The Practice of Pilgrimage:
A Comparative Review

By Per-Olof Akerdahl

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #18
Trent Park Campus: London, England
August 21–24, 1998
(see list of papers from #18)

published in Lights of Irfan, volume 1, pages 1-20
under new title
"Pilgrimage and Religious Identity in the Bahá'í Faith"
© 2000, ‘Irfán Colloquia

    Pilgrimage is an expression of religious belief that exists in most religions throughout history. It has been an important part in the creation of a religious identity, as it has made it possible for the individual believer to show his or her identity in practical life and to come closer to the centre of revelation of that religion.

    Those religions from the Middle East that can be called Prophet religions have some traits in common regarding pilgrimage and because of this it is meaningful to discuss three different goals of pilgrimage: the prophet grave, the centre of the world, and the outer symbol of theocracy. In this discussion I have chosen to take up Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Bahá'í Faith. This discussion will form a background to a discussion on the meaning of pilgrimage in the Bahá'í Faith, especially as an agent to form the Bahá'í identity among the Bahá'ís in general and especially among the pilgrims.

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