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Monday, November 30, 2015

Rising Place of Rememberance

Mashriqu'l-Adhkar means 'rising place of rememberance', where 'rising place' has connotations of the East and thus of the dawn, and 'remembrance' connotes dhikr and more broadly acts of worship which change our consciousness and being. So the same word is applied appropriately to the radiant heart, the physical building, and meetings for worship, particularly at dawn. Many western communities try in a disultory manner to organize dawn prayers, but few seem able to carry it through consistently. 

From the experience in our own community (South Limburg) it appears that it is difficult to sustain the dawn prayers as simply one activity among all those worthy activities that go with 'being Bahá'í', and that it becomes rather easier when they are understood as one form of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar and thus as a response to the Aqdas' command:
 "Build ye houses of worship throughout the lands in the name of Him Who is the Lord of all religions" and an integral part - in fact, the central part - of the whole structure of the community. Various kinds of Mashriq meeting are possible: community meetings for prayers and meditation, more experimental liturgies with chanting and the recitation of dhikr, 'firesides' which consist primarily of meditation and chanting and include the answering of questions as these arise, dawn prayers and after-work moments of silence, short lunchtime meetings to say the shorter obligatory prayer and share a smile and some fellowship, longer evening gatherings for the heavy meditation and the long obligatory prayer (see Jackson's book, and also a tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá to the Spiritual Assembly of Bushruyih in Ganjinih Hudud va Ahkam p. 230), 

The meetings of orders of Bahá'í dervishes using particular devotional arts (Memorials of the Faithful p. 38), or meetings for particular liturgical forms (Gregorian morning song, Vespers with 3-part harmony, Arabic chanting, African drumming). Each of these can be called a 'rising place' for praise and thus a Mashriqul-Adhkar, though perhaps the daily morning prayers have a particular priority in relation to the way in which the inspiration derived in the Mashriq is expressed in action during the day (God Passes By, pp. 339-340) and because they are specifically endorsed by Bahá'u'lláh in the Aqdas para 11 5:

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