Here is the English abstract of Mr. Zoheyr Tavakoli (Poet and Persian Literary critic) 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 6, 2023.
Hajj and Passing the Desert in Attar of Nishapur’s Works
Pilgrimage has various forms in Sufi texts. In Sufism, based on Quranic verses, two terms have been coined: external journey (Seyr-e-Āfāqī) and internal journey (Seyr-e-Anfusī). One aspect of the external journey has been the traveling of the spiritual wayfarer, and fundamentally, one of the functions or purposes of Khānqāhs, Zāwīyahs, and Duwayrahs (different terms for Sufi lodges) has been to accommodate and host traveling Sufis. Among the important objectives of Sufi travels were visiting the tombs of the Shaikhs or visiting living Shaikhs and receiving blessed garments from them. Alongside this aspect of pilgrimage, Hajj and passing the Hejaz desert were the most important pilgrimage journeys in Sufi texts. This journey in Sufism has two forms: Hajj based on complete reliance on God (Hajj-e-Tavakkul), meaning performing the Hajj pilgrimage without any provisions, and Hajj based on withdrawal from corporeality (Hajj-e-Tajrīd), meaning limiting oneself to a staff and a water bottle. This journey may ultimately lead to the long stay of Sufi in Mecca. For example, the most important sub-narrative that Attar mentions in the midst of his long narratives is the story of Shaikh Sanʿan. Shaikh Sanʿan resides in Mecca and has performed nearly fifty Hajj. In this narrative, leaving the spiritual journey (Seyr wa Sulūk) which was devoid of the experience of love, is symbolized by the departure from Mecca towards Rome, and Shaikh Sanʿan's return to Mecca from Rome is symbolized by removing the black dust that had been for a long time a barrier and veil between the Shaikh and God. Thus, the pilgrimage to the al-Kaʿba is a symbol of meeting with Allah, and in Attar's narratives, the most important criterion for transcending and criticizing the superficial norms of the religious society. In Hajj narratives, he has tried to convey this message: if you see the house (i.e. al-Kaʿba) but not its owner, you have not performed the Hajj.
Translator: Mahdi Qasemi