Reflections on the Arbaeen pilgrimage: The biggest mourning procession

  1. Although Ziyarat Arbaeen as we know it is the visitation of Imam Husain, grandson of the Seal of Prophets, the essence of the visitation is to console and give condolences to his sister Sayyida Zainab (as) over the tragedy of Karbala. The idea is to share her pain and join her when she went on the 40th day after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain to visit and mourn him.
  2. Witnessing the great number of believers joining together in what we can call the biggest mourning procession in the history of mankind, it becomes clear that tears were created solely for the mourning of Imam Husain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his pure progeny). And the true meaning of disability is the lack of ability to weep over the tragedy of Karbala.
  3. Any setting or event usually requires an invitation or permission to enter or participate in. Except the Majlis of Imam Husain and azadari activities – all are welcome regardless of race or color, social or economic rank, as the permission is granted directly by Sayyida Zahra (as).
  4. Authentic narrations record that whoever visits Imam Husain (as) while having the marefat (in depth recognition) of the Imam, his Ziyarat is accepted. The marefat itself may not be easily encompassed, however the Manifestation of this marefat in Arbaeen is marked in the multimillion walk to Karbala. Not every walker has same level of marefat, but the love and conviction yields the determination to join this spiritual not so short walk where believers of all ages and background participate in voluntarily without feeling tired out.
  5. From a worldly standard, the dynamics and logistics of the Arbaeen pilgrimage indicates impossibility to accommodate such large number of pilgrims in that land with such limited human resources. The immense growing success of this pilgrimage year after year indicated that it is nothing but a divine miracle pointing to the great love and regard which the Almighty Creator bears for His beloved Husain.
  6. No pain…No gain. To acquire the blessings of Ziyaratul Arbaeen does not come when you are in your comfort zone. An Arbaeen pilgrim often experiences test of patience while performing the Ziyarat and navigating through the large crowds to reach the beloved. The price to pay is patience, patience, and patience – all done in love and grief to the Imam. Every drop of sweat, every ray of sun, and every physical difficulty experienced is indeed a blessing to be rewarded.
  7. There is no limit or boredom when it comes to the Azaa of Imam Husain. Grief comes in different colors of expression from different ethnicities and languages. In Arbaeen you witness everything from believers of all backgrounds and your glorification to the azadari rituals increases!
  8. When it comes to Hajj, the Hajji pilgrims flock to perform the Wajib rituals and many aim to check off that box and be done with once in their lifetime. But with Arbaeen, ironically it’s not a box to check off, the pilgrim embarks on this journey voluntarily and every visit begets another visits. Even though Arbaeen carries many more million visitors compared to Hajj, the visitors don’t get tired or feel satiated. Every year adds more visitors because the first time visitors from the year before now vows to go again and again, while those who never went before has heard so much that they are inspired to go for the first time and hence they join this spiritual whirlpool heading towards The Heaven of Husain.
  9. The magnificence of Imam Husain (as) is truly felt in the different peak seasons of Ziyarat, but must notably in the Arbaeen pilgrimage that is marked by the multimillion march to the holy shrine and the packed streets of Najaf and Karbala and many other surrounding cities creating a standstill and state of paralysis in the whole country where the worldly affairs are halted and the whole country is focused on observing mourning and visitation for Imam Husain (as).
  10. The extent of unique servitude to the Zuwaar (visitors) of Abi Abdillah (as) done free of cost, with full love and courtesy, without limit or restriction, despite the poor economic state in Iraq, is in itself a great miracle that westerners must pay attention to and ask why.

11) The difference between the Arbaeen and Hajj pilgrimage is clearly noted:

A) Pilgrims in Hajj vary in school of thought, sect, and faith while Arbaeen pilgrims are all united under the same school of thought, the same banner of love and mourning to Imam Husain. Each pilgrim is true brother and sister to one another. in faith.

B) Traditions say that the buzz of the pilgrims in Hajj is known in the Imams words to be ‘there is so much buzz, and yet so little true Hujjaj (pilgrims).’ Not every Hajj pilgrim can guarantee that their Hajj is accepted. But such is not the case with the Arbaeen pilgrimage. Indeed there is so much buzz much more than Hajj, yet all the Zuwaar of the Imam have their Ziyarat accepted without a doubt.

C) Millions of Muslims go to observe the Hajj rituals, however the Arbaeen pilgrims carry intense emotion of grief throughout their pilgrimage as they mourn over the tragedy of Karbala which brings this pilgrimage to a higher level, leaving long-lasting results. The Arbaeen pilgrimage carries an electricity with it like none other which translates into the will to learn from the lessons of Karbala and learn how to stand up against the oppression and injustice of their time.

12) The visitor of Imam Husain (as) himself becomes holy due to his visitation to the holy Imam. In Hajj, the Hajj pilgrim earns blessings of Hajj but the dust beneath his feet is not sanctified and the angels don’t surround him till he return home, like the Hussaini pilgrim. Indeed, the visitor of Imam Husain acquires such rank that baffles the mind to the point that many compete to please and provide comfort to the Hussaini visitor

13) It is only at the doorstep of the Imam that you find multitudes of pilgrims from all social backgrounds voluntarily agreeing to sleep on the floor on the sidewalks, besides trash cans and in the intersections as they camp out humbly while they visit their beloved leader who sacrificed everything for the sake of Islam. Shall the visitor then not sacrifice a bit of comfort and dignity for this Imam who gave us everything?

14) Every year requires a spring cleaning, and spring cleaning of our souls lies in Ziyarat Arbaeen when the believer cleanses himself with the tears of mourning over this great saint and by vowing to follow the example, teachings, and lessons which the Imam exemplified on the day of Ashura. Hence, it is narrated in authentic traditions that one of the signs of a believer is the observance of Arbaeen pilgrimage to Imam Husain.

Author: Sister Jerrmein Abu Shahba

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