Another Arba’een, another epical fervor (2)
Condolences to you all on the approaching anniversary of Arba’een or the 40th day of the immortal epic of Ashura, the martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS), the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (Blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
As we said yesterday, this grand ceremony of Arba’een revives our grief for history’s most heartrending tragedy as we commemorate the supreme sacrifice of the Martyr of Karbala that saved Islam and all humanitarian values. Thus, whether from near or afar, we salute Imam Husain (AS) from the depth of our hearts, while those who can afford the journey, travel to his holy shrine in Iraq to pay their respects, with millions converging upon Karbala from all over the globe, to make it the largest assemblage of human beings anywhere in the world.
Last year on the 20th of Safar, there were around twenty million pilgrims, and this year the number of devotees is expected to exceed this figure.
The following is the second episode of our 5-part series in this regard, titled: “Another Arba’een, another epical fervor”.
These days, the sweet scent of Karbala and Imam Husain (AS) can be felt everywhere. The chants of “Labbayka ya Husain”, which mean “Here I am O Husain to your call”, can be heard, as devotees of the Immortal Martyr of Karbala hasten to reach the shrine of their beloved master, who through his selfless sacrifice, saved Islam and all humanitarian values.
The reality of words of the Imam’s indomitable sister, Lady Zainab (peace upon her), can be properly perceived today, when a millennium, three centuries and four score years ago in Damascus, while the heads of her brother, sons, and nephews lay in front of the accursed tyrant, she addressed him, saying: “O Yazid! Resort to any trick you wish and do whatever you can; but, by God, you cannot cause our names to perish, rather it is you that will perish.”
On Muharram 10, the tragic day of Ashura, the hordes of Yazid had committed the blasphemy of trampling the body of the Prophet’s grandson in a bid to obliterate any trace of the epic of Karbala and the name of Imam Husain (AS). These ignorant elements were oblivious of God’s words in the Holy Qur’an, as is evident by ayah 32 of Surah Towbah, which says: “They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah is intent on perfecting His light though the faithless should be averse.”
Today, the multi-million-strong march of devotees to Karbala on the occasion of Arba’een is the clearest sign of the immortality of the name and path of Imam Husain (AS).
The Prophet’s renowned companion, the aged Jaber ibn Abdullah al-Ansari, as the first pilgrim to the grave of Imam Husain (AS), arrived in Karbala 40 days after his martyrdom. According to a narration, on the same day, the Imam’s son and successor, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS), along with his aunt Lady Zainab (peace upon her) and the rest of noble household who were freed from imprisonment in Damascus, reached Karbala to pay homage to the graves of the Chief of Martyrs, Husain (AS). Thus, the Ziyarah of Arba’een started and Araba;een has been commemorated every year. Pilgrimage to the tomb of Imam Husain (AS) on the day of Arba’een resulted in exposure of the crimes of the Omayyad rulers, who subsequently banned the pilgrimage. After the collapse of the Omayyad regime, the new breed of usurpers of the caliphate, that is, the Abbasids, also, continued to harass pilgrims to the shrine of Imam Husain (AS). Nevertheless, what inspired the faithful to go for pilgrimage were the statements of the Martyr of Karbala’s grandson and great-grandsons, Imam Mohammad Baqer and Imam Ja’far Sadeq (peace upon them), who expounded the rewards of pilgrimage of the shrine of Imam Husain (AS) despite the pressure and and fear of tyrants.
Zararah, one of the disciples of Imam Baqer (AS), asked him about the reward of pilgrimage of Imam Hussein with fear. The Imam answered, “On the Day of Resurrection, when horror overwhelms people, God will keep him in safety and angels will give him good news, saying, ‘Have no fear or grief as this is the day of your happiness and salvation.”
Another statement from Imam Baqer (AS) reads, “He who leaves his house with the aim of pilgrimage of Imam Husain’s grave, if he goes on foot, God will write one good deed for every step he takes and will erase one of his sins; till he reaches the precincts of the shrine. After reaching this noble place, the Exalted God places him among the salvaged until he finishes the rituals of pilgrimage. At this time, God deems him among the victorious till he comes back. Then, an angel comes to him saying, ‘The Messenger of God greets you and tells you to start your deeds from the beginning as your past sins have all been forgiven.”
The reign of the most tyrannical Abbasid ruler, Mutawakkil, was the climax of mistreatment and tortures of the pilgrims of Imam Husain (AS). He would permit the pilgrims under the condition of cutting off their right hand. Once, a woman set out for pilgrimage to Karbala. As she insisted that her left hand be cut, the agents of the Abbasid ruler told her that her that the orders were to cut the right hand. At this, she proudly displayed the stump of her amputated right hand, saying boldly that the previous year she had already offered the sacrifice of her right hand for visiting the tomb of Imam Husain (AS).
Some two centuries ago, terrorists of the heretical Wahhabi cult raided the holy city of Karbala and looted the sacred shrine of Imam Husain (AS). They brutally killed 500 of the pilgrims in the courtyard of the mausoleum, and in all murdered five thousand people in the city. In the second half of the 20th century, the Godless Ba’athist regime, which seized power in Iraq, was very cruel with the Shi’a Muslim majority of the country, and banned pilgrimages to Najaf to Karbala. During the years 1970, 1975, 1976 and 1977, hundreds of pilgrims while marching from Najaf to Karbala were killed by helicopter gunships of the regime.
After extermination of Ba’athist tyranny, the people of Iraq revived efforts to mark Arba’een gloriously in the best possible manner. The Islamic Republic of Iran greatly helped them, and this inspired devotees from all over world to converge on Karbala to the tune of almost twenty million for the past few years. It is estimated that this number will reach 30 million as the number of Iranian pilgrims has more than tripled compared to last year which was near 2 million.
The enemies like it or not, the magnanimous Arba’een March has turned into the most populous and splendid gathering throughout the history of mankind. That’s why the enemies of humanity and blood-suckers in Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh have designed many plots to distract public attention from this unmatched event. But the love of Hussein will increase to the chagrin of disbelievers. This is because the Prophet of Islam said, “Indeed, for the martyrdom of Husain there is a warmth in the hearts of the faithful that will never cool down.”