'The Evening of Ashura' by Master Iranian Artist Mahmoud Farshchian (1976)

‘The Evening of Ashura’ by Master Iranian Artist Mahmoud Farshchian (1976)

Arbaeen 1438

What is it?

  • The largest peace pilgrimage in the world, held annually
  • Held at the end of the 40-day mourning period following Ashura
  • Pilgrims make their journey from Najaf to Karbala on foot
  • The journey is approximately 83 km (approx. 52 miles) via شارع حي النصر‎ and Route 9


Who can participate?

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.”


Preparing yourself physically & mentally

  • If you work a ‘desk-job’, switch to a standing desk and take frequent walks. Overall, the walk is not the hard part, it’s all the emotions you go through, the stories that manifest in front of you that is the hardest
  • Make a list of things you are grateful for and a list of duas that you want to pray for. Ask your friends and family
  • Watch documentaries about Arbaeen. Khozema and I watched them after our trip to Dar-es-Salaam leading up to our flight for Arbaeen. Though they are emotionally draining it the only thing that emotionally prepares you
  • There are numbered poles that help you see how far you’ve gone, and how far you must go. Don’t obsess over them. It will distract you from your purpose/journey


What to pack in your backpack

  • Prayer mat
  • Small hafti; YaSeen, Ya Syeda Shohadai, Fulkul Hussain
  • Small lightweight hand towel
  • Change of underwear & socks
  • 2 plastic bags for dirty clothes and shoes
  • Candies/sweets for yourself, kids, friends
  • Medicine: Tylenol, Tiger balm (or equivalent), wet wipes, personal preferred/needed medicines
  • If travelling in the winter: a woolen cape/hoodie/shawl


How to plan your walk

Please note that this is what Khozema, the couple we walked with and I used as a guide

  • Stop for Zohr Asr
  • Take an afternoon nap
  • Continue walking
  • Stop and rest before Maghreb Isha
  • Pray Maghreb Isha
  • Grab Dinner & continue walking
  • Stop and rest; remember to elevate your legs
  • Wake up; do wazu, walk through the late night early morning
  • Stop for Fajr
  • Continue walking
  • Grab lunch, sit and eat before Zawaal


Courtesy & etiquette during your walk

  • People along the walk believe that they are doing Khidmat of Imam Hussain (AS). By refusing their food/drink offerings, you are refusing their khidmat and is heartbreaking for them
  • Mawkibs are sponsored by people or homes that people have opened-up for people along the walk, be respectful towards the hosts
  • Don’t forget why you are there, for your journey in memory of what upholds Islam, stop for your prayers, be mindful during wudhu and mindful in your prayers…you’ll find it healing
  • Walk with a buddy or more. I recommend you walk with your significant other or a close family/friend
  • When resting, place a rolled blanket under your ankles to elevate your legs and give your feet some relief


Personal Reflections

  • The Epitome of Humanity
    • People are awake in hopes of serving people along their journey to Imam Hussain (AS) 24h a day
    • Kids will run to you to when you stop to sit and rest because they want to massage your legs and give you relief
    • There are people in the bathroom who are willing to help you wash your feet for wudhuu when your legs are stiff from walking
  • The Embodiment of Mohabbat
    • You’ll see people pushing baby-stollers, wheel chairs or on crutches during your journey which will make you feel so warm
    • There are those who walk barefoot which make you feel inspired
    • There are people who carry tree trunks taller than themselves in their bare hands which make you feel humbled
    • The hardest is when you see those walking on their hands and knees
    • There are those who do what they can by simply bending every few steps to pick up any nails, rocks and trash from the road so that those who are following will not be hurt
  • A Refuge from Dunyah
    • When you look around and realize that the sacrifice made by Imam Hussain (AS) and Ahle-Bait bore fruit and that you’re part of it

Our Trip Organizer

Our trip organizer was Rehana Najmi from Najmi Travels. Visit her site, make your commitment to go, and please remember us in your duas.

photos along the way…