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The Road To Arbaeen

© Emily Garthwaite

“Arbaʽeen is a religious observance that occurs forty days after the Day of Ashura. It commemorates the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad, who was killed on the 10th day of the month of Muharram”

Ongoing [2017-Present]

Arba’een is the world’s largest annual pilgrimage. Each year, as many as 25 million Shi’a Muslims partake in ziyara, converging in southern Iraq to mark the end of a 40-day mourning period. Pilgrims travel from all over the world to walk the 50 miles between the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. In doing so, they form a vast community that promotes peace and solidarity alongside their deep faith.

Despite the unparalleled scale, and despite being both the largest number of people fed for free and the biggest volunteer gathering in the world, the commemoration is rarely covered by international media. Arba’een to be of great importance both for Iraq and the Shi’a, but also for the wider region. It has endured great hardships, having been banned by Saddam Hussein, and remains a magnet for terrorist attacks. Today, its very existence speaks of resilience and offers a window into innumerable and significant stories.

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