Chehlum or Arbaeen is in the month of Islamic date of Safar 20, which means September 27 2021 in the Arabs and September 28, 2021, in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.
Arbaeen in Arabic means forty. It occurs 40 days after the day of the festival Ashura. Arbaeen marks the completion of 40 days of mourning of martyrs of the battle of Karbala, where Hussainiyyat of Yazid killed Imam Husain and his family. It is considered to be the bloodiest battle of the Arabs to date. Arbaeen accounts as a federal holiday in Iran.
In the Shi’ite Muslim calendar, Arbaeen is one of the most important Muslim festivals. On October 10th, 680 CE, the battle of Karbala changed the history of Islam. The battle was between the followers of Imam Husain and the strong army of the Iranian ruler, Yazid.
Scores of pilgrims travel to Karbala in order to pay homage. The pilgrimage is named Ziara in Arabic, where many of them travel barefoot from around Iraq and 50 other nations. The Ziarats started as a group of 50, has now turned into millions of followers. Around 45 million people visit Karbala every year to participate in the world’s largest annual pilgrimage.
The journey takes around two weeks to reach Karbala to start their Ziarat. It is then a 50 days journey that ends with Arbaeen Ziarat. They also perform the Yaraami Ziarat, following Ayatollah Saabdi and Imam Hussein’s camper towards Karbala. The first gathering took place when the first Arbaeen pilgrim, Jabir Ibn Abd Allah visited the burial site of Hussain.
The Ziarat is a prayer that calls Hussain as the “inheritor” of the prophets Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad:
‘Peace be on the favorite of Allah, Peace be on the beloved friend of Allah, His distinguished hero! Peace be on the choicest confidant of Allah, sincerely attached precisely like his father! Peace is on Hussain, who gave his life in the way of Allah, a martyr, underwent untold hardships Peace be on the hostage surrounded by the tightening circle of sorrow and grief, killed by a horde of savages.
He met with deadly dangers, acted justly and fairly, made use of everything belonging to him to pay full attention to give sincere advice, took pains, made every effort, and put his heart, mind, soul, and life at the disposal of Thy mission to liberate the people from the yoke of ignorance and evil of bewilderment, but an evildoer, deceived with empty hopes of mean and worthless worldly gains, had pressed heavily on him and sold out his share (eternal bliss) for the meanest and lowest bargain, betrayed his “day of judgment” for a vulgar return, took pride in insolence, fell into the fathom- well of silly stupid follies, provoked Thee and Thy Prophet to anger, did as the harsh discordant, the hypocrite, the heavily burdened bearers of sin, condemned to Hellfire, advised to him, however, he (the Holy lmam), steadily, rightly and justly coped With them, till, in Thy obedience, gave his life after which his family was set adrift’.
Imam Hussain was Prophet Muhammad’s grandson. The small group of followers of Prophet Muhammad believed in him but the ones who didn’t believe in the Prophet were known as Kharijites. The Jews, Christians, and other Muslims were among them who lacked a leader and needed an Imam to lead them. Imam Hussain himself became their leader. This led him to have enemies and the battle of Karbala.
Imam Hussain and his martyrdom
Imam Hussain was a young 22-year-old young man who fought for the Imam of Iran. He fought for the injustice that prevailed in the society. Every night, he prayed for the well-being of the people doing Ziarat.
It was on the fateful day of October 10, 680 (10 Muharram 61 AH) that he was brutally beheaded by Yazid in the battle of Karbala, along with his family including his six-month-old son. The women and other children were taken as prisoners. He died at the age of 55. He refused to be ruled by the tyrant leader and thus sacrificed his life.
Chehlum 2021 during pandemic
Though people have been flooding the city of Karbala despite the pandemic, Iraq had closed its borders and left the Arbaeen for the occupants of Iraq due to covid restrictions in order to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
Following the festival in India, the Bada Imambada and other monuments in Lucknow have been closed on this occasion for the tourists till further orders.