Arba'een, Rendezvous of the Martyrs
By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
On Tuesday we commemorate another anniversary of the Arba'een or the traditional 40th day for the Immortal Martyr of Karbala.
Exactly 1371 years have passed since that 20th of Safar when the Prophet's aged companion, Jaber ibn Abdullah al-Ansari, arrived in Karbala, and with eyes streaming down tears threw himself on the grave of Imam Husain (AS).
Despite failing eyesight but with glowing insight, Jaber, on hearing the shocking news of the heartrending martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad's (SAWA) grandson on the 10th of Muharram, came all the way to Iraq from distant Medina to pay tribute to the mercilessly slaughtered Imam and his steadfast companions.
This was the beginning of the holy trek which pilgrims continue to follow till this day on foot from all over Iraq and even from lands as far away as India, undaunted by sniper fire and the bomb blasts of today's terrorists, who like their Yazidi predecessors shamelessly claim to be Muslims.
Nonetheless, whatever the magnitude of the plots of the enemies of humanity, the message of Imam Husain (AS) remains immortal and remarkably fresh, as it was in the year 61 AH, when till the last moments of his epic stand, in spite of seeing the brutal slaughter of his near and dear ones including infant son, Ali Asghar (AS), he exhorted his misled enemies to return to the path of virtue and God.
They didn't, and damned themselves to eternity. The temptations of the transient world and the promise of the governorate of the flourishing Iranian province of Rayy had so thoroughly deprived Omar ibn Sa'd – the son of the Prophet's companion, Sa'd bin Waqqas, who led the onslaught against the Prophet's family – of any humanitarian conscience that he and his hordes blindly fell into the abysmal fires of hell.
His superiors in Kufa and Damascus neither gave him Rayy nor any other reward for martyring Imam Husain (AS) or dragging the children and womenfolk of the Prophet's noble household in chains to their courts.
As foretold by the Imam during the last minute negotiations on the eve of the Ashura tragedy, Omar was not even destined to eat for long the grain of Iraq, where he was eventually killed some three years after Karbala, along with his equally criminal son by his wife's own brother, Mukhtar ibn Abu Obayda Thaqafi, the avenger of the innocent blood of Imam Husain (AS).
Today in Karbala, there are no signs of the graves of Yazid's fallen hordes whom Omar ibn Sa'd had given a burial with full military honours while leaving under the blazing sun the headless corpses of the Prophet's household, without even shrouds.
It is Imam Husain (AS) who reigns supreme till this day in Karbala. Ever since, Jaber and his servant Atiyya visited Karbala on the 40th day after the tragedy of Ashura, the faithful have been flocking in growing numbers to this rendezvous of martyrs.
History bears testimony that neither Omayyad tyranny nor Abbasid atrocities could prevent the pilgrims from paying homage to the shrine of the Chief of Martyrs.
Mutawakkel – that most infidel of the caliphs – prior to his criminal demolition of the shrine of Imam Husain (AS), had levied heavy taxes on pilgrims, including amputation of a hand or a foot which they gladly gave in order to visit the tomb of the person in whose praise the Prophet had said: "Husainun minni wa ana min al-Husain (Husain is from me and I am from Husain)."
In our own times, the despicable tyrant Saddam had tried to put every obstacle in the path of the pilgrims including his bombardment of the holy shrine of the Prophet's grandson in March 1991.
Karbala is thus the most undeniable proof of God's words in the Holy Qur'an that those who are slain in His way are alive and should not be considered dead.
Thus, true the Prophet's words "Innal-Husain Misbah al-Huda wa Safinat an-Naja (Indeed Husain is the Beacon of Guidance and the Ark of Salvation)," the Immortal Martyr of Karbala continues to beckon the conscientious and the seekers of truth from all over the world to the path of eternal bliss, by instilling in them the indomitable spirit of patience, steadfastness, magnanimity, and refusal to yield to tyranny.