Here is the English abstract of Dr. Abbas Pasandideh's (Professor, The University of Quran and Hadith; Chancellor of the Research Center of Islamic Ethics and Psychology) presentation at the 4th pre-con meeting of the conference “Theology of Pilgrimage" which was held by The University and Research Institute of Quran and Hadith on September 27, 2023, at The University of Quran and Hadith, Rey, Iran.
Psychological Effects of Pilgrimage
The field of psychology of religion is a realm of psychology that scrutinizes various dimensions of religion from a psychological perspective. This paper tries to elucidate some of the opinions of religious psychologists on pilgrimage, centering around JM Nelson's work, Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality (2009), RC Hilario's article titled Efficacy and Limitations of Pilgrimage as a Remedy for Depression (2023), and the article written by of Mihaela Rus and Ciprian-Vasile Rus, Theological and Psychological Profile of Christian Pilgrim (2023). Nelson perceives pilgrimage as a journey from the familiar to the unfamiliar, an abandonment of the mundane, and a pursuit of an ideal. He investigates the motivations, objectives, and stages of this journey. According to him, pilgrimage motivations can be categorized as devotional, religious, instrumental, and undefined. Some of the objectives of pilgrimage include self-improvement, responding to an inner calling, and transcending the mundane. Deciding to break away from everyday life, moving towards a sacred space, entering that sacred space, and experiencing the sacred, constitute the stages of pilgrimage. Hilario posits that pilgrims seek to establish a connection with their religious beliefs during their pilgrimage, as if the pilgrimage site serves as a source of truths and the pilgrims' beliefs. Regarding depression, Hilario's research suggests that individuals experience greater contentment and peace in their post-pilgrimage lives due to the reinforcement of inner faith. Patients, too, exhibit enhanced resilience and self-acceptance following their pilgrimages. From the perspective of Mihaela Rus and Ciprian-Vasile Rus, pilgrimage represents a quest for authenticity and an opportunity for personal development. They consider it a novel approach to encountering the divine, which leads to fresh insights into life. In sum, religion psychologists view pilgrimage as a return to spirituality, imparting a form of spiritual discipline to individuals. Moreover, pilgrimage fosters a novel outlook on life and serves as a coping mechanism in the face of life's tribulations.
Translator: Mahdi Qasemi