The Arba’een of Imam Husayn (A) marks the 40th day after he was martyred on the day of Ashura along with most of the men of the Ahlul Bayt (A) (the family of the Holy Prophet SAW) and his 72 companions. After Ashura, the tyrant responsible for these unfathomable crimes, Yazid, then ordered the women and children of Imam Husayn’s family to be taken in captivity from Karbala to Kufa, and then Kufa to Damascus, all barefoot and in chains (a distance well over 1,000 km).
Held as captives and brought in chains to Yazid’s court in Damascus, Sayyida Zaynab (A), the granddaughter of the Holy Prophet (SAW) and sister of Imam Husayn (A), delivered a powerful sermon directly to the face of Yazid, dethroning him with her words. Her strength, resolve, and bravery, despite the cruelty she was facing, made her a heroine and an example for all to follow.
Her persistence in educating the masses of Sham (Syria) about who the Ahlul Bayt were and the injustices they had faced at the hands of the tyrant created such a stir amongst the people that Yazid was forced to release them out of fear that her continued captivity may lead to a revolt by the people. When Sayyida Zaynab (A) and the other captives from the Ahlul Bayt (A) were released, they visited Karbala once more before returning home to Madina and some say that their visit to Imam Husayn coincided with the 40th day after Ashura, Arba’een.
Every year Arba’een is marked by millions around the world and there is an annual 75 km (47 miles) walk that takes place from Najaf to Karbala, where Imam Husayn (A) was martyred and buried. This annual gathering in Karbala is the world’s largest peaceful gathering, consistently drawing over 20 million people and will be marked this year on September 28th.
The journey of Arba’een transcends all cultural and religious boundaries and is a universal symbol of love, freedom, and compassion. On the road to Karbala, lovers of truth and justice unite, and like Sayyida Zaynab, their hearts answer Imam Husayn’s call to join the caravan of the free.
Labbayka Ya Husayn!