“…strive that your actions day by day may be beautiful prayers.”
Bahá’ís believe that humankind is currently at a unique historical moment, in which it is poised on the threshold of collective maturity, when its essential oneness will be realized and translated into new structures that befit an interdependent world. This belief has implications for how all the different processes of human life are understood, including worship. Inspired by this vision of the oneness of humankind, Bahá’ís strive to contribute to building a new global civilization, one which will be characterized by spiritual as well as material prosperity.
Bahá’ís in their individual and community endeavors strive to connect the spirit of devotion and prayer with concrete actions for the betterment of the entire population that give expression to this spirit. Worship, in this context, must then be connected with service, for service to the community is the channel for expression of the spirit of devotion to God and love for His Creation.
In communities all over India, and indeed throughout the world, groups of people inspired by the Bahá’í teachings come together regularly for devotional gatherings in order to share and intensify their connection with the Creator, as well as to engage in meaningful conversations on the implications of the soul-stirring words in the Holy Scriptures. Collective devotion and study of the sacred writings leads to efforts to share the edifying influence of these words with others, in the form of conversations, or through the means of classes for the moral education of children, groups for the empowerment of junior youth or circles of study for youth and adults. Members of the community that are engaged in this pattern of worship and service to provide spiritual education to others, are helping to spread the edifying influence of the Creative Word to a growing number of those around them, going on to inspire a range of different projects for social and economic betterment of their communities, as well.
It is within the above context of community life, where worship and service are woven together, that the role of the Baha’i house of Worship can be best understood. Like a Temple, the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár – which means ‘dawning place of the mention of God’ – is a physical structure in which people of all walks of life come together to pray, meditate, and commune with their Creator. Yet the influence of the House of Worship extends to helping worshippers translate this spirit of devotion into acts of service, as well. Each Bahá’í House of Worship is to support social, humanitarian, educational and scientific pursuits through ‘dependencies’ established on its grounds.