15th Safar 1426 AH: Arbaeen in Kerbala
All praise belongs to the Almighty [swt], the Master of the Universe.
"And let not those who disbelieve imagine that Our granting them respite is good for their souls. We grant them respite only that they may add to their sins. And they shall have a disgraceful punishment." (Qur'an 3:178) - Quoted by the Aqila of Banu Hashim, Bibi Zaynab [a] in the court of Shaam while addressing Yazid bin Muawiyah [l].
As the month of Safar passes, the lovers of the Ahlul-bayt [a] remember the suffering of Bibi Zaynab [a], Imam Sajjad [a], and the family of the Prophet [s] after Kerbala.
Safar is also the month in which Shias commemorate the Day of Arbaeen. This is the day when Imam Sajjad [a] met Jabir ibne Abdullah al-Ansari, the first zawar of Kerbala. After reciting poetry and saluting the Martyrs of Kerbala, Jabir moved away and made way for the bruised and battered sister of Imam Husayn [a] to perform ziyarat. One by one, each woman in the caravan rushed to the graves of their beloved to weep and to relive the incidents of Ashura.
Although a very solemn occasion, Arabeen also represents the apparent declaration of victory of Imam Husayn [a] and Bibi Zaynab [a] over the forces of Yazid [l], for, unlike the captivity and chains after Ashura, this time the family of the Prophet [s] returned to Kerbala with complete freedom, hijab, and honour. Alas, the same forces that once took the Ahlul-bayt [a] as captives were now the escorts for the caravan.
In memory of this return to Kerbala, and as per the instructions in the ahadith of the Masumeen [a], each year several million Shias converge in Kerbala on the Day of Arbaeen. Some devotees walk to Kerbala from far away towns and cities. Undoubtedly the largest Islamic gathering in the world, the pilgrims in Kerbala significantly outnumbered the few million people in Hajj this year. Television channels from the Middle East showed continuous Azadari live for consecutive days leading up to Arbaeen. After all, it is only in Kerbala that one can do proper justice to Azadari.
However, Arabeen in Kerbala this year was hidden from the public eye in the western media. Perhaps it is because the shear power of Azadari poses a real threat to the enemies of Islam, both within the fold of Islam, as well as external. Such energy, jubilance, and emotion would never have been imaginable in the streets of Kerbala just a few years ago when Saddam [l] was in power. Indeed, how true is the Almighty's promise in the Holy Qur'an, whereby oppressors will surely see their day, and that the Almighty [swt] is the Best of Planners!
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