Unification News for March 2004

Pilgrimages to Jerusalem as Historical Lessons

by Dr. Glaubach

History proves that collective pilgrimages to the Holy Land are always significant because they mark spiritual power, and therefore lead to historical turning points.

This is no doubt the case also with the current massive pilgrimage to Jerusalem initiated by the IIFWP, which took place during the later part of the year 2003, ending up with the huge rally (30,000) on December 22, 2003.

The pilgrimages mentioned above consisted mainly of members of the "Abrahamic Family" Jews, Christians and Muslims, but also of other denominations, such as Druze, Buddhists, Confucianists, etc. Among them were former heads of nations like Mr. Abdul Rahman Wahid of Indonesia, Senators from the U.S. and prominent leaders of European, Korean, American and Japanese communities, while on the great rally, the majority, of course, were citizens of all religions in the Holy Land, including Reverends, Rabbis and Muslim Imams. The proclaimed goal of this pilgrimage was "Peace in the Middle East."

History repeats itself mainly because of the mere fact that Jerusalem is the most spiritual city in the world, with inherent ties to the monotheistic believers, but this time, the "invasion" of pilgrims was not of a monolithic nature. This was a multi-denominational and multi-religious cooperation with a spiritual message, a fact which marks the deep difference from the famous historical pilgrimages some of which had "different" messages, like those led by Richard Lyon Heart or Salah-a-din (1187 ACE). It’s also important to point out that the current Christian pilgrims were members of the New Movement – the ACLC who decided to turn the Cross into a Crown.

The Second Temple Period (537 BCE – 70 AD) marks an outstanding Temple Cult, which attracted many Jewish visitors – pilgrims to Jerusalem from all over the Holy Land: For Jews, that sacrifice worship to the deity was only efficacious in the place where regular pilgrimage to Jerusalem, at least by all adults male devotees, was a religious requirement. There is good evidence that the biblical injunction to thrice yearly pilgrimages incentaged very large numbers of Jews to flow into the city for the short periods around the Jewish great festivals.

The political input of the Jewish pilgrim phenomena, which sets the spiritual meaning is well known from the historical fateful events. When the Greeks (169 BCE) or the Romans (66 AD) desecrated the Temple, the small Jewish nation did not hesitate to rebel against these world powers with the mere purpose to ensure God’s worship. The result was that the Romans expelled and dispersed the whole Jewish people for 2000 years.

The attitudes of the ancient Christian church fathers, regarding pilgrimage to Jerusalem, twice the fourth and fifth centuries, were quite positive and had become a well-established pattern of religious behavior in the Christian world. It’s relatively new development and penetration into Christian religious life was at considerable odds with the traditional Christian concepts of holy space, Divine presence on earth and the absence of the idea of holy places as reflected in the New Testament. This innovation invoked diverse reactions, "spiritual harm" Gregory of Nysse, letter 2; Jerome, Letter 47, among Christian thinkers from the fourth century on. At the heart of this debate is the question regarding the Divine presence in a defined local and religious significance and role of Pilgrimage to holy places for the Christian believer. The various positions in their debate were enmeshed with personal conflicts regarding local pilgrimage throughout the Christian world on the one hand and the emerging center in Jerusalem on the other. Later in history until the twelfth century, the concept of "Christian Holy Land" has developed in so far that its political consequences were the establishing of the "Latin Kingdom" in Jerusalem (1099 – 1187 CE) restoring the Christendom’s holiest shrines. This Kingdom was established by the vast Crusader’s pilgrimage.

Pilgrims and pilgrimage to Jerusalem also became prevalent and has gained roots in the Muslim faith.

The politico-religious status of Jerusalem in the Muslim world was established at the beginning of the eighth century. Muslim religion was established in 622 CE Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Umayyads 640-750 CE made efforts to exalt and glorify the religious and political status of Jerusalem. Although there is no explicit written testimony that Jerusalem is considered to be the capital of their district rule. Ritual ceremonies in Jerusalem are found in early testimonies. Many of these rituals were performed in and around the Dome of the Rock, the Mosque which was built on the clear Temple Mount (691 CE).

Though Muslims usually relate their central pilgrimage and worship to Mecca – during the yearly hajj period, there are many testimonies that Muslim visitors and pilgrims used to come to Jerusalem to pray in its holy places already at the beginning of the eighth century. There are many traditions attempting to encourage Muslim pilgrimage to Jerusalem, coming mainly from nearby places, some come in fulfillment of personal vows. The controversy among Muslim scholars regarding the holiness of Jerusalem and the holy sites is also demonstrated by the refusal of some of these eminent scholars to visit the holy sites in Jerusalem. It was only in the beginning of the eleventh century that a complete account of pilgrim’s itinerary of the holy places in Jerusalem was given in the late compilations of the "Literature in Praise of Jerusalem."

Politically – the great Muslim leader Salah-a-Din recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders (1187 CE) and thus the Holy Land became again free for Muslim pilgrims.

Coming back to the present, we may ask if the great recent pilgrimages to the Holy Land, as mentioned above, will lead to political and spiritual "Road Map" for a peace settlement in the Middle East; to a permanent solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending terror and violence, normalizing Palestinian and Israeli life, establishing a two-state system and maintain normal peaceful relations, as intended by the initiators.

The answer is: Yes! Mainly because due to these pilgrimages, a spiritual phase entered into the Middle East reality; because the great spiritual leaders of the pilgrimages trusted God and did not hesitate to visit many times Gaza and Ramallah also, the Knesset in Jerusalem. They also met with a vast amount of communities all over. This widespread activity in the Holy Land received a strong echo and a huge variety of repercussions in the media and within the population. It all was God’s will and thus the path to Middle East peace was proven. Thus during the last 60 years there were so many struggles and peace initiatives – Madrid, Oslo, Geneva, etc. - but they all were political only and failed. They led to wars, with so much suffering and bloodshed of innocent people on both sides, on all sides.

The political leaders did not realize that a political way alone does not work. What a pity and what a shame that the same mistake repeats itself continuously.

No doubt that a joined phase of political, combined with spiritual attitudes will lead to the desired goal. Unfortunately, similar global violence and bloody clashes are going on in many parts of the world.

Therefore, only through the moving power of the spirit, the Middle East and mankind may reach to a new realm, a realm of peace, a Peace Kingdom, also by establishing a Peace United Nations in cooperation with America may lead to a Peace Kingdom.

Since we are struggling for achieving a culture of peace in mankind, it may be wise to encounter the same system of work in at least 2-3 more locations of fierce conflict, such as the Philippines in Asia, the Balkans in Europe, Rwanda in Africa, Columbia in South America, Chechniah in Russia, etc.

Since Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon is no doubt the "moving spirit" of the present era in mankind, it would be desirable to have America, Israel and Korea become one as the basis for the desired Peace Kingdom.

Our consequences in the Middle East are that the powerful activities of ACLC and IIFWF at our end are a powerful omen to achieving peace and thus, we may achieve. No more Cain and Abel and no more conflict.

As to the Abrahamic family which comprises a confederation of Abrahamic faiths of the three monotheistic religions – Jewish, Christian, Muslim, which comprehend almost a half of mankind, it is suggested to think of establishing a kind of Confederation of Abrahamic Faiths for the purpose of enhancing harmony between the different worshipers. Such a new paradigm may create better conditions for strengthening the feeling of happiness and harmony, not only among nations, but also with individuals.

This new paradigm may serve as an interim period and help to restore love that was lost to Satan, in the Kingdom of Peace under the Kingship of God.

 Download entire page and pages related to it in ZIP format
Table of Contents
Tparents Home