Friends who have physical disabilities or severe health problems can request to bring a person (Bahá’í or non-Bahá’í) to help them during their pilgrimage. The helper must be 18 years of age or older and physically strong enough to fully assist the pilgrim. The reasons for such a need must be provided to the Department of Pilgrimage. Furthermore, the person who will accompany the pilgrim will be expected to devote his/her full attention to the care of the pilgrim he/she is accompanying and, if a Bahá’í, will not be subject to the rule under which he would not be able to come for pilgrimage before the lapse of three years. Requests to add a helper can be submitted online.
The Universal House of Justice is conscious of the difficulties faced by pilgrims and visitors with various kinds of disabilities. The newest buildings on the Arc are designed to meet the needs of the physically handicapped; the Terraces of the Shrine of the Báb have been planned so as to provide access to various areas for those who cannot use stairs. However, there are certain limitations that cannot be completely overcome. Access to the Holy Shrines, for example, is over rough and uneven stone paths on which use of a wheelchair is difficult. The historic Holy Places must, of course, be preserved in their original form, and it is not acceptable for them to be altered in order to meet the needs of those who have difficulty in climbing stairs. These include the Mansion of Bahjí, the Prison Cell of Bahá’u’lláh, the House of ‘Abbúd, the House of ‘Abdu’lláh Páshá, and the Mansion of Mazra‘ih, in each of which the stairs are narrow and steep. It is not possible for people in wheelchairs to ascend to the upper floors of these Holy Places, even with assistance. It should be noted that a considerable portion, if not all, of the visits to these Holy Places takes place on the upper floors.
Although there are two wheelchairs available at the Bahá’í World Centre for emergency use, their availability cannot be guaranteed. Pilgrims with walking disabilities are encouraged to either bring their own wheelchairs with them or to rent light-weight, collapsible ones with large wheels for the journey, as it is the responsibility of pilgrims to provide their own wheelchairs. While in the Holy Land, a pilgrim who requires a wheelchair will have to rely solely on the helper, as pilgrim guides and fellow pilgrims should not be asked for assistance.
We wish to draw your attention to the importance of having medical insurance for the duration of your stay in the Holy Land. For more information click here.