This pilgrimage which involves the rise of millions of Muslims for visiting Imam al-Hussain (a) has become a manifestation of Imam al-Hussain’s (a) glory and is a global message about the doctrines and goals of his blessed movement.
What follows is an interview with Ayatollah Sayyid Monir al-Khabbaz, teacher of Qom Hawza Ilmiyyah, on Arbaeen:
Ijtihad: what is your opinion about those who make doubts about Arbaeen pilgrimage with their tongues and pens?
Sayyid Monir al-Khabbaz:
In the name of God
Undoubtedly, Arbaeen pilgrimage in itself has merits, privileges and preferences, and regarding its importance from religious viewpoint, no doubts remains due to the following points:
Arbaeen pilgrimage has gained a great status and significance which distinguishes it from other recommended visits.
This pilgrimage which involves the rise of millions of Muslims for visiting Imam al-Hussain (a) has become a manifestation of Imam al-Hussain’s (a) glory and is a global message about the doctrines and goals of his blessed movement. Accordingly, this pilgrimage – in addition to its own privilege and merits – has become a symbol of the characteristics of merits, about which there is no disagreement.
This holy pilgrimage is a turning point in Shi’a history and among the criteria of power and dignity of the Ahl al-Bayt (a).
Seekers of the truth and fair-minded thoughts from any school or sect see millions of people who know about each other’s worries and sadness like an orderly family and do not spare any of their time and efforts for each other, help the poor and support orphans and do all of this only for the love of the noble Prophet (a) and his family (peace be upon them). The Qur’an has called all believers to love them and serve their followers; and all this giving, generosity and services are made without any expectation and all of this shows the glory of the school of the Ahl al-Bayt (a).
Therefore, the only faith and school which has had the capability to easily grow its followers – through its teachings – with such values and with integrity and flexibility and have been able to turn them into an integrated and synergic society in a short time is the one which is originated from God’s eternity and the pure treasure of Prophet Muhammad (a), Imam Ali (a) and his pure progeny.
The great Arbaeen pilgrimage is a very valuable opportunity for the great mass of pilgrims from other countries to visit religious authorities and scholars in Iraq.
Guiding and answering religious issues, benefiting from sources of knowledge there which comprise the seminary and attracting Sunni brothers and many followers of other religions such as Christianity, Mandaean and others are all among the blessings of Arbaeen and this great and valuable ritual.
Without any doubt, Arbaeen march is not an accidental unplanned happening, but rather, historical studies show that its background goes back to the time of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and a short time after the martyrdom of Imam al-Hussain (a).
Its primary formation was with few people who moved toward the grave of Imam al-Hussain (a) from Kufa and its surrounding areas.
By reflecting upon frequent hadiths received from the Ahl al-Bayt (a) regarding the encouragement made for visiting Imam al-Hussain (a) with focus on the method and form of Ziyara, we learn that those hadiths are about going toward the grave of Imam al-Hussain (a) on foot. It is mentioned in the hadith transmitted from Imam Hassan al-‘Askari (a), “and ziyarat al-Arbaeen” is in fact the famous day in the views of Twelver Shi’a from that time. Qurtubi (d. 671 AH) and other Sunni historians have mentioned it in al-Tadhkirat fi ahwal al-mowtawa al-akhira.
Since the beginning of the Age of Occultation up to now, the conduct of scholars in the seminary has been based on spiritual support and assistance to this movement and encouraging about Arbaeen pilgrimage. The following scholars can be mentioned among such scholars: Grand Ayatollahs Sistani, Hakim, Vahid Khorasani and Fayyad.
Since Arbaeen pilgrimage has become a symbol independent from the nature and institution of Shi’a, any doubt-making and weakening of it is not appropriate and is away from the truth; and, since it is by itself definite and popular with different titles and criteria, such fault-finding is not important; especially, because this pilgrimage has gone beyond recommendation similar to that mentioned about other visits and has been turned to the symbol of power and glory of the Ahl al-Bayt (a) and the promotion of the values, merits and revival of the order of the Pure and Infallible Progeny.
Therefore, a studious and knowledgeable fiqh scholar, as my teacher Ayatollah Sistani says, is the one who considers hidden characteristics and angles of all issues and phenomena and their present and future consequences and has studied all their aspects.
Also, it is to note that the kind of understanding the Qur’an discusses and addresses in the verse, “But why should not there a group from each of their sections go forth to become learned in religion” (9:122) and also the Ahl al-Bayt (a) emphasize on; as Imam al-Sadiq (a) says, “I would want to whip at the heads of my companions until they come to understanding [religion]”; is not only learning the permissible and the impermissible, but rather, it is:
-Perfect knowledge of all aspects of fiqh
-To discover and analyze all hidden aspects in hadiths of the Ahl al-Bayt (a)
-Having the capability to communicate and link between teachings received from their speech and the great goals of religion
-Leadership and correct navigation of the teachings in specified areas
-Having insight and analysis about any event through inspiration from the texts of verses and principles and all hidden points and dimensions.