#ARBAEENWALK – First Day – Adventure of a life time

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SHAFAQNA – As pilgrims have began their journey towards Karbala ahead of Arbaeen, Shafaqna wanted to share with you in the experience through the words of our featured writer: Reza John Vedadi – MA in Film Production & MA in Islamic Studies, film and documentary director, producer and writer based in London.


Saturday afternoon. Standing in Heathrow saying good-bye to ones family, not knowing if you will see them again, is hard. Specially to ones mother, who is the emotional pillar in your life. Leaving ones family and going to another is an amazing feeling.

When you know some one awaits you that loves you more than your mother and father, more than your brother or sister. How can it not be home?

Night after night, would we pray to see our beloved Imams again, in dreams and in real life. We dream about the moment when we arrive to their holy cities and what we plan to do… what we plan to say?

Journey to Iraq

The journey to any holy city be it, Makkeh, Madina, Najaf, Karbala or Mashhad has its own emotions and logic. From the moment you leave your comfortable surroundings and your home, you have made an intention to visit the holiest people and places Allah as gifted to us.

The Angels sing your praise and previous sins are forgiven, for who knows if you will ever return alive?

This journey is the only journey that you do not fear death but welcome it, for to be martyred in the way of seeing your Imams, what better way can one ask to leave this temporal world.

Would you fight if you were alive during the battle of Karbala, or Siffin or Jamal? would you hold a sword  of steel and charge against an army thousand times larger than yours, knowing full well death awaits you? would you accept the pain of a piercing of a spear or the blow of an axe?

We like to think we would for Imam Ali, Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain, but we are not present at the time of these great personalities. We are alive in the time of the great Hujat ibn Hassan Askari, the Imam of our Time, The Guided. Will we be willing to give up some of our temporal wealth and time to see their golden domes with our own eyes, and shed tears that can be dropped on their floors and wipes on their marble walls?

Will we be willing to go through a little bit of hardship with long flights, and international connections, and some rough sleeping on a plane. So we can kiss with our own lips the beautiful gold and silver that surrounds our Imams tombs?

Instead of reading Dua Kumayl in our local Hussainis or Mosques, will we be willing to read it in Kumayl ibn Zeyads tomb? Will it feel different or will it feel the same if you read it any were in the world… I let you answer that for your self.

What I do know is the first day was more than any one of us expected. Tired and hungry, some travelling for more than 24 hours from around the world, arrived in Baghdad International Airport. Some of us even losing some luggage, but it does not matter. Some have lost arms and legs for their love to visit our Imams.

After a 3 hour coach ride we arrive in Najaf and check into our hotel. You think to your self, shall I go and visit the Amir al Mo’menin right now? or shall I first go to my room, change my clothes to some thing presentable, have a bath to make my self look respectable.

Does it matter?

Would you go to see the prime minister of your respected country or the King of your nation with out preparing your self in the way you look and in your mind set?

So evening comes, we are gathered out side the haram away from its main entrance. Seyed Ammar prepares the pilgrims with his wise introduction to the person we will visit and the history of the city. We move to the front of the entrance, and above us in arabic is written, Greatings upon you oh commander of the faithful!

Ya Amir’al momenin. Some wait for the beautiful recitation of Mulla Ali to let their hearts go and tears to flow. Some of us, merely at the site of our beloved Imam’s golden dome fall to our knees and the tears of a lover flows.

We don’t cry for our sins, nor for what wishes we have come for intercession for. But we fall to our knees and cry because we can not believe our Imam has accepted us and invited us. When a true lover sees the other he doesn’t think of any thing but thanking Allah for letting him be near his love. Just the presence and the fact that you are so clear is enough to supercede any emotion and need and request.

The tears flow, and the crying takes over. you can not believe your self! is it true, I am realy here, maybe this is one beautiful dream, but maybe just maybe its reality, and if it is, Oh Allah, am I worthy to be here.

End of Day one…

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