Iranians from all walks of life mark the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third infallible successor of Prophet Mohammad (Blessings of God upon him and his progeny), while millions of others have travelled to Iraq to honor the event at the third Shia Imam’s shrine in the holy city of Karbala.
According to Press TV, the occasion called Arba’een occurs 40 days after Ashura, the tenth day of the lunar calendar month of Moharram, when the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (Blessings of God upon him and his progeny) was martyred at the hands of the tyrant of the time, Yazid I, back in the seventh century.
The first nine days of Moharram feature mourning processions in anticipation of Ashura. The rituals culminate with Arba’een, known as the world’s largest annual pilgrimage.
Large numbers of Iranians travel to Iraq each year, walking the distance between the Iraqi holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, which houses the Imam’s holy shrine, so as to be able to be there by Arba’een.
According to the Spokesman for Iran’s Arba’een Ceremony Committee, Shahriar Heidari, so far 2.3 million pilgrims have travelled to Iraq to mark Arba’een this year, including 80,000 Afghan expatriates living in Iran.
The devotees are joined by millions of their fellow Muslims from other countries along the course.
This year, Iranians mark Arba’een on Thursday, but the occasion will be commemorated in Karbala on Friday.
Imam Hussein (PBUH) is a highly-venerated figure not only among Shias but also Sunni Muslims. Even some groups of Iraqi Christians join the march to Karbala.