≡ Menu

Administration

For a more comprehensive compilation on the relationship of the Mashriqu\’l-Adhkár and the Administration, see Functions and Importance of the Haziratu\’l-Quds, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice.

Thy letter and the two plans for the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár were received. Both plans were reviewed, and cheered the hearts. The loved ones and handmaids of God engaged, each and every one, in speaking thy praise. Thou shouldst, however, consult with the members of the Spiritual Assembly concerning the form and design of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, in order that ye may reach a decision together. All matters must be made a means of unity and concord, so that fellowship and harmony among the beloved of God might increase as day followeth day.

Now, this matter of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár must itself be implemented in such a manner as to foster unity and concord among the friends. That is to say, ye should first consult together, and thereafter devise a plan. If ye follow these steps, divine confirmations shall continuously be vouchsafed unto you. The friends in ‘Ishqábád made the raising up of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár the means of creating perfect fellowship. With the utmost love and sincerity, they elected a committee, and that committee attended to establishing, organizing, arranging, and designing the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. Divine confirmations were vouchsafed day after day, and—praised be God!—it was constructed in great soundness and majesty.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, From a Tablet translated from the Persian

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

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

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 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

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

In order to understand the relationship between the institution of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and that of the Local Spiritual Assembly, you should appreciate their difference in character. The term “Mashriqu’l-Adhkár”, when it refers to a House of Worship, denotes a building, the centre in which the people gather to hear the Word of God and to worship Him. Surrounding this central House of Worship are the dependencies of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, which express worship in the form of service to humanity. The Local House of Justice is the body which Bahá’u’lláh has created to govern the affairs of the community. Among other things, it is responsible for the building of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár as well as for the administration of all its activities. The members of the Spiritual Assembly go to the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár for worship, and to the Hazíratu’l-Quds for the conducting of their administrative functions. […]

To dispute the relative status of these institutions, to depict the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár as an institution independent of the jurisdiction of a Spiritual Assembly, would imply a fundamental flaw in reasoning.

The Bahá’í world has already experienced the functioning of two Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs during the ministries of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, those in Ashqabat and Wilmette. Both had one or more dependencies and each functioned under the jurisdiction of a Spiritual Assembly. Naturally, as the Cause grows, the administration of each dependency of a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár will be developed in accordance with its needs and with varying degrees of autonomy, but all will be under the overall aegis and guidance of the National or Local House of Justice.

The Universal House of Justice, Letter dated 24 February 1998

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

It is fully appreciated that the Bahá’í Temple must be open for worship on the Holy Days and therefore it is permitted to provide, to the minimum extent possible, essential services. Those necessary tasks, such as cleaning and other preparation of the building, which can be carried out on the previous day should be so done and only those duties which must be performed should be undertaken on the Holy Day. In the case of the temple it is immaterial whether the workers are Bahá’ís or non-Bahá’ís since it is the duty of the Faith to observe, especially in respect of its own institutions, the command to cease work on the Holy Days.

The Universal House of Justice, On behalf of, Letter dated 12 August 1977

·