá'ís as people of the devil, "Who don't believe in God." That's where he made his mistake. Five of the villagers, who had been coming to classes, became Bahá'ís that day. The following week, the Bahá'ís in Apia got word that the next Sunday the minister had again attacked the Bahá'ís. During his sermon, he told his flock, "Any Bahá'í who comes into this village should be killed!" Almost immediately, there were enough new Bahá'ís to form a Local Spiritual Assembly." [Gina Mauriello Garcia, Adventures of Dawn-Breaker 109-110. (1:11)

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A Course on Teaching - Dianne Bradford