Here is the English abstract of Dr. Mojtaba Elahi Khorasani’s presentation in the 2nd pre-con meeting of the conference “Theology of Pilgrimage" which was held by Astan Quds Razavi’s Foundation of Islamic Researches on June 14, 2023, at Mashhad, Iran.
The 'Covenant' as the Foundation of Pilgrimage
Covenant is a fundamental concept in Abrahamic religions and is mentioned approximately three hundred times in the Bible. In the Jewish faith, the mission of prophets revolves around the covenant that God made with them, with emphasis on Abraham and Moses. The Bible consists of two covenants, i.e. the Old and New Testaments. the Old Testament is God’s covenant with prophets before Jesus - and the New Testament pertains to God's covenant with Jesus. The Quran is also God’s covenant. The Arabic term “ʿAhd” is repeated 50 times in Quran which shows the depth of the bilateral relationship between God and humans in faith and obedience to His commandments. It also organizes the social relations among humans, which its more solid forms are assigned to chosen nations, and its highest level to prophets and Imams. In Quran, Imamate is a special covenant that was granted to Abraham after being tested and has been carried on through the infallible descendants of his lineage. In Islamic narrations, the Imam is considered the trustee of this divine covenant, and he himself is the witness and embodiment of God's covenant with humans. His life is a testimony to his loyalty to the divine covenant in all aspects, and obedience to them is the fulfillment of God's covenant. Based on this, visiting the Imams in the form of pilgrimage, like Hajj, and visiting the Prophet's shrine, are all established on the foundation of the covenant and serve as significant rituals for renewing the covenant between humans and God. Some Islamic narrations emphasize the connection between pilgrimage and this covenant. For example, Imam Reza (PBUH) has stated: "Every Imam has a covenant with his loyal followers, and complete fulfillment of this covenant lies in visiting their shrines. If a pilgrim visits the Imam out of love for hism and his goals, he/she will be interceded for by Imam on the Day of Judgment."
Translator: Mahdi Qasemi