Here is the English abstract of Dr. Qorban Valiei's (Faculty Member, Department of Persian Literature, Zanjan University, Iran) speech at the third series of scientific lectures of the international conference on Theology of Pilgrimage titled "Theology of Pilgrimage and Persian Literature" which was held online on August 8, 2023.
Concept of Pilgrimage in Mystical Literature
Mysticism is indeed the encounter with the absolute unique reality of being. This encounter is often the result of a spiritual process called "spiritual journey (Sayr wa Sulūk)". The encounter with the absolute unique reality of being takes place either in the mirror of the cosmos or in the mirror of the self. The first is called external (ʾĀfāqī) mystical experience, and the second is called internal (ʾAnfusī) mystical experience. In both cases, the spiritual journey, ultimately leading to the mystical experience, can be seen as the central point in the concept of pilgrimage. The wayfarer (Sālik) in the spiritual journey is a pilgrim who, at the highest level, visits/encounters the absolute unique reality of being within themselves. However, in the mystical journeys, the intermediaries are necessary. The Shaikh, the guide, and the master play the role of intermediaries. By visiting the Shaikh, the wayfarer finds his/her true essence and acquires self-knowledge. This pilgrimage-like movement passes through inner stages and levels, which are called "states (Ḥālāt)" and "stations (Maqāmāt)" in mystical terminology. In mystical teachings, in addition to the Shaikh, there is great emphasis on visiting the companions of the path, sacred places, and holy sites. Thus, fundamentally, the internal manifestation of external pilgrimage can be seen as the mystical journey that begins from the self and leads to the encounter with the absolute unique reality of being.
Translator: Mahdi Qasemi