Thursday, December 11, 2014

ARBA'EEN - The Spiritual Journey



This year once again my family received the sharaf of undertaking the most spiritually uplifting and soul enriching Arba'been journey from the most holy precincts of Najaf to Karbala. Each passing year the fervor and the number of pilgrims is for ever increasing.

In the year 62 AH ashab e Nabi (SA) Moulana Jabir in company of Attaya bin Saeed undertook the journey, which this year has witnessed a multitude of more than 20 million and more. ( Five times that of this year's Haj pilgrims ) Just thinking about it so overwhelming, and words fail to describe the feelings and outpouring of love, for those who undertake it.

My family was in company of 29 mumineen from Kuwait. At 7 am Sunday 6th Dec: 2014 we started from Najf Rubaat, in all 179 mumineen, a large many from India. We were escorted through the town carrying Husaini A'lam and Banners to the Highway by faiz  khidmatgujars, who took leave, when we reached the highway.

It was a moving sight when we reached Pole No : 1 on the highway and like a stream merging into an overflowing river, we in company of thousands chanting YA HUSAIN !YA HUSAIN ! started our momentos journey towards Karbala.  

The Electricity Poles on the roads towards Karbala are the best markers. There are in all 1452 poles. The Karbala Rubaat is near Pole No: 1449. The haram of Abbas e Alambardar (SA) is near Pole 1452. Thus it gives an idea of the distance, and a means to understand the distance covered, and more important the 'marker' for assembly point of the group. We in our group decide before hand, on which number Pole should we assemble, so that those who walk ahead, wait at that particular Pole, for others who have fallen back.

After the downfall of Saddam Hussain, in the Year 2003 the Arba'een which was banned for past 30 years was broadcast live. The Western Media in recent years has been reporting it as the World's largest and most dangerous gathering.
However, in spite of terrorist threats and intimidation, there is no sense of fear in those who undertake the pilgrimage. Sayeed Maldi Modarresi in his article in Huffington Post has in great detail, covered the different aspects of Arba'eeen. He talks of people undertaking a 425 miles of arduous journey from Basra to Karbala, walking for two weeks.

Feelings of affection, of reaching out and helping the pilgrims, showering them with doa for their safe journey is what one witnesses, as one remembering and moaning the Husaini kafla undertakes the journey. Mawakeb organizers who come from all walks of life, some of them are farmers and labourers, spare no efforts to make the pilgrims comfortable. It has only to be experienced. Fifty million meals a day financed by general public !! They line up the roads and at times literally plead with you to take their falafil and  chicken sandwiches, boiled eggs and bread, and fruits. Sharbat and tea is served in plenty at short distances along the road. The little ones came running towards us, pleading to take their offerings.

The love and fervor of the people is so overwhelming that tears gush forth, doa from the heart comes on our lips,  and it also takes us back to the road traversed in bondage by Imam Ali Zain ul Abedeen Moula and the Husaini kafla. As we walk towards Karbala, surrounded by so much outpouring of love and affection, we think of the pain and tribulations suffered in 61 A.H.

Our group of 179 which started from Pole No: 1 started to divide into smaller groups as we covered distance, the youngsters and able bodied walked faster, they rested for smaller durations.

One mumin youngster aged around 22 years walked the entire distance bare foot, just imagine walking on the cold road. Another mumin bhai, who has been coming for the past 2-3 years, undertakes the pilgrimage, fasting for the entire duration.

These are just two examples of many mumineen, who willingly undertake hardship and deprivation, all on account of the immense love of Ahle Bait (S.A ) and love and affection for Aqa Moula (TUS) and for his sehato a'fiyat and umre darazi.

Our group of 16 mumineen rested on the first night at a Farm House of a local Arab, and the hospitality received was overwhelming. The Amil Saheb of Bahrain who was in the early seventies, and Bhen Saheba who had only last year undergone knee surgery were in our group, and seeing them walk and keeping pace with us, was so motivating and uplifting. Unaided they walked with us, seeing them undertake this arduous journey I made a niyat and offered doa, that if Allah with his Mercy makes me reach that age, I will surely undertake this pilgrimage.

The second night was spent being fussed over by the locals in a  big well stocked tent, the ladies massaged our tiring limbs and went out of their way, to see that we were comfortable.  Finally on Monday, 8th Dec: 2014 at around 10.30 in the morning five of us reached Karbala, the rest in company of Amil Saheb and Bhen saheba reached at around noon.

On reaching Karbala I interacted with a bhen who was in a group from South India, and I learnt that they had started with the intention of covering the journey at faster pace,  and shortest possible time, as a result of which, they got so very tired, took different route, as a result of which a few of them, had to take a cab to complete the journey. An eye - opener.

I feel it is a spiritual pilgrimage and should be done with due reverence and feeling. Have just returned to Kuwait but looking forward to the next Arba'een and in the meantime wishing and praying for the tashreef awri of Aqa Moula A'li Qdr Muffadal Saifuddin Moula (TUS). There is so much of excitement and anticipation amongst  Kuwait muminen, and preparations are in  earnest.

NOTE: Above 'write up' is based on the narration given by Bhen Farida Mulla Shabbirbhai Basrai. Kuwait 

Email : fbasrai100


Monday, December 8, 2014


LOVE,  an umbrella term which incorporates an abundance  of God-gifted relations within it,  a few by blood and others by destiny, in truth is the salt of life without which life would remain bland and tasteless. 

 Be it bilateral relations like friendship, courtship, engagement, marriage or multilateral ones like relation with your parents, siblings, extended family or family-in-law, all are priceless relationships bound together by the most beautiful emotion, love. 

These immeasurable and invaluable gifts of relations should be treasured, caressed and prevented from being harmed.These are the most cherished and soul enriching  boons from the Almighty, which rather than being discarded at the drop of a hat should be preserved for a lifetime. 

The beauty of love in any relation lies in the universal fact that it is palpable even to the unfortunate victims of deafness, dumbness and blindness.  They also feel its embalming and all embracing power.  Love is like the sun, the absence of which creates darkness and its presence has the power to light up the life of a blind person. It is a powerful weapon that helps us win and overcome any battle of life. The lyrics of the famous English band rightly goes, 'one love is all we need', indeed!

There are relationships, there are issues, and consequently and inevitably, of course , there are the two very poisonous pesticides, ego and false sense of self respect, which destroy the seeds of love, trust, and affection to an extent that our relations wither away and die. 

With the human fraternity constantly battling between relationship issues and the two deceivers-ego and false sense of self respect, it is widely observed that the former which takes years to build is destroyed, at times in a matter of minutes.

Many would argue as to how respect for ones own self would destroy bonds. Self respect is a good human trait, but the problem is with the false sense of self respect. True, you can't win others respect till you don't have regard and reverence for yourself but too much of it outweighs the respect for others. This is when even the best of bonds are ruined. Ego is a genie  that we create in  ourselves, that eventually leads to our own destruction. 

Rolling back to the stories my grandma told me, it becomes evident that ego and false sense of self respect have become a rampant relationship spoiler in only our times. My Granny would often narrate to me episodes of her animosity with grandpa, and rightly make me understand as to how In their days love for each other made no room for anything to destroy it. 

We all hold a certain degree of impulsiveness in us which makes us act on a whim, disabling us to foresee its menacing consequences. As a result, we make mistakes, indulge in monumental sulks, blurt out unintended bluntness, this hurting the sentiments of one another and encountering misunderstandings. This is when love begins to decay, trust diminishes, affection deflates, the treacherous ego begins its work and the relationship as a whole dies a death.

The question you may throw at yourself over here is, was your bond with your friend , partner , sibling or any other associate so weak that it could be destroyed so easily? 

Take a moment to recapture all the beautiful moments you shared with them, the happiness, the sadness. Were they so dim that they could be darkened completely? Did your priceless bond weigh so less in front of your issues? Ego and false sense  of self respect are nothing but only a part of your English vocabulary when your relation to you holds more significance.

Save your self and your loved ones from a bleeding heart by :

 Nipping  your ego in the bud before having to bury your relationship in the soil. 

Make your ego and self respect so porous that all your issues penetrate and dissolve into it. 

Come to  terms with the fact that we all are humans, bound to make mistakes and deserve one chance to correct ourselves.

 Forgive quickly and live with no regrets. After all, in your times of sorrow, not your ego or self respect but your near and dear ones will come and comfort you. Give it an intense thought!

AUTHOR : Umaima S. Saeed. Kolkata