Arbaeen outside the White House

SHAFAQNA – Some 1,000 followers of Imam Hussain (a.s), grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (saww), gathered outside the White House Nov. 12 for Arbaeen, the day of remembrance marking the end of the 40-day mourning period for the martyrdom of the 7th century Muslim leader who was martyred in the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE.

Members of Washington, DC-area mosques carried a taboot (ritual coffin) draped with a gold-embroidered black mourning cloth topped with silver standards that are used by the Shia population in many parts of the Muslim world in processions marking Imam Hussain’s martyrdom. Others performed the ancient ritual of lamenting and matam (beating their chests gently to display their grief).

Noting that the black flag has been adopted by ISIS but is not a reflection of the values of Islam, one of the organizers ( expressed concern that “ISIS had ruined the perception of Islam and caused a concerning, negative effect on all of humanity.”

Similar Arbaeen observances are held in Shia communities around the world, including in Karbala, Iraq, where millions visited Imam Hussain’s shrine to pay their respects. Revered by his followers for his compassion, wisdom and integrity, Hussain is remembered for his quote, “I only desire to spread good values and prevent evil.”

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