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The 20th of the month of Safar 1435 AH marks the 40th day after the Shahada (martyrdom) of Imam Hussain (AS), the Prophet Muhammad(SAWA)’s grandson alongside his family and loyal companions, who were martyred by the forces of the despotic Umayyad caliph Yazid in the year 61 AH in Karbala, Iraq.

People from different Muslim countries embark on mass trek or march to Karbala to pay homage and respect to Imam Hussain (AH). According to Wikipedia, Arba’een is one of the largest gatherings on earth.

Why Arba’een?

The noble prophet has said, “The earth mourns the death of a believer for forty mornings.” One of the attributes of a true believer as mentioned by Imam Hasan Al-Askari (AS) is observance of Ziyarat-e-Arba’een . Ziyarat, as we all know is a visitation, which in essence, is the act of visiting our role models. It is in this direction that some members of the Islamic Movement are among the millions of this year’s travelers’ to Karbala.    

The philosophy of Arbaeen

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (AS) states that: “The heavens wept over Imam Hussain (AS) for forty mornings, rising red and setting red”. Performing an act for a continuous period of forty days is practically known and proven to help one to not just form a habit, but also to carry on the practice for the rest of one’s life. Why forty days? Prophet Noah (AS) according to the noble Qur’an preserved the sacredness of life by sailing his ark for forty days and forty nights. Likewise prophet Musa (AS) and his people traveled through the desert for forty years before arriving at their home in the holy land.

By commemorating the Arba’een, we pledge that we will continue to follow the path of justice and righteousness and will reject injustice and speak up against the oppressors of the time. In essence, we make a promise to continue to mold our lives according to the teaching of Imam Hussain (AS) as we await the emergence of Imam Mahdi (AS).

The Purpose of the Arbaeen

The purpose of this symbolic march here at home is to pay our respects to Imam Hussain’s (AS) holy shrine in Karbala. It is the way of showing our internal and external mourning for the loss of Imam Hussain (AS) and all those brutally killed with him.

The Pioneers of Arbaeen Trek

The first Arba’een trek and gathering took place in the year 61 AH. Jabir ibn Abd-Allah Al-Ansari, a companion of the Holy Prophet (SAWA), was one of the people who performed the trek to the burial site of Imam Hussain (AS). His visit coincided with that of the surviving members of the Prophet’s family under the leadership of Imam Hussain’s (AS) son and heir, Imam Ali Zain-ul-Abideen (AS), who had been held captive in Damascus by Yazid.

Arba’een is a continuation of Ashura mourning. As we embark on this symbolic trek from various locations and towns such as: Kawo-Kaduna, Pambeguwa, Malumfashi, etc, we are re-enacting the historic severity of Imam Hussain’s (AH) suffering in the plain of Karbala, the subsequent capture of his household and the enforced bare foot trek in the severe scorching sun of the desert to Damascus. Through this occasion, we remind the Muslim faithful of the core message behind Hussain’s (AS) martyrdom, as Sayyidah Zainab (AS) did from one city and village to the other, while as captive by evil forces of Yazid.

Imam Husain (AS)                                                                                                          

Imam Hussein is the grandson of the Holy Prophet (SAWA), son of Imam Ali (AS) and son of daughter of the Holy Prophet, Sayyidah Fatimah (AS). He is one of the Five Luminaries under the Cloak in Hadith Al-Kisa. Imam Hussain (AS) is among the Prophet’s Pure Progeny in whose honour we read: “… Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! And to purify you a (thorough) purifying.” He is the one of the Holy Prophet’s household, whose love and allegiance is commanded by Allah to all humanity in Ayat al-Mawaddah (Qur’an 42:23): “Say (O Muhammad), "I do not ask any recompense for it (my work as a messenger), except the love of my near relatives (Ahlul Bayt)."And whosoever earns good, We (Alláh) increase for him good therein. Verily, Alláh is Most Forgiving, Most Grateful.”

As we re-enact the symbolic trek to Karbala, we are at the same time, answering the call of Imam Hussain (AS) when he stood alone facing the evil forces, while calling out: “Hal min nasirin yansuruna (meaning: Is there any helper to help us)?” . We say in unison with unreserved allegiance, LABBAYKA YA HUSSAIN! LABBAYKA YA HUSSAIN!! LABBAYKA YA HUSSAIN!!!

AbdulHamid Bello

For: Islamic Movement in Nigeria




Safar 1437 (03/12/2015)