The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is one of the most vital institutions in the world, and it hath many subsidiary branches.
- Although it is a House of Worship, it is also connected with a hospital, a drug dispensary, a traveler’s hospice, a school for orphans, and a university for advanced studies. Every Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is connected with these five things.
- My hope is that the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár will now be established in America, and that gradually the hospital, the school, the university, the dispensary and the hospice, all functioning according to the most efficient and orderly procedures, will follow.
Make these matters known to the beloved of the Lord, so that they will understand how very great is the importance of this “Dawning-Point of the Remembrance of God.” The Temple is not only a place for worship; rather, in every respect is it complete and whole.
— Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, #64
This unique edifice, the first fruit of a slowly maturing Administrative Order, the noblest structure reared in the first Bahá’í century, and the symbol and precursor of a future world civilization, is situated in the heart of the North American continent, on the western shore of Lake Michigan, and is surrounded by its own grounds comprising a little less than seven acres. It has been financed, at cost of over a million dollars, by the American Bahá’í community, assisted at times by voluntary contributions of recognized believers in East and West, of Christian, of Muslim, of Jewish, of Zoroastrian, of Hindu and Buddhist extraction. It has been associated, in its initial phase, with ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, and in the concluding stages of its construction with the memory of the Greatest Holy Leaf, the Purest Branch and their mother. The structure itself is a pure white nonagonal building, of original and unique design, rising from a flight of white stairs encircling its base; and surmounted by a majestic and beautifully proportioned dome, bearing nine tapering symmetrically placed ribs of decorative as well as structural significance, which soar to its apex and finally merge into a common unit pointing skyward. Its framework is constructed of structural steel enclosed in concrete, the material of its ornamentation consisting of a combination of crystalline quartz, opaque quartz and white Portland cement, producing a composition clear in texture, hard and enduring as stone, impervious to the elements, and cast into a design as delicate as lace. It soars 191 feet from the floor of its basement to the culmination of the ribs, clasping the hemispherical dome which is forty-nine feet high, with an external diameter of ninety feet, and one-third of the surface of which is perforated to admit light during the day and emit light at night. It is buttressed by pylons forty-five feet in height, and bears above its nine entrances, one of which faces ‘Akká, nine selected quotations from the writings of Bahá’u’lláh, as well as the Greatest Name in the center of each of the arches over its doors. It is consecrated exclusively to worship, devoid of all ceremony and ritual, is provided with an auditorium which can seat 1600 people, and is to be supplemented by accessory institutions of social service to be established in its vicinity, such as an orphanage, a hospital, a dispensary for the poor, a home for the incapacitated, a hostel for travelers and a college for the study of arts and sciences.
— Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By
One demonstration of the excellent character of the Christians in those days was their dedication to charity and good works, and the fact that they founded hospitals and philanthropic institutions. For example, the first person to establish public clinics throughout the Roman Empire where the poor, the injured and the helpless received medical care, was the Emperor Constantine. This great king was the first Roman ruler to champion the Cause of Christ. He spared no efforts, dedicating his life to the promotion of the principles of the Gospel, and he solidly established the Roman government, which in reality had been nothing but a system of unrelieved oppression, on moderation and justice. His blessed name shines out across the dawn of history like the morning star, and his rank and fame among the world’s noblest and most highly civilized is still on the tongues of Christians of all denominations.
What a firm foundation of excellent character was laid down in those days, thanks to the training of holy souls who arose to promote the teachings of the Gospel. How many primary schools, colleges, hospitals, were established, and institutions where fatherless and indigent children received their education. How many were the individuals who sacrificed their own personal advantages and “out of desire to please the Lord”58 devoted the days of their lives to teaching the masses.
— Abdu’l-Baha, Secret of Divine Civilization