November 13, The Iran Project – Millions of faithfuls from across the globe are converging on the Iraqi city of Karbala to commemorate Arbaeen rituals, one of the most revered religious occasions on the Islamic calendar.
Arbaeen, which is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, comes 40 days after Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of the third Shia Imam, Imam Hussein (PBUH).
Many make the pilgrimage on foot from Baghdad, a journey of 80km which can take days. Some walk from as far as Basra in southern Iraq, a journey of nearly 700km.
Although Arbaeen is a Shia ritual, some Sunni Muslims and people from other religions such as Christianity and Zoroastrianism also make the pilgrimage, commemorating Imam Hussein’s path of freedom and justice against the tyranny of his time.
The Supreme Leader’s representative for Hajj and Pilgrimage Affairs, Ali Ghazi Askar said on October 30 that Arbaeen must express the international solidarity of Muslims and even non-Muslims in the face of oppression and imperialism, stressing that the event can become the focus of unity between Shias and Sunnis.”
Iranian cleric Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi also said “Imam Hussein (AS) belongs to the whole world, therefore, naturally people from other Islamic denominations are among the participants and they should be properly behaved.”
Back in August, a senior official at Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization predicted that more than two million Iranians would go on pilgrimage to Iraq for Arbaeen this year.
Last year, around 20 million pilgrims from all over the world, including over 1.6 million Iranians, gathered in Karbala to attend the mourning ceremonies marking Arbaeen.