In addition, since it is envisioned that the design of the Temple will “harmonize naturally with the local culture and the daily lives of those who will gather to pray and meditate therein”, the friends could be encouraged to generate some preliminary ideas about its physical appearance. It is hoped that, ultimately, the design of the House of Worship will draw on elements and symbols with which the people of Kenya naturally identify. These ideas, forwarded to the construction office soon to be established, could be incorporated into the architectural brief defining the requirements for the project.
Design & Planning
— The Universal House of Justice, On behalf of, Letter dated 24 September 2014 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Kenya
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
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)
As to the design of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár: it should resemble the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of ‘Ishqábád. That is, it must be a nine-sided edifice and should be erected so as to evince the utmost spirituality, elegance, loftiness, refinement, and grace, in such wise that it becometh a place which is full of charm. Insofar as possible, effort should be exerted towards ensuring the pleasantness of the site, its freshness and beauty.
O thou true friend of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá! Thy most ardent wish was for the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár to be reared and established. For each and every thing there is a prescribed season—and praise be to God, the time to build the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár hath now come! The greatest endeavour must therefore be exerted that this mighty edifice may be erected solidly and firmly, with refinement and grace. This is a great service to the Sacred Threshold, the renown of which shall gladden, through all eternity, the hearts of the Concourse on high in the Kingdom of holiness.
O thou who art firm in the Covenant! The glad-tidings of the impending completion of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, the arrangement of its gardens, and, erelong, the flowing of its fountains, brought infinite joy. The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár shall truly become a place of great happiness and joy. The strength and elegance of its structure, the orderly arrangement of its pathways, the design of its flowerbeds, the gushing of its fountains, the blossoming of its trees, the freshness of its air, and the charm and beauty of its appearance combine to create a paradise of utmost delight. It shall truly be without peer or likeness.
In the future, God willing, there will be erected throughout all the regions … temples of outstanding beauty and dignity, in which grace and elegance combine with a fineness of proportion that is delightful to behold.
Teach your children the verses revealed from the heaven of majesty and power, so that, in most melodious tones, they may recite the Tablets of the All-Merciful in the alcoves within the Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs.
— Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Verse 150, p. 74
Promote ye the development of the cities of God and His countries, and glorify Him therein in the joyous accents of His well-favored ones. In truth, the hearts of men are edified through the power of the tongue, even as houses and cities are built up by the hand and other means. We have assigned to every end a means for its accomplishment; avail yourself thereof and place your trust and confidence in God, the Omniscient, the All-Wise.
— Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Note 53, p. 190-191
Question: Concerning mosques, chapels and temples.
Answer: Whatever hath been constructed for the worship of the one true God, such as mosques, chapels and temples, must not be used for any purpose other than the commemoration of His Name. This is an ordinance of God, and he who violateth it is verily of those who have transgressed.
— Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Questions & Answers 94, p. 134-135
For, in this religion no other command is as rigorously enjoined as the duty of refinement, and it is forbidden that one bring any object into being in a state of imperfection when one hath the power to manifest it in full perfection. For example, should one build an edifice and fail to elevate it to the utmost state of perfection possible for it, there would be no moment in the life of that edifice when angels would not beseech God to torment him; nay rather, all the atoms of that edifice would do the same. For each thing, within its own station, yearneth to attain unto the utmost height of excellence in its own level. Thus, should a man who is capable not realize and respond to the yearning of his capability, he will be held accountable therefore…
— The Báb, Persian Bayan 6:3 in The Gate of the Heart (Saiedi), p. 317.
Thousands of Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, which mean the Dawning-Points of Praise for all religionists, will be built in the world. In the Orient and in the Occident of the world will they be built. But this Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, being the first one in the Occident, has great importance. In after years there will be many Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs, even in this City of Chicago there shall be numerous ones established. In Asia there shall be many. In Europe there shall be many. Even in Africa there will be many. Even in Australia and New Zealand; but this is of great importance. In Ishkabad, Caucasus, Russia, the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár has the same great importance, being the first one built there. In Persia there are many Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs. Some have been houses which have been rented for that purpose. Others have given their homes entirely for that purpose, and in some places temporary and small places have been built therefor. In all the cities of Persia there are Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs; but the great Mashriqu’l-Adhkár was founded in Ishkabad. Because it is the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, hence it possesses the superlative degree of importance. All the friends of Ishkabad agreed and put forward the greatest effort. His holiness the Afnan devoted all his wealth to it. Everything he had he gave for it. Hence such a tremendous edifice was built. A colossal effort was put forward. Notwithstanding their contributions to that Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, they have, as you know, contributed to you here in this city. Now that one is almost complete, that is to say, with all its gardens. That Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is centrally located. It has nine avenues, nine gardens, nine fountains, so it is nine on nine, all nines. It is like a beautiful bouquet. Just imagine an edifice of that beauty in the center, very lofty, surrounded centrally by gardens, variegated flowers, with nine avenues interlacing nine gardens, nine ponds and nine fountains, and see how delightful it must be ! That is the way it should be. It is matchless, most beautiful! Such is the design. And now they are at work building a Hospital and a School for Orphans and a Home for the Cripples and a large Dispensary and a Hospice. They are now planning, thinking of these things. When that, God willing, shall be completed, it will be a Paradise! There will be no greater geometry than this, and I hope that in Chicago it shall be like this. It will be even so. Therefore endeavor to have the ground circular in shape. If possible even exchange certain parts in order to have a circular piece; not to have a triangle. The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár could not be triangular in shape. It must be circular.
— 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Talk dated 1 May 1912 in The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 71-72
The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is the most important matter and the greatest divine institute. Consider how the first institute of His Holiness Moses, after His exodus from Egypt, was the “Tent of Martyrdom” which He raised and which was the traveling Temple. It was a tent which they pitched in the desert, wherever they abode, and worshipped in it. Likewise, after His Holiness Christ—may the spirit of the world be a sacrifice to Him!—the first institute by the disciples was a Temple. They planned a church in every country. Consider the Gospel and the importance of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár will become evident.
In fine, I hope that all the beloved of God, collectively, in the continent of America, men and women, will strive night and day until the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár be erected in the utmost solidity and beauty.
— 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 418-419
Concerning the erection of the Temple: Now all the believers must become united, so that the Temple may be built soon in one place. For should the believers undertake the erection of the Temple in many places, it will not become completed anywhere; and as in Chicago they have preceded every other place to plan the erection of the Temple, undoubtedly to cooperate and help them is nobler and a necessity. Then, when it is built in one place, it will become erected in many other places. If, for the present, you prepare or establish a home in New York, though by renting it, to become a center for the gathering of the believers of God, it is very acceptable. God willing, in all the states of America in the future there will be erected Temples with infinite architectural beauty, art, with pleasing proportion and handsome and attractive appearances; especially in New York. But for the present, be ye satisfied with a rented place.
O friends of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and His co-sharers and partners in the servitude of the Lord of Hosts! Verily the greatest affair and the most important matter today is to establish a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and to found a Temple from which the voice of praisings may rise to the Kingdom of the majestic Lord. Blessings be upon you for having thought to do so and intending to erect such an edifice, advancing all in devoting your wealth in this great purpose and in this splendid work. You will soon see the angels of confirmation following after you and the hosts of reinforcement crowding before you.
— 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 415
The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár must have nine sides, doors, fountains, paths, gateways, columns and gardens, with ground floor, galleries and domes, and in design and construction must be beautiful. The mystery of the edifice is great, and cannot be unveiled yet, but its erection is the most important undertaking of this day. The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár has important accessories, which are accounted of the basic foundations. These are: school for orphan children, hospital and dispensary for the poor, home for the incapable, college for the higher scientific education, and hospice. In every city a great Mashriqu’l-Adhkár must be founded after this order. In the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár services will be held every morning. There will be no organ in the Temple. In buildings near by, festivals, services, conventions, public meetings and spiritual gatherings will be held, but in the Temple the chanting and singing will be unaccompanied. Open ye the gates of the Temple to all mankind.
When these institutions, college, hospital, hospice and establishment for the incurables, university for the study of higher sciences, giving post-graduate courses, and other philanthropic buildings are built, the doors will be opened to all the nations and religions. There will be absolutely no line of demarcation drawn. Its charities will be dispense irrespective of color or race. Its gates will be flung wide open to mankind; prejudice towards none, love for all. The central building will be devoted to the purpose of prayer and worship. Thus … religion will become harmonized with science, and science will be the handmaid of religion, both showering their material and spiritual gifts on all humanity.
— 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, p. 187-188
The place is suitable, but if it were possible to have a wider piece of ground, so that the building should stand in the middle, surrounded by a flower garden, it would be better and more pleasing; otherwise, if this is not possible, the building on the present ground is also permissible.
— 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas, p. 127-128
I loved the Afnán very much. Because of him, I rejoiced. I wrote a long Visitation Tablet for him and sent it with other papers to Persia. His burial site is one of the holy places where a magnificent Mashriqu’l-Adhkár must be raised up. If possible, the actual arch of the royal palace should be restored and become the House of Worship.
— 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 20
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
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 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
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
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
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