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Pilgrims' Notes, Status of

"Pilgrims' Notes" are records of individuals' meetings with the Central Figures of the Bahá'í Faith and usually the recorded speech of the Central Figures. These Pilgrims' Notes are unofficial records of what visitors to the Holy Land recall was said and done by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, but cannot be considered as their authentic words: the authors might have misheard or miswritten a statement; they might not have been knowledgeable about the Bahá'í Faith and might have introduced their own misunderstandings into the notes; and these online notes are taken from widely circulated second-, third-, and sometimes fourth-generation hand-typed copies. These need to be checked against originals where they may exist and when they are found, for every copyist can and usually does introduce new errors.

As explained by the Universal House of Justice, no policy other than the exercise of wisdom currently governs the appearance of such notes on the internet. A brief Compilation on Pilgrims' Notes can also be consulted. Other pilgrims' notes can also be found in some of the older Notable Talks and some historical documents.

As these records can rarely be authenticated, they are considered to be less reliable than the carefully-transcribed and preserved writings of the Central Figures, and are to be used with caution. An example of how manuscripts can differ can be seen in the parallel edition of Alice Dudey's notes. Only the Sacred Writings of the Bahá'í Faith thus far published in English, most of which are online, represent the authentic teachings of the Faith. At the same time, these notes do contain much interesting information which, when properly weighed against authentic teachings, can be quite useful. The motive for presenting these notes online is perhaps best summarized in the following quotation from a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi:

"While these notes taken down by the pilgrims do not constitute as official pronouncements made by the Guardian, and therefore should not be imposed on the friends, those who wish to share them with the members of the Community should, under no circumstances, be prevented from doing so. Though not strictly official, and in some instances inaccurate and misleading, these notes, as experience has shown, can be of tremendous help, guidance and inspiration to many individual believers, and their value as such should therefore be readily admitted."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 28, 1939. See also the full online compilation.)
These Pilgrims' Notes have been posted and proofread largely through the collaborative efforts of Robert Stauffer, Thellie Lovejoy, Vaughn Sheline, and John B. Cornell.
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