From the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh
- 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.
(From a recently translated Tablet)
From the Writings and Utterances of 'Abdu'l-Bahá
- I rejoice to hear that thou takest pains with thine art,
for in this wonderful new 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 paint brush, it is as if
thou wert at prayer in the Temple.
(From a recently translated Tablet)
The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar 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-Adhkar 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-Adhkar must be founded after this
order. In the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar 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.
(Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era , Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1970, p. 192)
- ...The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in 'Ishqabad is almost
completed. It is centrally located, nine avenues leading
into it, nine gardens, nine fountains; all the arrangement
and construction is according to the principle and proportion
of the number nine. It is like a beautiful bouquet. Imagine
a very lofty, imposing edifice surrounded completely by
gardens of variegated flowers, with nine avenues leading
through them, nine fountains and pools of water. Such is its
matchless, beautiful design. Now they are building a
hospital, a school for orphans, a home for cripples, a
hospice and a large dispensary. God willing, when it is
fully completed, it will be a paradise.
I hope the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in Chicago will be like
this. Endeavor to have the grounds circular in shape. If
possible, adjust and exchange the plots in order to make the
dimensions and boundaries circular. The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar
cannot be triangular in shape. It must be in the form of a
(The Promulgation of Universal Peace, Wilmette:
Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982, p. 71)
Extracts from letters written on behalf of the Guardian
- ...He sincerely hopes that as the Cause grows and
talented persons come under its banner, they will begin to
produce in art the divine spirit that animates their soul.
Every religion has brought with it some form of art - let us
see what wonders this Cause is going to bring along. Such a
glorious spirit should also give vent to a glorious art. The
Temple with all its beauty is only the first ray of an early
dawn; even more wondrous things are to be achieved in the
(11 December 1931, to an individual believer)
Also, you raise the question of what will be the source
of inspiration to Bahá'í musicians and composers; the music
of the past or the Word? We cannot possibly foresee,
standing as we do on the threshold of Bahá'í culture, what
forms and characteristics the arts of the future, inspired by
this Mighty New Revelation, will have. All we can be sure of
is that they will be wonderful; as every Faith has given rise
to a culture which flowered in different forms, so too our
beloved Faith may be expected to do the same thing. It is
premature to try and grasp what they will be at present.
(23 December 1942, to an individual believer)
- Music, as one of the arts, is a natural cultural
development, and the Guardian does not feel that there should
be any cultivation of "Bahá'í Music" any more than we are
trying to develop a Bahá'í school of painting or writing.
The believers are free to paint, write and compose as their
talents guide them.
(20 July 1946, to a National Spiritual Assembly)
- He personally does not believe that the Master's wish to
have a Temple inspired by the Taj Mahal meant that it must be
one hundred percent based on that building and fully Indian
in all details. He feels the Master meant that the general
impression, the beauty, contours and symmetry of that
glorious tomb should be predominant in the Temple.
(3 July 1947, to an individual believer)
- These slides of our Bahá'í Temple and various activities
are very interesting, and open a new door on the teaching
approach to the general public. The more interesting sets
can be collected and circulated amongst the friends the
(28 December 1946, to an individual believer)
- There now remains the important consideration of a
design for the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar. 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.
(25 June 1954, to a National Spiritual Assembly)
- 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 Bahá'í
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 create something that will be desirable and
appropriate for your area.
(10 February 1955, to a National Spiritual Assembly)
- 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
(9 April 1955, to an individual believer)
- The Guardian feels very strongly that, regardless of
what the opinion of the latest school of architecture may be
on the subject, the styles represented at present all over
the world in architecture are not only very ugly, but
completely lack the dignity and grace which must be at least
partially present in a Bahá'í House of Worship. One must
always bear in mind that the vast majority of human beings
are neither very modern nor very extreme in their tastes, and
that what the advanced school may think is marvelous is often
very distasteful indeed to just plain, simple people.
(11 July 1956, to a National Spiritual Assembly)
Extracts from letters written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice
- Thank you for your letter concerning the design for the
building which is to serve as the Seat of the Universal House
of Justice on Mount Carmel.
The beloved Guardian made it clear that the flowering of
the arts which is the result of a divine revelation comes
only after a number of centuries. The Bahá'í Faith offers
the world the complete rebuilding of human society - a
rebuilding of such far-reaching effect that it has been
looked forward to in all the revelations of the past and has
been called the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.
The new architecture to which this revelation will give birth
will blossom many generations hence. We are now merely at
the beginning of this great process.
The present time is a period of turmoil and change.
Architecture, like all arts and sciences, is undergoing very
rapid development; one has only to consider the changes that
have taken place in the course of the last few decades to
have some idea of what is likely to happen during the years
immediately ahead. Some modern buildings have, no doubt,
qualities of greatness and will endure, but very much of what
is being constructed now may be outgrown and may appear ugly
but a few generations hence. Modern architecture, in other
words, may be considered a new development in its primitive
stage. Classical Greek architecture, however, is an example
of a mature art style. It is very beautiful now, just as it
has been beautiful for some two thousand years or more.
The edifice we are now about to build is intended to
serve for hundreds of years and is part of a complex of
buildings around the arc on Mount Carmel which are to be
harmonious in style. This is why we have chosen a style that
is proven and has long endured, rather than a modern style
which may well be ephemeral.
(18 July 1974, to an individual believer)
- The House of Justice has no objection in principle to
the holding of an exhibition such as you propose, but this is
a matter for the National Spiritual Assemblies to decide.
Therefore you should refer the suggestion to your National
Assembly. Believers in Europe have on previous occasions
used the illuminations of Tablets for various purposes, and
the House of Justice suggests that you might be able to
obtain samples from them through the various National
Assemblies or directly. The actual Tablets should not, of
course, be used in any such posters as you propose.
(29 December 1981, to an individual believer)
- Your letter of 8 September 1983 requesting guidance in
the matter of visual representation of the personages
connected with the Heroic Age of the Faith has been received.
The Universal House of Justice wishes you to know that there
is nothing in the instructions of the Guardian, nor of the
House of Justice, copies of which you enclosed with your
letter, to prohibit artists, such as the person whose letter
of 8 February 1983 you also enclosed, to make drawings of
Letters of the Living in surroundings, or participating in
events, which are historically accurate. Obviously, in
addition to accuracy, it is important to uphold the dignity
of the personages being portrayed.
(5 October 1983, to a National Spiritual Assembly)