Alwaght- Millions of Muslims have gathered in the Iraqi city of Karbala as part of the Arbaeen ceremonies commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the third Shiite Imam and the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
Arbaeen commemoration takes place in Karbala and marks the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of the Imam Hussein and 72 of his loyal companions, including family members. They attained martyrdom on the tenth day of the Islamic lunar month of Muharram, in the epic battle of Karbala where they fought against a massive brutal army of the second Umayyad caliph, Yazid I, in 680 CE. Imam Hussein was martyred after he rejected orders to pledge allegiance to the oppressive ruler.
Over 22 Million Pilgrims join the largest human congregation
Millions of pilgrims arrived in Karbala over the last few days ahead of the annual Arbaeen commemoration with Iraqi officials estimating that over 22 million pilgrims are expected to participate in this year’s event. Other sources say the total number of pilgrims visiting Karbala is estimated to reach 25 million people today, namely the day of Arbaeen in Iraq.
Nearly 5 million Iranians are participating in this year’s mourning ceremonies with another nearly 2 million pilgrims participating from other countries and the rest from inside Iraq.
Arabeen pilgrims have been steadily increasing over the years and in order to meet this year’s increased demand, the Iraqi authorities have been preparing logistical arrangements for several months.
“Arbaeen requires a huge level of co-operation matching the size of the visit and the ministries of oil and transport have a big role to play in this success,” a member of Karbala council said.
Arbaeen and Enhanced Muslim Unity
While it is a fact that majority of the participants of Arbaeen ceremonies are Shiite Muslims, but over the years there has been a noticeable increase in the number of Sunni Muslims participating in this most populous event globally. Imam Hussein is revered by Shiite Muslims as the grandson of Prophet Muhammad and also as the third among twelve Shiite Imams while Sunni Muslims revere him as the grandson of the Prophet and just like Shiites, consider his killers as the most wicked, immoral and corrupt persons. Both Shiite and Sunni Muslims have common love and admiration for Imam Hussein and thus he is indeed the one of the focal points of unity of the Islamic Ummah.
Western and Israeli media outlets in the world are eager to paint a sectarian image of the Arbaeen commemoration by saying those taking part are Shiite Muslims only. Nothing could be further from the truth. The images coming from Arbaeen ceremonies in Iraq include outstanding unique scenes of the mourners walking from Najaf toward Karbala. The record breaking mass of humanity includes not just Shiite and Sunni Muslims but also followers of other religions.
The convergence of Sunni and Shiite Muslims during Arabeen in Karbala, despite intensive efforts of enemies of Muslims to divide them along sectarian lines, is a harbinger of enhanced and strengthened Islamic Unity.
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Leader Ayatollah Khamenei believes that creation of unity is an important aspect of the massive Arbaeen gathering of Muslims. He says, if Muslims are united and Islamic countries, Sunnis and Shiites alike, are sincere while harboring no suspicion toward one another and refrain from insulting each other, then Islam will be dignified and unity will prevail.
Arabeen is gradually transforming into a massive an anti-imperialistic and anti-Takfiri movement while being a focal point of unity and convergence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.