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Temple

For a more comprehensive compilation on devotional aspects, see Service in Bahá’í Temples, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice.

By My life and My Cause! Round about whatever dwelling the friends of God may enter, and from which their cry shall rise as they praise and glorify the Lord, shall circle the souls of true believers and all the favored angels. And should the door of the true eye be opened unto some, they shall witness the Supreme Concourse as it circleth and crieth: “Blessed art thou, O house, for God hath made thee a resting-place for those He favoreth, and a lodging for those He holdeth dear, and a home for those in whom He hath placed His trust. Unto thee be His praise and His glory and His endless grace.

Bahá'u'lláh, In 'Readings in the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár' dated 16 June 1985

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

Blessed is he who, at the hour of dawn, centring his thoughts on God, occupied with His remembrance, and supplicating His forgiveness, directeth his steps to the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and, entering therein, seateth himself in silence to listen to the verses of God, the Sovereign, the Mighty, the All-Praised. Say: The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is each and every building which hath been erected in cities and villages for the celebration of My praise. Such is the name by which it hath been designated before the throne of glory, were ye of those who understand.

Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Verse 115, p. 61

O people of creation! It is incumbent upon you to build, in the cities and in the name of the Lord of Revelation, Houses as perfect as can be built on earth, and to adorn them with that which beseemeth them, not with images and statues. Magnify ye then therein the praise of your Merciful Lord in a spirit of joy and radiance. Lo! It is through His mention that hearts are illumined and eyes solaced.

Bahá'u'lláh, In 'Readings in the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár' dated 16 June 1985

O people of the world! Build ye houses of worship throughout the lands in the name of Him Who is the Lord of all religions. Make them as perfect as is possible in the world of being, and adorn them with that which befitteth them, not with images and effigies. Then, with radiance and joy, celebrate therein the praise of your Lord, the Most Compassionate. Verily, by His remembrance the eye is cheered and the heart is filled with light.

Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Verse 31, p. 29-30

As to the obligatory prayer (to be said three times a day): Each one must say his prayer alone by himself, and this is not conditional on a private place; that is, both at home and in the worshipping-place, which is a gathering-place, it is allowable for one to say his prayer; but each person must say his prayer by himself (i. e., not in company with others who might recite the same words and continue the same postures together at the same time).

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas, p. 464

I rejoice to hear that thou takest pain with thine art, for in this wonderful age, art is worship. The more thou strivest to perfect it, the closer wilt thou come to God. What bestowal could be greater than this, that one’s art should be even as the act of worshipping the Lord? That is to say, when thy fingers grasp the paintbrush, it is as if thou wert at prayer in the Temple.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Compilation on Arts and Architecture

Inform the maid-servant of God, who prepared her home as a [temporary] Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, that this service was accepted in the Kingdom of Abhá.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas, p. 149

…the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár inspiriteth the lovers of God and delighteth their hearts, and causeth them to become steadfast and firm.

This is a matter of the utmost significance. If the erection of the House of Worship in a public place would arouse the hostility of evil-doers, then the meeting must, in every locality, be held in some hidden place. Even in every hamlet, a place must be set aside as the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, and even though it be underground.

Now, praised be God, ye have succeeded in this. Engage ye in the remembrance of God at dawn; rise ye up to praise and glorify Him.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections From the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 95

Among the institutes of the Holy Books is that of the foundation of places of worship. That is to say, an edifice or temple is to be built in order that humanity might find a place of meeting, and this is to be conducive to unity and fellowship among them. The real temple is the very Word of God; for to it all humanity must turn, and it is the center of unity for all mankind. It is the collective center, the cause of accord and communion of hearts, the sign of the solidarity of the human race, the source of eternal life. Temples are the symbols of the divine uniting force so that when the people gather there in the House of God they may recall the fact that the law has been revealed for them and that the law is to unite them. They will realize that just as this temple was founded for the unification of mankind, the law preceding and creating it came forth in the manifest Word. Jesus Christ, addressing Peter, said, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” This utterance was indicative of the faith of Peter, signifying: This faith of thine, O Peter, is the very cause and message of unity to the nations; it shall be the bond of union between the hearts of men and the foundation of the oneness of the world of humanity. In brief, the original purpose of temples and houses of worship is simply that of unity—places of meeting where various peoples, different races and souls of every capacity may come together in order that love and agreement should be manifest between them. That is why Bahá’u’lláh has commanded that a place of worship be built for all the religionists of the world; that all religions, races and sects may come together within its universal shelter; that the proclamation of the oneness of mankind shall go forth from its open courts of holiness—the announcement that humanity is the servant of God and that all are submerged in the ocean of His mercy. It is the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. The world of existence may be likened to this temple and place of worship. For just as the external world is a place where the people of all races and colors, varying faiths, denominations and conditions come together—just as they are submerged in the same sea of divine favors—so, likewise, all may meet under the dome of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and adore the one God in the same spirit of truth; for the ages of darkness have passed away, and the century of light has come. […]

These are the institutions of God and the foundations of His temple, the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. The outer edifice is a symbol of the inner. May the people be admonished thereby.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Talk dated 30 April 1912 in The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 65-67

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

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.

When the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is accomplished, when the lights are emanating therefrom, the righteous ones are presenting themselves therein, the prayers are performed with supplication towards the mysterious Kingdom, the voice of glorification is raised to the Lord, the Supreme, then the believers shall rejoice, the hearts shall be dilated and overflow with the love of the All-living and Self-existent God. The people shall hasten to worship in that heavenly Temple, the fragrances of God will be elevated, the divine teachings will be established in the hearts like the establishment of the Spirit in mankind; the people will then stand firm in the Cause of your Lord, the Merciful. Praise and greetings be upon you.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 415

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

It befitteth the friends to hold a gathering, a meeting, where they shall glorify God and fix their hearts upon Him, and read and recite the Holy Writings of the Blessed Beauty—may my soul be the ransom of His lovers! The lights of the All-Glorious Realm, the rays of the Supreme Horizon, will be cast upon such bright assemblages, for these are none other than the Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs, the Dawning-Points of God’s Remembrance, which must, at the direction of the Most Exalted Pen, be established in every hamlet and city… These spiritual gatherings must be held with the utmost purity and consecration, so that from the site itself, and its earth and the air about it, one will inhale the fragrant breathings of the Holy Spirit.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections From the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 93-94

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

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

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

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

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

While the Bahá’í House of Worship is open to all, non-Bahá’í as well as Bahá’í, for individual prayer and meditation, and while all are welcome to attend Bahá’í Worship Services, all services held in the House of Worship are under the supervision and control of the Bahá’ís.

The Universal House of Justice, Letter dated 19 December 1963

The spiritual growth generated by individual devotions is reinforced by loving association among the friends in every locality, by worship as a community and by service to the Faith and to one’s fellow human beings. These communal aspects of the godly life relate to the law of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár which appears in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Although the time has not come for the building of local Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs, the holding of regular meetings for worship open to all and the involvement of Bahá’í communities in projects of humanitarian service are expressions of this element of Bahá’í life and a further step in the implementation of the Law of God.

The Universal House of Justice, Letter dated 28 December 1999

In comments on this law [prohibition of pulpits, K154], ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi have made it clear that in the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár (where sermons are prohibited and only the words of Holy Scripture may be read) the reader may stand or sit, and if necessary to be better heard, may use a low moveable platform, but that no pulpit is permitted.

The Universal House of Justice, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Note 168, p. 237

With reference to attending dawn prayers in the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, the Bahá’í House of Worship, Bahá’u’lláh has explained that, although the actual time specified in the Book of God is “the hour of dawn”, it is acceptable at any time from “the earliest dawn of day, between dawn and sunrise, or even up to two hours after sunrise”.

The Universal House of Justice, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Note 142, p. 226

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

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