Its a little known fact. . .[2]

Back by popular demand, here is the second installment of this series (for those of you who don’t know what this is all about, its basically a fact or trivia that for some strange reason, 99.99% of Baha’is don’t know of). Here is your chance to use it to win a bet, to stump the “know-it-all” or simply for the sheer pleasure of watching them draw a blank. So without further ado, lets get to it:Its a little known fact. . . that Baha’i pilgrimage is NOT to Haifa.

I know, I know. Its a bit of a shock. Some of you are on the waiting list, even as you read. Others have already gone and come back with a few hundred pictures. Well, if you just stay with me for a second more I’ll explain what I mean and why that’s a little known fact.

If you haven’t seen it yet, there is a neat little website created by the Baha’i World Centre entitled “Baha’i Pilgrimage”. I think its about time we had this because there are a lot of Baha’is who want to go to pilgrimage and many don’t know what the steps are or where to get information. But “Baha’i Pilgrimage” as the name of that website is a misnomer.

Part of this new website says:

“The first and supreme obligation of all Bah??’?­s who visit the Holy Land is to pray and meditate in the Sacred Shrines of Bah??’u’ll??h, the B??b and â€?Abdu’l-Bah??. To receive this bounty of visiting the Holy Places at the Bah??’?­ World Centre is an inestimable privilege, infinitely precious to every Bah??’?­ pilgrim.”

This excerpt is implying that a Baha’i visitor to the Holy Land is a pilgrim and the “supreme obligation” of all Baha’is who go, is to visit the shrines of the three central figures of the Faith. While visiting and spending time in reverent meditation and prayer at those special places is the choice of every Baha’i, it is wrong to imply or state that this is Baha’i pilgrimage.

Why?

Well, for the simple reason that Baha’i pilgrimage was set down by Baha’u’llah in a tablet and He wrote that the sites or locations for it are:

  • His house in Baghdad
  • and the Bab’s house in Shiraz

As well, He went on to explain the rites and forms which a Baha’i must follow for pilgrimage. There was also some things which were made explicit which Baha’is don’t have to do for pilgrimage – like shaving one’s head, ala the Muslim tradition. You can find the relevant information in two separate Tablets, which are known collectively as the Suriy-i-Hajj or the Tablet of Pilgrimage (see below).

Baha’u’llah also mentions pilgrimage in the Kitab-i-Aqdas. There He explains that it is a duty for all Baha’is but that women are exempt from pilgrimage – please don’t misunderstand this. . .this does not mean that they are prohibited. And that either the House of the Bab in Shiraz or the House of Baha’u’llah in Baghdad will do (a Baha’i can decide which they prefer to go to or which is closer).

So why do Baha’is from all around the world go to Haifa and call it pilgrimage? The answer to that has several parts. First of all, after Baha’u’llah’s passing, Abdu’l-Baha wrote that Bahji was a site of visitation for Baha’is. He did not specify any specific rites or forms for this visitation. The second is that, currently, Baha’is simply can not perform pilgrimage (as written by Baha’u’llah) because those places, the very buildings Baha’u’llah referred to are either not there anymore, or they are not in the control/ownership of Baha’is. The House of the Bab in Shiraz was razed to the ground after the revolution, while there are sensitive and ongoing negotiations to regain title to the the House of Baha’u’llah in Baghdad. Of course, these buildings and sites will be rebuilt in the future to the exact original specifications which the Baha’is have kept.

Here is the current location of the house of the Bab in Shiraz (the utility poles at 0:23 mark the approximate original location of the room where the Bab and Mulla Husayn spoke on that special night):

Here is an old video showing the outside and inside of the house of the Bab (Persian audio with no English transcription):

It might help to settle the issue if we go back to the original words used when referring to pilgrimage. The word that Baha’u’llah used is ‘hajj’. Someone who performed ‘hajj’ in the Muslim tradition was called ‘Haji’ on his return. And actually, Persian/Arab Baha’is who performed pilgrimage were also known as ‘Haji’ (this would explain all the Haji So-and-so’s you read about in Nabil’s Narratives or other historical books). But for the most part they were considered Haji because they had visited Baha’u’llah in person and attained to His presence.

On the other hand, there is another word which is used to denote visitation (not pilgrimage!) and it is ‘ziyarat’. This word is much more general and it can even refer to going to visit your friend down the street (it is actually a very polite way of saying exactly that in Persian). All other special or holy places visited by Baha’is for reverent prayer and meditation (the apartment Abdu’l-Baha stayed in Paris, the House of Abbud and Abdu’l-a-Pasha, Mazrayi, the Maxwell house in Montreal, the Shrine of the Bab, the resting place of Abdu’l-Baha, etc.) are actually visitations. Not pilgrimages.

I’m trying to simplify something quite complex here and some may correctly object that the differences are not so clear cut (as ‘ziyarat’ and ‘hajj’). But whatever we decide to ultimately call them or whatever words we choose to use, we must acknowledge that there are two levels at work here. One which is prescribed explicitly by Baha’u’llah (as well as the Bab) and which involves very specific rites and actions to be performed, and another which is much more widely applicable to holy places and has not been mentioned by Baha’u’llah and has no specific rites or actions to be performed.

Am I splitting hairs here? Maybe to some. But I hope others see that all I’m trying to do is to separate truth from misconceptions and ignorance.

So why does the Universal House of Justice continue to use the English word ‘pilgrimage’ (the equivalent of ‘hajj’) when referring to trips made to the Holy Land? Beats me. Maybe you can ask them and then let us all know.

Surriy-i-Hajj

Tablet of Pilgrimage to the House of Baha’u’llah: Baghdad
Provisional translation provided by Denis MacEoin
Published in Rituals in Babism and Baha’ism, Pembroke Persian Series Vol. 2, pages 163-8
British Academic Press, 1994

HE IS THE EVERLASTING, THE MANIFEST!

It is incumbent on whomsoever desireth to turn to the most holy direction, to come into the presence of God, the Mighty, the Knowing, to hearken unto the call of God, to behold His beauty, and to inhale the perfume of God, the Mighty, the Powerful, the Exalted, the Great, that he should go forth from his house, journeying unto God, until he entereth the city that hath been named “the Abode of Peace” [Dar al-Salam - Baghd??d]. And when he arriveth there, let him magnify God (with the phrase Allahu akbar), his Lord, with the tongue of his heart and with his outward tongue until he cometh unto the river. And when he reacheth it, let him put on his best clothes and then perform ablutions as God hath commanded him. And when he washeth his hands, let him say: “O Lord, this is water that Thou hast caused to flow forth through Thy command in the neighbourhood of Thy sacred House (baytika ‘l-hardm). As I have washed my hands with it, O my God, at Thy command, wash me, then, from every stain and sin and omission and from all that Thy good-pleasure abhorreth. Thou, verily, art the Mighty, the All-Powerful.”

Then let wash his face, saying: “O Lord, this is my face that Thou hast purified through Thy will. I beseech Thee, then, by the power of the glory of Thy singleness and the wonders of the names of the manifestations of Thy cause, to cleanse it of all save Thee. Guard it, then, from turning to any but Thee or from beholding them that have failed to seek Thy manifest, spotless, mighty, and generous Beauty.”

Let him, then, cross the bridge with the dignity and comportment of God, magnifying God (with the phrase Allahu akbar) until he reaches the end of the bridge. Then let him turn in the direction of the House, saying at his first step: “O Lord, this is the first step that I have set down in the path of Thy good-pleasure and the first pace that I have taken though Thy will. I have fled, O my God, from all directions in the direction of Thy grace and favours, and I have taken flight from myself and my desires and from all save Thee in the direction of Thy bounty and blessings. O my God, disappoint not them that have hoped for the clouds of Thy mercy and shut not out them that have sought the showers of the glory and generosity. Here am I, O my God! I have sought Thy House, the House round which circle the dwellers of the Celestial Concourse and beyond them the souls of them that are nigh unto Thee among the holy ones. I beseech Thee by the former and by the latter not to prevent my eyes from beholding the wonders of the lights of the holiness of Thy beauty, nor to withhold from my face the manifestations of the breezes that blow from the dawn of Thy meeting, nor to keep back from my heart the fragrances of the glory of Thy revelation and inspiration. Thou, verily, art the Possessor of bounty and might, of grace and mercy and sovereignty, and Thou, truly, art the Possessor of power and strength and grandeur, and Thou, in truth, art near to answer them that pray to Thee.”

Then let him glorify God (with the phrase Allahu abha) and begin to perform the circumambulation. Let him circle about the House seven times, and, when he has completed this action and is come before the door of the House, let him stand and beg forgiveness from God 70 times. Then let him say: “O my God and my Lord. Praise be unto Thee for having shown Thy kindness and generosity to me in that Thou hast caused me to stand in the spot wherein naught is seen but the tokens of the glory of the sovereignty of Thy oneness and naught is witnessed save the flashes of the lights of the sun of Thy beauty. I beseech Thee by Thee and by Thy Self to purify me from the mire of the world and from its vanities and to burn from the surface of my heart the veils that have kept me back from entering into the floods of the oceans of the glory of Thy unity and have shut me out from entry into the fields of the holiness of union with Thee and meeting Thee. O Lord, turn me not back disappointed from the gate of Thy mercy and send me not away in loss from Thy House. O Lord, forgive me and my parents and my brethren and my family and my kinsfolk, those of them that have believed in Thee and in Thy most great verses in the manifestation of Thy most exalted Beauty. Thou, verily, art the Mighty, the Beneficent.”

Let him, then, walk with the utmost gravity and glorify God (with the phrase Allahu abha) until he reacheth the gate, then let him stand and say: “O my God, this is the spot wherein Thou didst lift up Thy voice and in which Thy proof was made manifest and Thy signs shone forth and Thy beauty rose above the horizon and Thy verses were sent down and Thy command was made visible and Thv name was raised up and Thy mention was spread abroad and Thy power was made perfect and Thy sovereignty was exalted above all that are in the heavens and the earth.”

Let him, then, address the House and its land and its walls and all that is upon it, saying: “Blessed be thou, O House, inasmuch as God hath made Thee the Spot whereon His feet have trodden. Blessed be thou, O House, inasmuch as the glances of the glory of His greatness have fallen upon thee. Blessed be thou, O House, inasmuch as God hath singled Thee out and made Thee a dwelling-place for His own Self and a location wherein to establish His sovereignty. No earth hath surpassed thee, unless it be the earth that God hath chosen above all the shrines of the world, by that which hath been written down by His Pen, the Preserver. Blessed be thou, O House, inasmuch as through Thee God distinguish between the fortunate and the wretched from this day unto the day whereon the All-Merciful shall shine forth with the lights of a wondrous holiness. Blessed be thou, blessed be thou, inasmuch as God hath made Thee the balance for them that believe in His unity and the uttermost abode of them that know Him, and hath sanctified Thee from the knowledge of them that hate Him and them that disbelieve in Him, in such wise that none may enter Thee save the believer whose heart God hath tried in its faith, nor may any be able to approach thee save him from whom there are wafted the breezes of the praise of God. Blessed be Thou, inasmuch as God hath singled Thee out for them among His servants that are nigh unto Him and them among His creatures that are devoted to Him. None may touch Thee save them that have utterly detached themselves from all that are in the heavens and the earth, in whose hearts there is naught but the radiance of the lights of the glory of His oneness and in whose inner beings there is naught but the manifestations of the effulgences of the holiness of His eternity. This is a station for which God hath chosen Thee, wherein Thou shouldst pride Thyself above all the worlds. Blessed be Thou and him that built Thee and raised Thee up and served Thee and carried water unto thy roses, and blessed be he that hath entered thee and he that hath gazed upon Thee and he that hath discovered from Thee a breath of the robe of the Joseph of God, the Mighty, the Powerful. I bear witness that he that hath entered within thee, God shall cause him to enter the holy sanctuary on the day whereon the Beauty of the Essence shall be established upon a mighty throne, and He shall forgive the sins of him that taketh refuge in Thee and entereth beneath Thy shadow, and shall fulfil his needs and shall raise him up on the Day of Resurrection with such beauty that his kindred of both past and future shall be illumined by it.”

Let him, then, prostrate himself with his face upon the dust of the gate and call upon his Lord like one that is detached and repentant, relating himself to God and saying: “O Lord, I am he that hath acted wrongly towards Thee and rejected Thy beauty, for my self and my desires preoccupied me. Thou, verily, art the Knowing, the All Informed. O Lord, since I have recognized Thy Self, I seek pardon for my former state and for whatever appeared from my tongue and went forth from my mouth and entered into my thoughts. I have returned unto Thee with all my being; Thou, verily, art the Forgiving, the Compassionate. O Lord, when Thou didst make known unto me the places of Thy command and didst awaken me from my sleep and my heedlessness, I set forth from my house in the direction of Thy House, turning my eyes towards Thy bounty and Thy forgiveness. Thou, verily, art the Most Merciful of the Merciful. O Lord, I have come unto Thee with that sin that was heavier than all that is in the heavens and the earth and greater than the creation of all existence, until I have stood before the gate of Thy House, from which no sinner hath been turned away disappointed; I have bowed myself down upon its dust, humbling myself before Thy beauty, abasing myself before Thy sovereignty, and making myself as nothing in Thy presence. O Lord, have mercy on me through Thy compassion and graciousness and ordain, then, for me a seat of truth by Thy side. Make me, then, one of Thy servants that have turned in repentance unto Thee. O Lord, forgive me my sins and my transgressions and all that my hands have committed. Thou, verily, art the Mighty, the Generous.”

Then let him raise his head and seek forgiveness from God with this mighty, this great invocation: “O Lord, I seek forgiveness from Thee by my tongue and my heart and my soul and my mind and my spirit and my body and my corporeality and my bones and my blood and my skin. Thou, verily, art the Forgiving, the Merciful. And I seek forgiveness from Thee, O my God, by the invocation whereby the fragrances of mercy have blown upon the people of rebellion and through which the sinful have been clothed in the beauteous garment of Thy forgiveness. And I seek forgiveness from Thee, O my King, by the invocation whereby the power of Thy clemency and Thy grace is made manifest and whereby the sun of loving-kindness and bounty shineth forth above the forms of the sinful. And I seek forgiveness from Thee, O Forgiver of my sins and my Creator, by the invocation whereby the wrongdoers hasten in the direction of Thy pardon and graciousness and through which the seekers stand at the gate of Thy mercy, O Thou the Merciful and Compassionate. And I seek forgiveness from Thee, O my Lord, by the invocation that Thou hast made a fire that burneth away all sins and rebelliousness from every one that hath repented and returned to Thee, regretting what he hath done, weeping over his actions, and secure in Thee, and through which the bodies of all created things are purified from the defilement of sins and wrongful actions and from all that Thy mighty and all-wise Self abhorreth.”

Then let him enter into the House with dignity and tranquillity, as if he beholds God in the realm of His command and the kingdom of His House, until he enters the courtyard (al-sahn) and comes before the qiblih that was singled out for the raising up of the throne of might upon it. Then let him raise his hands and turn his gaze in the direction of His bounties and say: “I bear witness in this place where I stand that there is no god but Him alone; no companion is there for Him nor likeness nor peer nor rival nor deputy nor equal nor similitude; and that the Primal Point (nuqta al-Cild [sic], the B??b) is His servant, His glory, His might, His greatness, His reality, His power, His sovereignty, His majesty, His kingship, His strength, His honour, His nobility, His benevolence, and that through Him, His beauty shone forth and His face was purified and His proof rose above the horizon and His evidence was perfected and His argument was completed and His signs were made luminous, and through Him all that are in the heavens and on the earth were raised to life and they that are in the kingdom of command and creation were resurrected, and through him the breezes of holiness were wafted upon all the worlds. And I bear witness that He Whom God shall make manifest [i.e. Bah??`u` ll??h] is the truth, no doubt is there concerning Him; He is come with the lights of a wondrous holiness, and through Him are recreated the heavens and the earth and the people of the former and the latter generations. Blessed is he that hath attained unto His days and that entereth His gate and is honoured with meeting Him and circleth around Him and prostrateth himself before Him and visiteth the dust of His feet and standeth in His presence and is of them that arise.”

Then let him say: “O Lord, this is Thy House wherein the breezes of Thy bounty and generosity have wafted and wherein Thou hast shone forth in the innermost heart of mystery upon all the manifestations of Thy names and the dawning-places of Thine attributes. None is informed of this save Thee, the All-Knowing. O Lord, this is Thy House from which the signs of Thy grace have been made manifest unto all the worlds and wherein there befell Thee what befell Thee on the part of them that believed and them that disbelieved. Thou, verily, wast patient in all this, notwithstanding Thy power and Thy sovereignty. Thou, truly, art the Knowing, the Wise, the Mighty, the Powerful! O Lord, this is the Spot whereon Thou didst walk with Thine ancient feet and wherein Thou didst raise up Thy voice and Thy melodies and didst make heard Thy call and Thy singing, with wondrous and honeyed tones. O Lord, this is the Spot wherein Thou didst sit upon the Throne of all created things and didst exalt Thyself through the tongue of Thy power above all that are in the heavens and on earth. O Lord, this is the Spot wherein Thy gaze was turned in the direction of Thy bounty and wherein the oceans of power surged within Thy hidden and concealed and guarded Word. O Lord, this is the Spot wherein was Thy Cause within the mystery of mysteries, and wherein Thou didst not move Thy lips as Thou didst wish, and wherein Thou didst conceal Thy radiant face, and wherein Thou wast hidden in the most utter concealment and behind the densest of veils, in such wise that none among all creation recognized Thy Self. O Lord, this is Thy House that was shamed after Thee by Thy servants, who looted whatever was therein and plundered all that was within it; thus did they dishonour Thee and make war against Thee in their heart of hearts and break Thy covenant and shatter Thy bond; yet didst Thou conceal all this and didst pass over them through Thy wondrous bounty. O Lord, divest me not of the bounty of Thy protection, nor take from me the garment of Thy favour and pardon, nor cause me to be far removed from the precincts of Thy mercy, nor deprive me of the fountain of Thy exalted grace. O Lord, sanctify me from all save Thee and bring me near unto Thy Self and honour me with meeting Thee. Thou, verily, art the Powerful, the Knowing, the Understanding, the Bringer to life, the Vivifier, the Slayer. O Lord, cause me to attain unto that which Thou hast willed for those of Thy servants that are nigh unto Thee. Ordain, then, for me the best of what Thou hast ordained for the sanctified among Thy chosen ones.”

Let him then be silent within himself and be at rest in his innermost being. Then let him turn in his heart and with his hearing in the direction of the House. If he should discover the fragrance of God and hear His call, he may be assured within himself that God has forgiven him his sins and has passed over him and relented towards him and beholdeth him as on the day whereon he was born of his mother. But if he should not discover the fragrance of God, the Mighty, the Powerful, let him perform again the ritual on this day or one another day until he discovereth it and heareth [the call]. This is that which hath been decreed by the Pen of a glorious and wise One upon the Tablets of a hidden holiness. Thus doth God open the gates of grace and bounty unto the face of the heavens and the earth, that perchance men may not deprive themselves of the mercy of God and His bounteousness. This, verily, is true guidance and a remembrance from Us unto all the worlds.

Tablet of Pilgrimage to the House of the Bab: Shiraz
Provisional translation provided by Denis MacEoin
Published in Ritulas in Babism and Baha’ism, Pembroke Persian Series Vol. 2, pages 154-62
London: British Academic Press, 1994

O Muhammad, when the fragrances of holiness have drawn thee unto them and turned thee unto the land of the All-Merciful that thou mayest discover the breezes of divine praise, go forth then by permission of Thy Lord, the Generous, unto the spot around which circle the angels that are nigh unto God, they that sing His praises about the Throne. At the moment when thou arisest from thy place, seeking to turn in the direction of God, thy Lord, take off from thy body the robe of self and desire and from thy feet the sandals of sin and wickedness, for thou art entering the spot that none may reach save he that casteth behind him all that are on earth and in the heavens, wherein naught but the greatest righteousness shall be accepted, if thou art of them that comprehend, and around which circle the Mount of Command and the Land of Holiness and the Sinai of Glory and the hearts of them that ascend at all times unto the heaven of nearness. None other shall ever attain unto it nor be mentioned by God as having reached it, even should he dwell there for a thousand years as you number them.

And when thou hast journeyed from thy self and from the world and its people and hast travelled unto God, thy Lord, and hast reached the spot at which thou beholdest the outskirts of the city, dismount and stop where thou art and say: “Spirit and light and glory and praise be upon thee, O City of God, O dwelling-place of His names, O treasury of His attributes, O source of His bounties, O mine of His grace, O place of the manifestation of His effulgences that have encompassed all creation. I bear witness that from thy outskirts appeared the Primal Point li.e. the B??b] and the ornament of pre-existence and the eternal mystery and the universal word and the fixed decrees and the hidden secrets. Thus hast thou surpassed all others in receiving grace from God, the Protector, the Self-Subsisting.”

Lift up, then, your hands unto God, thy Lord, with humility and selfeffacement, with submission and pleasing contentment, and say: “O Lord, praise be to Thee for the wonders of Thy gifts and the graces of Thy bestowals. How can I give thanks to Thee, O my God, for having provided me with the visitation of Thy House and having honoured me with it and having chosen me for this bounty in which none hath preceded me and having taught me what none hath known but Thee? Wherefore, O my God, I have fled from the house of my self and taken refuge in the place in which Thy most exalted Self hath been established; I have taken flight from whatever hath kept me back from drawing nigh unto Thee and gone for protection unto the precincts of Thy most great mercy. Deprive me not, then, O my God, of that which belongeth unto Thee and cause me not to be occupied with any but Thee. Thou, verily, art the Mighty, the Forgiving. O Lord, make me steadfast in Thy love and in the love of Thy friends, and cause me not to be of them that have disbelieved in Thy verses after they were sent down, them that have mocked them after their perfumes had encompassed all created things and all that was brought into existence in the visible and the invisible worlds. O Lord, send unto me the rod of Thy grace and bounty that I may cleave therewith the sea of self and desire, pass over it, and reach the pavilion of the glory of Thine exaltation and the tabernacle of the holiness of Thy protection, lest there be made manifest from me that which Thy good-pleasure abhorreth. Thou, verily, art He that doeth as He willest, and Thou art, in truth, the Lord of this firmly builded House.”

Ride on, then, until thou reachest a spot at which there shall be between thee and the city only a thousand steps, be it more or less. Whereupon, dismount and immerse thyself in water, as thou hast been commanded in the Book of God, the Protector, the Exalted, the SelfSubsisting. And when thou comest forth from the water, trim thy moustache, then clip thy nails, then shave thy head, then make use of the best of perfumes, then put on the best clothes you are able to afford. And if thou art not able to perform that which We have commanded thee, be thou not saddened, for God hath pardoned thee; He, verily, is the Powerful, the Forgiving, the Pardoner. Strive, then, within thyself that, at the moment thy eye falleth upon the city and thou comest close to it, thy heart may be purified from the mention of all things in such wise that thou mayest cast behind thee all that hath been created between the earth and the heavens, for thou art at that moment walking before the King of all creation, thy Sovereign of names and attributes. Thus instructeth thee the Pen of God, thy Lord and the Lord of all things, if thou art of them that know.

And when thou hast performed that which We have commanded thee, rise from that spot and turn your face towards the House. Then stop, then raise your hands in humble devotion to God, the Powerful, the Protector, the Beloved, and say: “O my God, this is the spot through which the eyes of them that desire Thee have been solaced and the hearts of Thy lovers have been attracted; this is the utmost goal of them that seek Thee and the highest desire of them that yearn for Thee. This is the spot wherein the eyes of them that know Thee have rained tears in their separation from Thee and the faces of them that have attained unto Thee have turned yellow in their longing for Thy beauty. I beseech Thee, O my God, by it and by the effulgences of the lights of the glory of Thy oneness and the flashes of the manifestation of the holiness of Thy divinity, to release me from the fire of my self and to sanctify me from all that is unworthy of Thy sovereignty. Thou, verily, art the Protector, the Self-Subsisting.”

Lower, then, thy hands until they reach the level of thy cheeks, then magnify God (with the phrase Allahu akbar) nine times, then raise thy hands yet again unto God, thy Lord and the Lord of all that hath been and all that is, and say: “O my God, this is the city wherein Thy sovereignty was made manifest and the signs of the glory of Thy grandeur appeared and Thy verses were sent down and Thy word was completed and Thy might was exalted and Thy proof shone forth and Thy mercy encompassed all things and all that is in the heavens and the earth. There beareth witness unto this my self and my heart and my tongue and beyond them blessed servants. Whereupon, I beseech Thee, O my God, by it [the city] and all that hath been manifested in it to remove that which hath kept me far from the shore of the holiness of Thy mercy and bounty and shut me out from the precincts of the outpouring of Thy grace and bestowal. Clothe me, then, O my God, in the robe of Thy graciousness and bounty. Thou wiliest and Thou art, truly, the Mighty, the Exalted, the Beloved. Give me, then, to drink, O my God, from the fountain of the glory of Thy knowledge and the living waters of the holiness of meeting with Thee, waters which, were but a drop from them to be sprinkled upon all created things, they would be raised to eternal, everlasting life, standing before Thy face and the manifestations of the flashes of the lights of Thy countenance. Thou, verily, art the Mighty, the Exalted, the Holy.”

Lower, then, thy hands and walk upon the ground with the dignity of God and His tranquillity. And as thou walkest proclaim the singleness of thy Lord (with the phrase “there is no god but God”) then proclaim His greatness (with the phrase Allahu akbar), then His holiness (with the phrase Allahu aqd??s), then His majesty (with the phrase Allahu amjad). Follow, then, in the ways of the messengers and the manners of them that are near to God, saying: “Here am I, O my God, here am I; greetings unto Thee, and the light be before Thee.” Repeat these words as much as will not cool down the fire of thy ardour and passion. Thus We have instructed thee in truth that thou mayest be of them that act in accordance with what they have been commanded. Know, then, that thou didst answer thy Lord with these words when He ascended the Throne and called upon all created things with His words “Am I not your Lord?” Those words are the secret of those others, if ye be of them that ponder upon the mysteries of their Lord. Indeed, shouldst thou behold with the eye of thine inner being, thou shalt at that moment behold Him raised upon the thrones of all created beings, crying: “No God is there but Me, the Protector, the Self-Subsisting.” Know, then, O pilgrim, thy value and station at that moment. Give thanks, then, to God that this has been bestowed upon thee and that He hath aided thee therein. Verily, there is no God but Him; creation and command are His and all act according to His bidding. Blessed art thou, O servant, in that thou hast entered the land of holiness, the Paran of the Spirit, and the Sinai of Command. Yea, shouldst thou make sharp thy sight, thou wilt behold all about thee circumambulating. By God, O servant journeying from thy home, should God open thy vision and shouldst thou turn thy gaze above the head unto the heavens, thou wilt behold the sanctuaries of holiness, the habitations of loving-fellowship, the people of the pavilion of the heavenly kingdom, the inhabitants of the thrones of the kingdom of might, the bodies of the holy ones among the manifestations of the realm below and the kingdom above all moving in the heaven of holiness above thy head, extolling with thee the unity, the greatness, the holiness, and the majesty of the Lord of the City and of him that appeared from it and arose therein. Thus shalt thou behold the matter, if thou art of them that see with the eyes of the spirit.

And when thou reachest the spot at which thou art come nigh unto the gate of the city at a distance of 20 paces, stop at the command of God, thy Lord, the Lord of all things, and the Lord of this praiseworthy scene. Extol, then, the greatness of God 19 times, then address the city on My behalf, saying: “May God curse a people that have interposed themselves between Us and the lights of thy holiness, O City of God, and who have kept us back from inhaling the fragrances of the holiness of Thy oneness and from dwelling within the precincts of the glory of Thy mercy and from standing in the courtyard of the gate of the outpouring of Thy compassion.” Turn, then, thy gaze unto the most great spectacle, in the direction of the wall of the city and whatsoever hath been created therein and hath existed within it, for upon all of these hath fallen the eye of God, the Mighty, the Protector, the Self-Sufficient. Say: “O wall of the City! Blessed be thou, inasmuch as there shone forth above thee the lights of the sun of thy Lord, the Exalted, the Most High. O trees of the City! Blessed be ye, inasmuch as the breezes of holiness have been wafted upon you from the direction of eternity. O air of the City! Blessed be thou, inasmuch as the breath of God, the Mighty, the Powerful, the Beloved, was spread within thee. O earth of the City! Blessed be thou, inasmuch as the feet of thy Lord, the All-Merciful, have walked upon thee and the form of the Praised One hath passed over thee in the days when all were wrapped in the veils of their own selves. ”

Walk, then, until thou reachest the city; and when thou hast attained its presence and arrived at its gate, place thy face upon the dust of the gate, that thou mayest discover the fragrance of thy Lord, the Exalted, the Most High and may be of them that are nourished with the water of life. Know, then, that from its dust is manifested the decree of water, and from its water the decree of air, and from its air the effect of fire, and from a torch ignited from it hath appeared the decree of ‘B’ and ‘E’ [@ukm al-kdf wa'l-nan - i.e. kun, "be"], if thou art of them that know.

This is how We have described it unto thee in the land and among these people that are unconscious in the drunkenness of self. Otherwise, by Him in Whose hand is my soul, an atom of its dust is more glorious in the sight of God than all that hath been created in the meadows of eternity and all that hath been decreed in the tablets of destiny within the mystery of fate in the realm of the divine decree. Thus do We cast upon thee the secrets of the Cause, that thou mayest be of them that comprehend.

When thou hast kissed the dust and derived a blessing therefrom, raise up thy head, then stand and magnify God (with the phrase Allahu akbar) 19 times, then walk with the dignity and tranquillity of God and with His grandeur and majesty until you arrive before the House. Then stop and say: “I bear witness by my tongue and my soul and my spirit and my body that this is the spot whereon prostrate themselves the inhabitants of the empyrean realm and the denizens of the kingdom of God’s decree and they that inhabit the highest mansions of eternity behind the veils of grandeur. Through it all things have been made manifest and through it the breezes of bounty have blown upon the forms of all the worlds. And this is the spot whence the inhabitants of the Concourse of Eternity derive their blessings and the hearts of them that are established between earth and heaven obtain their illumination. Every day the dwellers of the crimson chambers sweep its courtyard and the angels that are nigh unto God brush it with the tresses of the spirit. And this is the spot wherein the Beauty of the All-Merciful appeared and in His own person ascended the Throne of Forgiveness and decreed that which He willed for all creation. He, verily, is the One that doeth as He willeth and decreeth as He desireth and performeth whatsoever He wisheth. I bear witness that, from a handful of this dust, the first Adam was created, wherefore was he named “the father of man” (Abu ‘IBashar) in the kingdom of names, and God made him His remembrance amongst all created things.”

Bow down, then, with thy face upon the dust, then place thy right cheek upon it and say with my tongue: “Praised be Thou, O God, my God. This is Thy servant that hath detached himself from all directions, turning in the direction of Thy oneness, and hath freed his soul from all apart from Thee, and hath clung to the cord of the bounty of Thy grace, and hath come in his completeness unto the meadows of the glory of Thy forgiveness. Cause to blow, then, O my God upon my heart the breezes of the glory of the holiness of Thy bounty and upon my inner being the fragrances of the majesty of the glory of Thy favours. Cast me not away disappointed, O my God, from Thy gate or despairing from the manifestations of the sun of Thy bounties. Thou, verily, art the Powerful over what Thou wiliest and Thou art the Protector, the Mighty, the Powerful.”

Then stand and turn to the right of the House, in the direction of thy Lord, the Exalted, the Mighty, the Wise. Raise, then, thy hands unto God, the Exalted, the Most High and say: “Praised be Thou, O God, my God. I have raised the hands of my hope unto the heaven of Thy bounty and grace, and I have fastened the fingers of my reliance upon the cord of Thy grace and favours. I beseech Thee by him through whom Thou didst clothe all created things with the robe of Thy guidance and didst raise to life all existence from the power of Thy compassion and generosity, not to lock the door of Thy knowledge upon the face of my heart nor the door of Thy mercy upon my soul. Cause me, then, O my God, to be such as will be worthy of the power of the glory of Thy singleness and the majesty of the holiness of Thine eternity. Thou, verily, art the Gracious, the Bestowing, the Mighty, the Generous. And I, O my God, have become detached from mine own self, hastening unto Thy Most Exalted Self, and have fled from mine own abode and stood before Thy most pure and most glorious House. Wherefore, I beseech Thee not to leave me unto myself nor unto them that keep back mankind from the love of Thy beauty and debar Thy servants from Thy mighty and unbending path.”

Circle, then, about the House on my behalf seven times. Thus commandeth thee the Ancient Beauty and teacheth thee what none in all the worlds doth know. And at the time when thou art circumambulating the House of the Lord, make mention of Him in thy heart and upon thy tongue and turn within thyself unto the direction of the mighty Throne. And when thou hast completed thy circum-ambulation, present thyself within the first portico, before the door of the sanctuary, then, stand, then raise thy hands unto the heaven of the outpouring of the grace of thy Lord, the Mighty, the Inaccessible. And I counsel thee that, at that time when thou dost raise up thy hands, raise them with such yearning that thereby the hands of all beings may be raised up towards the heaven of the grace of thy Lord. And when thou desirest to call upon God, thy Lord, call upon Him with such devotion that thereby the tongues of all atoms may utter the praise of thy Creator and may make mention of Him that brought thee into existence, the Powerful, the Mighty, the Wondrous. And if thou be not thus, it is not fitting for thee to stand in the spot whereon have stood the bodies of the holy ones and them that are nigh unto God. Nor art thou worthy of thy relation unto my Self nor thy habitation beneath the shadow of my love, which God hath made a cutting sword whereby to separate the unbelievers from them that extol His oneness. And when thou hast raised thy hands unto the clouds of the mercy of thy Lord, the Mighty, the Knowing, the AllInformed, say: “I bear witness that no god is there but He; He is alone, no companion is there for Him nor likeness nor deputy nor comparison nor rival nor equal nor similitude for His sovereignty, the Exalted, the Inaccessible, the Most High. From all eternity He was one in His Essence and one in His attributes and one in His deeds and unto all eternity He shall be as He hath ever been in the glory of His majesty and the sovereignty of His sublimity, such that the mystic knowers have confessed their inability to attain unto the meadows of the holiness of His knowledge and the devoted ones have admitted their powerlessness to ascend unto the heaven of His mention and His praise. He, verily, is the Protector of all things and He, in truth, is the Mighty, the AllGenerous. I bear witness that the Primal Point [the B??b] our Lord the Exalted, the Most High is, truly, His Manifestation in the realm of the empyrean and His Appearance in the kingdom of the decree and His Dawning-place in the domain of destiny. Through Him all created things are brought to life and all existence is renewed and the balance of justice hath been set up upon the station of praiseworthy glory. Through Him the Bird of the Throne hath crowed and the Dove of Glory hath warbled and the resurrection of the command hath come to pass and all that lay hidden in the treasuries of hidden glory hath been made manifest. Through Him the heavens of pre-existence were raised up and the clouds of bounty were elevated unto this most holy and most notable sky and the sun of grace and beneficence shone forth from the horizon of resplendent holiness. Through Him the oceans of verses surged in the kingdom of names and attributes and the time set for the command arrived with that which was decreed in the tablets of inaccessible majesty. And I bear witness that, through Him, the veil of mystery was removed from the beauty of grandeur and the secrets of the unseen were revealed in the kingdom of the divine decree, and that through Him every poor and needy one ascended unto the heaven of riches and every transient one rose up unto the dwelling-places of eternal life and every sick one was raised to the abodes of healing within pavilions of shining light. And I bear witness that this is the Spot wherein Thou didst ascend the Throne of the glory of Thy unity and didst bring into being all creation, both former and latter, through the power of Thy will and Thy desire, and wherein the clouds of Thy grace rained down upon all created things.

“Wherefore, I beseech Thee, O my God, by Thy hidden and Most Great Name and Thy concealed and most perfect word whose manifestation Thou didst promise unto Thy servants at the time of Mustaghdth [i.e. at the time of the appearance of Him Whom God shall make manifest], to bring me unto the shore of the ocean of Thy forgiveness and to erase all that I have enumerated of my most great sins and my most mighty transgressions; then forgive, O my God, my father and my mother and my family and those whom I have related unto myself, them that have believed in Thee and Thy signs. Make, then, for me, O my God, a seat of truth by Thy side and cause me to be united with those of Thy servants that are nigh unto Thee. I ask Thee, then, O my God and my Beloved, not to make me to be one of them that circle about Thy House in Thy land and deny Thy sacred House within the Manifestations of Thy Self and the Dawning-places of the glory of Thy Self-Subsistence and the Locations of the glory of Thy Lordship. Thus, O my God, is my utmost wish and desire. Thou, verily, art the Sovereign, the Powerful, the Mighty, the Wise. I ask Thee, then, O my God, by Thy beauty whereby the suns of the glory of Thy bounty have been made luminous and the rays of the lights of the holiness of Thy generosity flashed forth, to cause me not to be distressed upon the day whereon every soul shall be distressed, on which the possessors of pomp and leadership shall be puffed up with pride, on which the feet of them that have attained shall slip, on which the lamentation of all things shall be raised, and on which every resplendent and shining light shall be darkened. Take hold, then, of my hand, O my God, with the hand of Thy grace and favours and deprive me not on that day of the fragrances of the glory of Thy holiness nor from hearkening unto the melodies of Thy new creation, and cause me not to follow upon that day behind every croaking, sinful one. Open my eyes through Thy grace that I may recognize Thee by Thine own Self, not by that which is other than Thee, and that I may behold the wonders of the lights of Thy Beauty by what Thou hast bestowed upon me through Thy bounty, not that which belongeth unto men. For Thou hast not created any proof for Thyself save Thine own Essence, nor any evidence save Thy signs. Thou, verily, are He that ariseth, the Ruler, the Knowing, the All-Informed. Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds.”

Whereupon, end thou thy pilgrimage, for We have not permitted anyone to approach closer than this unto the sanctuary, for before that spot shine the lights of the Essence from behind the names and the attributes. And, apart from that, courtesy must be observed, for that is one of the best of all attributes in the sight of God, King of the earth and the heavens. Thus have We sent down upon thee the command with a shining and manifest proof. It is our desire that, from every city, one should go forth on My behalf and for his own sake to visit the House of God and that he may be a pilgrim. By God, at every step mercy and grace shall descend upon him from the heaven of resplendent holiness, and at the same time when he raises his foot for the first step and sets it down, God shall forgive his sins and the sins of his mother and his father and all that are related unto him. Thus hath the grace of thy Lord encompassed all created things, whether of the first or of the last. By God, whosoever visiteth the House, it is as if he hath visited God within the pavilion of the glory of meeting with Him and the tent of the majesty of His Beauty. Thus do We inform thee of the call that is mighty by the side of the Throne.

Whosoever visiteth the House as We have commanded him, God shall raise him up after his death within the paradise of majesty and grandeur in such a beauteous form that the dwellers of the Concourse on High shall be illumined by the lights of his face, and all that are in the exalted heavens shall be commanded to appear before him and to circle about him and to make their pilgrimage unto his beauty every morning and evening. O trustees of God upon the earth, strive unto the most great mention, and cast away all that is in your hands and turn your faces unto the Abode of God, the Mighty, the Powerful, the All-Knowing. Be ye steadfast, O people, in this station that, if all that are on earth should rise up against you, ye would not pay the least attention to them and would remain firm in the faith of God. The unbelievers shall prevent you performing what God has sent down upon you on account of the rancour that is in their breasts. But God shall do as He willeth through His word; He, verily, is the Powerful, the Mighty.

Know, then, that We have written concerning pilgrimage to the House detailed and vast tablets, but We have not sent them until now, If God wills, We shall send them in truth. He, verily, is the Guardian of the Messengers. That which We have sent is what was sent down from the kingdom of divine power in a brief form, for the angels that are nigh unto God and the inhabitants of the Exalted Concourse love to be brief in their outward acts. And inwardly, let there be at all times those that perform the pilgrimage. Thus have We taught thee and made known unto thee the paths of holiness and guided thee unto the shores of manifest grace.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/2954729 Marco

    It is not that little know fact that the sites of bah??’?­ pilgrimage are the house of Baha’u’llah in Bagdad and the House of the Bab in Shiraz.

    Nothing in the words “The first and supreme obligation of all Bah??’?­s who visit the Holy Land is to pray and meditate in the Sacred Shrines of Bah??’u’ll??h, the B??b and ‘Abdu’l-Bah??. To receive this bounty of visiting the Holy Places at the Bah??’?­ World Centre is an inestimable privilege, infinitely precious to every Bah??’?­ pilgrim.” imply that the pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a supreme obligation. It simply states what is the obligation for those who visit the Holy Land, and how fortunate they are when they have a chance to do it. Period.

    Such words could also apply to a visit to the houses of Baha’u’llah in Adrianopolis, in Mazindaran, and to many other places related to the history of the Faith.

    I am sorry to say, but your reading seems to me like a distortion of what is written there. How would you like if I make a distortion of your post and state that you claim that visits to the Holy Land are of no use for they are no true pilgrimages?

    By using the words “hajj”/”ziyarat” the writings emphasize the spiritual relevance of different pilgrimage/visiting spots (my personal interpretation, of course). I don’t see what is the problem of using the word “pilgrimage” to describe visits to the spot that somehow are related to the lives of the Central Figures of our Faith. The word “pilgrimage” can be used to describe any visit that has a religious or spiritual purpose. The Baha’i Pilgrimage site also includes several quotations from Shoghi Effendi where he uses the word “pilgrimage” to describe the visit to the Holly Land. Was he wrong?

    What really beats me is why didn’t you ask the House of Justice about this issue! Why did you prefer to create some sort of polemics on this subject?

    BTW: a great baha’i pilgrimage would last four months. I would start in Shiraz, then we would go Tehran and Mazindaran, then Bagdad, then Istambul and Edirne, and finally the Holy Land.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/2954729 Marco

    It is not that little know fact that the sites of bah??’?­ pilgrimage are the house of Baha’u’llah in Bagdad and the House of the Bab in Shiraz.

    Nothing in the words “The first and supreme obligation of all Bah??’?­s who visit the Holy Land is to pray and meditate in the Sacred Shrines of Bah??’u’ll??h, the B??b and ‘Abdu’l-Bah??. To receive this bounty of visiting the Holy Places at the Bah??’?­ World Centre is an inestimable privilege, infinitely precious to every Bah??’?­ pilgrim.” imply that the pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a supreme obligation. It simply states what is the obligation for those who visit the Holy Land, and how fortunate they are when they have a chance to do it. Period.

    Such words could also apply to a visit to the houses of Baha’u’llah in Adrianopolis, in Mazindaran, and to many other places related to the history of the Faith.

    I am sorry to say, but your reading seems to me like a distortion of what is written there. How would you like if I make a distortion of your post and state that you claim that visits to the Holy Land are of no use for they are no true pilgrimages?

    By using the words “hajj”/”ziyarat” the writings emphasize the spiritual relevance of different pilgrimage/visiting spots (my personal interpretation, of course). I don’t see what is the problem of using the word “pilgrimage” to describe visits to the spot that somehow are related to the lives of the Central Figures of our Faith. The word “pilgrimage” can be used to describe any visit that has a religious or spiritual purpose. The Baha’i Pilgrimage site also includes several quotations from Shoghi Effendi where he uses the word “pilgrimage” to describe the visit to the Holly Land. Was he wrong?

    What really beats me is why didn’t you ask the House of Justice about this issue! Why did you prefer to create some sort of polemics on this subject?

    BTW: a great baha’i pilgrimage would last four months. I would start in Shiraz, then we would go Tehran and Mazindaran, then Bagdad, then Istambul and Edirne, and finally the Holy Land.

  • Sigmund Effendi

    “The fourteenth glad tidings: To undertake journeys for the sake of visiting the tombs of the dead is not necessary. If those who have means and wealth should give to the House of Justice the amount which would otherwise be expended on such journeys, this would be acceptable and agreeable before God. Happy are those who accomplish!”

    -Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 144

    I always took the above quote to mean that a literal pilgrimage is not the true meaning. That an inner pilgrimage to those spiritual states in one’s soul is much more important.

    How about this for another “little know fact”: NOTHING in the Baha’i Faith IS LITERAL for people who are spiritual in how they see the Universe. NOTHING is literal for people who understand “The Kingdom of Heaven is WITHIN YOU”!

    This, however, requires more effort in the pilgrimage of one’s soul to God.

  • Sigmund Effendi

    “The fourteenth glad tidings: To undertake journeys for the sake of visiting the tombs of the dead is not necessary. If those who have means and wealth should give to the House of Justice the amount which would otherwise be expended on such journeys, this would be acceptable and agreeable before God. Happy are those who accomplish!”

    -Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 144

    I always took the above quote to mean that a literal pilgrimage is not the true meaning. That an inner pilgrimage to those spiritual states in one’s soul is much more important.

    How about this for another “little know fact”: NOTHING in the Baha’i Faith IS LITERAL for people who are spiritual in how they see the Universe. NOTHING is literal for people who understand “The Kingdom of Heaven is WITHIN YOU”!

    This, however, requires more effort in the pilgrimage of one’s soul to God.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/2954729 Marco

    Sigmund,

    We all know from the ??q??n that the key to the interpretation of the Holy Writings is the emphasis on its symbolical meanings. However that does not mean that nothing is literal. Take for instance the word of Bah??’u’ll??h: “Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men.” Check the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bah?? to see whether the above words of His father are literal or not.
    :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/2954729 Marco

    Sigmund,

    We all know from the ??q??n that the key to the interpretation of the Holy Writings is the emphasis on its symbolical meanings. However that does not mean that nothing is literal. Take for instance the word of Bah??’u’ll??h: “Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men.” Check the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bah?? to see whether the above words of His father are literal or not.
    :-)

  • Sigmund Effendi

    Marco,

    Good point! I spoke unclearly. What I meant was that the first level of meaning is, of course, always literal. No one can deny that. I meant that everything then ascends to ever higher and higher refined levels of spiritual meaning based upon the spiritual understanding of the soul.

    This is precisely how Baha’u’llah interprets many of the scriptures of other religions in the Kitab-I-Iqan. That the meanings are not literal at all on the deepest truths of the human race.

    That was what I was trying to say.

  • Sigmund Effendi

    Marco,

    Good point! I spoke unclearly. What I meant was that the first level of meaning is, of course, always literal. No one can deny that. I meant that everything then ascends to ever higher and higher refined levels of spiritual meaning based upon the spiritual understanding of the soul.

    This is precisely how Baha’u’llah interprets many of the scriptures of other religions in the Kitab-I-Iqan. That the meanings are not literal at all on the deepest truths of the human race.

    That was what I was trying to say.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/1082818 Baquia

    Marco,

    I’m afraid you didn’t read what I wrote with enough attention. I didn’t say that those words quoted from the website imply “that the pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a supreme obligation.”

    Here is what I did write:

    “This excerpt is implying that a Baha’i visitor to the Holy Land is a pilgrim and the “supreme obligation” of all Baha’is who go, is to visit the shrines of the three central figures of the Faith. While visiting and spending time in reverent meditation and prayer at those special places is the choice of every Baha’i, it is wrong to imply or state that this is Baha’i pilgrimage.”

    The problem with referring to a trip to the Holy Land as “pilgrimage” is that it is wrong, according to what Baha’u’llah explicitely said. Pilgrimage is to, either, the House of the Bab in Shiraz or to the House of Baha’u’llah in Baghdad. Period.

    As for your question why have I not contacted the UHJ to ask about this issue? What makes you think I haven’t? Taking into account the fact that they move as fast as molasses on a January morning, I estimate that my great-grandchildren may receive a vague, half-hearted attempt at an answer.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/1082818 Baquia

    Marco,

    I’m afraid you didn’t read what I wrote with enough attention. I didn’t say that those words quoted from the website imply “that the pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a supreme obligation.”

    Here is what I did write:

    “This excerpt is implying that a Baha’i visitor to the Holy Land is a pilgrim and the “supreme obligation” of all Baha’is who go, is to visit the shrines of the three central figures of the Faith. While visiting and spending time in reverent meditation and prayer at those special places is the choice of every Baha’i, it is wrong to imply or state that this is Baha’i pilgrimage.”

    The problem with referring to a trip to the Holy Land as “pilgrimage” is that it is wrong, according to what Baha’u’llah explicitely said. Pilgrimage is to, either, the House of the Bab in Shiraz or to the House of Baha’u’llah in Baghdad. Period.

    As for your question why have I not contacted the UHJ to ask about this issue? What makes you think I haven’t? Taking into account the fact that they move as fast as molasses on a January morning, I estimate that my great-grandchildren may receive a vague, half-hearted attempt at an answer.

  • Anonymous

    Great read again, Bacquia. Your messages sound like the ones I remember reading in the very early days of Talisman. I didn’t know much back then, so most messages contained little known facts that I certainly didn’t know! But in addition to that, the messages were put together in a constructive and educative way and with real thought.

    I think the blog medium is going to have its day now, and the discussion list medium is on the decline. The good thing about a blog over a discussion list is that opponents cannot steal your agenda. And people like yourself get to truly blossom.

  • Anonymous

    Great read again, Bacquia. Your messages sound like the ones I remember reading in the very early days of Talisman. I didn’t know much back then, so most messages contained little known facts that I certainly didn’t know! But in addition to that, the messages were put together in a constructive and educative way and with real thought.

    I think the blog medium is going to have its day now, and the discussion list medium is on the decline. The good thing about a blog over a discussion list is that opponents cannot steal your agenda. And people like yourself get to truly blossom.

  • Anonymous

    Oops, sorry, Bacquia. I messed up there. The last comment was from me, Alison

  • Anonymous

    Oops, sorry, Bacquia. I messed up there. The last comment was from me, Alison

  • Fitz Grossman

    Words
    what a mess they make

    Teaching and Giving the Message are used interchangable but are worlds apart.

    Proclamation is not teaching its giving the message.

    I’ve been to all the places mentioned, but until then I never used the word Haj, now I do.

    They are two Pilgrimages in Haifa one the holy sites, the other the Bricks of the arc.

    The Bricks are distracting

  • Fitz Grossman

    Words
    what a mess they make

    Teaching and Giving the Message are used interchangable but are worlds apart.

    Proclamation is not teaching its giving the message.

    I’ve been to all the places mentioned, but until then I never used the word Haj, now I do.

    They are two Pilgrimages in Haifa one the holy sites, the other the Bricks of the arc.

    The Bricks are distracting

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Fitz,
    you may have visited Haifa, but unless from there you teleported to Shiraz or Baghdad you didn’t perform pilgrimage.

    I do agree with you about the Arc terraces. I found them cold, almost sterile. They were cut, styled and controlled to such a degree that it felt almost plastic, not a living, breathing, alive “thing”. I have never felt less in tune with nature, while around trees and plants. The whole thing was just a kitsch ordeal one has to undergo on the way to the Shrine of the Bab.

    Now there was a powerful experience (shrine). Perhaps sometime I’ll write about it.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Fitz,
    you may have visited Haifa, but unless from there you teleported to Shiraz or Baghdad you didn’t perform pilgrimage.

    I do agree with you about the Arc terraces. I found them cold, almost sterile. They were cut, styled and controlled to such a degree that it felt almost plastic, not a living, breathing, alive “thing”. I have never felt less in tune with nature, while around trees and plants. The whole thing was just a kitsch ordeal one has to undergo on the way to the Shrine of the Bab.

    Now there was a powerful experience (shrine). Perhaps sometime I’ll write about it.

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  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Brent, would you please be so kind as to provide a reference?
    I’m assuming it isn’t Kitab-i-Hearsay

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Brent, would you please be so kind as to provide a reference?
    I’m assuming it isn’t Kitab-i-Hearsay

  • snorkle

    Can't imagine why you feel there's something suspect about adding to the list of places of pilgrimage. Things change. Since Baha'u'llah rests in Israel, visiting him means going to Israel. Shoghi Effendi certainly called it pilgrimage.

  • Baquia

    snorkle, not so much as adding but outright replacing. Glad you learned a little known fact. Now go and stump your friends!

  • snorkle

    Okay, replacing for now. I still don't see what the problem is. As to stumping my friends, I surely will if the opportunity presents itself.

  • snorkle

    Okay, replacing for now. I still don't see what the problem is. As to stumping my friends, I surely will if the opportunity presents itself.

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  • James

    Easy:

    Abdu’l-Baha designated the Shrine of Baha’u’llah, the Qiblih, as a site of pilgrimage.

  • Anonymous

    James, care to back that assertion up with evidence? The shrine of Baha’u’llah at Bahji is a destination for ziarat not haj. If you have a citation showing otherwise, please share.

  • James

    Baquia, with all due respect, since you are the person challenging the language used by the Universal House of Justice and suggesting that it’s not a site of pilgrimage, I suggest you go ahead and back your assertion up with evidence that Abdu’l-Baha did not use the word “hajj” when he designated the Shrine of Baha’u’llah as a site of pilgrimage.

  • James

    BTW: I do not believe his translators would mess up such a simple translation as “visitation” and “pilgrimage” — and Abdu’l-Baha demonstrated on occasion that he knew quite a bit of English, so if they did mess up a translation he would likely have corrected them.

  • Barbruthw

    prove a negative, anyone?

  • James

    The problem here is that you are asserting this as a fact, when you haven’t actually shown it to be a fact. While Baha’u’llah only designated the houses of Baha’u’llah and the Bab as locations of pilgrimage, Abdu’l-Baha referred to the experience of a journey which includes visiting the Shrine of Baha’u’llah as a pilgrimage. Shoghi Effendi later continued this and now the UHJ.

    The responsibility then to show that it is a fact that Abdu’l-Baha in no way does designate the Shrine of Baha’u’llah as a pilgrimage rests on your shoulders.

    I do enjoy this game, but it keeps me from more important things…like music.

  • James

    Hah, the point is, you don’t walk into a room, tell everybody that they’re wrong without providing evidence to back it up, and then when they disagree say “Prove it!” It’s a double standard that I refuse to take part in.

  • http://bahaisonline.net/tcb Steve Marshall

    PILGRIMAGE TO THE HOLY LAND
    At present, when Baha’is refer to pilgrimage, they almost always mean pilgrimage to the Shrines of the Bab and Baha’u’llah in the Holy Land. This pilgrimage seems to have evolved, rater than having been established by a clear text in the writings of Baha’u’llah. Although it is not referred to as hajj, it was always more important in practice than pilgrimage to the Baghdad or Shiraz Houses.
    Sacred acts, sacred space, sacred time” – John Walbridge, pp. 115-115

  • James

    Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to do the research to find where Abdu’l-Baha designated the Shrine of Baha’u’llah in Bahji a pilgrimage site and with what language he used. And as I haven’t had the benefit of reading Walbridge’s book I can’t comment on his source material and what is said there

    I can say that at present the official record is that Abdu’l-Baha designated Baha’u’llah’s final restingplace as a location of pilgrimage. The thing which has “evolved” is the journey to Haifa as a place to ‘spike your tent’, as it were, and visit all the historic locations visited by Baha’u’llah in his exile to Palestine.

    And anyway, his burial place IS the Qiblih. One might interpret based on Baquias rant that visiting the qiblih is spiritually insignificant.

    Also, Baquia, I wonder if you’d be so kind as to share with us the letters you wrote the UHJ?

  • Anonymous

    James, I invite you to do your own “investigation of truth” instead of relying on others or my words.

    What a person interprets based on what I write is their own doing. I would thank you to not put words in my mouth however.

    The letter I wrote simply asked for clarification on this matter.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FI7QTCWSVRTTIT2JWFE4PGMDWI Stephen

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ziyarat

    According to Wikipedia, Ziyarat may not even actually be an authentic Muslim practice, but an innovation.

  • Ash Ra

    Thank-you for posting this. I am sincerely grateful for your contributions to discourse and information regarding Baha’i subjects.
    Perhaps you can clarify some confusion on my part
    In the Kitab-i-aqdas it says: 

    “After the passing of Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha designated the Shrine of Baha’u’llah at Bahji as a place of pilgrimage. In a Tablet, He indicates that the “Most Holy Shrine, the Blessed House in Baghdad and the venerated House of the Bab in Shiraz” 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.”

    But earlier in your article you explain that Abdul-Baha only designated the Shrine of Baha’u’llah at Bahji as a place of visitation. Where is this information originally sourced from as I can’t seem to find it? 
    And secondly how is it differentiated in its original context from a place of pilgrimage in Abdul-Baha’s wording as opposed to a place of visitation.  Please forgive me if you’ve already explained, as I experience difficulties reading.

  • Anonymous

    Ash Ra,
    thank you for your question.

    Earlier in the article I explained that Baha’u’llah Himself (not Abdul-Baha as you write above) designated His house in Baghdad and that of the Bab in Shiraz in the Aqdas.

    Later Abdul-Baha, in a Tablet to an individual, mentions in passing the ‘Most Holy Shrine’ which is a reference to Bahji, the resting place of Baha’u’llah. We know almost nothing about this Tablet but not for want of trying.

    This is something that has been asked of the BWC/Research Department multiple times and they have not provided clarification by presenting the original tablet, its original language, any context or historical date related to it. Therefore it is nearly impossible to delve into this topic any more without their cooperation and assistance.

    The Research Department acts as a gatekeeper in such matters and no amount of prodding will make them budge when they don’t want to.

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  • Senator

    The since the late 13 century CE, the etymology the word pilgrimage is simply “distant journey or crusade”. Though religions have applied this word to the visitation of specific shrines, this definition never-the-less in no way specifies that particular duties, religious or otherwise, are required to make the journey officially a pilgrimage . Now the specifics set forth by Bah??’u’ll??h referring to the houses of Bah??’u’ll??h in Baghdad and the B??b in Shiraz, are for buildings that will only be available in the future. Though explicit directions are given by Bah??’u’ll??h for prayers and behaviors the believers need follow when the day comes that visitation of those most holy places is again allowed (after their rebuilding since both have been destroyed), he does not do the same for those in Haifa and to ?Akk?, but Just because he does not lay out such detailed directions for the visitation of those sites does not mean that visiting them is any less a pilgrimage than going to those other most holy of places.

    Frankly, I consider this rant a waste of time. Instead of nitpicking meanings of words, one should be looking to the intent of the journey, which is to visit the most holy places in the Baha’i world currently available to the believers. I went to Haifa and to ?Akk? and no arguing of semantics is going to change any detail of my distant journey. Over 12,000 miles later, when I finally returned home, my life had changed forever, simply because I had completed my special journey, my pilgrimage.