It’s been awesome to witness more and more Baha’i-inspired study guides appear online as individual initiatives, all with their own flavours and variety of resources! One of the newest to hit the online space is called The Crimson Academy and it’s the loving work of Ehsan Bayat. Ehsan reached out to Baha’i Blog to tell us about his online courses:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Ehsan Bayat, I am 37 years old and I live in Sugar Land, Texas. I am ever grateful to my parents for introducing me to the Baha’i Faith when I was a young child, and ever since I have had the supreme pleasure of being a lover of the Author of this Faith.
Baha’i Blog: Could you tell us a little about the Crimson Academy?
In 2011 I had the idea of creating an online distance learning academy for the study of Baha’i Texts, that would be 100% free, and not require the friends to travel anywhere to study.
The materials would be study guides, study questions, audio and video talks, papers and notes on the subject being studied.
The courses are designed for individuals or study groups to study the material deeply. The Crimson Academy’s mission is to create a space online where participants are engaged in a thoughtful study of the Baha’i Writings to advance their knowledge, deepen their understanding of the Teachings, and increase their vision. Most importantly, it is my ardent hope that this effort will stimulate a desire in each participant to serve the needs of their cluster by engaging in the framework of the Plan set forth by the Universal House of Justice, through study of the sequence of courses and implementation of their practical component and ultimately engaging in a path of service, such as serving as a tutor of a study circle, hosting a devotional gathering, teaching a children’s class, or animating a junior youth group.
The Crimson Academy’s role is to help the friends deepen themselves, reignite flames of love, excitement, activism within their hearts, and energize them in to the fields of teaching and service in their respective clusters and home front pioneering.
Baha’i Blog: How did you choose the name, The Crimson Academy?
In the Baha’i Writings the word “crimson” is used in several allegorical and symbolic senses. One meaning is sacrifice. The color crimson has been symbolized to denote the physical world.
In The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha’u’llah says:
“How great the blessedness that awaiteth the king who will arise to aid My Cause in My kingdom, who will detach himself from all else but Me! Such a king is numbered with the companions of the Crimson Ark—the Ark which God hath prepared for the people of Baha.”
The “Crimson Ark” refers to the Cause of Baha’u’llah. His followers are designated as the “companions of the Crimson Ark” and are lauded by the Bab in the Qayyumu’l-Asma.
Baha’i Blog: What resources are found on the site?
You can find a list of available courses. All of these courses are free, and are offered all year round. You can take the courses either individually or as a group. The students, and you can go at your own pace. There are currently a wide variety of courses available such as studies of: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, the Tablet of Carmel, the Dispensation of Baha’u’llah and many, many other Baha’i texts! You can also watch or listen to our lecture series on YouTube.
I also have plans to develop many more courses on the Sacred Texts and on the letters of the Universal House of Justice in the coming months.
Baha’i Blog: Once you register for a course at the Crimson Academy, what happens next?
I encourage all individuals to form study groups, if possible. The Crimson Academy has collated all the materials, notes, study questions, audio and video, for individuals and groups to take it upon themselves to study these courses. The Crimson Academy encourages the friends to immediately dive in, read the materials, answer the questions, and acquire greater understanding. The facilitators of the Crimson Academy work to encourage the friends to deepen themselves on the Writings. Every so often if a friend is sorely perplexed a facilitator may guide and assist the friend through his question, but generally, the Crimson Academy wants to encourage individual initiative to study deeply the Sacred Writings.
Baha’i Blog: What’s something that you learned during the process of working on this site?
The fun of participating in the Crimson Academy is that every day I’m learning something new, either from a participant, or by putting a course together. One thing I learnt is that there are many friends that are isolated believers, or who are elderly, that for all practical reasons cannot visit with other friends easily, so they often feel disconnected, and lose spirit. This past year the Crimson Academy conducted two courses: the Kitab-i-Iqan and the Advent of Divine Justice. We had over 300 participants in these courses. The Kitab-i-Iqan course lasted 16 weeks and the Advent of Divine Justice course was 15 weeks long. As mentioned earlier, all Crimson Academy students go at their own pace, and can participate in the group consultations, where the students share their learnings and questions from the Texts.
Baha’i Blog: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Yes, please share the Crimson Academy with everyone in your community. Let them know what a great resource this is for the deep study of the Writings of the Central Figures and the Writings of the Beloved Guardian.
Baha’i Blog: Thanks you so much, Ehsan! You can find the Crimson Academy here. Here is their YouTube channel and their Facebook page.