The Baha'i obligatory pilgimage

By Ahang Rabbani

Pilgrimage is a privilege and an obligation in the Bahá'í Faith for those who can afford it. It is enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh in his most important work, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (Most Holy Book), his Book of Laws. There are three places to which pilgrimage is binding. The first of these is the former residence of the Báb (1819-1850), the prophet-founder of the Bábí religion, in Shiraz, Iran. The Báb was the forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh, and the Bábí and Bahá'í religions are intimately related. The Báb's residence was demolished during the Islamic Revolution in Iran and has not yet been rebuilt. The second place of pilgrimage is the former residence of Bahá'u'lláh during his banishment and exile in Baghdad. Pilgrimages to Shiraz and Baghdad have been suspended due to conditions unfavorable to Bahá'ís in those lands. The third place of obligatory pilgrimage is the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahjí, Israel.

The Gate of Shiraz 
Baha'u'llah ordains that when a person approaches one of the Twin Cities (Baghdad or Shiraz) for the purpose of offering Obligatory Pilgrimage (hajj), to dismount as soon as the horizon of the city is visible, to cleanse himself, attire in his best clothing, using his finest perfume and then standing and facing the City to offer a specifically-revealed prayer of thanksgiving. The pilgrim is then to walk all the way to the city-gate. On reaching the gate, to pause, and gazing at the City walls, houses, trees, birds, and so forth, offer yet another specifically revealed prayer by addressing these things as to how fortunate indeed they were that at one time the eye of the Manifestation gazed upon them. He is then to continue walking all the way to the House. In the case of the House of the Bab in Shiraz, He instructs the pilgrim to approach (walking) the House in reverence and prayful attitude, then upon reaching the House to prostrate himself, kiss the ground, put his face (right hand side) on the ground and then to sit crossed-legged and offer a specially revealed prayer. Having never entered the House (its too Sacred for mere mortals to enter!), the pilgrim is to walk back and away from the House and to leave the area, thus concluding his Obligatory Pilgrimage.

So, this entire hajj journey consists of walking and praying.

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