What is Arbaeen?
Arbaeen is the fortieth (Chehlum) of Imam Hussain (A.S), the day which Shia Muslims celebrate around the world. This day is the religious observation that occurs after forty days of the Day of Ashura. Arbaeen is celebrated to commemorates the great martyrdom of Imam Hussain ibn Ali and his companion who were martyred by Yazid Army on 10th Muharram in Battle of Karbala in 61 AH (680 CE).
While Arba’een is always on nearly the same day (20 or 21 Safar) of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendarvaries from year to year because of differences between the two calendars, since the Islamic calendar, the Hijri calendar (AH), is a lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar. Furthermore, the method used to determine when each Islamic month begins varies from country to country. Arba’een always falls 40 days after the Day of Ashura. The Day of Ashura, in turn, falls nine days after the first day of Muḥarram. Hence, Arba’een falls 49 days after the first day of Muḥarram.
Which day of Year 2017 is Arbaeen?
Arba’een 2017 will begin in the evening of Thursday 9, November and ends in the evening of Friday, 10 November.
History of Arbaeen
The pilgrimage of Arbaeen has been observed since the year 61 AH of the Islamic Calendar after the incident of Karbala. The first such gathering was observed When Jabir ibn Abd Allah visit to the burial site of Imam Hussain. Therefor Jabir is considered the first one who visited the tomb is Imam Hussain. After the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, Imam Zain-Ul-Abideen and other family member of Imam Hussain were captive by Yazid Army. It is said that for twenty years whenever water was placed before him, he would weep. One day a servant said to him, ‘O son of Allah’s Messenger! Is it not time for your sorrow to come to an end?’ He replied, ‘Woe upon you! Jacob the prophet had twelve sons, and Allah made one of them disappear. His eyes turned white from constant weeping, his head turned grey out of sorrow, and his back became bent in gloom, though his son was alive in this world. But I watched while my father, my brother, my uncle, and seventeen members of my family were slaughtered all around me. How should my sorrow come to an end?
Arbaeen pilgrimage remained banned in some periods, as last it remained banned for nearly 30 years during Saddam Hussain regime.
Every years millions of people travel (walk) on foot toward the Holy Shrine of Imam Hussain. This walk is called Arbaeen Walk. The pilgrims travelled the distance of miles on foot which takes them two weeks or more as it depends on from where they start the walk. Because some people start Arbaeen walk from Najaf, some from Basra and some even from Iran. The whole journey is full of spiritual feelings. On the way local citizen make arrangements for different facilities like rest room, tea points, sleeping rooms, toilets/washroom, foot massage, shoes polishing and they also arrange for serving the foods/meals. Surprisingly, all is arranged free of cost.
Arbaeen is considered the largest peaceful gathering of people in history. Every year millions of peoples travel to the Holy Shrine of Imam Hussain to celebrate Arbaeen of Imam Hussain. It has been observed that the number of pilgrims are increasing gradually every year, In 2008 approx 9 million people participated in Arbaeen. However, in 2009, the number of people visiting Karbala on Arba’een significantly increased. According to BBC News and Press TV, over ten million people had reached Karbala one or two days before Arba’een. The number of pilgrims was expected to rise to 18 million during the next two days. In 2013, Arbaeen reached 20 million people from 40 countries.
In 2016, more than 40 million pilgrims participated in this spiritual journey and rise in number is being expected this year.
People from other religions Countries in Arbaeen
While the Arba’een is a distinctively Shi’a spiritual exercise, Sunni Muslims and even Christians, Yazidis, Zoroastrians, and Sabians partake in both the pilgrimage as well as serving of devotees. Pilgrims from European countries including Sweden, Russia and even a delegation from Vatican City have joined in past observances. Some Iraqi Christian religious leaders also joined the delegation from the Vatican. Many delegations from various African countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Senegal have also participated in the Arba’een.