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Journey to Karbala: Part I

At the time of Arbaeen, the 40th day after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (a.s.), people from all over the world walk towards the city of Karbala to commemorate the tragic event and carry the message of fighting injustice. Men, women, children and elderly, all from different places and nationalities, participate in the walk with the common goal of visiting the shrine of Hussain, making it the largest peaceful gathering in the world at above 20 million people.

On my recent trip to Iraq, I embarked on a journey to walk from Najaf to Karbala. The walk itself is about 80km (50 miles) and took about 2.5 days to complete. While the pictures alone can never replace the experience of completing the journey for ones self (many of the experiences and feelings are uncapturable in a simple picture), I attempted to capture some of the moments through my camera.

Shrine of Imam Ali (a.s) Najaf, Iraq

Food and services are provided to all the pilgrims free of charge all throughout the journey. Everything from fries, falafel, soups, curries, rice, lentils, beans, vegetables, fruits, kabobs, shwarma and many other items are offered. Often times, they will be given in the middle of the road to not disturb the walkers pace. Other services include massages, phone charging stations, medical camps, laundry stations, and practically anything else you can think of.

You couldn't walk more than 20 steps before someone would offer you tea. It was easily the best tea I've ever had, only sometimes I would have to remove at least some sugar from the cup. Usually served in small glasses, the cup is first half filled with sugar then tea is poured in to fill the rest of the cup. 

Mawkabs (resting places) are also every few feet. These basic shelters can be tents or sometimes even concrete buildings for people to stay overnight or even rest in the daytime. Blankets and pillows are provided for you to sleep or nap after a long day of walking. 

The hospitality here is unparalleled. You can feel the energy and genuine desire of those who want to serve the pilgrims. You can see and feel the disappointment of the individuals if you do not stop to eat or rest at a mawkab. These people open their houses and will give anything and everything for the contentment of the pilgrims. The craziest part is they might not know a word of your language, and you might not know a word of theirs, but the mutual love and respect for Imam Hussain (a.s.)  brings the world together. 

Part 2 and video coming soon. 


  1. RK yo these pictures are amazing - jazakAllah khayran

  2. Very touching indeed, Jazakallah! Thanks for sharing it, Raza.