Arbaeen: The world’s biggest event


By Kevin Barrett, Veterans Today Editor

Editor’s note:  One minor word, some of us were invited to attend then 24 hours before getting on a plane were told “forget it.”

This is a peaceful gathering except if you are a foreign dignitary invited to attend.  Then it is something else.  Pissed off in Grand Haven

Today is Arbaeen, the annual commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson. During the past decade an estimated twenty to thirty million people (with outlier estimates closer to fifty million) have been making the pilgrimage to Karbala each year. Wikipedia’s list of “largest peaceful gatherings” is dominated by recent Arbaeen pilgrimages.

It seems rather miraculous that Iraq—the nation most devastated by the 9/11-triggered Zionist-incited scorched-earth operations—should be hosting a pilgrimage five to ten times as big as the much better known canonical Muslim Pilgrimage, the Hajj. The Saudis, with all their Western protection and oil wealth, have been forced to cap the number of Hajjis at slightly over 3 million. At that rate it would take 581 years to get all the world’s Muslims to Mecca. But despite the fact that the Hajj is obligatory, the Saudis just can’t handle much more than 3 million per year. How can the war-devastated Iraqis, with zero help from the West, host tens of millions every Arbaeen?

The answer is that the Iraqi government doesn’t have to organize Arbaeen. It is largely self-organizing. In many ways Arbaeen is more of a spontaneous act of mournful protest than an officially-sanctioned state-organized event. And it works so well, and attracts so many people, because it resonates so beautifully with the spirit of the age. We live at a time of unparalleled injustice and oppression. And all of the world’s injustice and oppression has never been more visible, thanks to communications technology. So the natural human thirst for justice arises in response. Arbaeen is about mourning the triumph of injustice—and vowing to atone by pursuing justice even to the extreme of self sacrifice should that be necessary.

Now THAT is a protest gathering! It makes iconic Western protests like Woodstock, the women’s march against Trump, various global warming protests, and so on seem rather petty by comparison.

No wonder Arbaeen thrives in Iraq, a nation crushed under the weight of so many accumulated layers of injustice: British colonialism, American neocolonialism, Saddam’s fascism, Zio-American occupation, ISIS’s madness. Dr. Gideon Polya, a leading expert on avoidable mortality, writes:

Iraqi deaths from violence (1.7 million) or war-imposed deprivation (2.9 million) since 1990 total 4.6 million [1]…The appalling legacy of a quarter of a century of Western violence against Iraq (1990-2015) – for oil, US hegemony and Apartheid Israeli hegemony – is summarized below, with much of the data being found in “Iraqi Holocaust Iraqi Genocide” [1], “Genocide in Iraq” volumes I and II by Iraqi scholars Dr Abdul-Haq Al-Ani & Tariq Al-Ani and reviews of these works [18-21] and noting that about half of the Iraqi population of 30 million are children :

(1). 1.7 million Iraqi violent deaths.
(2). 2.9 million Iraqi avoidable deaths from violently -imposed deprivation.
(3). 2 million under-5 year old Iraqi infant deaths, 90% avoidable and due to gross violation of the Geneva Convention by the US Alliance.
(4). 7,700,000 Iraqi refugees.
(5). 5,000,000 Iraqi orphans.
(6). 3,000,000 Iraqi widows.
(7). 1,000,0000 Iraqis missing.
(8). 4,000 Iraqi women (20% under 18) missing and presumed “trafficked”.
(9). 3.5 million Iraqi children living in dire poverty.
(10). 1.5 million Iraqi children are undernourished.
(11). Iraqi cancer cases in cases per 100,000 people were 40 (1990), 800 (1995) and 1,600 (2005).
(12). 40% of Iraqi professionals have left since 2003.
(13). 34,000 doctors (1990) declined to 16,000 doctors (2008).
(14). More than 2,200 doctors and nurses killed.
(15). The Iraqi health budget dropped from $450 million pa (1980-1991) to $22 million (2002),
(16). Most of Iraqi children are traumatized by war.
(17). From high literacy pre-1990 to 74% illiteracy in 2011.

Iraq has become a nation of martyrs and survivors…and generous hosts. Arbaeen pilgrims report that the magnanimity of Iraqis is “off the charts.” If you’re an Arbaeen pilgrim folks feed you, take care of you, and generally don’t ask for a penny. To say this compares favorably with the way Saudis host the Hajj would risk belaboring the obvious.

Though Arbaeen is identified with Shia Islam, it has always attracted a fair number of Sunni Muslims, who like Shia Muslims revere Imam Hussein and mourn his tragedy at Karbala. In recent years this Sunni participation has increased, and more and more Christians have been joining as well. Observing Arbaeen may symbolize rejection of the fanatical anti-Shia sectarianism of ISIS, which could account for its increasingly broad -based appeal in places like Iraq. But ultimately the appeal of Arbaeen rests on its message: The martyrdom of saints and heroes like Hussein is emblematic of the world’s domination by tyrannical Yazids. Until enough of us vow to stand with the Husseins against the Yazids, even unto death, the tragedy of Karbala will continue.



  1. During the time of Sadam Hussain it was not easy and not safe for some people to visit Iraq, that is why now you see the spike in number of people who visit Iraq for Arbaeen, even though Iraq does have some restrictions. To my mind it is no protest but simply an expression of devotion for Shias to pay their respects for their Imam. If you check the number of visitors to Karbala (Iraq) through out the year you will understand my view.

  2. Some people think you bad-mouthed the Hajj. It’s not your fault if they failed to understand the point you were making in your article. Don’t take the dis-invite directly, or personally. It was the hosts that you failed to understand might have been put out with the article you wrote. Being pissed off in Grand Haven is a lot better than . . . what might have happened to the host. You do know what part of the world you’re dealing with right?!?

    • The point was understood quiet well and was reiterated. It’s just the superficial and unexperienced comparison between the between the Hajj and the Arbeen that needs to be addressed.
      The biggesr difference is that the Arbeen is a constant flow of pilgrims, the Hajj is a flow of 3 million people in unison. Imagine 3 million moving in a strict timing.
      Nothing compares to the Hajj, everyone who has been to it will tell you the same.

  3. Harry, their demise may be sooner than you think.
    The only thing that’s keeping them in power is via U.S. backing, ie: weapons and support and oil revenues. without it the House of Saud would crumble like a month old cake.

  4. @Khalid, I will point out only two things as this isn’t the forum to have a discussion about Islamic history. 1) Our prophet (pbuh) himself appointed his successor on more than one occasion, with the event of Ghadir being the most prominent one. And as the Quran tells us, the prophet does not speak for himself, he speaks for Allah. Woe on you and others like you who say it was Allah’s will for a bunch of folks to usurp the Khilafa while Amir Almomenin was busy burying our prophet. 2) You rightfully point out that “the best amongst you should be your ruler”… and Allah knows and our prophet made it clear that none could come close to Imam Ali (as). Wassalam and Ya Ali!

    • You talk about it not being the forum for discussion but you still being Syeduna Ali up. You are self serving.

    • Prophet Muhammad made it clear that Ali was not ready for Khilafa. You are part of the Rafedah or rejectionists. A rejection that started a dispute 100 years after Karbala.

    • Yes Khalid, I will proudly reject the usurpers until yowm alghiyamah and beyond. There is no reaching true Islam unless you go through Imam Ali (as).

    • Thanks @liangluang, this publication is very well thought out, thoroughly researched and supported by well-documented sources.

  5. Good point & in a normal paradigm yes that would be the case. Everyone knows (or should know by now) that the UK picks the Crown. Old deal made sub rosa via Ottoman Empire. The EL-ite hierarchy rule through ancient Babylonian/Roman Mithraism/Hermeticism/Kabbalh/Freemasonry tenets. Secrecy dominates this world, and foremost as the secret of domination. Secret Societies & symbols rule the world not rules or laws still. The simulacra & hypocrisy are deafening & blinding to those who can see & hear.

    • How many of these “royal families” gained legitimacy through the Papacy? How many of them collaborated with the Church during the Reformation and what was their reward?
      It is known that some bought their way into the Papacy. who knows, maybe it’s continues.
      The idea of royal bloodlines being that of the original Grail is pure rubbish anyway.
      The idea of royal families continuing into the 21st century is an anachronism, a conundrum.
      Time for humanity to grow up.

  6. Dr. Barrett, your PHD in Arabic might have not introduced you to the old Arabic saying “Houses in Meccah are bought and sold but never rented.” Please reflect on that for a while. To somehow fail to make a sharp distinction between the Muslim tradition of hosting pilgrims in Meccah for over 1300 years (before the European installed fiefdom of Saud), and the current exploitation of the pilgrims is not doing Islam or Muslims any favors. Let me rephrase, what the Saudi family does is not what Islam or Muslims should be blamed for, they are a means of proxy rule.
    As for the Karbala gathering being bigger and better, that just does not have the same weight with Allah as the Pilgrim. For the Pilgrim is from “Manasik Allah”.
    I would save my money and do what Allah has ordered me.

    • @Khalid Talaat, interesting that you allow yourself to speak for Allah. Our prophet, peace be upon him and his holy household said, Hussein (as) is from me, and I am from Hussein. He made very clear that Hussein, along with Amir Almomenin, Imam Ali, Fatima, and Imam Hassan (as ajmaeen) are members of his Ahlul Bayt. He took Imam Hussein (as) with him at the event of Mubahala. I can go on with the merits of Hussein and other members of the Ahlul Bayt and I still would not have scratched the surface. Soften your heart man and see the reality of this world…

    • Dr. Ali Shariati once wrote in a paper about the Hajj the following. The pilgrim goes to Arafat (from the verb Araf or to know) to know and connect with fellow Muslims from far away lands and to know the Ummah or nation.
      Then he goes to alMashaer (from the verb Sha’ara or feel, sense, become conscious) to feel the condition of his fellow Muslims, who needs help? who needs food? and also on the Ummah or Nation’s level. Who is facing oppression? and so forth.
      Then you go to Mena (from the verb Menn or to bestow with kindness or pure love) where you learn to love your fellow pilgrims. Those are the 3 faces of Allah, Knowledge of your fellow man, consciousness of his condition and you have no option but to love him and bestow kindness upon him.
      Then the pilgrim goes to cast stone at the 3 pits of the devil symbolizing exceptionalism or despotism, deception and exploitation.
      Is the arbaeen as profound as the Hajj? Now that I hope I have added something to your knowledge of Islam with Allah’s help, I wish to leave you with a couple of pieces of advice.
      Read Tafsir Ibn Kathir (the full version, 2k+ pages) then you will realize, like I did that as far as understanding Allah’s Will, Wisdom and Mercy, we are all at the edge of an endless Ocean.
      And, because of that feeling of minutiae we feel in comparison, thousand upon thousand of Islamic manuscripts alway end with Allahu Aalam or Allah knows best.
      Allah knows best.
      Peace upon you.

    • Kamangeer, “interesting that you allow yourself to speak for Allah.” I know every Muslims speaks of Allah, we praise him everyday. Maybe you don’t?
      I know all about the People of the Household or Ahlu alBeit. I also know that the Rafidah or Rejectionists insult Umm al Muslimin Aisha peace and prayers upon her. She is a beloved of Sayidunah Muhammad Peace and Prayers upon him.
      By the way a million visits to Sayedunah Hussein’s tomb is not equal to one Pilgrimage. If you don’t like it, then take it up with Allah.
      AlSalamu Aleikum.

    • Kamangeer, PS. Allah has ordered us to the Pilgrim if we are capable. I not speaking for him, just reminding those who seem to need it.
      “Manassik” and “Sha’aer” are words you find in the Quraan if you can understand Arabic.

    • Wouldn’t it be the greatest thing of all times if WE all who believe in God only do what HE is telling us? Unity of men would spread quicker like a deadly virus of the US/IL labs from eastern Europe and peace and harmony would reign for the first time in the history of mankind after the separation from creation. Will it be worth it? For the masses yes though not for the handful rulers of chaos and destruction and their weak spiritual installed masterminds serving the opposition.
      Where is the peace children of Allah? In unity and god alone!

    • It is time for the benefit of my fellow readers that I pointed here on VT the fundamental difference between Shia and Sunni.
      First, let us not blame Islam and Muslims for Western influence and sabotage.
      The Shia believe and mourn the fact that the rule of Islam was not handed down through lineage to prophet Muhammad’s grandson alHussein and his progeny down to the twelfth generation, in other words a kingship inherited through lineage was not established.
      The Sunnis believe as did prophet Muhammad’s teachings indicate, that the best amongst you should be your ruler and rule should be by consensus. Islam came to abolish the rule of the elite, with their arogance in their lineage and its entitlements. Islam came as an equal opportunity employer for the leadership. It was definetly against kingships and dynasties.
      One faction mourns the passing of lineage and dynasty and the other adheres to election of the best among peers and rule by consensus.
      This is it, everything else is subservient to or eminates from this fact.
      May I remind my fellow Muslims, nothing happens wifhout Allah’s will.
      Time to heal this wound and stop the divisions and fanaticism. The Holy Land is occupied by a dynasty that sold Islam down the river.

    • (Web master please keep this here.) The irony in all this is that Iran elects a leader and rule is by consensus as it should be and Arabia is ruled by a king and his progeny without consensus as it should never happen.
      So what in Allah’s name are we arguing about?

    • Do any of you believers think that the House of Saud has failed to properly support the Hajj? And that this could eventually bring about their demise, losing the support of the people. Just a ponder.

    • Would you people please explain the difference between Islam and Wahhabi? How it came about? I understand the House of Saud is Wahhabi but I still don’t understand it.

    • The distinction between the Hajj, the one and only canonical Muslim Pilgrimage, and the criminals who have usurped it is too obvious to require comment. What is shocking is that the world’s nearly two billion Muslims are allowing the Ibn Saud crime family to continue its usurpation of this beautiful event.