World’s Largest Pilgrimage!
Arbaeen is the World’s Largest Pilgrimage That You (May) Have Never Heard Of! Find out Why
by Ali Reza
This article was inspired by article by Sayed Mahdi al-Modarresi’s article on Huffington Post. The article has similar title except that I give my own opinion about why you may not have heard of this large Pilgrimage.
He writes about Pilgrim of Karbala, also known as Arbaeen, which is the most crowded muslim pilgrim even greater than Hajj according to the article by “actors of five”. Last year reports were around 20 million in attendance, about 60% of Iraq’s population; Of course people had come very everywhere, even United States and Canada. I was blessed and honored to attend, a memory which I will never forget and will share in another post, insha-Allah (God’s will). And yes Karbala is located in south of Iraq with the Shia population majority.
This is a very dangerous pilgrimage because of the instability in Iraq over the years especially with the terrorist militant group “daesh” (ISIS or Islamic State in English), occupying the Northern Iraq and performing many terrorism operations outside, there are many many lives that could be in danger. Nevertheless such threats, millions this year are expected to attend Arbaeen and probably exceed the numbers from last year despite the danger. This is to pay alliance to Imam Hussein (a).
Why You May Have Never Heard of Arbaeen Pilgrimage?
There are a various reasons that you may not have heard about this Pilgrimage but my humble opinion is Sunnis and their ideology. Sunnis, in particular Salafi and Wahhabi Sunnis (a popular trend among Sunnism born in Saudi Arabia), find any other pilgrimage or visiting the graves of believers as Shirk (idolatry)! They refer to their books of early days of Islam, when Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) according to their books, had prohibited early Muslims of visiting the graves of their dead relatives. While those narrations are questionable, many open-minded Sunnis and also Sufis (another branch of Sunnism) believe that was a temporarily ban by the prophet because he was concern that Muslims don’t fall into idolatry. But as the roots of faith became strong and idolatry was removed from believers’ heart, the holy prophet later allowed visiting graves of relatives and believers, allowing them to send peace, blessings and prayers for their loved ones and other believers. This is why some Sunnis including Sufis, are probably the most open minded among Sunnis when it comes to such things. Nevertheless, Salafi and Wahhabis are the ones that are winning the hearts of the Sunnis because of the support they receive from oil rich Saudi Arabia and Arab countries around the Persian gulf expanding the Salafi & Wahhabi ideology. In other words, they have hijacked the religion of Islam for their own political purposes by promoting their views and condemning the other ones.
Another reason that you may not have heard of this pilgrimage is because of Shias are a small minority pretty much everywhere in the world except Iran and Iraq. In addition in the West, Muslims are a minority and Shias are a minority among the Muslims. In other words, Shias are a minority within minority so they have a small voice to express the importance of this Muharram, Ashura, and Pilgrim. Also Shias don’t have a strong oil rich country backing them up on growing Shia ideology. The only two Shia majority countries are Iran and Iraq neither of these two countries have not been too helpful in growing Shiism. Iran is too busy with her own political agenda and regional ambitions and Iraq has been too unstable lacking any form of solid state leadership or government which is why there are many civil wars and civil unrest there.
Last reason I can think of is message of Imam Hussein (a) itself. Imam Hussein (a) took his entire family, relatives, and close companions to Karbala from Medina. He and his family and companions walked days in the hot desert of Karbala to get to there except to be surrounded and killed. (hence many walk from those cities). His cause and reason were not of worldly desired but to submit to God’s will and his religion. There many lessons can be learned one of them is not letting oppressors to continue their oppression! To invite people to good and discourage them from evil.
This is the type of message that can intimidate the world’s rulers, governments and their controlled media hence there is much resistance to give media attention. Even in Shia Iran, the government recently shut down the offices of a Satellite TV station called Imam Hussein TV. That happened just days before Muharram started.
In conclusion, there is much misunderstandings about month of Muharram, day of Ashura, and pilgrim of Arbaeen even among Muslims. These misunderstandings are not unintentional, they are seeds of ignorance planted by the worlds rulers to keep people in the dark so they avoid the tragedy of Karbala. For over 1400 years, they have declared war against Karbala, because they fear the message it has. They feared that people would be moved by it. Because Hossein (a) stood for everything that was Godly and good or he abhorred everything that was Satanic and bad. He had very little tolerance toward existence of evil and he had absolutely no tolerance towards injustice and oppressions! This is what makes the entire rulers of the worlds to shake because most are unjust, especially those rulers that are the rulers of so-called Muslim world.
Let humanity awakens and every tribe will claim Hussain as their own – Josh Malihabadi