In the history of humanity, there are some events changed the life of nations and societies. The battle of Taf where Imam Hussein was killed with his family and supporters more than 1300 years ago is one historical event that so many people including western intellectuals who studied the Islamic history appreciate and consider one of the biggest event in man history because Imam Hussein with only 72 loyal followers faced over 30000 soldiers and they were killed defending human rights and justice.
Next Saturday will be the Arba’inya visit when Shiite Muslims go to Imam Hussein’s shrine. Arba’inya means the forty. According to the Islamic historical calendar, the heads of Imam Hussein and his followers were taken to the Amawi Caliph Yazeed in Damascus which was the capital of Islamic nation during that time. After forty days, the heads were brought back and buried with the bodies in Karbala
For generations, Muslims used to commemorate the anniversary of the Arba’inya by walking from everywhere in Iraq and Arab land to the holy shrine in Karbala in spite of many kinds of danger basically death. Many rulers tried to prevent people from going to Karbala by many ways. During the Abbasian era which lasted for over a century, the caliphs imposed taxes to prevent people from going to but people paid happily. When they found out that money is not enough to stop people, they ordered to cut one hand from every pilgrim but again, they failed because people gave their hands. At the end the authorities ordered to kill one from every ten pilgrims and one more time, they failed because sacrificed their souls. During the modern history, things didn’t change a lot. In Saddam’s era, Arba’inya visit meant certain death. Even after 2003, the situation stayed the same. The pilgrims are still a target but this time not for the authorities in Iraq but for the Islamic extremists. The only change was the method. Instead of cutting the hand of pilgrims or killing one of ten, the insurgents chose to kill the biggest number of pilgrims by car bombs, suicide bombers and even poisoned food and drinks. Thousands of men, women and even kids were killed by brutal attacks in all the Shiite cities just because they love Imam Hussein. In fact, the attacks targeted even the Shiite people in others countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan. But did the extremists succeed? One more time, the answer is no.
Two nights ago and while I was watching one of the Shiite channels, I saw pilgrims from all over the world walking to Karbala challenging explosions and death. The reporter talked to some of them and I found out that there are pilgrims from Kenya, India, Canada, Spain, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, U.S.A and many other foreign countries in addition to others from many Arabic countries especially Gulf countries. One of the pilgrims said he is an American citizen came from Washington DC. He was carrying a banner on which a portrait of Imam Hussein was drawn with a sentence saying (Labbayk Ya Hussein= At your service Imam Hussein). He said he doesn’t care about death because he learnt what sacrifice means from Imam Hussein. Another pilgrim from Bahrain said dying while walking to Imam Hussein is an honor he wishes to gain. Local officials in Karbala province expect the total number of pilgrims to pass 17 millions. People who live on the way to Karbala province provide all kind of services to pilgrims like food, drinks, places to sleep and even medicine and massage for the pilgrims who come from far distances.
Imam Hussein anniversary is not any more an Iraqi anniversary. It became a universal issue because as so many intellectuals say Imam Hussein sacrificed for humanity all over the world.
LABBAYK YA HUSSEIN