Dr. Ahmad Gholi's Presentation at the Conference
29 January 2024
Dr. Ahmad Gholi's Presentation at the Conference

For those interested, the videos and abstracts of the English sessions of the conference are uploaded:

*Presentation Title: Interreligious Encounter: Imam Reza, His Holy Shrine, and His Pilgrims in "Arminius Vambery: His Life and Adventures"

*Presenter: Ahmad Gholi (Assistant Professor, Department of Foreign Languages, Gonbad Kavous University, Gonbad-e Kavus, Iran)

Presentation Video

Presentation File


The shrine of Imam Reza has been the heart of the Holy Mashhad since Imam Reza’s martyrdom. With its spiritual atmosphere, dazzling beauty, and exuberant architecture, the shrine has created a passionate desire in travelers from various nations and religious backgrounds in different eras to experience its heavenly world. Arminius Vambery, a Hungarian orientalist, is one of these voyagers who visits the shrine in the nineteenth century. He records his observations in Arminius Vambery his Life and Adventure. Since disguised himself as a mendicant dervish, Vambery has free access to the shrine in contrast to other Western travelers in the same period. Moreover, his good command of the Persian language and Islamic lore enables him to effectively interact with enthusiastic pilgrims and register their desires and wishes. Hence, his travelogue can be treated as an unofficial historical document providing valuable information about Imam Reza’s shrine, pilgrims, and their devotion. Thus, by adopting the descriptive-analytical approach, the current article seeks to examine Vambery’s outlook toward Imam Reza, his shrine, and pilgrims’ practices and beliefs. The close analysis of Vambery’s travel narrative demonstrates the travel writer’s sympathetic attitude toward Imam Reza, his holy shrine, and his pilgrims. For Vambery, the cupola of Imam Reza’s shrine for enthusiastic pilgrims and travelers from afar is the beacon of peace and security. The chief feature of Imam Reza’s shrine, according to Vambery, is its egalitarian space where divine love rules supreme, and thus there is no place for earthly hierarchies. Moreover, the gracious hospitality of the shrine immensely impresses him. As a keen traveler, Vambery documents how eager travelers document their gratitude after beholding Imam Reza’s shrine, giving his narrative an ethnographical touch. Indeed, Vambery’s positive perspective is the fruit of the firsthand experience of the holy shrine and meaningful communication with Imam Reza’s pilgrims.