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Pilgrimage: Ziyara from the Viewpoint of the Holy Quran, Hadiths and Theological Discourses

On the occasion of Arbaeen pilgrimage, IRIC has published a booklet entitled “Pilgrimage: Ziyara from the Viewpoint of the Holy Quran, Hadiths and Theological Discourses” to be distributed among English speaking pilgrims of Imam Hussain (PBUH).

This booklet offers brief information and responds to some critics on pilgrimage and visiting holy shrines of AhlulBayt (PBUT), which you may find enlightening Inshallah.

Ziyāra  or  pilgrimage  (literary:  visiting)  is  a  religious  term  meaning  being  at  the  graveside  of the deceased and especially the righteous and those  highly  accepted  by  God  and  particularly  Prophets  and  Imams,  sometimes  accompanied  with special rites.

Ziyāra from the root “zawara”, literally means intending, desiring and inclining to go to that which is to be visited and departing from everything else. As an expression, it means visiting and meeting someone or visiting a place. Ziyāra  implies  being  next  to  the  visited,  be  it  a  person  or  a  place,  and  departing  from  other  than  that,  and  it  necessitates  the  veneration  of  a person or a place connected to a holy matter. This article investigates the theological bases for ziyāra relying on the Qur’an and hadith, as well as evaluating the arguments for and against it.

Pilgrimage  in  general  has  been  accustomed in  human  societies,  as  it  is  a  tradition  arisen  from  a  human  inner  need  and  desire  related  to  the  belief  of  afterlife  and  the  possibility  of  establishing  an  inner  relation  with  a  beloved  person.  In  Islamic  teachings  too,  this  tradition  has not been fully rejected rather attention has been paid to correction of methods and certain views  and  to  prevention  of  deviations  in  its  regard.  Therefore,  ziyāra  has  been  common  among Muslims too and still is. Some have even specified permissibility of ziyāra and also its ‘state of being prescribed as recommended’ (istehbab) as a matter of consensus amongst scholars. Only a  small  group  among  Muslims,  i.e.  the  Salafis,  has opposed some cases of ziyāra on the ground of  considering  it  as  an  polytheistic  act.

In  religious  statements,  much  emphasis  has  been placed on going to visit the great personages and  scholars  of  religion  and  also  on  going  to  visit the believers while they are living. Going to the ziyāra of the tomb of the Messenger of God (Peace Be Upon Him & His Progeny, PBUH & HP),  ziyāra  of  the  tombs  of  the  Imams  (Peace  Be Upon Them, PBUT), ziyāra of the graves of martyrs and religious scholars and ziyāra of the graves  of  parents  and  others  who  have  passed  away are all examples of ziyāra.

According  to  Islamic  traditions  the  ziyāra  of  the  graves  of  the  deceased,  particularly  the  religious  dignitaries,  is  permissible  and  effects  such as gaining the benefit of their intercession is  of  its  results;  but  the  Wahhabis  and  Salafis  and other adherents to this sectarian issue have regarded  this  practice  as  polytheistic  and  have  opposed  it.  Besides  having  different  teachings  regarding  many  matters  with  the  Shi’ah,  they  have  particularly  a  different  opinion  in  regard  to  ziyāra  and  its  resulting  effects.

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