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There are many ways in which the institutions and activities of the Bahá’í community can develop, but it must be remembered that the Bahá’í Cause is an organic body, and it is for the World Centre of that Cause to determine the methods and steps by which its potentialities and functions will unfold. The term “Mashriqu’l-Adhkár” has been used in the Writings to describe various things: the gathering of the friends for prayers at dawn; a building where this activity takes place; the complete institution of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, with its dependencies; the central edifice of that institution, often described as a “House of Worship” or “Temple”. These variants can all be seen as denoting stages or aspects of the gradual introduction of Bahá’u’lláh’s concept as promulgated in the Kitab-i-Aqdas. For the development of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, several lines of action have been set in motion, and it is to these that the believers should devote their efforts and attention.

At the local level, emphasis has long been placed upon the believers’ gathering regularly for worship, in whatever location they can effectively use. After the Kitab-i-Aqdas had been revealed there was a spontaneous reaction among the friends in Iran to implement the ordinance of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, and `Abdu’l-Bahá encouraged this, stressing the importance of the friends’ meeting for devotions, even if, owing to the conditions of the time, this be in an inconspicuous place. During the lifetime of `Abdu’l-Bahá, the various community functions and institutions, such as the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and the Local Spiritual Assembly, were developed in a variety of evolving and temporary manners. […]

As yet, too few local communities have been able to establish an adequate Haziratu’l-Quds, and it would be both unnecessary and undesirable for Local Spiritual Assemblies, let alone individual believers, to attempt to establish Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs now at the local level. What is required is for Local Spiritual Assemblies, as their communities grow, to strive to obtain a modest local centre and ultimately to acquire a Haziratu’l-Quds, and to encourage the greater use of the local Bahá’í Centre for devotional, as well as other gatherings.

As to the activity of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, the Universal House of Justice has, for some years, been advocating the desirability of the holding of gatherings for dawn prayers wherever such an activity is feasible. Clearly, such meetings would be both natural and easy of accomplishment in the case of agricultural villages, while in a large industrialized city, under present circumstances, it would be far more difficult for the friends to gather regularly at dawn for devotional purposes.

The Universal House of Justice, Letter dated 20 April 1997

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