Arbaʽeen is one of the holiest days in the Muslim calendar. On this glorious day, millions of devotees, regardless of their nationalities, flock to the holy city of Karbala to commemorate the heroic martyrdom of Imam Hussain (A.S.), the beloved grandson of the Prophet Mohamed [PBUH], marking the climax of the 40-day mourning period.
In a quest to find salivation and freedom, millions of Muslims recreate the Arbaʽeen pilgrimage from neighbouring cities in Iraq, with a substantial number from Iran crossing the border and walking barefoot hundreds of miles across the dusty landscapes to reach the shrine of Imam Hussain (A.S.)
This ceremony has evolved over the centuries into an enduring religious tradition, performed collectively with passion, sincere commitment, and a feeling of fraternity. According to sociologists, Arbaʽeen is the living embodiment of the growth of national unity in modern Iraq, a significant development in the Middle East following Saddam’s Ba’athist regime. Due to its cross-religious nature, Arbaʽeen has provided many capacities to transcend sectarian and ethnic divisions in war-scarred Iraq.
Unfortunately, Arbaʽeen’s political and social functions have not been thoroughly examined academically. One of the social components of Arbaʽeen is the development of harmony and social bonding, the enhancement of spiritual identity, and the promotion of the communal spirit of brotherhood. The unity produced among Muslims on the symbolic day of Arbaʽeen is of the utmost importance since it is forged under the immortal banner of Imam Hussain (A.S.), the most notable outcome of which is to confront western tyranny and oppression and finally rally in defence of Islam and occupied Palestine.
In this context, the late Imam Khomeini (may God bless him and grant him peace) said, “To realise mankind’s natural desires and ambitions is the gathering of all Muslims in these rituals, i.e., the Arbaʽeen ceremony, which can achieve the unity of the Islamic Ummah, regardless of Muslims’ language, colour, and tribe, and sect, geography, and foolish kinship fanaticism, and thereby we can create a thunderous display of unity against our common enemy.”
Arbaʽeen, a perpetual journey to the heart of true Islam and shared human values, is one of the largest yearly religious gatherings in the world. In fact, the Arbaʽeen is a symbolic manifestation of the social message that Imam Hussain (A.S.) has bequeathed as an enduring legacy to all of humanity, in spite of time or place.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Imam Khamenei, says about the epic of Imam Hussain (A.S.), “The logic of Hussain bin Ali (peace be upon him) is the logic of defending the truth and resistance against oppression, transgression, deviation, and arrogance. This is the logic of Imam Hussain. Today, the world is witness to the rule of unbelief, arrogance, corruption, and oppression. Imam Hussain’s message is a message to save the world.”