Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Shrine of Baha'u'llah

entrance to the Shrine of Baha'u'llah

Although pilgrims to Haifa and Akka visit several locations hallowed by the footsteps of the Baha’u’llah, the pinnacle of a Baha’i pilgrimage is one’s visit to the Shrine of Baha’u’llah in Bahji. Forty minutes to an hour outside Akka, the Baha’i gardens at Bahji are characterized by symmetry and ornate flower beds, statues of peacocks and eagles, and nodding cypress trees. To approach the shrine, pilgrims walk down a path of smooth grey and white pebbles. Palestine Sunbirds, a metallic purple and green, call from either side of the path as they poke their decurved beaks into tube-shaped flowers. 

Palestine Sunbird

Dimmed lights and perfumed roses create an atmosphere of reverence once inside the shrine. One may sit on the rugs or in a side room to pray. Many pilgrims bring notebooks with specific prayers they want to say at the shrine or lists of friends and family members they wish to pray for.

The location of the Shrine of Baha’u’llah is the Qiblih, or Point of Adoration, to which Baha’is face during the obligatory prayers and other special prayers. To face the Qiblih in prayer and at the same time be so close to it was significant to me. When saying my obligatory prayer in Colorado, I face east but what I am facing seems so far away. Indeed, it is across an ocean. It was particularly special to be so near to the resting place of Baha’u’llah.

“Holy places are undoubtedly centres of the outpouring of Divine grace, because on entering the illumined sites associated with martyrs and holy souls, and by observing reverence, both physical and spiritual, one's heart is moved with great tenderness.”
(Baha'u'llah, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 61)

The Mansion of Bahji, where Baha'u'llah lived for awhile, next to the Shrine of Baha'u'llah

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