Arba'een (Arabic: الأربعين‎, romanizedal-Arba‘īn, lit. 'forty'), Chehlom (Persian: چهلم‎, Urdu: چہلم‎, "the fortieth day") is a Shia Muslim religious observance that occurs forty days after the Day of Ashura. It commemorates the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, who was killed on the 10th day of the month of Muharram. Imam Husayn ibn Ali and 72 of his companions were killed by Yazid's army in the Battle of Karbala in 61 AH (680 CE).

Arba'een or forty days is also the usual length of mourning after the death of a family member or loved one in many Muslim traditions. Arba'een is one of the largest pilgrimage gatherings on Earth, in which up to 45 million people go to the city of Karbala in Iraq.[1][2][3][4][5]

The significance of the number 40 has roots in a saying (hadith) of Muhammad: "On the day of judgment, among my people, God will consider whoever memorized forty Hadiths as an erudite man". Numerous Islamic scholars have gathered collections of forty hadith, quoting from the prophet and the Imams who followed him in Shia Islam.

Kerbela Hussein Moschee
Millions of Muslims gather around the Husayn Mosque in Karbala after making a pilgrimage on foot during Arba'een.
Official nameالأربعين al-Arba‘īn (in Arabic)
Also called
  • Chehlom
  • (İmamın) Qırxı
Observed byShia Muslims
Significance40 days after Ashura
ObservancesVisiting the Imam Husayn Shrine, Karbala
Date20 Safar
2018 dateOctober 30
2019 dateOctober 19
2020 dateOctober 8
2021 dateSeptember 27
Frequencyonce every Islamic year


According to tradition, the Arba'een pilgrimage has been observed since the year 61 AH of the Islamic calendar (10 October 680) after the Battle of Karbala or the following year. According to tradition, the first such gathering took place when Jabir ibn Abd Allah, a sahabah and the first Arba'een pilgrim, made a pilgrimage to the burial site of Husayn.[6] He was accompanied by Atiyya ibn Sa'd because of his infirmity and probable blindness. According to tradition, his visit coincided with that of the surviving female members of Muhammad's family and Husayn's son and heir, Imam Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin (also spelled Zain-ul-Abideen), who had all been held captive in Damascus by Yazid I, the Umayyad Caliph.

Zayn al-Abidin had survived the Battle of Karbala and led a secluded life in deep sorrow. He lived under pressure and tight surveillance set by Umayyad Caliphate.[7] According to legend, for twenty years whenever water was placed before him, he would weep. One day a servant said to him, ‘O son of Allah’s Messenger! Is it not time for your sorrow to come to an end?’ He replied, ‘Woe upon you! Jacob the prophet had twelve sons, and Allah made one of them disappear. His eyes turned white from constant weeping, his head turned grey out of sorrow, and his back became bent in gloom,[a] though his son was alive in this world. But I watched while my father, my brother, my uncle, and seventeen members of my family were slaughtered all around me. How should my sorrow come to an end?’[b][8][9]

Arba'een's performance has been banned in some periods, the last of which was when Saddam Hussein, (a Sunni who ruled as an Arab nationalist, clashing with Islamic revivalism) was president of Iraq. For nearly 30 years under Saddam's regime, it was forbidden to mark Arba'een publicly in Iraq. Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the observance in April 2003 was broadcast worldwide.[10]

Annual pilgrimage

The city of Karbala in Iraq is the center of the proceedings which many pilgrims travel miles on foot to reach. As of 2016 “between 17 million and 20 million” pilgrims usually attend Arba'een there, including about three million foreigners, most of whom are Iranians.[11]

Arba'een is consistently among the largest peaceful gatherings in history. Every year, huge crowds of pilgrims travel to the city of Karbala in pilgrimage to the Imam Hossein holy shrine in Karbala on Arba’een Day.[12] (For example it is over 500 km from Basra the largest city in southern Iraq where Shia predominate to Karbala.)[13] It is traveled annually on foot by Iraqi pilgrims, which takes them two weeks, or approximately one month to come from other countries like Iran. The crowds become so massive that roads are blocked for hundreds of miles.

In 2008, approximately nine million religious observers converged on Karbala to commemorate Arba’een.[14] In 2009, over ten million people were estimated to have reached Karbala, according to BBC News and Press TV. In 2013, 20 million pilgrims from 40 countries came for Arbaeen, according to Iranian media.[15][16][17] A car bomb targeting worshippers returning from Karbala killed at least 20 Shiite pilgrims in January 2013.[18] In 2014, up to 17 million people made the pilgrimage and many choose to make the 55-mile journey on foot from Najaf, near areas controlled by the militant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has declared Shia Muslims apostates.[19][20][21] Up to 17 million pilgrams came in 2015[22] and 2016

Ziyarat of Arbaeen

The Ziyarat Arba'een is a prayer which is usually recited in Karbala on the day of Arba'een. It is narrated from Safwan al-Jammaal from Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, the sixth Shiite Imam, in which the Imam instructed him to visit Imam Husayn's mosque, and to recite a specific visitation prayer on Arba'een by which the believer should reaffirm their pledge to Husayn's ideals. The Ziarat or prayer is a text which designates Husayn as the "inheritor" of the prophets Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.

Peace be on the favorite of Allah, Peace be on the beloved friend of Allah, His distinguished hero! Peace be on the choicest confidant of Allah, sincerely attached precisely like his father! Peace be on Hussain, who gave his life in the way of Allah, a martyr, underwent untold hardships Peace be on the hostage surrounded by the-tightening circle of sorrow and grief, killed by a horde of savages.[23]

He met with deadly dangers, acted justly and fairly, made use of everything belonging to him to pay full attention to give sincere advice, took pains, made every effort and put his heart, mind, soul and life at the disposal of Thy mission to liberate the people from the yoke of ignorance and evil of bewilderment, but an evildoer, deceived with empty hopes of mean and worthless worldly gains, had pressed heavily on him, and sold out his share (eternal bliss) for the meanest and lowest bargain, betrayed his "day of judgment" for a vulgar return, took pride in insolence, fell into the fathom- well of silly stupid follies, provoked Thee and Thy Prophet to anger, did as the harsh discordant, the hypocrite, the heavily burdened bearers of sin, condemned to Hellfire, advised to him, however, he (the Holy lmam), steadily, rightly and justly coped With them, till, in Thy obedience, gave his life after which his family was set adrift.[23]

Other religions and countries in the Arba'een

While the Arba'een is a distinctively Shi'a spiritual exercise, Sunni Muslims and even Christians, Yazidis, Zoroastrians, and Sabians partake in both the pilgrimage as well as serving of devotees. Pilgrims from European countries including Sweden, Russia and even a delegation from Vatican City have joined in past observances. Some Iraqi Christian religious leaders also joined the delegation from the Vatican.[24][25]

Many delegations from various African countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Senegal have also participated in the Arba'een.[17]

Political significance

پیاده روی اربعین حسینی 1
18 million Shi'ite Muslims gather around the Husayn Mosque in Karbala after making the pilgrimage on foot during Arba'een, 2013.[26]

Since the first Arba'een, it has influenced subsequent Shi'ite uprisings against Umayyad and Abbasid rule. Arba'een has also been used as a political protest, at least in Iran. It was first used there to protest the killing of supporters of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Qom on 5 June 1963 when a general strike was announced. A cycle of Arba'een public observance of mourning rituals of martyred protestors — where an Arba'een observance was held to commemorate those killed in the preceding Arba'een protest demonstration — is often credited as part of the reason for the success of the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi,[27] although that explanation has also been questioned.[28]

Arba'een in the Gregorian calendar

While Arba'een is always on nearly the same day (20 or 21 Safar) of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year because of differences between the two calendars, since the Islamic calendar, the Hijri calendar (AH), is a lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar. Furthermore, the method used to determine when each Islamic month begins varies from country to country (see Islamic calendar).

Arba'een always falls 40 days after the Day of Ashura. The Day of Ashura, in turn, falls nine days after the first day of Muḥarram. Hence, Arba'een falls 49 days after the first day of Muḥarram. This date is shown for a selection of years, according to the Umm al-Qura Calendar of Saudi Arabia, in the table below:

Islamic year Saudi Arabia[29] Iraq
1436 13 December 2014
1437 2 December 2015
1438 20 November 2016
1439 9 November 2017 10 November 2017[30]
1440 30 October 2018 30 October 2018[31]
1441 19 October 2019

See also


  1. ^ Quran, 12:84
  2. ^ From Shaykh as-Sadooq, al-Khisal; quoted in al-Ameen, A’yan, IV, 195. The same is quoted from Bin Shahraashoob’s Manaqib in Bih’ar al-Anwar, XLVI, 108; Cf. similar accounts, Ibid, pp. 108–10


  1. ^ "El Paso Inc". El Paso Inc. Archived from the original on 10 July 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  2. ^ uberVU – social comments (5 February 2010). "Friday: 46 Iraqis, 1 Syrian Killed; 169 Iraqis Wounded -". Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  3. ^ Aljazeera. "alJazeera Magazine – 41 Martyrs as More than Million People Mark 'Arbaeen' in Holy Karbala". Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  4. ^ "Powerful Explosions Kill More Than 40 Shi'ite Pilgrims in Karbala | Middle East | English". 5 February 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  5. ^ Hanun, Abdelamir (5 February 2010). "Blast in crowd kills 41 Shiite pilgrims in Iraq". Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  6. ^
  7. ^ جعفریان, رسول (2008). حیات فکری و سیاسی امامان شیعه علیهم السلام [Hayat fekri va siysi aemeh] (in Persian) (11th ed.). قم: موسسه انصاریان. p. 273.
  8. ^ Sharif al-Qarashi, Bāqir (2000). The Life of Imām Zayn al-Abidin (as). Translated by Jāsim al-Rasheed. Iraq: Ansariyan Publications, n.d. Print.
  9. ^ Imam Ali ibn al-Hussain (2009). Al-Saheefah Al-Sajjadiyyah Al-Kaamelah. Translated with an Introduction and annotation by Willian C. Chittick With a foreword by S. H. M. Jafri. Qum, The Islamic Republic of Iran: Ansariyan Publications.
  10. ^ Vali Nasr, The Shia Revival. New York: Norton, 2006; pp 18–19.
  11. ^ Sims, Alexandra (24 November 2016). "Millions of Muslims take part in mass pilgrimage of Arbaeen – in spite of Isis". The Independent. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  12. ^ Fouladi Fard, Reza.; Mahvi, A.H.; Sadat Hosseini, S.; Khazaei, M. (2014). "Fluoride concentrations in bottled drinking water available in Najaf and Karbala, Iraq" (PDF). Fluoride. 47 (3): 249–253.
  13. ^ "Distance Between Basra and Karbala".
  14. ^ "".
  15. ^ "زيارة الاربعين: 18 مليون زائر ونجاح امني كبير". Al-Alam. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  16. ^ "Arba'een, an appointment for army of Imam Mahdi (a.s) on the rise". December 2014.
  17. ^ a b Dearden, Lizzie (25 November 2014). "One of the world's biggest and most dangerous pilgrimages is underway". The Independent.
  18. ^ "Car bomb in Iraq kills at least 20 Shiite pilgrims". independent. 3 January 2013.
  19. ^ "One of the world's biggest and most dangerous pilgrimages is underway". independent. 25 November 2014.
  20. ^ "Arbaeen pilgrimage in Iraq: 17.5 million defy threat". SBS. 14 December 2014.
  21. ^ "Shia pilgrims flock to Karbala for Arbaeen climax". BBC News. 14 December 2014.
  22. ^ "Shia pilgrims flock to Karbala for Arbaeen climax". BBC. 14 December 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  23. ^ a b ""Ziarat" on the day of Arbae'en". Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  24. ^ Al-Modarresi, Mahdi. "World's Biggest Pilgrimage Now Underway, And Why You've Never Heard of it! huffingtonpost". Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  25. ^ "Christians in Karbala in Arbaeen". Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  26. ^ "Millions of Shia Muslims from across the globe have come together in the Iraqi city of Karbala to mark the Arbaeen ritual, which marks the 40th day following the seventh-century martyrdom of the third Shia Imam, Imam Hussein, Press TV reports".
  27. ^ Kurzman, Charles, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, Harvard University Press, 2004, p.54-5
  28. ^ Kurzman, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, (2004), p.57
  29. ^ "The Umm al-Qura Calendar of Saudi Arabia".
  30. ^ "Arbaeen in Iraq will be one day after Iran's Arabeen". Tasnim News Agency. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  31. ^ "اربعین ایران و عراق؛ ۸ آبان". mehrnews. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
2010 Sultan Qaboos Cup

The 2010 Sultan Qaboos Cup was the 38th edition of the Sultan Qaboos Cup (Arabic: كأس السلطان قابوس‎), the premier knockout tournament for football teams in Oman. This edition of the cup was nicknamed "Al-Kass Al-'Arba'een" (Arabic: الكأس الاربعين‎), literally meaning "The 40th Cup", due to the country's 40th anniversary of modernity (although the cup was in fact only in its 38th edition).

The competition began on 17 September 2010 with the Qualification Round and concluded on 12 December 2010. Saham SC were the defending champions, having won their first title in 2009. On Sunday 12 December 2010, Al-Oruba SC were crowned the champions of the 2011 Sultan Qaboos Cup when they defeated Fanja SC 5-3 on penalties after the match had ended 1-1 after extra time, hence winning the title for the third time.

24 January 2011 Iraq bombings

The 24 January 2011 Iraq bombings were a series of four explosions, two in Baghdad and two in Karbala, which killed at least 27 people and wounded at least 78 more.

Two blasts, caused by roadside bombs, occurred in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the first of which killed two people including an Iraqi brigadier general. The second explosion caused at least eight injuries.In Karbala, where Shia pilgrims were marking Arba'een, two car bombs detonated a few hours apart. The first bomb targeted a bus terminal to the east of Karbala and killed seven people, injuring more than double that, while the second hit south of the city and claimed 18 lives.

The attacks came the week after the January 2011 Iraq suicide attacks, which killed at least 133 people including 56 in Karbala. The attacks were located near the blasts that occurred on 20 January, and have been blamed on the delay in naming Iraq's new defence and interior ministers.Several theories arose as a result of the attacks, including that the attacks could be the work of Saddam Hussein's former Ba'ath Party members, or that they were an attempt to reduce confidence in the security arrangements for an Arab League summit in March.

Arba'een Pilgrimage

The Arba'een Pilgrimage is the world's largest annual public gathering that is held every year in Karbala, Iraq at the end of the 40-day mourning period following Ashura, the religious ritual for the commemoration of martyrdom of the grandson of Prophet Mohammad and the third Shia Imam, Husayn ibn Ali's in 680. Anticipating Arba'een, or the fortieth day of the martyrdom, the pilgrims make their journey to Karbala on foot, where Husayn and his companions were martyred and beheaded by the army of Yazid I in the Battle of Karbala.The number of participants in the annual pilgrimage reached 20 million or more by 2016. On the routes of the pilgrimage, food, accommodation and other services are provided for free by volunteers. Husayn is believed to transcend all cultural boundaries and be a symbol of universal freedom and compassion.Some of the pilgrims make their journey from cities as far as Basra, about 500 kilometres (310 mi) away by road. The ritual has been described as "an overwhelmingly powerful display of Shia belief and solidarity". Iran and Shias however have criticized mainstream media for ignoring the event.

Dukayniyya Shia

The Dukayniyya Shia (named for one of its leaders, Abu Nu'aym al-Fadl ibn al-Dukayn) were a sect of the Zaidi branch of Shia Islam. The Dukayniyya Shia were led by Abu Nu'aym al-Fadl ibn al-Dukayn and Ibrahim ibn al-Hakam.

Fatimah bint Hasan

Fātimah bint al-Hasan ibn ‘Alī (Arabic: فاطمة بنت الـحسن بن علي‎) was a daughter of Hasan ibn ‘Alī and Umm Ishaq bint Talha. She was married to ‘Alī ibn Husayn (fourth Twelver Imām), and became the mother of Muhammad al-Bāqir (fifth Twelver Imām). Her kunya was Umm ‘Abd Allāh and she was referred to as, "as-Siddīqa" ("the very truthful one") by ‘Alī ibn Husayn. It has also been reported that her features were such, that no one in the family of Hasan ibn ‘Alī looked like her.

February 2010 Karachi bombings

The February 2010 Karachi bombings were a series of two bombings in Karachi in Pakistan on 5 February 2010. At least 25 people died and more than 50 were injured. The attacks which targeted Shia Muslims happened on Arba'een, a religious observation that occurs 40 days after the Day of Ashura.

Hakimah Khātūn

Hakimah bint Muhammad al-Jawād (Arabic: حکیمه بنت محمد‎) Hakimah Khatun or Lady Hakimah was the daughter of Imam Muhammad Taqi al-Jawad, and the aunt of Imam Hasan al-Askari. She is a prominent narrator in Shia hadith and history, especially for her narration of the birth of Al-Mahdi.

Imam Husayn Shrine

The Imam Husain Shrine or the Station of Imam Husayn ibn Ali (Arabic: مَقـام الإمـام الـحـسـيـن ابـن عـلي‎, romanized: Maqām al-Imām al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī) is the mosque and burial site of Husayn ibn Ali, the third Imam of Shia Islam, in the city of Karbala’, Iraq. It stands on the site of the Mausoleum of Husayn, who was a grandson of Muhammad, near the place where he was martyred during the Battle of Karbala’ in 680 C.E. The tomb of Husayn is one of the holiest places for Shi‘ites, outside of Mecca and Medina, and many make pilgrimages to the site. Every year, millions of pilgrims visit the city to observe Ashura, which marks the anniversary of Husayn's death. Every year for Arba'een rituals that occurs forty days after the Day of Ashura up to 45 million people go to the city of Karbala.

Khalafiyya Shia

The Khalafiyya Shia (named for its founder Khalaf ibn Abd al-Samad) were a subsect of the Zaidi branch of Shia Islam.

List of largest peaceful gatherings

This is a list of the largest historic peaceful gatherings of people in one place for a single event.


Maddahi is a ceremonial singing or eulogy recitation especially for Shia Muslims. The word Maddahi means "to praise" in Arabic. One who sings this style is called a maddah. Maddahs mostly sing on Ahl al-Bayt's birth and death anniversary. The theme of Maddahi may be joyous or sorrowful. Most maddahs are men but some women perform in exclusively female gatherings. The majority of maddahis are sung in mourning of Ahl al-Bayt, particularly at the Mourning of Muharram in the beginning of Muharram until the Day of Ashura and Arba'een.

November 2016 Hillah suicide truck bombing

A suicide bombing occurred in Iraq on 24 November 2016 when a truck bomb exploded at a petrol station in Hillah, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) from southern Baghdad, killing at least 125 people and injuring many others.

Shia pilgrims were en route back to Iran after the 2016 Arba'een Pilgrimage. Besides Iranians, people from Basra and Nasiriyah were also killed in the attack.The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for it.

November 2016 Kabul suicide bombing

The November 2016 Kabul suicide bombing occurred on 21 November 2016. At least 32 people have been killed and above 80 were injured in a suicide bombing at a Kabul Shia mosque "Baqir-ul-Olum". People including women and children were commemorating Arba'een rituals. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province claimed responsibility for the attack. It was just one in a string of major attacks in Kabul during 2016, and the third to be claimed by ISIL.


The Nuqtavi (Arabic: نقطوية‎ Nuqṭawiyyah) movement was founded by Mahmūd Pasīkhānī (Persian: محمود پسیخانی‎) when he proclaimed himself the Mahdi in 1397. The group is an offshoot of the Ḥurūfī movement, from which Pasīkhānī was expelled for arrogance. The group first arose in Anjudan near Kashan an area known for its Nizārī Ismā'īlī Shia Islam. The group attempted to proclaim Shah Tahmasp as Mahdi after Pasīkhānī died.


The Qalandariyyah (Arabic: قلندرية‎, Hindi: क़लन्दरिय्या, Bengali: ক়লন্দরিয়্য়া), Qalandaris, Qalandars or Kalandars are wandering ascetic Sufi dervishes. The term covers a variety of sects, not centrally organized and may not be connected to a specific tariqat. One was founded by Qalandar Yusuf al-Andalusi of Andalusia, Spain. They were mostly in Iran, Central Asia, India and Pakistan. (The word also entered English as calender.)

Starting in the early 12th century, the movement gained popularity in Greater Khorasan and neighbouring regions, including South Asia. The first references are found in the 11th-century prose text Qalandarname (The Tale of the Kalandar) attributed to Ansarī Harawī. The term Qalandariyyat (the Qalandar condition) appears to be first applied by Sanai Ghaznavi (died 1131) in seminal poetic works where diverse practices are described. Particular to the qalandar genre of poetry are terms that refer to gambling, games, intoxicants and Nazar ila'l-murd, themes commonly referred to as kufriyyat or kharabat. The genre was further developed by poets such as Fakhr-al-Din Iraqi and Farid al-Din Attar.

Rubab bint Imra al-Qais

Rubāb bint Imra’ al-Qays (Arabic: ربـاب بـنـت إمـرئ الـقـيـس‎), or Umm Rubāb (Arabic: أم ربـاب‎) was a wife of Al-Husayn ibn ‘Alī, and the mother of ‘Alī al-Asghar (also known as ‘Abdullāh) and Ruqayyah. Her father was Imra’ al-Qays ibn ‘Adī bin Aws (Arabic: إمـرئ الـقـيـس ابـن عـدي بـن أوس‎).

Umm Farwah bint al-Qasim

Umm Farwah bint al-Qasim (Arabic: أم فروة بنت القاسم‎) or Umm Farwah Fatimah was the wife of Muhammad al-Baqir, and the mother of the sixth Imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq.

Ziyarat Ashura

Ziyarat Ashura (Arabic: زیارة عاشوراء‎) is a Shia salutatory prayer to Husayn ibn Ali and the martyrs of the Battle of Karbala. The prayer is part of the liturgy used in pilgrimages to the shrine of Husayn in Karbala. Muhammad al-Baqir, the fifth Shia Imam, recommended reciting Ziyarat Ashura on Ashura while facing Karbala, as a symbolic visit to the shrine.

Ziyarat of Arba'een

Ziyarat Arba'een (Arabic: زیارة الأربعین); "Ziyarat" in Arabic language means pilgrimage while "Arba'een means forty. Ziyarat in Shiite means pilgrimage or visit to pay respect to Imams. Although, the visitation is not obligatory rites of religion like prayer, fasting and hajj, but it plays an integral role in the religious life of Shiite. But technically, Ziyarat Arba'een refers to the 40-day pilgrimage of the holy city of Karbala to mark the 40 day mourning period after the killing of Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein. The culture as stated by a researcher provides ways to express social emotion and from sociological perspective, feelings rules are ″appropriate ways to express internal sensation". So, also the ziyarat is directly or indirectly used to express the mourning of Imams. The Ziyarat Arba'een is a prayer which is usually recited in the Iraqi city of Karbala on the day of Arba'een. It is narrated from Safwan al-Jammaal from Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, the sixth Shiite Imam in which the Imam instructed him to visit Imam Husayn's mosque, and to recite a specific visitation prayer on Arba'een by which believer should reaffirm their pledge to Husayn's ideals. The Ziyarat or prayer is a text which designates Husayn as the "inheritor" of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus.

Islamic holidays and observances
The two Eids
Other holidays and observances


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