Here it seems that your mind is soaring and growing; like your heart that has become vast and kind. As if your heart has accommodated all of Imam Hussein’s pilgrims. Black and white, race and language don’t matter for you and you love every pilgrim with no reason; and you like to express this love. How pure you have become o pilgrim! Little by little you resemble Hussein!
As the Arbaeen of Imam Hussein (AS) is approaching the annual rendezvous of Hussein’s lovers is repeated.
The distance between Najaf and Karbala is reminiscent of a special fervor for the lovers of Hussein who set off on foot toward Karbala. The pilgrims, from the very beginning of the course, step in the trek of love with a very light rucksack and simple shoes. They have separated themselves from worldly attachments and material pleasures to march the course step by step. Their hearts are restless to reach the shrine of Hussein (AS) and touch the pure edifice that has engulfed the Chief of Martyrs.
The pilgrims are unquiet like Zainab who exerted her utmost to get to you on Arbaeen so that she could soothe her scathed and burnt heart beside you o Hussein!
The magnate of love has absorbed the enthusiasts for over a thousand years to march toward your shrine on foot. O Hussein, o Imam of affection, our hearts have also drawn toward your mausoleum; so fill our hearts with light and cognizance by your kind look and grant us serenity.
Marching toward Karbala on foot on the 40th day of Imam Hussein’s martyrdom is an old tradition; as the renowned companion of the Prophet, Jaber ibn Abdullah Ansari, together with his servant Atiya left Medina for Karbala on foot in 61 AH to get to the shrine of Imam Hussein exactly on the 40th day of his martyrdom.
According to the historical books the pilgrimage of Imam Hussein’s shrine was so fervent and inspiring in the early years after his martyrdom that the ungodly Umayyad regime had no choice but to prevent the spread of this tradition and disclosure of its injustices by the pilgrims. Nevertheless, the 5th and 6th infallible successors of the Prophet, namely Imam Mohammad Baqer and Imam Ja’afar Sadeq (Peace upon them), would encourage Muslims to embark on pilgrimage at night not to be recognized and arrested by the ruling regime. The Abbasids, like their predecessors, ordered the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS) to be destroyed as soon as the pillars of their oppressive rule were reinforced. These two usurper dynasties wielded the most heinous punishments against the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt who would venture to go on pilgrimage of Imam Hussein’s shrine. These oppressions, detentions and violent acts continued till the end of Saddam’s rule in Iraq. But the zeal of the lovers of Imam Hussein has never subsided and this spiritual bond was never cut.
In this hugest gathering of human beings in the world, you see the newborns with their parents, old men and women who move on with much difficulty but very ardently. The columns by the road give you the promise that you are going closer and closer to visit the shrine of your beloved Hussein in Karbala.
At the two sides of the road there are innumerable stands which render every kind of service to the pilgrims. The Iraqi people spend unstintingly whatever they have. They slaughter sheep, make food, serve water, tea and coffee and provide warm place for pilgrims.
A man, who is the elderly of his family, says, “I allocate a bulk of my annual income for these days and on the day of Arbaeen I spend it with love for the pilgrims of Imam Hussein (AS). From the time that I’ve made a vow God has bestowed special blessing to my life and whatever I have is from Imam Hussein (AS).”
The love and affection of these people for Imam Hussein is indescribable. One must go on this trip to see their state and mood. They entreat the passersby to step in their tent for a meal or resting.
The tents of the Red Crescent scattered here and there give medical services freely. You can see physicians who offer voluntary service to the pilgrims to be rewarded by God and draw the attention of Imam Hussein.
Some others are sitting over there waiting for polishing your shoes.
However, one of the most attractive manifestations of the love of Iraqi people for the pilgrims is the scene of massaging tired pilgrims and putting ointments on their fatigued and blistered feet. What is all this? What is going on in this colossal convergence of the faithful?
A man, with tearful eyes, has put his sick child on the wheelchair and appeals to Imam Hussein and Hazrat Abbas (Peace upon them) to cure his beloved child.
Karen Firby is a Christian girl who has come to Iraq to see the unmatched scenes of Arbaeen marching. She keeps taking photos to demonstrate them in her country, Belgium, while she regrets that there is no such a colossal gathering in the world of Christianity.
There are many neo-Muslims from Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia who have joined this huge gathering to show their love to the Chief of Martyrs.
Hojjatol Islam Ali Reza Panahian says, “As long as human being hasn’t gone to Karbala, hasn’t marched toward Karbala among the massive gathering of the lovers of Hussein (AS) and hasn’t felt that attractive and unique climate, he cannot understand its splendor, grandeur and boundless pleasure and cannot sense the warmth that is created by this move in his heart. “
Here you seem to be more sincere with yourself. You are in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the people but your thought is freer. You ask yourself why you have stepped in this course. Are you going to act like the people of Kufa and turn your back to the truth and counter it when Islam needs you? You reflect. As if your mind soars and grows like your heart that has grown and become kinder. It seems that your heart has accommodated all lovers of Hussein (AS).
Imam Sadeq (AS) says, “He who leaves his house for the pilgrimage of Imam Hussein (AS), God will write a reward for every step he takes and separates him from an evil; and when he gets to the shrine places him among the selected righteous; and once his rituals are finished God writes his name among the victorious; and when he wants to come back a divine angel stands in front of him and says, ‘The Messenger of God greets you and gives you the message to start your deeds anew for your previous sins have been forgiven.