Imam Khamenei

Ayatollah Khamenei's 1974 speech: The key role of Arbaeen pilgrimage in safeguarding the path of Prophet and his progeny

Arbaeen means the gathering of Shi'a Muslims at the level of an international and global congress. It means their gathering in a land which is memorable. Karbala is the land of memories: glorious and magnificent memories. It is the land of martyrs, the graveyard of the martyred on the path of God. The followers of the Shi'a path gather in Karbala and pledge their brotherhood and loyalty to one another. --This is Arbaeen.

 

 

The following is an excerpt of a speech delivered on March 15, 1974, by Ayatollah Khamenei, at Imam Hassan Al-Mujtaba Mosque, in the holy city of Mashhad, on the occasion of Arbaeen. Nearly forty-five years ago, when the Arbaeen ceremony was not as glorious as it is today, Ayatollah Khamenei presented a detailed explanation of the significance of Arbaeen at Imam Hassan Al-Mujtaba Mosque. On the occasion of Arbaeen, this year, an excerpt of his speech is published below.

 

Did you know that a sign of faith is the Arbaeen Ziyarah (Pilgrimage during Arbaeen)? I do not know how accurate this narration is, and I do not want to insist that this narration means what I think it does. The truth is that I believe other interpretations, put forward by other individuals, are correct. However, if my interpretation is conceivable, there are many examples to support it.

 

The Shia were a scattered group at that time: it was a community which did not live in one place. They were scattered throughout Medina, Kufa, Basra, Ahvaz, Qom, and Khorasan. The Shi'a Muslims used to live in different countries, but there was a spirit which governed that divided body, like the pieces in prayer-beads, a string connected them. What was that string holding them together? It was the string of obeying Shi'a centrality and the leadership of Shia – in other words, the Imams. All those strings would be connected there.

 

It was a heart that commanded all parts and members. Thus, Shia was an organization. There were some individuals who did not know about one another, but there were also some people who knew about everyone. Their obedience was calculated, and their bellows, cries, and even silence were based on the command of that Shia centrality. All their moves were calculated.

 

There was one problem for them though, and that was the fact that they could not see one another very often. The citizens of a city and Shi'a Muslims of a region would meet one another, of course. However, there was a need for a global congress of Shi'as in the time of the Imams (greetings be upon them). Then, they determined that global congress and set the time for it. They said that everyone who could participate in that Congress, at a specific time, should: that specific time was the day of Arbaeen and the place was the land of Karbala. --That was because the Shi'a spirit is a Karbala-i and Ashura-i spirit. The body of all Shi'a beats for Ashura. Shi'a Muslims, wherever they are, follow Hussain’s (as) Ashura. --That is why those beating hearts originated from that holy shrine: they were the flaming hearts ignited by that holy and pure spirit and that valuable shrine. They captured the lives and souls of individuals: they turned the people into bullets that would strike at the heart of the enemy.

 

The first movement that was launched after Ashura by Shi's Muslims was the "Tawwabin Movement." They gathered together at that holy shrine – this has been mentioned in historical books – and they wept profusely. Some people believe that those tears were a means to relieve themselves emotionally. Of course, crying is a way of relieving oneself unless it is accompanied by thought. If one’s tears are guided by emotions, then what those people believe is true; but, if one’s tears are based on logic, this resembles fuel over a bonfire, which makes the fire blaze stronger.

 

So, their tears were not a way of relieving their pain rather they were their weapon. That is why weeping and crying was one of the most common things that Shi'a would do in the early Islamic era. All of them were fighting against oppression, and all of them took the path of Ashura. Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq and Imam Ridha (God’s greetings be upon him) used to cry. They encouraged poets to compose long qasidas (ballads) to remind Shi'a of their past so that their fire would blaze evermore fiercely than before.

 

Therefore, the Tawwabin went there and wept a great deal. I think, I once said that they kept weeping for one, two whole days – this has been mentioned in history -- but I do not recall exactly how long. --They wept continuously.  After they shed those tears, they joined hands and decided to lay down their lives on the path of God. They decided that they would not stop fighting until they are killed: and this was what happened. Great people such as Sulayman ibn Sorad Khozayi – a companion of the Commander of the Faithful and one of the followers of Imam Hassan – and other such people laid down their lives, and they were killed. The starting point was Karbala. Notice what an astonishing truth this was at that time. Of course, today, this truth is not as beautiful and glorious as that day in the minds of our people. It is different in their minds. Therefore, the issue of Arbaeen is an important issue.

 

Arbaeen means the gathering of Shi'a Muslims at the level of an international and global congress. It means their gathering in a land which is memorable. Karbala is the land of memories: glorious and magnificent memories. It is the land of martyrs, the graveyard of the martyred on the path of God. The followers of the Shi'a path gather in Karbala and pledge their brotherhood and loyalty to one another. --This is Arbaeen.

 

Apart from the Tawwabin, we know other groups of people who went there to gain inspiration. One of the greatest Shi'a movements, in history, during the Bani Abbas caliphate is the movement of Ibn Tabataba. The honorable sayyids, known as “Tabatabai” today, apparently descend from Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Ismaeel Tabataba. That man launched an amazing movement, and they achieved victory. They conquered an important part of the world of Islam, and they established the government of Shi'a Islam and an Alawi government. Contrary to those who think that the Imamzadehs [the children of the Imams] did not have this right, they were given the right to do so. They were allowed by their seniors to do this, and it produced results.

 

However, that great personality (Tabataba) fell ill in the middle of his movement and passed away. --This is a reason why that earlier achievement did not thrive; and, after a few years, the movement was defeated. Nonetheless, they were in power for a few years. Those great personalities, too, went to Karbala when they decided to launch their movement. When they wanted to begin, they set off to Karbala along with their Shia followers, and they pledged their allegiance and brotherhood at the graveyard of Hussain ibn Ali (God’s greetings be upon him).

 

You have certainly heard that Jabir ibn Abdullah Ansari traveled to Karbala as well. I believe that great personality was the third person who visited the shrine of Hussain ibn Ali (God’s greetings and peace be upon him). The group led by Jabir and Atiyah were the third group who made that pilgrimage to Karbala. Of course, there were some groups who preceded them. Perhaps, Bani Asad was one of the first groups who visited that holy shrine and who buried the holy body of Hussain ibn Ali (God’s greetings and peace be upon him). They were among the first individuals who visited that shrine. Jabir was another individual who went there to visit the shrine, with the details that you have heard about and that have been explained by other individuals. You have been present at different ceremonies, and you have heard about it frequently.

 

In sum, reminding the people of the memory of Ashura, and that great jihad and self-sacrifice, used to be done on the day of Arbaeen and in that land. Today, too, if Shias can turn that pure and holy land into a place of their gathering, this will be a great and interesting event, and it will be a continuation of the path that has been presented to us by the Imams (greetings be upon them).

Tags

  • Arbaeen
  • Karbala
  • Shia

Comment