During the pilgrimage "copious supplies of food, small clinics and even dentists are available for pilgrims and they all work for free. "The care of pilgrims is regarded as a religious duty." The pilgrims carry flags of different color but the black flag of mourning for Imam Hussein is by far the most common. They also decorate "permanent brick buildings and temporary tents which are used for praying, eating and sleeping along the three main routes leading to Kerbala"
Along the roads to Karbala, many Mawakibs are devised with the aim of providing "accommodation, food and beverage and medical services", and practically anything else the pilgrims need for free. Seven thousand of such mawakeb were set up in city of Karbala in 2014. Besides Iraqi Mawakibs, which are unofficially organized, there are some Iranian ones which are less "specifically targeted" but pilgrims are from various regions
Ali Moamen, Academic and former director of Al Najaf Satellite TV Channel, said:
What is interesting about this human crowd is that all society segments take part in it. Despite its religious character, nonreligious people also participate in it, in addition to illiterates and holders of high academic degrees, and ordinary people and leaders of the country.
According to Sayed Mahdi al-Modarresi, writing for The Huffington Post
Arbaeen should be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records in several categories. The biggest annual gathering, longest continuous dining table, largest number of people fed for free, largest group of volunteers serving a single event, all under the imminent threat of suicide bombings.
The pilgrims face dangers such as "attacks that have been blamed on Sunni extremists, who have routinely targeted the pilgrims" using car bombs or rockets. The pilgrimage is performed under "tightened security" guarded by tens of thousands of Iraqi police and soldiers backed by armored vehicles and military helicopters to protect the pilgrims
Iranian advisers also help protect the visitors through a joint operation room. On 20 November 2015, a major bombing plot in Hussainiya in Iraq, Baghdad was foiled by the Iraqi police, where 18 booby-trapped dolls were seized by the security forces. Stuffed with bombs, were meant to be scattered on the roads leading to Karbala during Arbaeen
The ritual is no longer considered a purely cultural ceremony while ISIL, the group who regards Shia as apostate, had launched a wide offensive in Iraq, and hence the presence of such a large population of Shia is of a political importance. According to Ali Mamouri writing in Al-Monitor, the pilgrimage became "a show of force against those hostile to the rise of the Shia in the region"
After the fall of Mosul to the ISIL "and the subsequent massacres of Shia soldiers and civilians", the gathering took a political form for the first time for the Shia, who use the mourning rituals as a way to condemn injustice and express their social power
"The second sign of Arbaeen's political shift was the regional message conveyed by Shia to their opponents: The Shia Crescent," Mamouri added. As the third sign he pointed to "a message exchanged between regional forces" and "unprecedented Iranian presence" which has led to "a feeling of solidarity between Arab and non-Arab Shia"
Surveys are done to study Shi'a Muslims via both "traditional survey instruments and experimental methods". The survey included topics such as "religion and politics, democracy, women's rights, regional conflict and Iran's nuclear agreement". Experimental methods were employed to investigate the "latent perspectives" of pilgrims towards "sensitive topics", including "Iran's nuclear program, and attitudes toward the West, China and Russia"
In the media
Criticism of media blackout
Iranian media, officials, religious figures and citizens have criticized Western media for ignoring the pilgrimage despite its large scale and its geopolitical and cultural significance. Despite being even larger than Hajj, the most important Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Arbaeen pilgrimage remains largely unknown to the world
Asharq al-Awsat false report
In 2016, Asharq al-Awsat, a London-based daily paper, issued a report regarding Arba'een pilgrimage which was proven to be false, according to Agence France-Presse
The "Saudi-owned" paper said that according to World Health Organization report "unplanned pregnancies and... disease" were seen "following the arrival of scores of unregulated Iranians to take part in the annual Shia pilgrimage to Karbala". According to the article, 169 unmarried women had become pregnant from the Iranian pilgrims
UN's health agency rejected the claim of issuance of such a report by WHO. WHO "slammed" the allegations of Asharq al-Awsat and condemned mentioning its name in what it called an "unfounded" news
According to Rana Sidani, spokeswoman for the WHO, the organization was "shocked" by Asharq al-Awsat's report. In a TV interview, she said that they were "consulting with the Iraqi ministry of health" on possible legal action against the paper." Haider al-Abadi, Iraqi Prime Minister, and "several other leading Shiite figures" condemned the Asharq al-Awsat's report and demanded an "apology"
Tomb of Abolfazl
Around the world
Besides Iraq, the pilgrimage is performed annually around the word in countries such as UK, US and Nigeria
Mr Waqar Haider, the organizer, said that the procession failed to gain coverage by the mainstream media because of the "stereotyping". "I think it's because of stereotyping. People see the entire Muslim community as one community," he said
Tomb of Imam Hossein
Shia Muslims in west of Africa can't take themselves to Karbala because it is very far for them. So, the Pilgrims from Nigeria, Ghana, Chad, Cameroon, Benin and Togo head toward Zaria in Kaduna State, northern Nigeria to be addressed by the Shia cleric Ibrahim Zakzaky
On 5 October 2017, the annual Arbaeen trek held by Islamic Movement of Nigeria, was attacked by the Kano police resulting in death of a religious leader and injury of dozens of participants. The Nigerian police had also brutally attacked and murdered hundreds of the members of the community in 2015 in the Zaria massacre
In reference to 2017 Arabeen pilgrimage, head of Iran's Islamic seminaries Ayatollah Alireza Arafi said "Arbaeen pilgrimage has truly become a manifestation of unity and brotherhood within Muslim community so much that even followers of other religions have been drawn to it and attend the ceremony alongside Shia Muslims
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: Every year in history
١٦/ صفر /١٤٤١
15 / s 2019 / October
۲۳ / مهر / ۱۳۹۸
Do not think about traveling money
Imam Hussein paid a thousand years ago
In this way, food and sleeping area is free
Anyone from anywhere in the world
Imam Hussein invited you