My experience in Arbaeen is something I could not have imagined before. I had tried to go a few years before to see what is it that everyone is talking about. I could not have imagined the number of people that were there. The first day or two, I kept looking around and thought the numbers will drop, and it will be less crowded but it kept getting more and more crowded. It felt like the whole world was there in Iraq and was walking from Najaf to Karbala. I was really taken by the kindness of people, especially the Iraqis who took us into their homes, fed us, gave us a place to sleep, a place to shower. They looked after everyone. No one was left without a place. No one went hungry or thirsty. If you wanted water, it was there, if you wanted food, it was there, or if you were tired you could sleep in the mowkeb right then and there. You don’t see that anywhere in the world. Just in Iraq and just for Arabaeen.
Another interesting thing that happened to me, is that I was without any worries. I wasn’t thinking of anything else or my daily struggles, my family back in The States. I wasn’t even thinking of my mother and father who were on the walk too and we kept getting separated. My only concern was getting to Karbala, I wasn’t occupied by anything else. I really didn’t think of anything else, my life back in America, my sister, my brother, my nephew – none of them. I was really surprised at myself and I realized after the walk, when we got to Karbala, the next day it hit me that I was not at all concerned or thinking about my life.
Another point I want to say is that I was so affected by the iman and spirituality of people. I would see people who were upset at why their feet did not have blisters from walking. I was happy my feet didn’t have blisters – clearly, they were on another level. When we got to Karbala on the day of Arbaeen, reading ziyarat Arbaeen on the rooftop in Karbala – I will never forget it, that feeling that we had, that we had reached our goal, we had reached Karbala.
That night we went to the shrine and it was so busy. I was so thankful that I was even able to be in Baynal haramayn that night. I really hope I can go again to Ziyarat, whether in Arbaeen or otherwise, but insha’Allah next Arbaeen for the walk.
One regret that I do have is that during the walk I didn’t read the ziyarats that we have from the Imams. Before coming on the walk I hadn’t really done much research beforehand.