Places of worship – Baha’i

The following questions were asked by pupils. Click on each question to see the answer.

Do you have a special place of worship?

Although some places in the world have their own Bahá’i centres or local places of worship, in many communities Bahá’is will meet in each other’s homes or village and community facilities. Worship is essentially about the purity and expression of spirit rather than any physical location, and whilst community gatherings are an important part of any Bahá’i group, prayer and worship are not dependent on access to any particular place.

“Blessed is the spot, and the house, and the place, and the city, and the heart, and the mountain, and the refuge, and the cave, and the valley, and the land, and the sea, and the island where mention of God hath been made and His praise glorified.” – Bahá’u’lláh

Having said this, there are nine continental ‘Houses of Worship’ (also known as Bahá’i Temples) around the world. Open to everyone, of any faith or none, these are places dedicated to the glory of God where prayer, song, and quiet reflection take place.

Is there a Baha’i visitor centre in Britain?

The British Baha’i community doesn’t yet have a visitor centre, as such. There is a National Baha’i Centre in London, which sometimes hosts open days. There are also Baha’i Centres in some larger towns and cities around the UK- Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh- but currently, most Baha’i communities meet in each other’s homes or community halls for larger gatherings. You could contact your local community, who may well have Baha’is who visit schools to talk about Baha’i beliefs and practices.

There is also a place of spiritual significance for us, which is open to the public: The Guardian’s Resting Place in New Southgate Cemetery, London.

The Guardian was the title by which Shoghi Effendi, Baha’u’llah’s great-grandson, was know. Shoghi Effendi guided the Baha’is of the world in establishing and strengthening the administrative structure of local and national elected bodies known as ‘Assemblies’, as well as the international Universal House of Justice. He passed away whilst visiting London in 1957 and was buried there. It is a place of prayer and reflection, and people come from all over the world to visit.

There is a Custodian’s office where information about the Baha’i Faith can be shared, and a warm welcome given! School visits are being encouraged by London SACREs / RE advisors in neighbouring boroughs.

Are you an open or contemplative community?

We are very open. Almost all of our gatherings and celebrations are open to everyone of any religion or viewpoint. The only meetings which are for Bahá’is only are certain administrative meetings where matters of the Bahá’i community are being addressed.

There are no clergy, or monks or nuns in the Bahá’i Faith. Every individual is responsible for their own spiritual progress (of course, with the support of the other Bahá’is and the guidance of the Writings.) Every adult Bahá’i (aged 21+) is eligible to be serve on to the Local and National assemblies which guide and look after the administrative needs of their communities and are elected each year. This is regarded as a position of service, not of power. We also have Counsellors whose role is again to guide and advise.