What Is the Arbaeen Walk?

What Is the Arbaeen Walk?

Madiha Haideri (10th), Editor-in-Chief

Faith is a very powerful thing. When one’s faith is strong, there is barely anything we can do to change their minds. For the purposes of this article, the faith mentioned is related to religion. While lots of people have faith in many notions, religion is perhaps the most sacred of them all, for religion is the one thing that keeps people down to earth. 

The Arbaeen Walk is an event that takes place in places like Iraq and Iran. People, on this day known as the Arbaeen Day, walk 50 miles to Visit Imam Hussain (a.s) and his shrine in Karbala, which is a city in Iraq. For the people who are unaware of Imam Hussain (a.s), he is a religious and an extremely important figure to Shia Muslims. He and his family are known to have been martyrs in the name of Islam. It is said that he is the reason why Islam survived back in the day and is now what it is today.

The Arbaeen Walk is a very interesting thing that Shia Muslims attend. It is believed that one has to truly and genuinely want to visit Imam Hussain to participate in this holy event. Although the event is for everyone and anyone can join, people who just don’t have legitimate faith can ever seem to join the walkers. It is considered an honor to be one of the 40 million people who walk up to 48 hours to get a glimpse of Imam Hussain’s (a.s) shrine in Karbala. 

The most fascinating thing is what these walkers experience on their way. During their walk, they pass many houses and cities. This is where it gets interesting: homeowners and shop owners are in line, food/snacks ready at hand, to serve these walkers. No relations, no connections, only faith joins these people. Non-walkers beg walkers to take a break in their homes only for a chance to serve the people who are lucky enough to participate in the Arbaeen Walk. Walkers are offered various things: from snacks like dates to meals that include rice and meat. What the families can offer is solely based on their circumstances; a date is just as relevant as a whole meal. Some homes even offer various kinds of massages to the walkers (keep in mind that the walkers have to travel 50 miles). 

Mehdi Haideri, a Shia Muslim, was asked about his general view on the Arbaeen Walk. He responded with, “It’s about belief. The walkers want to show the world that they have faith in their religion and the path that they are on. It’s not only about the journey; if  you watch the videos, you will see that some people are walking and some people are helping the walkers and offering their houses, their services and their hospitality which is just as important. The moral of this sacred event is that if you have faith in something, there will be an opportunity for you to showcase your faith. The Arbaeen Walk is a chance like that to Shia Muslims. Think about it, if the Shia Muslims don’t participate in The Arbaeen Walk, no one will know about Imam Hussain’s sacrifice. Especially nowadays, despite how busy life is, these walkers have the time to join millions of others on the Arbaeen Walk. All of this just proves the strength of their faiths.”

‘Arbeen’ means the number 40 in Arabic. Religiously and traditionally, the 40th day after a death has occured is a final farewell from the dead to their family and vice versa. After this day the family can officially exit their mourning period. During the 40 days of mourning, the family is to refrain from any joyous events/things. It is the same thing with Imam Hussain’s (a.s) death. The Shia Muslims are in a mourning period known as Muharram. And the Arbaeen Day takes place on the 40th day as well. The time the Walkers start their journey depends on their location but they all end up in Karbala- a city in Iraq- on Arbaeen Day.

Ultimately, the Arbaeen Walk is an extraordinary concept for millions of people and they look forward to it all year long. It is an opportunity for Shia Muslims to display their faith in their religion and present their respect for Imam Hussain (a.s).