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Reflections on the pilgrimage of love P

hysically exhausting, yet spiritually uplifting, are the words to describe the anniversary of 40 days after the martyrdom of Imam Husayn(a) - the Arbaeen. I failed to silence my thoughts, and so decided to share some of my reflections in this article. It is dubbed ‘the world's largest peaceful gathering'. But peaceful isn't the only word I'd use to describe the experience. In fact, for the most part, it is far from peaceful! Can you imagine the combined chaos of 26 million devotees, driven by their passion? They leave their families and friends, all their worldly belongings, all their work and responsibilities only to be united by one incentive. They come from all regions and corners of the world, only to gather for the commemoration of one man. All ages qualify - all hearts, big and small, old and young attend only to be nurtured by one love. This is what the Arbaeen is: a pilgrimage of love. It was something that I had the honour of attending last year, and because of how much I yearned for it this year too, my prayers were answered and my parents and I set out from our home in east London. The truth is, this opportunity didn't come about on its own. I want to share a little secret with you all: when you put your mind and heart and soul to it and take it upon yourself to recite Ziyarat Ashura for at least forty consecutive days, then you will be blessed with whatever it is that you want. There are plenty of hadiths that support this statement.


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We arrived in Baghdad, heading straight towards Kadimiyya, where the two infallible personalities Musa ibn Jafar alKadim(a) and his grandson Muhammad ibn Ali al-Jawad(a) reside. After spending one night and one morning there, we headed straight to Najaf so that we may begin the 86km walk to Karbala the following day. I'll tell you this: each different city makes you feel a certain way, and this is something on which anyone who has visited Iraq for religious purposes will agree. Kadimiyya, for example, had a comfortable feel to it. A warm, yet vibrant energy in the atmosphere. I felt welcome. There was the hustle and bustle of visitors and natives, and record shops blared out the latest eulogies. And most importantly, the scene of two large golden domes, side by side, and polished ever so immaculately, as though looking over the city and protecting both its inhabitants and tourists. The next city we travelled to was Najaf. What can I say about Najaf? Though the occasion was one of tragedy and calamity and it was only befitting to mourn for Imam Husayn(a) in the Arbaeen period, the only thing I wanted to do there was to rejoice. I truly and undoubtedly felt at peace, as though I had been reunited with my best and closest friend whom I hadn't seen in a long time. Despite the black cloth covering parts of the mosque, I felt like wearing white, and despite the almost constant cries, poetry and lamentations I would witness around me, an unmistakable celebratory feeling refused to leave my heart.

Profile for islam today magazine UK

Islam today issue 43 January 2017  

Islam today issue 43 January 2017