standwithdignity.org who is Hussain?
Howza Life: Muharram in Qom, Iran
A journey of lovers. The longest dining table in the world. An all-inclusive resort in the midst of the arid, scorching Iraqi desert. These are just some of the descriptions attributed to the mesmerizing walk from the cities of Najaf to Karbala to mark the occasion of Arba’een (the fortieth).
For Muslims and non-Muslims across the world, Hussain (grandson of Prophet Muhammad, and son of Ali and Fatima) serves as a saintly figure who constantly reminds them to better themselves and try to positively influence society. Millions commemorate the fortieth day after his death anniversary every year by flocking to his shrine in Karbala. This pilgrimage, widely recognized as the single largest annual peaceful gathering in the world, is one where swarms of people walk united, to pay allegiance to a man who left an everlasting legacy 1400 years ago – one that would inspire many generations after his death. Children waddle with parents, the elderly venture in wheelchairs – even the disabled hobble along, step-by-step, supported by nothing but crutches and an iron will to voyage to salute Hussain. In the case of one aged lady from southern Iraq, she hopped into a wheel-barrow and called on people to push her along until they got tired. She knew that she’d make it to Karbala nine or so days later to visit Hussain – and she wasn’t going to have it any other way.
Leaving the holy city of Najaf, where Hussain’s father and guide, Ali ibn Abu Talib is buried, you then begin a three day journey on foot that is guaranteed to change your life. At first, particularly as a Westerner, you feel disorientated by the thought of walking for days on end, through a desert in war-torn Iraq, but this feeling of anxiety quickly fades at the sight of the million-strong crowd (if not more) of fellow walkers.