Arbaeen: World's largest annual pilgrimage in Karbala marked
By: Ismail Zabeeh
HOLY CITY OF KARBALA, Iraq: Iraqi officials said an estimated
twenty-seven millions mourning pilgrims have gathered in the holy
city of Karbala to mark Arbaeen, also known as Chehlum, which
commemorates the end of the 40-day mourning period after the
martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, in 680
Arbaeen is the world's largest annual gathering, with the number of
pilgrims far exceeding the two million visitors who descend on the
holy city of Makkah for the Hajj.
The faithful from over 100 countries had for days been streaming
through the golden-domed mausoleum of Imam Hussein (as) despite the
threat of terror attacks.
Many made the pilgrimage on foot from Baghdad, a journey of 80km
which can take days. Some walked from as far as Basra in southern
Iraq, a journey of nearly 700km. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims
came from neighbouring Iran; a journey that takes about a month on
“I arrived in Karbala after walking for 12 days,” said Mohammed
Hussein Jassem, a laborer from Iraq’s deep south.
“I found a lot of services on the road,” he said, referring to the
thousands of “mawakeb”, spots where tents are erected by volunteers
to serve the pilgrims food and beverages.
Although Arbaeen is a Shia ritual, Sunni Muslims and people from
other religions such as Christianity and Zoroastrianism also made
Baghdad and much of the country south of the capital came to a
standstill in the days preceding Arbaeen, as several major motorways
are reserved for pilgrims on foot on one side and authorized
vehicles on the other.
Iraqi officials also said they had adopted special security measures
this year to protect pilgrims against possible terrorist attacks.
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