Washington, D. C.,
October 12, 1908.
To the House of Spirituality of Bahais,
Brothers in the service of Abha:-
As you have arisen for the construction of the first Mashrak-el-Azkar in America, and, as I have recently visited Ishkabad and seen there the great Mashrak-el-Azkar of the east, of which we in the west have heard so much, I take it upon myself to write to you a description of this edifice, hoping to share with you the great blessing of meeting with the friends in those parts and of beholding this Temple which is a testimony of their sacrifice and unity.
As you know, Ishkabad is in Russian Turkestan, just north of the Elbruz mountains, which separate the desert plain of western Turkestan, on the north, from Persia on the south. The city itself lies on the plain a short distance from the mountains, which here are quite rugged and rocky. The town is quite modern in aspect, being laid off with gardens and broad streets, which meet at right angles. Rows of trees along the sidewalks remind one of a western city, while the buildings and the waterways, which flank the streets and are fed with water coming from the nearby mountains, are strikingly oriental.
I could hardly believe that this city had sprung up almost entirely during the past half-century. It was but a huddle of mud huts, when Baha'o'llah first directed some of his followers to settle there. Now this is replaced by a large and prosperous city of buildings of brick and stone.
The Mashrak-el-Azkar stands in the center of the city, surrounded by a large garden, which is bounded by four streets. It rises high above the surrounding buildings and trees, its dome being visible for miles, as the traveler approaches the city over the plain. The building in plan is a regular polygon of nine sides. One large doorway and portico, flanked by turrets, facing the direction of the Holy City (Akka), forms the principal motive of the facade, while the dome dominates the whole composition.
The walls of the Temple are of brick covered with a firm and hard stucco, [p. 154] which in that climate resists quite well the action of the elements, while the floors are concrete supported by iron or steel beams.
In plan the building is composed of three sections: the central rotunda, the aisle or ambulatory which surrounds it, and the loggia which surrounds the entire building. Read Full