Arba'een (Arabic: الأربعين, "forty"), Chehlom (Persian:
چهلم, Urdu: چہلم, "the fortieth [day]") or Qırxı,
İmamın Qırxı (Azerbaijani: امامین قیرخی, "the fortieth
of Imam") is a
Shia Muslim religious observance that occurs forty days
after the Day of Ashura. It commemorates the martyrdom of Husayn ibn
Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, who was killed on
the 10th day of the month of Muharram.
Husayn ibn Ali
Husayn ibn Ali and 72
companions were killed by Yazid I's army in the Battle of
61 AH (680 CE). Writing in forty batches[clarification needed]
has become a tradition among Islamic scholars.
Arba'een or forty days is also the usual length of mourning after the
death of a family member or loved one in many Muslim traditions.
Arba'een is one of the largest pilgrimage gatherings on Earth, in
which up to 45 million people go to the city of
The significance of the number 40 has roots in a saying (hadith) of
Muhammad: "On the day of judgment, among my people, God will consider
whoever memorized forty Hadiths as an erudite man". Numerous Islamic
scholars have gathered collections of forty hadith, quoting from the
prophet and the Imams who followed him in
2 Annual pilgrimage
3 Ziyarat of Arbaeen
4 Other religions and countries in the Arba'een
5 Political significance
Arba'een in the Gregorian calendar
7 See also
According to tradition, the
Arba'een pilgrimage has been observed
since the year 61 AH of the
Islamic calendar (10 October 680) after
the Battle of
Karbala or the following year. According to tradition,
the first such gathering took place when Jabir ibn Abd Allah, a
sahabah and the first Arbas'een pilgrim, made a pilgrimage to the
burial site of Husayn. He was accompanied by Atiyya ibn Sa'd
because of his infirmity and probable blindness. According to
tradition, his visit coincided with that of the surviving female
members of Muhammad's family and Husayn's son and heir,
Imam Ali ibn
Husayn Zayn al-Abidin (also spelled Zain-ul-Abideen), who had all been
held captive in
Damascus by Yazid I, the
Zayn al-Abidin had survived the Battle of
Karbala and led a secluded
life in deep sorrow. He lived under pressure and tight surveillance
Umayyad Caliphate. According to legend, for twenty years
whenever water was placed before him, he would weep. One day a servant
said to him, ‘O son of Allah’s Messenger! Is it not time for your
sorrow to come to an end?’ He replied, ‘Woe upon you!
prophet had twelve sons, and Allah made one of them disappear. His
eyes turned white from constant weeping, his head turned grey out of
sorrow, and his back became bent in gloom,[a] though his son was alive
in this world. But I watched while my father, my brother, my uncle,
and seventeen members of my family were slaughtered all around me. How
should my sorrow come to an end?’[b]
Arba'een's performance has been banned in some periods, the last of
which was when Saddam Hussein, (a Sunni who ruled as an Arab
nationalist, clashing with Islamic revivalism) was president of Iraq.
For nearly 30 years under Saddam's regime, it was forbidden to mark
Arba'een publicly in Iraq. Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the
observance in April 2003 was broadcast worldwide.
The city of
Iraq is the center of the proceedings which
many pilgrims travel miles on foot to reach. As of 2016 “between 17
million and 20 million” pilgrims usually attend
including about three million foreigners, most of whom are
Arba'een is consistently among the largest peaceful gatherings in
history. Every year, huge crowds of pilgrims travel
to the city of
Karbala in pilgrimage to the
Imam Hossein holy shrine
Karbala on Arba’een Day. (For example it is over 500km from
Basra the largest city in southern
Shia predominate to
Karbala.) It is traveled annually on foot by Iraqi pilgrims, which
takes them two weeks, or approximately one month to come from other
countries like Iran. The crowds become so massive that roads are
blocked for hundreds of miles.
In 2008, approximately nine million religious observers converged on
Karbala to commemorate Arba’een. In 2009, over ten million
people were estimated to have reached Karbala, according to BBC News
and Press TV. In 2013, 20 million pilgrams from 40 countries came for
Arbaeen, according to Iranian media. A car bomb targeting
worshippers returning from
Karbala killed at least 20 Shiite pilgrims
in January 2013. In 2014, up to 17 million people made the
pilgrimage and many choose to make the 55-mile journey on foot from
Najaf, near areas controlled by the militant Islamic State of
the Levant (ISIL), which has declared
apostates. Up to 17 million pilgrams came in 2015 and
Ziyarat of Arbaeen
Main article: Ziyarat of Arba'een
Arba'een is a prayer which is usually recited in Karbala
on the day of Arba'een. It is narrated from Safwan al-Jammaal from
Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, the sixth Shiite Imam, in which the Imam
instructed him to visit
Imam Husayn's mosque, and to recite a specific
visitation prayer on
Arba'een by which the believer should reaffirm
their pledge to Husayn's ideals. The Ziarat or prayer is a text which
designates Husayn as the "inheritor" of the Islamic/Jewish and or
Christian prophets Adam, Noah, Abraham,
Moses and Jesus.
Peace be on the favorite of Allah, Peace be on the beloved friend of
Allah, His distinguished hero! Peace be on the choicest confidant of
Allah, sincerely attached precisely like his father! Peace be on
Hussain, who gave his life in the way of Allah, a martyr, underwent
untold hardships Peace be on the hostage surrounded by the-tightening
circle of sorrow and grief, killed by a horde of savages.
He met with deadly dangers, acted justly and fairly, made use of
everything belonging to him to pay full attention to give sincere
advice, took pains, made every effort and put his heart, mind, soul
and life at the disposal of Thy mission to liberate the people from
the yoke of ignorance and evil of bewilderment, but an evildoer,
deceived with empty hopes of mean and worthless worldly gains, had
pressed heavily on him, and sold out his share (eternal bliss) for the
meanest and lowest bargain, betrayed his "day of judgment" for a
vulgar return, took pride in insolence, fell into the fathom- well of
silly stupid follies, provoked Thee and Thy Prophet to anger, did as
the harsh discordant, the hypocrite, the heavily burdened bearers of
sin, condemned to Hellfire, advised to him, however, he (the Holy
lmam), steadily, rightly and justly coped With them, till, in Thy
obedience, gave his life after which his family was set adrift.
Other religions and countries in the Arba'een
Arba'een is a distinctively Shi'a spiritual exercise, Sunni
Muslims and even Christians, Yazidis, Zoroastrians, and Sabians
partake in both the pilgrimage as well as serving of devotees.
Pilgrims from European countries including Sweden, Russia and even a
delegation from Vatican City have joined in past observances. Some
Iraqi Christian religious leaders also joined the delegation from the
Many delegations from various African countries including Ghana,
Senegal have also participated in the
18 million Shi'ite Muslims gather around the Husayn Mosque in Karbala
after making the pilgrimage on foot during Arba'een, 2013.
Since the first Arba'een, it has influenced subsequent Shi'ite
Arba'een has also been
used as a political protest, at least in Iran. It was first used there
to protest the killing of supporters of
Ruhollah Khomeini in
Qom on 5 June 1963 when a general strike was announced. A cycle of
Arba'een public observance of mourning rituals of martyred protestors
— where an
Arba'een observance was held to commemorate those killed
in the preceding
Arba'een protest demonstration — is often credited
as part of the reason for the success of the 1979 Iranian Revolution
that overthrew Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, although that
explanation has also been questioned.
Arba'een in the Gregorian calendar
Arba'een is always on nearly the same day (20 or 21 Safar) of
the Islamic calendar, the date on the
Gregorian calendar varies from
year to year because of differences between the two calendars, since
the Islamic calendar, the Hijri calendar (AH), is a lunar calendar and
Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar. Furthermore, the method
used to determine when each Islamic month begins varies from country
to country (see Islamic calendar).
Arba'een always falls 40 days after the Day of Ashura. The Day of
Ashura, in turn, falls nine days after the first day of Muḥarram.
Arba'een falls 49 days after the first day of Muḥarram. This
date is shown for a selection of years, according to the Umm al-Qura
Calendar of Saudi Arabia, in the table below:
23 December 2013
13 December 2014
2 December 2015
20 November 2016
9 November 2017
10 November 2017
30 October 2018
List of largest peaceful gatherings in history
List of casualties in Husayn's army at the Battle of Karbala
Shia Islam portal
^ Quran, 12:84
^ From Shaykh as-Sadooq, al-Khisal; quoted in al-Ameen, A’yan, IV,
195. The same is quoted from Bin Shahraashoob’s Manaqib in Bih’ar
al-Anwar, XLVI, 108; Cf. similar accounts, Ibid, pp. 108–10
Islamic holidays and observances
The two Eids
Other holidays and observances
Day of Arafah
Day of Ashura
Islamic New Year
Lailat al Miraj
Promised Messiah Day2
Promised Reformer Day2
Shia Muslim only
2 Ahmadi Muslim only
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^ "Car bomb in
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^ "Millions of
Shia Muslims from across the globe have come together
in the Iraqi city of
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