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Arbaeen Walk: A Life-Changing Journey

01:15 PM | 2022-10-02 439
جانب من تشيع الشهيد زكي غنام
تحميل الصورة

By Hina Naqvi, Quovadisnewspaper.com

This year Imam’s Arbaeen is marked on Sept. 17, 2022. The holy city of Karbala in Iraq has welcomed millions of pilgrims from across the globe. That includes even Hindus, Jews, and Christians. It is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world after Hajj.


Those who cannot visit pay their respects in mosques. I am so blessed that New Jersey has many Imam bargah (mosques), and many Shias can pay their respects.


 I asked a few questions to two of my cousins and my brother-in-law, who recently visited Iraq on Arbaeen. I asked how they felt while walking, what motivated them to walk, and how their perspective changed after the walk.


My cousin, Shumaila, recalled it in these words, “Last year, I had an excellent chance to start the life-altering experience of the Arabian walk. It represented the realization of a long-held desire. As I walked from Najaf to Karbala, the smell of musk mingled with rose petals filled the air. I felt like I was on my way to heaven while walking. I was to go with hundreds of others on a route that stretched over 88 kilometers between two cities in southern Iraq, from the entrance of Imam Ali's (AS) shrine in Najaf to the door of Imam Hussain's (AS) shrine in Karbala. As I walked, I spotted banners and flags in red, green, and black flapping along the road leading to Karbala. An avalanche of men and women, young and old, children and the disabled marched in unison as far as the eye could see. When traveling to Karbala, I had mixed feelings because our eyes got moist, and tears came out whenever we talked about Karbala.”


I imagined myself as the luckiest person in the world. It felt as if you had gone back fourteen hundred years, and I was smelling the blood of these 72 Martyrs. Tears were flowing, and it felt as if I was traveling with the Ahl al-Bayt (a) members and relatives of some of the Karbala victims who were taken by the Kufaian (presently Syria)  army headed by Umar bin Sa'd during the Karbala Event and following Imam al-martyrdom Husayn's (AS). They were forced to travel the trek on camels while wearing shackles around their necks and holding handcuffs. They were sent to Kufa and, subsequently, Damascus.


I was allowed to go on this life-changing experience on the Arabian walk. It was the realization of a long-held dream. I had the impression that I was going to heaven while walking.


She said,“After this life-changing trip, I found significant changes in my personality: Patience, firm determination, and refusal to accept injustice.  I felt it has several advantages and aids in spiritual cleansing. Even before completing the real Ziyarat, the [beneficial] effects manifest in a Zayir as he cleans himself, wears clean clothes, and does Tauba for his faults and behaviors. Before entering the company of the Ahlul-Bayt, a zayir must cleanse his body, soul and mind. This constant washing and purifying of one's soul continues throughout and after the Ziyarat. It also permits Zayir to spend time away from home [and] his routine, in the profitable company of Ahlul-Bayt, rethinking his life. Ziarat helps you to reinvent your life and its purpose, as well as engage in self-reflection.


She said, “I belong to a Shia Muslim family, and visiting Karbala once in a lifetime is a big wish for every Shia Muslim. Numerous traditions claim that visiting the tomb of Imam Hussain is equivalent to performing the Hajj and Umrah and freeing 1,000 enslaved people. It is equivalent to performing more than twenty Hajj, as Allah will record eighty Hajj in his record. While one makes their trip, it is equivalent to the Hajj conducted with the Prophet of Allah, but the person who makes his pilgrimage, knowing his rights, will be equal to the person who has made a hundred Hajj with the Prophet of Allah (PBUH).”

“For me, the Arabian walk represents a trip down a path constructed of the highest human qualities: compassion, empathy, respect, freedom, and, most importantly, love. A spiritual metamorphosis occurred after the trek; no pilgrim ever returned to their previous state. It seems you have found the answers to the two questions that every living thing in the world seeks to know: how to fight death and find love,” she said.


My brother-in-law said, “According to Imam Hasan Al-Askari, visiting Imam Hussain on the day of Arbaeen is one of the five signs of a Momin (believer).  Having that in mind and seeing millions of brothers in faith walking towards Imam Hussain every year at Arbaeen inculcates me to go for Mashi (walk) from Najaf to Karbala.  In the beginning, it was with mixed feelings of gratefulness that I was finally there and also the sense of how the 60-mile journey on foot was going to be. Still, as time passed and I was covering distance step-by-step towards Karbala, my heart was filled with the love of Aba' Abdillah.  It took me two and a half days to complete the 80 km walk; that surely is hard on your legs with blisters on your feet, but that doesn't stop you from walking; in fact, all that pain makes you realize the efforts [done] by the haram after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain.  It fills you up with their love and [drives you to keep] walking to have a glimpse of the Shrine of the leader of the martyrs.  There were several changes I felt in my personality for which I didn't have to struggle to change; there were things I wanted to change, and this journey helped me achieve them.  I want to go there every year; the feeling once you first see the Shrine after Mashi cannot be expressed in words; the tears won't stop.”


 In short, while talking to them, I once again started praying that one day I would also visit Imam Hussain’s shrine and experience the spiritual journey.




A quarterly scientific journal issued by KCSR alssebt.com
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