The Arba’aeen Ziyara and its miraculous mathematical & Physical aspects
By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
History has witnessed numerous gatherings, where millions of people were gathered at a certain place and a certain time to celebrate, commemorate or present solidarity with a specific notion. The historic march toward Washington DC, and the famous (I have a dream) speech of Martin Luther King Jr, marked the presence of over 250,000 civil rights supporters. There are also tens of marches, parades, funerals, spiritual rituals, concerts and other gatherings, where the crowd has reached millions, but all of these gatherings are entirely different than one specific march and gathering in the world. A march and a gathering, where millions are fed, sheltered and treated like royalties, and to make this more interesting the host of this gathering is country, which is not considered politically stable.
The name of this country is IRAQ, and the name of this occasion, where millions march to and gather in one place is Al-Arba’aeen. The term Al-Arba’aeen is an Arabic term, which means ‘the fortieth’, and this term marks the 40 days after the martyrdom of Imam Al-Hussein during the battle of Karbala on the day of Ashura. In addition, during this day, the household of Imam Al-Hussein, who were taken as captives to Damascus before the Umayyad Caliph (Yazid Ibn Muawiya), returned to Karbala on their way back to Medina. According to historic sources and narrations by Shia Imams, the family of Imam Al-Hussein stayed in Karbala for three days, and mourned their lost ones, and finally aimed for Medina. However, on that specific day one of the most famous companions of Prophet Mohammad named Jabir Ibn Abdullah Al-Ansari also visited Karbala and mourned the Imam alongside his family. The march of this man toward Karbala with the family of Imam Al-Hussein turned to be symbolic ritual, which aims to announce that followers of Imam Al-Hussein, will renew their allegiance every year with their master, and his commemoration will never lessens. Therefore, from that day and on, each year before the 40th, which is the 20th day of Month of Safar in Islamic lunar calendar, Shia Muslims march on their feet toward Karbala, and arrive there on Al-Arba’aeen to renew their oath with Imam Al-Hussein.
The march of Al-Arba’aeen has been subjected to persecutions, punishments and sever reactions by the authorities throughout history, as majority of the dynasties that ruled the region were hostile to Shia Muslims. Therefore, Shia Muslims have sacrificed lives, wealth and time to keep this ritual alive and revived with the years, and never stopped no matter how brutal the tyrants became. However, in the recent years and especially after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, this ritual had a turning point, as the number of people marching toward the city of Karbala surged dramatically, to a point that in the past couple of years, Karbala has registered hosting the largest gatherings in the history of mankind. According to the numbers released by Iraqi officials and other global observers in 2014, the numbers of people in Karbala on the day of Al-Arba’aeen was between 25 and 27 million. Therefore, the mathematical and physical calculations of this event will be based in the number 25 million, which will still show astonishing facts about this event and its secrets.
Reality VS Math and Physics
Whether the visitors to Karbala are from Iraq or outside of Iraq, the march to Karbala is either initiated from Baghdad or from the southern city of Basra. Therefore, the first thing any visitor will notice during his/her way walking to Karbala is the tents and buildings called (Mawkeb), which provide service for their visitors of Imam Al-Hussein. These Mawkebs, which are not more than 50 meters away from each other the entire distance from Basra of Baghdad to Karbala will blow any mind, when it comes to hospitality and treatment of their visitors. However, let’s only consider the mathematic that is affiliated with the meals these stations provide for absolutely no charge.
- Obviously each visitor needs three meals per day, therefore:
25,000,000 visitors x 3 meals / day = 75,000,000
- The march to Karbala, takes anywhere between 10 to 20 days depending on the originating point, where a visitor starts his/her march. Therefore, by taking a number between the two, 15 days would be a rational choice, which means:
75,000,000 meals x 15 days = 1,125,000,000 meals
- The cost of each meal varies, as the financial ability of these stations also varies depending on the people managing them. Therefore, one station might be able to prepare very fancy meals for the visitors and others might only be able to prepare humble meals, which doesn’t matter at all, as everyone tries to present the best he/she can offer. Therefore, considering the economic conditions and cost of living in Iraq, taking an average cost per meal would be used for exploring the cost of this enormous amount of meals. An expensive meal in Iraq can cost around $20, and a humble meal in Iraq can cost about $4, which will mandate using a cost of $11 / meal for this calculation. Therefore:
1,125,000,000 meals x $11 / meal = $12,375,000,000
- The number above only includes the meals and excludes beverages and deserts, but for the sake of rounding off this number and staying away from exaggeration, we’ll assume the entire cost of water, beverages and deserts will be $625,000,000. Therefore, an estimating total cost for feeding the visitors not including miscellaneous costs, will be rounded to $13,000,000,000.
- In addition, these numbers don’t include other services that are provided for visitors and marchers to Karbala, such as:
- Mobile calling balance, as many stations offer to buy Mobile gift cards for the marchers, in case they want to contact their families at home. The average cost of each card is between $4 to $10, which is distributed for free to marchers and visitors of Imam Al-Hussein. Therefore, figuring a cost estimate for this service would be very difficult, since there are no clear statistics from Mobile service providers in Iraq. However, considering the number 25 million marchers, means even if 1/5 of these people use this service and take an average cost of $7 / gift card, the cost would be around:
5,000,000 marchers x $7 / gift card = $35,000,000
- Other miscellaneous include things like blankets and pillows for these marchers, when they spend the night for rest at those stations along the road to Karbala. Therefore, assuming only 1/5 of the 25,000,000 would require new blankets and pillows, and assuming a brand new blanket in Iraq cost $2 and a brand new pillow costs $1, the total will be:
5,000,000 marchers x $2 / blanket = $10,000,000
5,000,000 marchers x $1 / pillow = $5,000,000
(REMINDER: THESE TYPES OF SERVICES ARE STILL PRESENTED AND OFFERED IN IRAQ, AND BY IRAQI PEOPLE, A COUNTRY THAT IS CONSIDERED TO BE POLITICALLY AND ECONOMICALLY INSTABLE AND VIOLENT)
In addition, these services and estimates only include, what is offered and presented during the way to Karbala, and don’t include what is offered in Karbala itself, as the entire city of Karbala and its houses transfer to free shelters, hotels, restaurants and service providers for the visitors of Imam Al-Hussein. Many visitors, who have had the honor of marching to Karbala narrate that all the house doors of Karbala are wide open and a sign at the door says: WELCOME TO YOU, VISITOR OF IMAM AL-HUSSEIN.
Therefore, to conclude the mathematical aspect of this peaceful march and gathering, and based on the numbers and estimates provided it would mean that the total cost of servicing the visitors of Karbala is:
- $13,000,000,000 (cost of meals & beverages) + $35,000,000 (cost of Mobile gift cards) + $15,000,000 (cost of blankets and pillows) = $13,050,000,000 (NOTE: This cost is covered by the citizens of Iraq for the visitors of Imam Al-Hussein, as the government of Iraq is only responsible for security, surveillance and border administration)
The Physical aspect of this march and gathering becomes astonishing once this mass (25,000,000) gets to Karbala and gathers there, which can only be called a miracle considering the geographical and other facts of Karbala. The actual size of the entire city of Karbala is 2397 square kilometer, but the center of the city, where all the masses head for, is the place, where the Shrine of Imam Al-Hussein and his brother Al-Abbas Ibn Ali are located. Therefore, the size of that geographical zone inside Karbala would not exceed 100 square kilometers at best. This fact would raise the question that how is it possible to fit 25,000,000 inside a geographical zone that is not bigger than 100 square kilometers?
According to Population density experts, every 80 people live in each 1 square kilometer in Iraq, which means in the 100 square kilometers of Karbala’s center, there would typically be 8,000 people. Therefore, the number 25,000,000 is 3,125 times more than the usual population density of Iraq. In addition, the highest population density in the world belongs to Monaco, where every 37,000 people in 1 square kilometer, and by considering the number 25,000,000, the number is still 6.75 times more than density capability of Monaco, if Monaco was 100 square kilometers in size. DOES THE CITY ACTUALLY EXPANDS, OR DO THE STREETS OF KARBALA WIDEN DURING THE ARBA’AEEN SEASON?
In addition, another astonishing fact about Karbala lays in the absence of a world class sewer system, as the current available one is severely outdated and old, and has been built to suit the old population of Karbala, which did not exceed 250,000 at most. Therefore, by only considering the average urine volume of a normal person during one day, the following numbers can be astonishing as well.
- According to scientific facts, an average person urinate about 2 liters of urine / day. Therefore:
25,000,000 x 2 L (urine) = 50,000,000 L of urine / one day
(ANY SANE PERSON, WHO KNOWS A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE CITY OF KARBALA WOULD BE ABLE TO FIGURE OUT THAT THE SEWER SYSTEM OF KARBALA IS NOT ABLE TO TAKE THIS AMOUNT EVEN IF THE SEWERS ARE DRY EMPTY.) In addition, this number doesn’t include the volume of waste water that passes through the sewer system of Karbala as well, and anyone, who has been to Karbala during the Arba’aeen will be able to certify that no sign of over flow or flood has ever been witnessed during the gathering. (NOTE: DURING MOST RAIN SEASONS, THE ENTIRE CITY OF KARBALA IS USUALLY FLOODED AND THE STREETS ARE FILLED WITH OVERFLOWN WATER, WHICH THE SEWER IS NOT ABLE TO PASS.
There are many other astonishing facts about this gathering, which will leave any observer speechless, but these facts alone are sufficient to drop the jaw and make the mind wonder about the miracle of Al-Arba’aeen and its secrets.