Spirituality in the Bahá’í House of Worship

Having traveled through Europe and South America, I’ve seen my fair share of temples and churches. I fell in love with the gothic architecture of the Duomo di Milano and Chapel in the Hills in South Dakota, and I still have yet to experience the character of Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia. I wouldn’t say I love churches or that I have strong connection with any religion, but I harbor a sense of spirituality. Despite my affiliation with any specific religion, my curiosity peaks when I learn of a temple north of Chicago in Wilmette, the Bahá’í House of Worship. With very little knowledge of the faith, I decide to embark on a journey to this unique architectural wonder.

Baha'i Temple in Wilmette, Illinois.

Wandering through the gardens, I’m immediately struck by the Middle Eastern influence on the overall structure of the temple. This should come as no surprise since the Bahá’í faith was founded in Persia (present day Iran) by Mirza Husayn-Ali, also known as Bahá’u’lláh (“The Glory of God”). A closer look at the columns and symbols carved into the temple shows how much this faith encompasses beyond Middle Eastern beliefs. Carvings of crosses, the Star of David, and Arabic symbols embodies the temple’s architect (Louis Bourgeois) desires to intertwine all religious symbols of the past and uphold universal brotherhood.

Column (L)

But it’s more than the temple that invests in all of these beliefs, the Bahá’í faith is deeply rooted in religious unity. Its practitioners believe that God has revealed himself throughout history in Divine Messengers including Abraham, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ, and Muhammad, including the most current manifestations in Bahá’u’lláh. The Bahá’í faith also follows principles that value gender equality, a harmony of faith and science, and commitment to education. This mesh of faith, science, and religious leaders is something I hardly expect since it’s what causes most wars and protests throughout the world. It seems one religion has found the answer to all the violence caused by disagreements between theological practices: respect for and inclusion of different beliefs.

White Flowers (L)

Does this mean I’ll be converting soon to this all-encompassing faith? While I don’t plan on taking this step, I do think there are important lessons from religion that often are forgotten. I’ve struggled with religion in the past, but that doesn’t mean I don’t value specific teachings like the Beatitudes. Yes, there are those who are religious and intolerant, but there are also those who don’t practice any religion and still pass judgement on those who are not like them. Following the circle inside, I come to where I entered the temple and see the words: “So powerful is unity’s light that it can illumine the whole earth.” I’m left with an important meaning from this religion, that separated we can only achieve very little, but with tolerance and acceptance, together we can do so much more.

Hours and Location

The Bahá’í House of Worship: 100 Linden Avenue, Wilmette, Illinois, Temple and Garden Open 6am-10pm, Welcome Center Open 10am-5pm (Sept. 16-May 14), 10am-8pm (May 15-Sept. 15), Photography not allowed inside the temple.

This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday (#TPThursday) hosted by Budget Travelers Sandbox, Budget Travel Talk, Tanama Tales, and Rachel’s RuminationsWeekend Wanderlust hosted by A Brit and A Southerner, A Southern Gypsy, Casual Travelers, Justin Plus Lauren, and Outbound Adventurer, City Tripping hosted by Wander Mum and Mummy Travels and Our World Tuesday.

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22 Comments

  1. Agatha

    This is the first time I’ve heard of Bahai, but I’ve heard of Zoroasterian and the other beliefs you mentioned.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Hi Agatha. Learning about the Bahai faith was definitely a unique and new experience for me too. It’s interesting to see how they’ve incorporated other beliefs into their faith.

  2. We have a lovely Bahai Temple in Sydney’s north. It has been there for many, many years and is a well-known landmark.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      That’s exciting to learn there’s also one in Sydney. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  3. Jimi

    Beautiful

  4. budgettraveltalk

    I love the sound of the Bahá’í inclusivity and the look of the intricate carvings on the columns of the temple. I too am not overtly religious but do enjoy looking at churches when we travel. La Sagrada Familia is mind-blowing. The outside is bizarre and the inside unbelievably beautiful. I love the Duomo in Milan too so huge with intricate carvings and great views from the roof! No we definitely don’t have to be religious to appreciate churches and temples. Oh and Angkor Wat. I’d better stop now. 🙂

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Sounds like you’ve been to some incredible churches and temples I’d love to visit too. I’m glad you can appreciate and feel a spiritual connection as I did. As you mentioned, you don’t have to be religious to enjoy visiting a religious site.

  5. InsideJourneys

    How beautiful! Whatever the religion, I always love looking at places of worship – the intricate architectural detail to me suggests love and religious dedication. Thanks for taking us in this Bahai temple.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. I’m excited you found the details to be just as intriguing and beautiful as I did!

  6. XX, Will Travel

    Love this place! Used to work in Evanston, so it’s definitely one of my fave North Shore landmarks.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Exciting to meet someone else who has been to this temple! When I read about it, knew I had to go see it.

  7. corinnevail

    What a beautiful temple!

  8. California Globetrotter

    I love when I find amazing things in the states to see that are off the beaten path! That temple is beautiful!! #CityTripping

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks! I’m glad I found it and was able to get out to the area to experience it.

  9. Alexa T

    Lovely place and pictures!

  10. Ahila

    That’s a beautiful Bahai house of worship, Brooke, and I do find the Bahai philosophy intriguing.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I found the Baha’i faith to be incredibly intriguing and I’m glad I took the opportunity to explore this unique temple. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  11. MummyTravels

    What a stunning building – I know so little about the Baha’i faith but it’s a great introduction here, and how wonderful that faith should be seen to unite rather than divide us. Sounds a philosophy that’s worth hearing more of. #citytripping

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I agree. I may not be ready to join the Baha’i faith, but I can definitely get behind looking out for one another!

  12. I live right in Chicago but I haven’t been here yet! I need to check it out!

  13. WanderMum

    I know very little about the Baha’i faith so thanks for explaining. I love its principles and what a stunning temple. Thanks so much for linking your post to #citytripping

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