Here is the English abstract of Dr. Aliraza Baligh's (Faculty Member, Research Center for Islamic Culture and Art, Iran) speech at the second series of scientific lectures of the international conference on Theology of Pilgrimage titled "Theology of Pilgrimage and Social Sciences" which was held online on July 17, 2023.
Pilgrimage and Politics
The first issue in understanding the relationship between pilgrimage and politics is the recognition that pilgrimage is a meeting with the sacred. In the mythological world, as well as the world which was opened to humanity through the Abrahamic religions, the sacred is placed at the center, and the position of affairs is defined and measured in relation to that. However, if politics, as the moment in which the finite encounters the infinite, opens the future for human and lets him/her to transcend oneself, then pilgrimage, or the meeting with the sacred, can be the breaking point of the cycle of repetition in the mythological world and leads to the birth of politics. If politics is understood not only as the administration or governance, but according to post-metaphysical literature as “the political” - which is the essence of politics - then the connection between politics and pilgrimage will be meaningful. Here, politics is no longer a professional matter solely engaged in by politicians. Instead, politics is a public calling that allows individuals, despite various inequalities, to find themselves equal in the face of it. Based on this understanding of politics, the mourning and lamentation rituals of Imam Hussain (AS) or the pilgrimage of Arba'een can be a source of political birth for Shiism. Furthermore, based on this understanding of politics, we can also say that in the modern world, despite the call for disenchantment or desacralization, a secular form of the sacred has created new centers for people to gather. Although we witness the proliferation of these centers in the modern city, places such as concert halls, stadiums, stock exchange halls, etc., are the very points that have constructed sacred rituals around themselves, and perhaps the expansion of disenchantment in postmodern thought has targeted these emerging centers.
Translator: Mahdi Qasemi