Arbaeen Walk Najaf to Karbala 2018
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Arba'een (Arabic: الأربعين, translit. al-Arba‘īn, lit. 'forty'), Chehlom (Persian: چهلم, Urdu: چہلم, "the fortieth [day]") or Qırxı, İmamın Qırxı (Azerbaijani: امامین قیرخی, "the fortieth of Imam") is a Shia Muslim religious observance that occurs forty days after the Day of Ashura. It commemorates the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, who was killed on the 10th day of the month of Muharram. Imam Husayn ibn Ali and 72 of his companions were killed by Yazid I's army in the Battle of Karbala in 61 AH (680 CE).
Arba'een or forty days is also the usual length of mourning after the death of a family member or loved one in many Muslim traditions. Arba'een is one of the largest pilgrimage gatherings on Earth, in which up to 45 million people go to the city of Karbala in Iraq.
The significance of the number 40 has roots in a saying (hadith) of Muhammad: "On the day of judgment, among my people, God will consider whoever memorized forty Hadiths as an erudite man". Numerous Islamic scholars have gathered collections of forty hadith, quoting from the prophet and the Imams who followed him in Shia Islam. Writing in forty batches[clarification needed] has become a tradition among Islamic scholars.
According to tradition, the Arba'een pilgrimage has been observed since the year 61 AH of the Islamic calendar (10 October 680) after the Battle of Karbala or the following year. According to tradition, the first such gathering took place when Jabir ibn Abd Allah, a sahabah and the first Arba'een pilgrim, made a pilgrimage to the burial site of Husayn. He was accompanied by Atiyya ibn Sa'd because of his infirmity and probable blindness. According to tradition, his visit coincided with that of the surviving female members of Muhammad's family and Husayn's son and heir, Imam Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin (also spelled Zain-ul-Abideen), who had all been held captive in Damascus by Yazid I, the Umayyad Caliph.
Zayn al-Abidin had survived the Battle of Karbala and led a secluded life in deep sorrow. He lived under pressure and tight surveillance set by Umayyad Caliphate. According to legend, for twenty years whenever water was placed before him, he would weep. One day a servant said to him, ‘O son of Allah’s Messenger! Is it not time for your sorrow to come to an end?’ He replied, ‘Woe upon you! Jacob the prophet had twelve sons, and Allah made one of them disappear. His eyes turned white from constant weeping, his head turned grey out of sorrow, and his back became bent in gloom,[a] though his son was alive in this world. But I watched while my father, my brother, my uncle, and seventeen members of my family were slaughtered all around me. How should my sorrow come to an end?’[b]
Arba'een's performance has been banned in some periods, the last of which was when Saddam Hussein, (a Sunni who ruled as an Arab nationalist, clashing with Islamic revivalism) was president of Iraq. For nearly 30 years under Saddam's regime, it was forbidden to mark Arba'een publicly in Iraq. Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the observance in April 2003 was broadcast worldwide.
Main article: Arba'een Pilgrimage
The city of Karbala in Iraq is the center of the proceedings which many pilgrims travel miles on foot to reach. As of 2016 “between 17 million and 20 million” pilgrims usually attend Arba'een their, including about three million foreigners, most of whom are Iranians.
Arba'een is consistently among the largest peaceful gatherings in history. Every year, huge crowds of pilgrims travel to the city of Karbala in pilgrimage to the Imam Hossein holy shrine in Karbala on Arba’een Day. (For example it is over 500km from Basra the largest city in southern Iraq where Shia predominate to Karbala.) It is traveled annually on foot by Iraqi pilgrims, which takes them two weeks, or approximately one month to come from other countries like Iran. The crowds become so massive that roads are blocked for hundreds of miles.
In 2008, approximately nine million religious observers converged on Karbala to commemorate Arba’een. In 2009, over ten million people were estimated to have reached Karbala, according to BBC News and Press TV. In 2013, 20 million pilgrims from 40 countries came for Arbaeen, according to Iranian media. A car bomb targeting worshippers returning from Karbala killed at least 20 Shiite pilgrims in January 2013. In 2014, up to 17 million people made the pilgrimage and many choose to make the 55-mile journey on foot from Najaf, near areas controlled by the militant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has declared Shia Muslims apostates. Up to 17 million pilgrams came in 2015 and 2016