The influence that this Mother Temple of the whole Pacific area will exert when constructed is incalculable and mysterious. The beloved Master told the American friends that their Temple would be the greatest silent teacher, and there is no doubt that this one building has exerted a profound influence on the spread of the Faith, not only in the United States and the Western Hemisphere, but throughout the world. We can therefore expect that the construction of another “Mother Temple” in the heart of Australasia, and one in the centre of Africa, as well as one in the heart of Europe, will exert a tremendous influence, both locally and internationally.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 19 July 1957 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia
In building the Temple, one must be careful not to be carried away with the ideals and emotions of the situation, but keep oneself firmly on the ground, and realize they are buildings of steel and stone. That which will produce a House of Worship that is pleasing and attractive is what is required—not a replica of the Shrine of the Báb, or the Temple in Wilmette. We are not seeking outstanding examples of architecture, but rather the release that will come from the construction of the first spiritual edifice in Europe.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 9 November 1956 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria
The use of pulpits is forbidden by Bahá’u’lláh; if, in order to be more clearly heard, the person reading stands on a low platform, there is no objection, but this should not be incorporated as an architectural feature of the building. …
The reader should stand where he or she will be best seen and heard by all. All minor details regarding this matter are left to the discretion of your Assembly to decide after receiving the advice of experts. As he already informed you, he suggests using fixed rather than movable seats.
Vocal music alone may be used and the position of the singers, or singer, is also a matter for your Assembly to decide; but again, there should be no fixed point, no architectural details marking a special spot. Acoustics should certainly be the main consideration in placing the singers.
He need not tell you how very important the decisions are which you will now be called upon to make in connection with completing the Temple.… He urges you, at all times, to receive the very best technical advice, and to bear in mind that the main thing is that the meetings in the Temple should be conducted in a beautiful and peaceful setting, in comfort and with dignity and simplicity, and that the audience should be able to hear perfectly and the tone values be pleasant to the ear.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 20 July 1946 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada
This Bahá’í teaching of human fellowship and kindness implies that we must be always ready to extend every assistance and help we can to those who are in distress and suffering. Bahá’í charity is of the very essence of the Teachings, and should therefore be developed in every Bahá’í community. Charitable institutions, such as orphanages, free schools and hospitals for the poor, constitute an indispensable part of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. It is the responsibility of every local Bahá’í community to ensure the welfare of its poor and needy members, through whatever means possible.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 26 June 1936 to an individual believer
Your donations to the Temple as well as the remarkable manner in which you are assisting the believers in their efforts to widen the scope of their publicity work are real and abiding contributions you have made to the Faith. And although at present you are unable to contribute financially as much as you did in former years you should not feel discouraged, much less disappointed. For the best way in which you can effectively support the Temple cause is not through material means but by the moral help which is your primary obligation to extend to those who are in charge of the building of that sacred and unique Edifice. It is devotion, sincerity and genuine enthusiasm which in the long run can ensure the completion of our beloved Temple. Material considerations, though essential, are not the most vital by any means. Had it been otherwise the Temple would have never reached the stage of progress which it has already so well attained. For the resources of the community are limited, and have been severely affected during the last two years by an unprecedented and world-wide economic crisis. But despite all these material obstacles the Temple has made a steady progress and this alone is sufficient to convince every unbiased observer of the divine potency animating the Faith—a potency before which all material difficulties must inevitably wane.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 30 December 1933 to individual believers
You asked concerning some plans whereby funds could be gathered for the Temple. Shoghi Effendi believes that the best and noblest method is to have free donations that are made spontaneously and with the sense of making some sacrifice in furthering the Cause. It is with sacrifice that this Temple is to be built. This is the truly worthy method. This principle therefore excludes any method whereby the help of non-Bahá’ís is included. A Bahá’í Temple should be built by the Bahá’ís alone; it is not an ordinary humanitarian activity in which the help of any person could be solicited.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 14 April 1932 to the Bahá'ís of Kenosha, Wisconsin
Among the signs of enkindlement, of grace and edification, of cheer and spirituality, is gathering in the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár at the hour of dawn and offering supplications and prayers in that majestic and luminous Temple. This matter is important and will produce great results. The mere gathering of the friends at dawntide in the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár shall demonstrate the power of the Cause, display the potency and influence of the Word of God, evince the attachment of the hearts to the divine commandments, and clearly manifest the turning of the souls towards the shore of His oneness. Negligence and indifference with respect to this pious act are in no wise permitted.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 13 December 1928 to the Bahá'ís of Ishqábád (translated from the Persian)
There now remains the important consideration of a design for the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. It does not matter whether it is executed by a Bahá’í or a non-Bahá’í architect, but the essential thing is that it must be beautiful and dignified. There must be none of this hideous, exaggerated, bizarre style, which one sees in many modern buildings. It is not befitting for our House of Worship. He thinks that you should impress this on any architects wishing to submit drawings. The essentials of the design, as stipulated by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are that the building should be nine-sided, and circular in shape. Aside from this, the architect is not restricted in any way in choosing his style of design.
Whenever you have a sufficient collection of drawings, he would be pleased to receive them, and give you his advice.
A very large building at this time is not necessary, as the expense would overtax our resources too heavily; and the Persian Bahá’ís, who are so much more numerous, will have to, during the coming nine years, build a much larger and more pretentious structure in Ṭihrán, and consequently a more expensive one.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 25 June 1954 in The Light of Divine Guidance I, p. 215-216
The Temple must naturally be a dignified and worthy edifice. He does not consider that any of these modernistic experiments in architecture are at all suitable for a building of this nature, lacking as they so often do, beauty and dignity.
He also considers that the building should be a relatively small one, both because of the size of the Community in Germany, and the financial resources of the Faith at present. The most important thing of all is to build this first Temple on European soil.
In the days when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was urging the American Bahá’ís to build the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the western world, He repeatedly emphasized that it could be a modest building, and that the important thing was the spiritual element that this House of Worship in the name of Bahá’u’lláh should be raised in the heart of America. The same thing applies now to your Temple in Germany. Size and pretentiousness are not important. The important thing is that the building should be speedily erected, and be a financial possibility, not placing, as the American Temple, a terrible strain on the friends for years to come.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 2 August 1955 in The Light of Divine Guidance I, p. 235-236
Concerning the copy of a Tablet from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá which you had enclosed in your letter of October 20th and in which the Master defines the order in which Temple accessory buildings are to be constructed: This Tablet, Shoghi Effendi feels, should not be interpreted too rigidly as giving strictly the exact order in which these accessories are to be built. Nor should it be regarded as providing an exhaustive list of the buildings which will in future be erected around the central edifice of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. The International House of Justice will have to lay down definitely the number and order of these future Temple accessories, and to define their relationships to each other, and to the Temple itself. If available, the Guardian would appreciate your sending him the original text of that Tablet.
As to the question of the relationship of an administrative building to the Temple; this also will have to be defined in future, but whatever the actual form which such relationship may assume, and whatever its details, it should be based on the general principle that these two sets of Bahá’í institutions embody two vital and distinct, yet inseparable aspects of Bahá’í life: worship and service. The central edifice of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, which is exclusively devoted to purposes of worship, represents the spiritual element, and therefore fulfils a primary function in every Bahá’í Community, whereas all other Temple accessories, whether of a strictly administrative, cultural or humanitarian character, are secondary, and come next in importance to the House of Worship itself.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 28 January 1939
Concerning the rush of the crowds to visit the Temple, Shoghi Effendi would like the committee in charge to be very careful to maintain order and also show a spirit of courtesy and hospitality to those who visit it. Should those that come to see the building be properly treated they would be attracted to the movement or at least carry back a nice spirit to their homes. The friends have to be very considerate to such visitors if they desire to have the Cause spread. This, however, should not necessarily mean that disorder has to prevail in the building. It is for the committee in charge to devise the proper method that is in close conformity with the spirit of the movement.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 19 February 1932
He sincerely hopes that now that the Temple is completed it will be filled to the full with pure seeking souls. It should be different from the other houses of worship which even if they are filled, their source of attraction is the music heard. Here the spirit should be so powerful as to awaken the heart of every one that enters it to the glory of Bahá’u’lláh and to the importance of the message of peace He has brought to the world.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 31 May 1931
The beloved Master has not given very many details concerning the House of Worship. He has written in tablets, however, that the building must be round, and be 9-sided. The Guardian feels that at this time all Bahá’í temples should have a dome. In other words, the instructions of the Master to have a round, 9-sided building must be very carefully carried out; but in addition the Guardian feels the Temples built now should likewise have a dome.
The Guardian sees no objections to asking other architects to collaborate with the architect of the design “Azamat”. However it should be understood that the Guardian does not wish this collaboration or adaptation to result in the ultra-modern type of building which is the motif of the submissions which have been made, and which he has rejected.
The Guardian advises that the 2 designs which are favored by your Assembly and the architects of Germany are not acceptable; and therefore correspondence with regard to these designs is no longer necessary.
Time moves on, and the Guardian therefore hopes that the result of the collaboration and adaptation of the Azamat design will be presented to him in the near future.
The Guardian has no objections of course to new designs being presented; but they must carry with them the dignified spirit of the Faith, and must be in keeping with the distinction and honor which comes to the temples now being built being the first in their respective continents.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The Light of Divine Guidance I, p. 247-248
In telling people of the nine religions of the world, that is existing religions, we should not give this as the reason the Temple has nine sides. This may have been the idea of the architect, and a very pleasing idea, which be mentioned in passing, but the Temple has nine sides because of the association of 9 with perfection, unity and ‘Bahá’.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 28 October 1949
In passing, there is one point to be mentioned, and that is that the Temple in Wilmette does not constitute a pattern for other Temples, nor does it represent a new type of Baha’i architecture. Therefore it is not necessary for your architects to endeavour to follow that pattern. What should be done is to follow the Master’s instructions as to the Temple, and then to create something that will be desirable and appropriate for your area.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 10 February 1955
He was very happy to hear that the National Assembly is pressing the work as regards having designs made for the Temple to be built in Frankfurt. He attaches the greatest importance to this enterprise, as you know; and considers that two points must be constantly borne in mind by the architects; one, that the building must not be too expensive, and two, that the design must be beautiful and dignified, and not show the influence of the extremes of modern architecture, which are transient in style, for the most part ugly, and altogether too utilitarian in aspect for a House of Worship.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 9 April 1955
We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 17 February 1933
He sincerely hopes that the sight of the Temple, as well as the principles it stands for, will sink down into the heart of the people in that locality and help to attract them to the Faith. It is not sufficient to build a beautiful edifice; we have to fill it with sincere and devoted souls who will seek its spiritual atmosphere.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 6 May 1931 in Readings in the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar
He feels that one of the most important points is the acoustics of the building, and the NSA must be sure it is getting the very ablest professional advice in this matter, as well as in all others.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 22 February 1947
Vocal music alone may be used and the position of the singers, or singer, is also a matter for your Assembly to decide; but again, there should be no fixed point, no architectural details marking a special spot. Acoustics should certainly be the main consideration in placing the singers…
He need not tell you how very important the decisions are which you will now be called upon to make in connection with completing the Temple… He urges you, at all times, to receive the very best technical advice, and to bear in mind that the main thing is that the meetings in the Temple should be conducted in a beautiful and peaceful setting, in comfort and with dignity and simplicity, and that the audience should be able to hear perfectly and the tone values be pleasant to the ear.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 20 July 1946
The Beloved Guardian explains that there is no requirement for one window to be oriented toward the East. In fact, he feels this should not be done; otherwise it will take on a practice of the Moslems with regard to their prayer niche, etc. I am sending a copy of this note to the German NSA, so they will understand.
The Guardian has also indicated that there is nothing in the teaching requiring one dome for the building, in fact, any dome. It is of course more beautiful, generally to have a dome, or even domes, but that is not a necessary requirement of the Temple.
Likewise the Guardian indicates, it is not essential that there be nine doors.
The real requisite is that the building should be circular in shape, having nine sides; that there should be nine gardens, walks, etc….
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 20 April 1955 in The Light of Divine Guidance, p. 232
3. The Guardian therefore feels that we should not accept an ultra-modern building, which represents more or less the current spirit of the time, rather than the delicate architectural beauty which the spirit of the Faith should engender.
4. The Guardian would be happy if your Assembly could produce a design of a building, graceful in outline, with a dome. If they can do this he will be very pleased. The main thing for the architect to consider is the mass of the building, the outline of the building and its architectural beauty. Most of the sacred buildings, including the Temple at Wilmette, include elements of the previous schools of architecture in an ensemble that seems to present something new. He thinks the architects should study the graceful mass of the Wilmette Temple, of the design of Mr. Remey for the Temple on Mt. Carmel, and the Shrine of the Báb, as well as the outline of the domes of important buildings, particularly the dome of St. Peters in Rome. In this way they will get an idea of proportions which they feel are suitable. The details and the style is somewhat secondary and is left to the architect’s taste.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 10 November 1955 in The Light of Divine Guidance I, p. 245-246
It is permissible and satisfactory to use the prayers of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the devotional services in the Temple. His public talks and Tablets should not be used, but His prayers may be used.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 3 October 1953
As to the character of the meetings in the auditorium of the Temple, he feels that they should be purely devotional in character, Bahá’í addresses and lectures should be strictly excluded. For the present he feels that there would be no objection to having Bahá’í meetings, including addresses and the business sessions of the Convention, held in the Foundation Hall. Shoghi Effendi would urge that choir singing by men, women and children be encouraged in the auditorium and that rigidity in the Bahá’í service be scrupulously avoided. The more universal and informal the character of Bahá’í worship in the Temple the better. Images and pictures, with the exception of the Greatest Name, should be strictly excluded. Prayers revealed by Bahá’u’lláh and the Master, as well as the sacred writings of the Prophets, should be read or chanted, as well as hymns based upon Bahá’í or non-Bahá’í sacred writings.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 11 April 1931
He personally does not believe that the Master’s wish to have a Temple inspired by the Taj Mahal meant that it must be one hundred percent based on that building and fully Indian in all details. He feels the Master meant that the general impression, the beauty, contours and symmetry of that glorious tomb should be predominant in the Temple.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 3 July 1947
The Guardian feels very strongly that, regardless of what the opinion of the latest school of architecture may be on the subject, the styles represented at present all over the world in architecture are not only very ugly, but completely lack the dignity and grace which must be at least partially present in a Bahá’í House of Worship. One must always bear in mind that the vast majority of human beings are neither very modern nor very extreme in their tastes, and that what the advanced school may think is marvelous is often very distasteful indeed to just plain, simple people.
— On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 11 July 1956