By Mehran Shamsuddin
September 8, 2023 – TEHRAN TIMES
TEHRAN – Millions of people from around the world just wrapped up their spiritual journey to the holy city of Karbala, creating an unforgettable image of altruism and piety.
The annual pilgrimage of Arba’een was different this year as it comes after the Coronavirus pandemic has dissipated to a large extent; The pandemic created a hiatus in the event.
This year, the Iranian authorities joined forces with their Iraqi counterparts to successfully hold the Arba’een ceremony. Iranian officials provided a variety of services ranging from medial to transportation, for the Arba’een pilgrims heading to Karbala on foot.
More than 20 million pilgrims took part in the pilgrimage, making it one of the biggest events in the world. Accordingly, managing such an event involving this huge number of people is no easy task. It required close cooperation between Iran and Iraq.
Hazem Watan, an advisor to the Iraqi Prime Minister, said in an op-ed for the Tehran Times that they expected the number of Arba’een pilgrims to reach around 25 million, a huge congregation of people that presents the Iraqi government with enormous challenges. Watan said the Mohammad al-Sudani administration worked hard to hold the religious event in the best way possible.
Seyed Mohammad Hassan Abu Torabi Fard, the Friday Prayer imam of Tehran, said on Friday that more than four million Iranian headed to Iraq for the Arba’een pilgrimage.
“The huge and unique congregation of Arba’een with its special coordinates, with the presence of about twenty million Muslims and freedom seekers of the world, displayed the glory of the history-making revolution of Ashura,” he said, referring to the day when Imam Hussein (pbuh) and his companions were martyred by the Umayyad Caliph Yazid in early Islam. Arba’een, literally meaning 40, refers to the passing of 40 days after the martyrdom of Imam Hussein on the Day of Ashura. So, Arba’een is annually marked 40 days after Ashura. In the days leading up to Arba’een millions of Iraqis and others from around the world head to the shrine city of Karbala, often traveling parts of the distance on foot out of the belief that doing so would earn them a reward (Thawab) with God.
Despite the massiveness of the Arba’een pilgrimage, the mainstream media in the West do not provide coverage of the event. Some believe that the Western media is often preoccupied with stories that tarnish the image of Iran and portray it as a country in crisis. This while the Arba’een coverage would have given a different story of Iran and its people.
At any rate, the Arbaeen procession is not subject to being covered by certain media. It is an annual event that’s getting glorious by the day. Every year, the number of people participating in Arba’een becomes larger.