Project Conversion

Project Conversion

Baha’i Week Two: Arts and Culture/Architecture

The second week of every month with Project Conversion will cover various aspects of the arts and culture associated with that month’s particular faith. What makes the Baha’i Faith so interesting is that while the Faith was born in Persia (what is now Iran), it rose out of a need to create a world community, tethered by an impetus for social and religious change. The result is a Faith that quickly becomes global and therefore a nebulae of different cultures and tastes. Few aspects of Baha’i culture and art exemplify this blending of the world’s tastes and vision than in the Houses of Worship found all over the world. 


House of Worship outside Frankfurt, Germany


House of Worship in Apia, Western Samoa

House of Worship in New Delhi, India


Although each breath-taking structure reflects the culture of its native soil, such as the unmistakable lotus design of the New Delhi House of Worship, each House must adhere to a few common attributes. 

  • Each must have nine sides/entrances. This symbolizes that there is no “back door” and that all of mankind is welcome, no matter where they come from.
  • The interior of each House of Worship is used for meditation and prayer–regardless of religious background. Separate buildings for other functions such as teaching, discussion, and/or community work are to be located nearby to serve the locale in which they stand.
  • No pictures, statues, or images are displayed, nor any pulpits or alters incorporated into the design.
  • No offerings/donations are expected nor taken, as each House is seen as a gift from the Baha’is to humanity. Only Baha’is may contribute to the building funds.
  • The House is to be surrounded by gardens so that all who come are surrounded by beauty.
  • The only instrument permitted inside the House of Worship is the human voice.

House of Worship in Sydney, Australia


House of Worship in Kampala, Uganda

House of Worship in Panama City, Panama

House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, USA


Model for the House of Worship in Chile

As symbols of unity in brotherhood and religion, the Baha’i Houses of Worship are visited by millions of people every year. There are no rituals, sermons, or clergy. The doors of these structures are open–not as an invitation to convert those who enter–but as a way to allow all who would come to worship God in a beautiful, safe, free, and inspiring way. In the words of Baha’u’llah concerning the Houses of Worship: 


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. 

–Baha’u’llah, from The Kitab-i-Aqdas 

Here is an interview of the architect who designed the House of Worship in India. For more information regarding the Baha’i Houses of Worship, including service times and programs, please visit the International Baha’i Website and locate the House of Worship near your country of origin.

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posted February 11, 2011 at 11:36 am


Thank you for your thoughts. Indeed, money spent on the poor is of great
value. Did you know that Baha’u’llah, due to his devotion to philantrophic
work as a young man, was called “Father of the poor”? This attitude of
selfless service would continue the rest of his life and extend to his
son, Abdu’l’Baha.

Because of this example, you’d be hard pressed to find a Baha’i community
anywhere in the world that did not serve their community–including the
poor–, for such service is viewed as worship in and of itself.

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posted February 11, 2011 at 4:38 am

This money would be better spent on helping the poor so that they might think about something more than how they will survive the coming day.

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Candace Moore Hill

posted February 9, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Ah, but there’s a lot more to the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar than a lovely place to pray. The “dawning point of the mention of God” is where the believer comes to pray in order to prepare for a life of service to the community. The dependencies that will arise around every House of Worship will serve the community on every level, from caring for the orphan, healing the sick, offering libraries and study centers, providing education from preschool to the university level. The House of Worship is only the central edifice of this institution. In this way, it plays the role that many churches and mosques have played in the history of humanity, bringing people of faith together to serve humanity.

Shoghi Effendi wrote:

“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. “

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posted February 9, 2011 at 12:49 pm

I so love the fact that the Houses of Worship are gifts of the Baha’is to the world.

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