I participated in Arbaeen Pilgrimage previously in Iraq.It was of course an unforgettable experience. To find yourself in Iraq at such a time alongside millions upon millions of pilgrims is humbling. To experience just how much Imam Hussain means to the Islamic world and beyond is life-changing.
It is one thing to hear people pay tribute to Imam Hussain’s sacrifice and magnificent stand against injustice; it is another to witness the love that Muslims carry for the grandson of the Prophet.
To think that 14 centuries on more people still are answering the call of their Imam is unparalleled. I don’t think that anyone in history has ever impacted the world in such a manner.
I believe that for millions across the world the Arbaeen pilgrimage represents hope; hope that Justice is not a word reserved to the powerful and the wealthy. That there are still men and women committed to speaking truth in the face of tyranny.
Arbaeen has become, at least for me, a declaration of allegiance to Imam Hussain and AhlulBayt. We all live a piece of ourselves in Karbala!
Imam Ali taught us there are two kinds of people in the world; either they are our brothers in faith, or our equal in humanity. Arbaeen stands testimony to such a principle. Islam is for all people, regardless of the differences that may divide communities.
Islam is a universal message. Arbaeen speaks of that message. Imam Hussain’s words were an injunction to mankind to do better and be better. So that we would rise against our demons he sacrificed everything he held dear – everything that he was and loved.
There is such compassion and strength in such an act of selfless sacrifice. There is such majesty in Imam Hussain’s character one cannot help but hear the echo of a light that transcends all other light.
I think Arbaeen will speak to people in many different ways, in that each journey will offer a particular lesson for each individual.
It is difficult to put into words what it means to stand in Karbala during Arbaeen; to feel in your soul the loss of our Imam, to still hear the cries that land witnessed over 14 centuries ago.
What better place than Karbala for communities to shed all prejudices and recognise in each other the same rights and responsibilities. Islam remains an invitation to Justice, a call for men and women to aspire to loftier goals than that of greed and arrogance.
Karbala represents in many way ground zero for Resistance – resistance against oppression, resistance against falsehood, resistance against tyranny, resistance against state-run terrorism, resistance against religious propaganda.
Of course Arbaeen could become a rallying point for all Muslims so that communities would hear once more the call of their Prophet and his Ahlulbayt, just as we were commanded to centuries ago.
Mainstream media is owned by two main lobbies: that of Israel and Saudi Arabia. If you consider what those two regimes stand for then you can easily understand why Arbaeen would pose a threat to their worldview, and their agenda.
Arbaeen is a symbol of hope – proof that men are ultimately free should they have the courage to push back against injustice, even if it means martyrdom. Arbaeen is proof that victory lies not with men of power but God. Arbaeen today is Resistance in its purest form.
It is also proof that Islam stands in rejection of absolutism! Such a message terrifies both the Israelis and the Saudis and so they have worked to silence our voices.
Over 20 million pilgrims make the journey to Karbala every year and numbers are growing exponentially. There is no larger pilgrimage than that of Arbaeen. Even the Hajj pales in comparison with its 3 million people. Whereas the Hajj is mandatory, Arbaeen is one of choice and love. I think it speaks volume to the respect Muslims feel towards Imam Hussain.
Islam truly comes alive on this walk to Karbala.