I deeply appreciate the continued and self-sacrificing endeavours of the American believers in the face of the grave financial and economic depression into which their country and the whole world is now plunged. That the Temple Edifice should arise under such circumstances, that its elaborate and exquisite ornamentation should be carried out, through the efforts of a mere handful of Bahá’í followers despite the gloom, the uncertainty and the dangers which surround them, is but another evidence of the mysterious, all-compelling power of Bahá’u’lláh Whose blessings will be bountifully vouchsafed to all who arise to carry out His purpose. The Cause is entering upon a period of unprecedented achievements. The full measure of its glory and power will be gradually manifested, if we on our part execute in their entirety the instructions and behests bequeathed to us by our beloved Master.
— Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 20 December 1931 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada
With the passage of time, the lofty edifice of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár will be reared in the vicinity and surroundings of the historic Bahá’í holy places, enhancing the lustre, spirituality, splendour, grace, and majesty of the Bahá’í institutions and establishing upon the face of the earth, in the most visible and tangible manner, a beauteous likeness and enduring expression of the vital and unbounded spirit of the Cause of Him Who is the Lord of all worlds.
— Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated August 1927 to several National Spiritual Assemblies (translated from the Persian)
Faithful to the provisions of the Charter laid down by the pen of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, I feel it my duty to draw the special attention of those to whom it has been entrusted to the urgent needs of, and the special position enjoyed by, the Republic of Panama, both in view of its relative proximity to the heart and center of the Faith in North America, and of its geographical position as the link between two continents. “All the above countries,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, referring to the Latin States in one of the Tablets of the Divine Plan, has written, “have importance, but especially the Republic of Panama, wherein the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans come together through the Panama Canal. It is a center for travel and passage from America to other continents of the world, and in the future it will gain most great importance.” “Likewise,” He again has written, “ye must give great attention to the Republic of Panama, for in that point the Occident and the Orient find each other united through the Panama Canal, and it is also situated between the two great oceans. That place will become very important in the future. The teachings, once established there, will unite the East and the West, the North and the South.” So privileged a position surely demands the special and prompt attention of the American Bahá’í community.
— Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 70-71
Complementary in its [the Hazíratu’l-Quds] functions to those of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár—an edifice exclusively reserved for Bahá’í worship—this institution, whether local or national, will, as its component parts, such as the Secretariat, the Treasury, the Archives, the Library, the Publishing Office, the Assembly Hall, the Council Chamber, the Pilgrims’ Hostel, are brought together and made jointly to operate in one spot, be increasingly regarded as the focus of all Bahá’í administrative activity, and symbolize, in a befitting manner, the ideal of service animating the Bahá’í community in its relation alike to the Faith and to mankind in general.
From the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, ordained as a house of worship by Bahá’u’lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the representatives of Bahá’í communities, both local and national, together with the members of their respective committees, will, as they gather daily within its walls at the hour of dawn, derive the necessary inspiration that will enable them to discharge, in the course of their day-to-day exertions in the Hazíratu’l-Quds—the scene of their administrative activities—their duties and responsibilities as befits the chosen stewards of His Faith.
— Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 339-340
The seat round which its [the Administrative Order] spiritual, its humanitarian and administrative activities will cluster are the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and its Dependencies.
— Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 156
As I have already intimated in the course of my conversations with visiting pilgrims, so vast and significant an enterprise as the construction of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the West should be supported, not by the munificence of a few but by the joint contributions of the entire mass of the convinced followers of the Faith. It cannot be denied that the emanations of spiritual power and inspiration destined to radiate from the central Edifice of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár will to a very large extent depend upon the range and variety of the contributing believers, as well as upon the nature and degree of self-abnegation which their unsolicited offerings will entail. Moreover, we should, I feel, regard it as an axiom and guiding principle of Bahá’í administration that in the conduct of every specific Bahá’í activity, as different from undertakings of a humanitarian, philanthropic or charitable character, which may in future be conducted under Bahá’í auspices, only those who have already identified themselves with the Faith and are regarded as its avowed and unreserved supporters should be invited to join and collaborate. For apart from the consideration of embarrassing complications which the association of non-believers in the financing of institutions of a strictly Bahá’í character may conceivably engender in the administration of the Bahá’í community of the future, it should be remembered that these specific Bahá’í institutions, which should be viewed in the light of Bahá’u’lláh’s gifts bestowed upon the world, can best function and most powerfully exert their influence in the world only if reared and maintained solely by the support of those who are fully conscious of, and are unreservedly submissive to, the claims inherent in the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. […] Ours surely is the paramount duty so to acquit ourselves in the discharge of our most sacred task that in the days to come neither the tongue of the slanderer nor the pen of the malevolent may dare to insinuate that so beauteous, so significant an Edifice has been reared by anything short of the unanimous, the exclusive, and the self-sacrificing strivings of the small yet determined body of the convinced supporters of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.
— Shoghi Effendi, Bahá’í Administration, p. 181-183
As he has already informed you by cable, he feels that the land which you proposed as a Temple and National Hazíratu’l-Quds site was altogether too large, too expensive, and above all, too far from the city limits. He has given similar instructions to a number of other national bodies who were pursuing their investigations in a direction much the same as your own. He realizes that it is difficult, and much more expensive, to find a plot close to the heart of the city. On the other hand, he feels that even a small plot, near to town, is much more reasonable from every standpoint than a large plot way out in the country. The friends must remember that they have to be able to get out to their National Centre and their National Temple and use them; and, as Bahá’ís are all busy, hardworking people for the most part, the time involved must inevitably influence their attendance at Bahá’í meetings in the Hazíratu’l-Quds, and later, Bahá’í services in the Temple.
— Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 15 June 1954
With reference to the matter of meeting in the Foundation Hall of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, I feel that the Foundation Hall should serve the purpose both of devotional gatherings where the revealed Word of God is read and chanted, and meetings at which subjects strictly Bahá’í in character are presented, propounded and discussed. I have no doubt that every conscientious and thoughtful Bahá’í will scrupulously and at all times observe the commandment of Bahá’u’lláh and the instructions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá relative to the maintenance of the sacredness, the dignity, and the universality of an edifice that will in time become God’s universal House of Worship.
— Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 16 January 1925 in Bahá’í Administration, p. 77
Let the friends recall and ever bear in mind the repeated exhortations and glowing promises of our beloved Master with reference to the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, the crowning institution in every Bahá’í community.
— Shoghi Effendi, Bahá’í Administration, p. 108
The selection and subsequent purchase of the site of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in the Antipodes in the outskirts of a city—the first to receive the light of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh in Australasia, and destined to play a predominant role in the evolution of the Administrative Order of His Faith in that vast area—is an achievement which I heartily welcome and for which I feel deeply grateful. This remarkable accomplishment will, in conjunction with the establishment a decade ago of the National Hazíratu’l-Quds in that same city, accelerate the progress, and immensely reinforce the foundations, of the administrative institutions inaugurated on the morrow of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s ascension, and which are destined to yield their fairest fruit in the Golden Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation.
— Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 16 June 1954 in Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 120-121
Welcome particularly recent action designed expedite termination of Divinely-founded Temple ordained to be the Ark destined to ride triumphant the tidal wave of world-encircling calamities and offering sole refuge to storm-tossed sufferers of sinful, steadily sinking civilization.
— Shoghi Effendi, Cablegram dated 23 October 1939 in Messages to America, p. 30
No sacrifice can be deemed too great to insure the completion of such an edifice—the most holy House of Worship ever to be associated with the Faith of the Most Great Name—an edifice whose inception has shed such a luster on the closing years of the Heroic Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation, which has assumed a concrete shape in the present Formative stage in the evolution of our beloved Faith, whose dependencies must spring into existence in the course of successive epochs of this same Age, and whose fairest fruits will be garnered in the Age that is to come, the last, the Golden Age of the initial and brightest Dispensation of the five-thousand-century Bahá’í Cycle.
“A most wonderful and thrilling motion will appear in the world of existence,” are ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s own words, predicting the release of spiritual forces that must accompany the completion of this most hallowed House of Worship. “From that point of light,” He, further glorifying that edifice, has written, “the spirit of teaching … will permeate to all parts of the world.” And again: “Out of this Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, without doubt, thousands of Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs will be born.” “It marks the inception of the Kingdom of God on earth.”
Then and only then will this holy edifice, symbol and harbinger of a world civilization as yet unborn, and the embodiment of the sacrifice of a multitude of the upholders of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, release the full measure of the regenerative power with which it has been endowed, shed in all its plenitude the glory of the Most Holy Spirit dwelling within it, and vindicate, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the truth of every single promise recorded by the pen of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá pertaining to its destiny.
No more befitting consummation for this magnificent enterprise can be envisaged than that this noble edifice, whose cornerstone has been laid by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s own hands, the preliminary measure for whose construction synchronized with the formal interment of the Báb’s remains on Mt. Carmel, within whose walls the first Centenary of the birth of His ministry has been celebrated, whose interior ornamentation has coincided with the construction of the arcade of His Sepulcher, should be vouchsafed the honor of having the Jubilee of its inception coincide with, and celebrated on the occasion of, the Centenary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh’s prophetic Mission in the Síyáh-Chál of Ṭihrán.
— Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 11 April 1949 in Citadel of Faith, p. 69-71
It should be borne in mind that the central Edifice of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, round which in the fulness of time shall cluster such institutions of social service as shall afford relief to the suffering, sustenance to the poor, shelter to the wayfarer, solace to the bereaved, and education to the ignorant, should be regarded apart from these Dependencies, as a House solely designed and entirely dedicated to the worship of God in accordance with the few yet definitely prescribed principles established by Bahá’u’lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. It should not be inferred, however, from this general statement that the interior of the central Edifice itself will be converted into a conglomeration of religious services conducted along lines associated with the traditional procedure obtaining in churches, mosques, synagogues, and other temples of worship. Its various avenues of approach, all converging towards the central Hall beneath its dome, will not serve as admittance to those sectarian adherents of rigid formulae and man-made creeds, each bent, according to his way, to observe his rites, recite his prayers, perform his ablutions, and display the particular symbols of his faith, within separately defined sections of Bahá’u’lláh’s Universal House of Worship. Far from the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár offering such a spectacle of incoherent and confused sectarian observances and rites, a condition wholly incompatible with the provisions of the Aqdas and irreconcilable with the spirit it inculcates, the central House of Bahá’í worship, enshrined within the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, will gather within its chastened walls, in a serenely spiritual atmosphere, only those who, discarding forever the trappings of elaborate and ostentatious ceremony, are willing worshipers of the one true God, as manifested in this age in the Person of Bahá’u’lláh. To them will the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár symbolize the fundamental verity underlying the Bahá’í Faith, that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is not final but progressive. Theirs will be the conviction that an all-loving and ever-watchful Father Who, in the past, and at various stages in the evolution of mankind, has sent forth His Prophets as the Bearers of His Message and the Manifestations of His Light to mankind, cannot at this critical period of their civilization withhold from His children the Guidance which they sorely need amid the darkness which has beset them, and which neither the light of science nor that of human intellect and wisdom can succeed in dissipating. And thus having recognized in Bahá’u’lláh the source whence this celestial light proceeds, they will irresistibly feel attracted to seek the shelter of His House, and congregate therein, unhampered by ceremonials and unfettered by creed, to render homage to the one true God, the Essence and Orb of eternal Truth, and to exalt and magnify the name of His Messengers and Prophets Who, from time immemorial even unto our day, have, under divers circumstances and in varying measure, mirrored forth to a dark and wayward world the light of heavenly Guidance.
But however inspiring the conception of Bahá’í worship, as witnessed in the central Edifice of this exalted Temple, it cannot be regarded as the sole, nor even the essential, factor in the part which the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, as designed by Bahá’u’lláh, is destined to play in the organic life of the Bahá’í community. Divorced from the social, humanitarian, educational and scientific pursuits centering around the Dependencies of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, Bahá’í worship, however exalted in its conception, however passionate in fervor, can never hope to achieve beyond the meagre and often transitory results produced by the contemplations of the ascetic or the communion of the passive worshiper. It cannot afford lasting satisfaction and benefit to the worshiper himself, much less to humanity in general, unless and until translated and transfused into that dynamic and disinterested service to the cause of humanity which it is the supreme privilege of the Dependencies of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár to facilitate and promote. Nor will the exertions, no matter how disinterested and strenuous, of those who within the precincts of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár will be engaged in administering the affairs of the future Bahá’í Commonwealth, fructify and prosper unless they are brought into close and daily communion with those spiritual agencies centering in and radiating from the central Shrine of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. Nothing short of direct and constant interaction between the spiritual forces emanating from this House of Worship centering in the heart of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, and the energies consciously displayed by those who administer its affairs in their service to humanity can possibly provide the necessary agency capable of removing the ills that have so long and so grievously afflicted humanity. For it is assuredly upon the consciousness of the efficacy of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, reinforced on one hand by spiritual communion with His Spirit, and on the other by the intelligent application and the faithful execution of the principles and laws He revealed, that the salvation of a world in travail must ultimately depend. And of all the institutions that stand associated with His Holy Name, surely none save the institution of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár can most adequately provide the essentials of Bahá’í worship and service, both so vital to the regeneration of the world. Therein lies the secret of the loftiness, of the potency, of the unique position of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár as one of the outstanding institutions conceived by Bahá’u’lláh.
— Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 25 October 1929 in Bahá’í Administration, p. 184-187
The teaching aspect of the Plan must now be pondered. Its challenge must be met, and its requirements studied, weighed, and fulfilled. Superb and irresistible as is the beauty of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the West, majestic as are its dimensions, unique as is its architecture, and priceless as are the ideals and the aspirations which it symbolizes, it should be regarded, at the present time, as no more than an instrument for a more effective propagation of the Cause and a wider diffusion of its teachings. In this respect it should be viewed in the same light as the administrative institutions of the Faith which are designed as vehicles for the proper dissemination of its ideals, its tenets, and its verities.
— Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 44-45
The inauguration of the first dependency of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, the first link to be forged destined to bind the Community of the Most Great Name to the general public, expectant to witness the first evidences of direct Bahá’í service to humanity as a complement to Bahá’í worship, is yet another task which must be conscientiously tackled and fulfilled in the course of the second phase of this Ten-Year Plan. The consummation of this project must synchronize with the termination of the landscaping of the area surrounding the Temple—a double achievement that will mark yet another stage in the materialization of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s often expressed and cherished hopes for this holiest House of Worship in the Bahá’í world.
— Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 128
The readiness of your Assembly, as expressed in your recently cabled message, to transfer the National Bahá’í Secretariat to the vicinity of the Temple in Wilmette has evoked within me the deepest feelings of thankfulness and joy. Your historic decision, so wise and timely, so surprising in its suddenness, so far-reaching in its consequences, is one that I cannot but heartily and unreservedly applaud. To each one of your brethren in the Faith, throughout the United States and Canada, who are witnessing, from day to day and at an ever-hastening speed, the approaching completion of their National House of Worship, the great Mother Temple of the West, your resolution to establish within its hallowed precincts and in the heart of the North American continent the Administrative Seat of their beloved Faith cannot but denote henceforward a closer association, a more constant communion, and a higher degree of coordination between the two primary agencies providentially ordained for the enrichment of their spiritual life and for the conduct and regulation of their administrative affairs. To the far-flung Bahá’í communities of East and West, most of which are being increasingly proscribed and ill-treated, and none of which can claim to have had a share of the dual blessings which a specially designed and constructed House of Worship and a fully and efficiently functioning Administrative Order invariably confer, the concentration in a single locality of what will come to be regarded as the fountain-head of the community’s spiritual life and what is already recognized as the mainspring of the administrative activities, signalizes the launching of yet another phase in the slow and imperceptible emergence, in these declining times, of the model Bahá’í community—a community divinely ordained, organically united, clear-visioned, vibrant with life, and whose very purpose is regulated by the twin directing principles of the worship of God and of service to one’s fellow-men.
— Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 4 July 1939 in Messages to America, p. 23-26
The remaining ten years (1923-1933), distinguished throughout by further internal development, as well as by a notable expansion of the international activities of a growing community, witnessed the completion of the superstructure of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár – the Administration’s mighty bulkwark, the symbol of its strength and the sign of its future glory.
— Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 80
MIGHT NOT HER PRESENT GRIEF AT LOSS BAHA’U’LLAH’S PRECIOUS DAUGHTER RELEASE SUCH FORCES AS WILL ENSURE SPEEDY COMPLETION MASHRIQU’L-ADHKAR-ADMINISTRATION’S MIGHTY BULWARK SYMBOL OF ITS STRENGTH AND HARBINGER ITS PROMISED GLORY?
— Shoghi Effendi, Cablegram dated 1 August 1932 in This Decisive Hour
The greatest, most pressing and sacred enterprise, challenging the spirit and resources of all the members of both of these communities—the purchase of the land, for the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of Europe and the prompt initiation of measures for its construction—demands, during this present phase of the Crusade, the utmost concentration of effort, and the most sublime sacrifice on the part of the German and Austrian believers—an effort and sacrifice in which their brethren, in both the East, and the West, will gladly participate, as a token of their appreciation of the historic significance of this mighty institution destined to be firmly established and radiate its beneficent influence in the very heart of that continent.
The purchase of the site must be expedited, the selection of a befitting design for so glorious an edifice must be made with as little delay as possible, and the preliminary steps for the excavation of the foundations must be undertaken with care, promptitude and determination.
The rise of this symbol and harbinger of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, as yet in the embryonic stage of its development, amidst the confusion, the anxieties, the rivalries and the recurrent crises that mark the decline of a moribund civilization, will, no doubt, lend a tremendous impetus to the onward march of the Faith in all the continents of the Globe, and will, more than any other single act, direct the attention of the spiritually impoverished, the economically afflicted, the socially disturbed, and the morally disoriented masses of a sorely tried continent to its nascent institutions.
— Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 25 June 1954 in The Light of Divine Guidance I, p. 219
The debt of gratitude owed by the Baha’i World to its [Wilmette] champion-builders is indeed immeasurable. The admiration which this brilliant exploit has evoked in the breasts of countless followers of the Faith in East and West knows no bounds. The creative energies its completion must unleash is incalculable. The role it is destined to play in hastening the emergence of the World Order of Baha’u’llah, now stirring in the womb of this travailing age, cannot as yet be fathomed. We stand too close to so majestic, so lofty, so radiant, so symbolic a monument raised so heroically to the glory of the Most Great Name, at so critical a stage in a continent so richly endowed, to be able to visualize the future glories which the consummation of this institution, this harbinger of an as yet unborn civilization, must in the fullness of time disclose to the eyes of all mankind.
That so laborious, so meritorious an undertaking has been completed a year before its appointed time is a further cause for rejoicing and gratitude, and an added testimony to the vision, the resourcefulness, and enterprising spirit of the American believers.
— Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 28 March 1943 in Messages to America, p. 61
As regard the chanting of Tablets in the Temple, Shoghi Effendi wishes in this connection to urge the friends to avoid all forms of rigidity and uniformity in matters of worship. There is no objection to the recital or chanting of prayers in the Oriental language, but there is also no obligation whatsoever of adopting such a form of prayer at any devotional service in the auditorium of the Temple. It should neither be required nor prohibited. The important thing that should always be borne in mind is that with the exception of certain specific obligatory prayers, Bahá’u’lláh has given us no strict or special rulings in matters of worship, whether in the Temple or elsewhere. Prayer is essentially a communion between man and God, and as such transcends all ritualistic forms and formulae.
— Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 78
I feel thoroughly convinced, and am moved to share this firm conviction within me with that great company of western believers, that in the speedy resumption of the sorely-neglected construction of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar at Wilmette lies our undoubted privilege, our primary obligation, our most vital opportunity to lend an unprecedented impetus to the advancement of the Cause, not only throughout the West but in every country of the world. I would not stress at this moment the prestige and good name of the Cause, much as they are involved in this most pressing issue, I would not dwell upon the eager expectancy with which the unnumbered followers of the Faith as well as the vast number of the non-believers in almost every section of society throughout the East are awaiting to behold that noble structure rear its head in the heart of that far-western continent; nor would I expatiate on the ineffable beauty of this holy Edifice, its towering glory, its artistic design, its unique character, or its functions in the organic life of the Bahá’í community of the future. But I would with all the strength of my conviction emphasize the immeasurable spiritual significance of an Edifice, so beauteous, so holy, erected solely by the concerted efforts, strained to the utmost degree of self-sacrifice, of the entire body of the believers who are fully conscious of the significance of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. In this vast endeavor, unparalleled in modern times, its world-wide range, its spontaneity, its heroic and holy character, the American believers, on the soil of whose country Bahá’u’lláh’s first universal House of Worship is to be built, must, if they be faithful to their trust, claim and fulfill a pre-eminent share in the collective contributions offered by the Bahá’ís of the world.
— Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 153
The acquisition of a plot, in the outskirts of Tokyo, to serve as the site of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of North East Asia, must, likewise, be seriously considered and brought to a successful conclusion.
— Shoghi Effendi, Letter dated 15 July 1957 in Japan Will Turn Ablaze!, p. 86
In central Asia, in the city enjoying the unique distinction of having been chosen by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the home of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the Bahá’í world, as well as in the towns and villages of the province to which it belongs, the sore-pressed Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, as a result of the extraordinary and unique vitality which, in the course of several decades, it has consistently manifested, finds itself at the mercy of forces which, alarmed at its rising power, are now bent on reducing it to utter impotence. Its Temple, though still used for purposes of Bahá’í worship, has been expropriated, its Assemblies and committees disbanded, its teaching activities crippled, its chief promoters deported, and not a few of its most enthusiastic supporters, both men and women, imprisoned.
— Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p.3-4
Over and above such meritorious accomplishments, the members of this community are called upon to demonstrate their solidarity with their sister communities in East and West, and indeed to assert their divinely conferred primacy, through assuming a leading role in providing for the erection of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár to be raised in the heart of the African continent—a continent which by virtue of the innumerable exploits which, throughout its length and breadth, colored and white, individuals as well as assemblies, have achieved in recent years, and which, with the sole exception of Australasia, is the only continent deprived of the blessings of such an institution, fully deserves to possess its own independent House of Worship—a House that will gather within its walls members of communities whose prowess has, in the opening years of the second epoch of the Formative Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation, eclipsed the feats performed in both the southern part of the Western Hemisphere and the European continent, and conferred such luster on the annals of our Faith.
Africa, long dormant and neglected, and now stirring in its potential spiritual strength, is, at this very hour, under the eyes of the clamorous multitudes of the adversaries of the Faith pressing for its extirpation in the land of its birth, being called upon to redress the scales so weighed down through the ferocious and ignoble acts of bloodthirsty ecclesiastical oppressors. The erection of such an institution, at such a time, through the combined efforts of the undismayed, undeflected and undefeatable upholders of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in both the East and the West, posterity will regard as a worthy answer to the challenge flung down by its bitterest, most powerful and inveterate enemies.
— Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p.138-139
More conspicuous than any of these undertakings, however, was the erection of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the Bahá’í world in the city of Ishqábád, a center founded in the days of Bahá’u’lláh, where the initial steps preparatory to its construction, had been already undertaken during His lifetime. Initiated at about the close of the first decade of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s ministry (1902); fostered by Him at every stage in its development; personally supervised by the venerable Ḥájí Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí, the Vakílu’d-Dawlih, a cousin of the Báb, who dedicated his entire resources to its establishment, and whose dust now reposes at the foot of Mt. Carmel under the shadow of the Tomb of his beloved Kinsman; carried out according to the directions laid down by the Center of the Covenant Himself; a lasting witness to the fervor and the self-sacrifice of the Oriental believers who were resolved to execute the bidding of Bahá’u’lláh as revealed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, this enterprise must rank not only as the first major undertaking launched through the concerted efforts of His followers in the Heroic Age of His Faith, but as one of the most brilliant and enduring achievements in the history of the first Bahá’í century.
The edifice itself, the foundation stone of which was laid in the presence of General Krupatkin, the governor-general of Turkistán, who had been delegated by the Czar to represent him at the ceremony, has thus been minutely described by a Bahá’í visitor from the West: “The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár stands in the heart of the city; its high dome standing out above the trees and house tops being visible for miles to the travelers as they approach the town. It is in the center of a garden bounded by four streets. In the four corners of this enclosure are four buildings: one is the Bahá’í school; one is the traveler’s house, where pilgrims and wayfarers are lodged; one is for the keepers, while the fourth one is to be used as a hospital. Nine radial avenues approach the Temple from the several parts of the grounds, one of which, the principal approach to the building, leads from the main gateway of the grounds to the principal portal of the Temple.” “In plan,” he further adds, “the building is composed of three sections; namely, the central rotunda, the aisle or ambulatory which surrounds it, and the loggia which surrounds the entire building. It is built on the plan of a regular polygon of nine sides. One side is occupied by the monumental main entrance, flanked by minarets—a high arched portico extending two stories in height recalling in arrangement the architecture of the world famous Taj Mahal at Agra in India, the delight of the world to travelers, many of whom pronounce it to be the most beautiful temple in the world. Thus the principal doorway opens toward the direction of the Holy land. The entire building is surrounded by two series of loggias—one upper and one lower—which opens out upon the garden giving a very beautiful architectural effect in harmony with the luxuriant semi-tropical vegetation which fills the garden… The interior walls of the rotunda are treated in five distinct stories. First, a series of nine arches and piers which separate the rotunda from the ambulatory. Second, a similar treatment with balustrades which separate the triforium gallery (which is above the ambulatory and is reached by two staircases in the loggias placed one on either side of the main entrance) from the well of the rotunda. Third, a series of nine blank arches filled with fretwork, between which are escutcheons bearing the Greatest Name. Fourth, a series of nine large arched windows. Fifth, a series of eighteen bull’s eye windows. Above and resting on a cornice surmounting this last story rises the inner hemispherical shell of the dome. The interior is elaborately decorated in plaster relief work… The whole structure impresses one by its mass and strength.”
Nor should mention be omitted of the two schools for boys and girls which were established in that city, of the pilgrim house instituted in the close vicinity of the Temple, of the Spiritual Assembly and its auxiliary bodies formed to administer the affairs of a growing community, and of the new centers of activity inaugurated in various towns and cities in the province of Turkistán—all testifying to the vitality which the Faith had displayed ever since its inception in that land.
— Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 300-301