November 1, The Iran Project – More than 10 million Shia pilgrims from around the world made their way last week to the Iraqi city of Karbala, where the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS) is located, in an annual holy gathering known as Arbaeen which this year falls on October 30.
Arbaeen, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, marks 40 days after Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of the third Shia Imam, Imam Hussein (AS).
Imam Hussain (AS) is the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who refused to accept the leadership of the “usurper” caliph Yazid and was massacred along with his followers at Karbala.
Pilgrims stream toward Karbala on foot from Iraq, Iran, and places farther afield, resting along the way in tents. Some pilgrims come from as far away as Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Pakistan, though not all make the journey on foot.
According to al-Mayali, more than 1.6 million pilgrims have gone to Karbala from other countries through land border crossings or the city of Najaf’s airport.
Iraqi sources quoted the deputy governor of Karbala, Ali al-Mayali, as saying that more than 10 million pilgrims have traveled to the province over the past days to attend the Arbaeen mourning ceremony.
Moreover, Iraqi officials announced that 30,000 airline passengers had arrived in the Arab country over the past week for the Arbaeen pilgrimage.
Iranian organizers have stated that more than 1.8 million Iraqi visas have been issued for Iranians this year for Arbaeen.
Men and women, young and old, toddlers in prams and elderly pushed in wheelchairs — they converged from all over the Islamic republic.
The pilgrims stream past tents, called “mokebs”, which hand out free food ranging from scrambled eggs to boiled turnips. Full meals are served at midday and in the evenings.
Many volunteers from different walks of life stayed along the Iraqi border in the west Iranian town of Mehran for nearly two weeks, offering their services to the pilgrims as they walk towards the crossing.
Meanwhile, in a telephone conversation with Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, First Vice-President Es’hagh Jahangiri appreciated Iraqi government and nation’s efforts in hosting Arbaeen pilgrims.
Also, the Iranian foreign minister referring to Arbaeen rituals, said no tyrant will be able to end the struggle for justice.
“14 centuries ago a tyrant believed he had eradicated Imam Hussein’s resistance. Saddam, Al-Qaida & ISIS thought they could end it. Yet today 17M from across the world—w/2M Iranians—are amassing in Karbala,” Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted ahead of the event.
“Their message: No tyrant will ever end the struggle for justice,” he added.
Chief-Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said that unity, amity and solidarity among Muslims is the message of Arbaeen.
He reiterated that the universal message of Arbaeen is this that all Muslims and non-Muslims are united with one another for combating oppression and arrogant movement.
He pointed to his visit to Shalamcheh border, where pilgrims head to Imam Hussain (AS) shrine in Karbala, and said, “with the coordination made in this regard, there is not any significant traffic jam on this route.”
In a meantime, Iranian Interior Ministry Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli criticized the western media outlets for censorship and negligence towards the rituals.
“The foreign media do not cover the giant Arbaeen walk and this shows that they are concerned about the effectiveness and influence of this gathering,” Rahmani Fazli asserted.
Observers believe the rally is unique in terms of quality and also the number of its participants. It starts from the holy shrine of Imam Ali (AS) – the first Shiite Imam – and ends up in the holy shrine of Imam Hossein (AS).