For those who have a pilgrimage coming up, here is a short compilation from the Bahai Writings, focusing more on the sacred experience of pilgrimage.


Definition

Pilgrimage – “A Journey made with the intention of visiting a shrine or holy place.”
(Shoghi Effendi, The Decisive Hour page 168)

… to pray in the Shrines of the Central Figures of their Faith, to visit the places hallowed by the footsteps, sufferings and triumphs of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and to meditate in the tranquillity of these sacred precincts, beautified with so much loving care by our beloved Guardian.
(The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan Message 1969)

 

Places of Pilgrimage

“The Lord hath ordained that those of you who are able shall make pilgrimage to the sacred House, ….”
(Bahá’u’lláh, Kitab-i-Aqdas paragraph 32)

Two sacred Houses are covered by this ordinance, the House of the Báb in Shíráz and the House of Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdád. Bahá’u’lláh has specified that pilgrimage to either of these two Houses fulfils the requirement of this passage (Q&A 25, 29). In two separate Tablets, known as Súriy-i-Hajj (Q&A 10), Bahá’u’lláh has prescribed specific rites for each of these pilgrimages. In this sense, the performance of a pilgrimage is more than simply visiting these two Houses. After the passing of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá designated the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh at Bahjí as a place of pilgrimage. In a Tablet, He indicates that the “Most Holy Shrine, the Blessed House in Baghdád and the venerated House of the Báb in Shíráz” are “consecrated to pilgrimage”, and that it is “obligatory” to visit these places “if one can afford it and is able to do so, and if no obstacle stands in one’s way”. No rites have been prescribed for pilgrimage to the Most Holy Shrine.
(Notes to Kitab-i-Aqdas number 54)

 

Blessings of Pilgrimage

You have asked about visiting holy places and the observance of marked reverence toward these resplendent spots. Holy places are undoubtedly centers of the outpouring of Divine grace, because on entering the illumined sites associated with martyrs and holy souls, and by observing reverence, both physical and spiritual, one’s heart is moved with great tenderness.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Notes and References, p. 61)

O thou herald of the Kingdom! Render thanks unto God that thou didst come to the Blessed Spot, didst lay thy head upon the Threshold of the Sacred Shrine, and didst make pilgrimage to the hallowed sanctuary round which circle in adoration the intimates of the spiritual realm. Thou didst gain admittance into the assemblage of the Merciful and didst enjoy communion with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Thou didst pass thy days in perfect fellowship and happiness, and thereafter wast thou granted permission to return, that … thou mightiest engage in service to the Kingdom, lead the people to the way of heaven, and guide them to the Lord of Hosts.
(From a Tablet revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, quoted at https://bahai.bwc.org/pilgrimage/)

O thou pilgrim of the Sacred Dust! Render great thanks to God, the Most Glorious, the Lord Who hath guided thee unto this path and caused thee to enter the sanctuary of the All Knowing. Render thanks unto Him for having enabled thee to take shelter beneath His bountiful favour and attain that which is the hope and aspiration of the chosen ones of God.
(From a Tablet revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, quoted at https://bahai.bwc.org/pilgrimage/)

Praise be to God that through His gracious bounty you were enabled to visit His exalted, His sacred and luminous Threshold, to refresh and perfume your nostrils with the sweet-scented fragrances of God diffused from these imperishable, holy Places. This wondrous gift calls for thanksgiving, and this heavenly bestowal warrants praise and glorification. And such praise is best expressed when one’s pilgrimage, one’s honour at attaining His holy Court and becoming the recipient of His favours and loving-kindness produce a profound effect and influence upon every aspect of one’s life, upon one’s bearing and demeanour, and one’s activities. There is no doubt that it will be so.

(The Greatest Holy Leaf, Bahíyyih Khánum, Compilation page 220)

 

After Pilgrimage

I wish you from all my heart the fullest success in your efforts to teach and spread our beloved Cause, and trust that you may some day undertake the pilgrimage to the Holy Land and visit the Bahá’í sacred Shrines and thus obtain a clearer vision of the mission and significance of the Faith.
(From the postscripts to a letter, in the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, quoted at https://bahai.bwc.org/pilgrimage/)

Assemblies get a new life and spirit when they come in touch with a pilgrim newly coming from a visit to the Sacred Shrines. The pilgrim can impart to those he meets some of the spirit he has obtained himself while kneeling in absorbed meditation and prayer at the Thresholds.
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, quoted at https://bahai.bwc.org/pilgrimage/)

He instructed me to write that your visit and companionship with you in the vicinity of the illumined Holy Shrines were a cause of exceeding joy. There is no doubt that after this pilgrimage and your prayers for aid and grace at the sacred Threshold of the Abha Beauty – the Point round which the concourse on high revolve – and the Shrines of the Bab, and of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, you will be privileged to render greater and more glorious services.
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, quoted at https://bahai.bwc.org/pilgrimage/)

May I again express his sincere hope that your long-cherished desire to visit the Holy Shrines may be fulfilled very soon, and that through this pilgrimage you may attain a renewed zeal and vigour, as well as a new vision of the task you are called upon to accomplish for the Faith in New-Zealand.
(Shoghi Effendi, Arohanui – Letters to New Zealand, p. 43)

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