Arbaeen has been through years an inspiring event and one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, with this year, the religious occasion being a great manifestation of love that brings people from various faiths across the world together.
What is Arbaeen?
Arbaeen is an Arabic word that literally means the fortieth day. It falls on the twentieth of Safar, 40 days after the Day of Ashura (on the tenth of Muharram). Ashura marks the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (AS), the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) who was martyred along with his companions after an epic battle in Karbala against Yazid, the second caliph of the corrupt Umayyad Caliphate.
Through years, the Arbaeen has become a deeply rooted event in the traditions of Shiite Muslims, who yearly mark the occasion by flocking in to the holy city of Karabala and by practicing different forms of mourning, including the well-known Arbaeen Walk which is pilgrimage on foot between Najaf and Karbala.
Imam Hussein Brings Humanity Together
In the last few years, people from all over the world throng to Karbala, regardless their nationality, color, religion or sect. Lovers of Imam Hussein (AS) from Pakistan, India, Afghanistan Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Bahrain, Kuwait, Russia, South Africa and many other countries head for the holy city on the Arbaeen to pay tribute for the Prophet’s grandson who stood firmly ad honorably against oppression of the Umayyad rule.
Karbala this year hosted the grand sons of Indian pro-democracy activist Mahatma Gandhi, South African anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela and Russia’s Mufti. The three men, among other prominent activists in the world took part in the International Conference of Al-Aqsa Call.
The conference was aimed at offering support to Palestinian people and their legitimate cause, taking aspiration from the uprising of Imam Hussein (AS) against oppression.
Arbaeen Displays Universality of Islam
Najaf and Karbala hosted a number of Sunni scholars this year. As showed in the video, the clerics held congregational prayers at the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS).
They also took part in the mourning processions (Mawakeb) during the Arbaeen Walk, known by Iraqi locals as “Mashaya” between the two holy cities, with photos showing them serving pilgrims on the road and offering drinks.
Arbaeen has become in the latest years as a manifestation of Islam’s universality, as it brings Sunni and Shiite people together under the banner of Imam Hussein (AS).
The occasion is also one of the key factors that helps the nations of Iran and Iraq overcome the consequences of the 1980s war. Iraqis offer millions of Iranian pilgrims accommodation in their ordinary homes during the Arbaeen, something which would have been unbelievable only two decades ago.
“Salam Ya Mahdi” in Arbaeen
Meanwhile, the Arbaeen this year displayed special values other than integration, supporting oppressed people and Islamic unity. The great gathering turned into an opportunity to remind people of the world’s savior, Imam Mahdi (AJ). Thousands of pilgrims in Najaf, Karbala and on the “Mashaya road appeared, in video scenes circulated on social media, chanting “Salam Ya Mahdi” (Peace Be Upon You, O’ Mahdi), the song which addresses the twelfth Shia Imam, and call on his appearance.
The song, which started with its Persian version “Salam Farmandeh” has sparked an unprecedented social phenomenon across the Muslim world, and was highly present at the Arbaeen this year.
The video below shows leading Islamic singers Abou Zar Rouhi from Iran, Ashraf Tamimi from Iraq, Hijazi Hijazi from Lebanon and Mohammad Ghuloom from Bahrain singing “Salam Ya Mahdi” in the road between Najaf and Karbala.