Here is the English abstract of Dr. Saeed Tavousi Masrour's (Faculty Member, Department of Philosophy and Theology, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran) speech at the Fourth series of scientific lectures of the international conference on Theology of Pilgrimage titled "Reflection of Pilgrimage in Travelogues" which was held online on September 23, 2023.
Pilgrimage After Death: The Reflection of Transferring Corpses to Holy Shrines in Travelogues
The transfer of corpses to holy shrines, especially in Najaf and Karbala, has been common among Shiite Muslims living in Iran, Iraq, and even India in recent centuries. However, it is known that the history of this act dates back to the first five centuries of the Hijri calendar, to the extent that the corpses of the Buyid rulers were transferred to the shrine of Imam Hussein and buried there. Since one of the meanings of Walāyah is proximity, Shiite Muslims in the era of the presence of Imams sought to endure all hardships to meet their Imams (in the era of their presence) or visit their shrines (after their martyrdom). In continuation of this approach, Shiite Muslims are interested in having their bodies rest in the soil of the Imams' shrines, and the tradition of transferring corpses to holy shrines is a manifestation of this belief and interest. Travelogues, including those of Muslim pilgrims like Saif al-Dawla Qajar and non-Muslim travelers like Jane Dieulafoy, are among the main sources of the history of body transfers to the most important Shia pilgrimage sites. Based on the reports of travelogues and other sources, it is evident that various issues in terms of health, economy, politics, etc. were involved in the transfer of bodies. For example, Sabri Ates, in one of his articles (2010) has addressed issues related to the transfer of corpses from Iran to the holy sites in the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century.
Translator: Mahdi Qasemi