Why bother to walk 90 KM?

The Independent newspaper posted an article: “Millions of black-clad Shia pilgrims are converging on the holy city of Kerbala for the Arbaeen religious commemoration, the largest annual gathering of people anywhere on earth. Walking in long columns stretching back unbroken for as much as 50 miles, sleeping and eating in tents erected by supporters beside the road, the event has become an overwhelmingly powerful display of Shia belief and solidarity.”

Arbaeen is the fortieth day after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (PBUH) who along side his companions devoted their lives for the religion. The Shia commemorates Imam Hussain annually on the 20th of Safar and since pilgrimage is one of the best manifestations of commemoration, they come from all over the world to visit his shrine. The importance of pilgrimage on Arbaeen is so high that Imam Hassan al-Askari (PBUH) mentioned it as a sign of believers.

Many people walk towards Karbala for this pilgrimage. This tradition of walking towards the shrine has been initiated during the lifetime of Imams (PBUT). Further, for many years, in Iraq the traditions has been both small and large caravans and groups walk from Baghdad, Basra and Najaf area to perform pilgrimage of Imam Hussain (PBUH). This is particularly more visible during the especial pilgrimage days which are 15th of Rajab and Sha’ban, Ashura and most importantly Arbaeen. Often the groups walking from Najaf chose the road on the side of the Euphrates and it is about 90 KM to Karbala and it takes a few days to travel. Nonetheless, some of the most eminent Shia scholars have joined the caravans and walked this path, namely Ayatullah Naieni, Sayyed Mohsen Amin and Ayatullah Gharavi Esfahani and more.

In explaining why do people walk instead of using any form of ride, it has been said that walking shows the financial status of the pilgrim which in turn reveals his/her love of Imam and the desire to visit his shrine no matter what! Also, walking shows that the pilgrim’s humility in front of his/her great Imam who sacrificed EVERTHING he had for Islam!

Other than love and passion towards the Imam, which drags the pilgrim from all over the world and all the difficulty and danger they choose to bear on this path, the essence of walking has immense amount of rewards per the Ahlulbait’s narrations. Imam Sadiq (PBUH) said on this matter: “Whosoever decides to visit Imam Hussain (PBUH) and departs his/her house starts to walk towards Karbala, Allah (SWT) will offer him/her a reward and drop a sin away for EVERY SINGLE STEP she/he takes.”