Arba’een, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world comes 40 days after the Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Husain (AS) the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). Each year millions of Muslims flock to the Iraqi city of Karbala where the holy tomb of Imam Hussein (AS) is located to perform mourning rites.
This year’s event is scheduled to take place on Saturday 19/10/2019 (20/02/1441) globally, hence all preparations are on top gear by the IslamicMovement in joining this world wide event across the country.
The purpose of the symbolic trek is to recall and experience and the trial and tribulation faced by the Household of the Holy Prophet (AS), who were chained and dragged in the heat of the desert, barefooted from Karbala in Iraq to Damascus in Syria after the killing of Imam Husain (AS) 61 years after Hijra. It is a period of sadness and reflection on the injustice perpetrated at the plain of Karbala.
However, we are not unaware of the antagonism shown to us by some people because of this Arbaeen commemoration on foot. We will like to echo what our incarcerated leader, Sheikh Zakzaky said in 2014 in answer to our critics, “Those who oppose the trek should have come and asked us why we do what we do, and not to pass judgment on us over what they do not know. If you don’t like what we are doing, then keep your mouth shut, it is our legs we use to trek with, not yours. If you don’t like the black attire we wear, we put it on our bodies, not yours. We will never force you to trek or wear black clothes, until we do that keep your mouth shut”.
Last year’s Arbaeen trek was met with gunfire from the elite Guards Brigade in Abuja, where 57 people were killed. Up till today, the federal government has stubbornly refused to brief the public on the actual reason behind such a barbaric massacre on its citizens and has not initiated any investigation.
Even though the military made spurious claims to justify the killings it perpetrated on 28-29/10/2018, the video from the march clearly contradicted those claims.
The melee began that day as more than 1,000 Arbaeen trekkers approached a military checkpoint. Soldiers arrived to block off the road. An armored vehicle with high-caliber weapons patrolled the highway. After soldiers began to fire, they targeted protesters fleeing the chaos. Many of the injured were shot in the back or legs as they were seeking for where to dock and hide, with some shot at close range on the head, chest and stomach.
Just of recent, Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police stated in the media concerning the Arbaeen by Shiites that they will be treated like terrorists. This is a clear indication that this year’s Arbaeen trek will be attacked by the security like that of last year or that of the Ashura which took place almost 40 days ago, during which several people were killed in each case.
This is a clear violation of our fundamental human rights as enshrined in the constitution. How can an unarmed group of people be termed as terrorists? It has never happened anywhere except here in Nigeria.
However we would like to assure the general public that this year’s Arba’een as usual will be peaceful and devoid of any attempt to disrupt the right of safe passage to other road users. There is no cause for alarm over the Arba’een trek. Love for Imam Husain (AS) is not just for the Muslims alone but for all those who love justice and fight against oppression in all ages, ours inclusive.
Although some state governments and the federal government have been plotting evil against our peaceful Arba’een trek and commemoration of Imam Husain (AS), we pray that Allah thwart and frustrate their evil plans as he has done in the past.
We will like to also reiterate our demand for the release of our revered leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky (H) who has now spent four good years in an illegal and unconstitutional detention, even with a valid order from a court of competent jurisdiction instructing his release. We will not rest on our oars until the revered Sheikh, his wife and others in illegal detention since December, 2015 are set free.
*SHEIKH ABDULHAMID BELLO*