Who is Hussain(a)?

After the Divine Leadership (Imamat) of his brother Imam Hassan(a) and father Imam Ali (a), he continued spreading the message of Islam and strived for the unity of Muslims. He stood against the unjust, self-appointment leader Yazid at the time when moral values were being forcefully neglected


Karbala is the place where Imam Hussain(a) sacrificed his life along with his family and companions on the 10th of Muharram, 61 AH. Imam Hussain(a) arrived in Karbala on the 2nd of Muharram on his way to the city of Kufa upon invitation from the majority of people.

What is Arbaeen?

Arbaeen is the 20th of Safar (2nd Islamic month) and it marks the 40th day of martyrdom of Imam Hussain(a) and his companions in Karbala. According to narrations, the remaining family of Imam Hussain(a) arrived in Karbala on this day after they were released from the prison of Yazid after being held captives since 10th Muharram and taken to Damascus (in Syria). It is also narrated that one of the greatest companions of prophet Muhammad(s), Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari(a) also arrived in Karbala on the same day. It is highly recommended to visit the shrine of Imam Hussain(a) and other martyrs in Karbala on the day of Arbaeen. Millions of people gather from all over the work to pay their respects and remember the sacrifice of Hussain(a)
Hussain was born in 626 AD in the city of Medina, where he was raised by a family renowned for their honesty, compassion & justice.

As a young child, Hussain witnessed his grandfather – the Prophet Muhammad – strive to establish a morally just society. Prior to the rise of Muhammad and the advent of Islam, Arabian society was plagued by tribal feuds and gross inequality.
It was in this context Hussain developed his principles and as a young man was widely respected across the lands for his integrity.

The Purpose of Imam’s
mission is very well summarised
in Ziayrat Arbaeen:

Uniting Humanity through Arbaeen Pilgrimage
Embracing Diversity and Shared Values

By: Mustafa Al-Husseini

In the last two decades, the Arbaeen pilgrimage has emerged as the world's largest annual religious gathering. As its name in Arabic “الأربعين” suggests, it is marking the 40th day after the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the beloved grandson of Prophet Muhammad, Imam Hussein Bin Ali “AS” in the eternal battle of Karbala on 10 October 680 (10 Muharram in the year 61 AH of the Islamic calendar).

This article highlights how a Shia-Muslim pilgrimage in Iraq attracts millions of people from diverse religious backgrounds to the holy city of Karbala. Its remarkable ability to unify individuals from different faiths and cultures highlights the pilgrimage's crucial role in promoting inter religious understanding and unity, as well as highlighting how this extraordinary event has become a symbol of religious tolerance, empathy, and brotherhood.

A Historical Perspective:

The Arbaeen pilgrimage holds significant historical and cultural perspectives that have shaped its prominence throughout the years. Dating back to the 7th century, it commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussein and his loyalists in the Battle of Karbala. This event marked a pivotal moment in Islamic history, highlighting the struggle against injustice, tyranny, and oppression. With time, the pilgrimage evolved from its initial commemorative nature into a powerful act of protest and solidarity against wickedness, ultimately becoming the largest annual gathering of people worldwide. Its historical significance resonates deeply among Shia Muslims, as it symbolizes their unwavering allegiance to Imam Hussein “AS” and his mission to uphold righteousness, making the Arbaeen pilgrimage a powerful symbol of resistance and resilience against all forms of oppression. The historical perspective of the Arbaeen pilgrimage serves as a reminder of the timeless values of justice, sacrifice, and unity, inspiring millions to participate each year, creating a remarkable display of faith and devotion that transcends borders and cultural differences.

The Inclusive Nature of Arbaeen:

Despite the fact that Arbaeen is one of so many pilgrimages in the world, but what sets it apart from any other religious gatherings is its inherent inclusive nature. Regardless of one's nationality, ethnicity, gender, or social status, Arbaeen welcomes everyone to participate in this profound event as they emphasize their admiration for Imam Hussein's values of justice and compassion, which I had witnessed first-hand while accompanying the award-winning photojournalist “Emily Garthwaite” to Karbala in 2019 to for the Arbaeen. The London-based media figure was so overwhelmed with the experience, that she documented and published her entire trip in a photo album named “The Road to Arbaeen.”

Renewed Sense of Humanity:

Arbaeen creates a powerful humanitarian spirit amongst its participants. It promotes volunteerism, selflessness, and generosity as participants known as “Mawkebs servants” humbly provide fully free food, water, and shelter for millions of fellow pilgrims. Muslim and non-Muslim individuals alike join hands, working together to ensure the well-being and comfort of others, reinforcing the message of unity and compassion across religious boundaries.

Arbaeen as a Beacon for Interreligious Dialogue:

The magnitude of the Arbaeen pilgrimage offers a unique opportunity for interfaith dialogue and understanding. It enables individuals from different religious backgrounds to engage in conversations, share experiences, and dispel misconceptions. Through dialogue, pilgrims discover shared values and strengths, ultimately fostering mutual respect, tolerance, and a deeper appreciation for diversity. One of the examples of this orientation is a visit made by Dr. Chris Hewer, a well-known British researcher in Christian theology, education, and Islamic studies, as he was hosted at “Imam al-Baqir” religious school in Karbala to engage students and professors alike in a captivating discussion session.

The Ripple Effect Beyond Religious Boundaries:

The unity and solidarity witnessed during the Arbaeen pilgrimage transcend religious boundaries and have a lasting impact on both participants and observers. It serves as a powerful testament to the potential of religion as a force for peace and harmony in our world. The lessons learned during Arbaeen can be applied in other interreligious initiatives, promoting understanding and cooperation not only among the participants but also among the wider global community by promoting those lessons globally through the same participants via social media as every one of them can step forward as a self-made correspondent.


The Arbaeen pilgrimage provides a powerful platform for the unity of religions. By bringing together millions of people from various faiths, cultures, and backgrounds, Arbaeen promotes dialogue, fosters understanding, and emphasizes shared human values. The interreligious unity observed during these gatherings showcases the potential for religion to transcend division and highlight our common aspirations for justice, compassion, and peace. As more people recognize the role of Arbaeen in promoting harmony, it is hoped that these experiences will inspire similar initiatives worldwide, ultimately breaking down barriers and strengthening the bonds that unite us as a human family under the umbrella of Imam Hussein’s love.