Muslims take part in Arbaeen pilgrimage with a crowd of more than 20 million people. But the ritual has attracted no proper media coverage in previous years.
Neither the Islamic Hajj nor the Hindu Kumbh Mela has attracted as much of a crowd to a religious practice as Arbaeen. Estimates and historical studies beieve that no other human gathering could be comparable to Arbaeen in terms of the population and grandeur. Well then, most of you reading this piece have not heard of it, why?!
Arbaeen is the festival of astonishment and records. Muslim have succeeded in realizing an experience that is unprecedented in various aspects. Let’s take alook at unique attributes of the ritual.
Not only does the gathering outnumber pilgrims of Mecca, but it also surpasses the Kumbh Mela, which takes place only every three years. In summary, Arbaeen outnumbers every other gathering on the globe, with over twenty million people attending each year before the pandemic. That means Iraq hosts as much as 60% of its total population, during the days before and after Arbaeen.
Arbaeen is spectacular in another aspect too. the Islamic ritual takes place in the context of tumultuous and perilous geopolitical events. ISIS deems the Shiite as their deadly enemies, thus nothing enrages the them more than a powerful manifestation of Shiite pilgrims assembling for their biggest display of devotion.
There’s another unusual aspect in Arbaeen. While it is a uniquely Shia spiritual activity, Sunnis, even Christians, Yazidis, Zoroastrians, and Sabians engage in both the journey as well as servicing of worshippers. This is extraordinary considering the restricted character of religious rites, and it could only indicate one thing: apart from color, ethnicity, or faith, people perceive Hussein as a global, boundless figure representing independence and mercy.
In spite of all these peculiarities, and even many more, the media has sort of boycotted the ritual in the past years. There is almost no trace of the ritual as if the 20-million population who take part in it has disappeared. Why is it that way? What’s inside the Arbaeen pilgrimage that led to a sort of sanction against it in the media?
Arbaeen Coverage in the media
The dim coverage of Arbaeen has to do with the notion that the media is interested more with bad, gruesome, and exaggerated stories. It usually neglects good, inspirational story lines, specifically when it comes to religious stories. The demonstration of a few dozen of anti-immigration group in Berlin can easily hit the headlines.
More degree of attention is granted to a pro-democracy demonstration in Brazil. But a rally of twenty million in impudent resistance against terror and oppression somehow misses a simple headline at the end of a new session.
Despite the fact that the tale has all of the essential components of a compelling feature: astonishing numbers, political importance, subversive message, tense background, and uniqueness, an unauthorized media restriction is established on the massive event. When a story like this makes it past the editorial scissors of a major news organization, it sends shockwaves across the media and reaches out to the most unlikely of individuals.
How could a person, murdered in 680 AD, be so alive and present today that he inspires millions to join his cause and see his tragedy as their own? People are unlikely to become involved in a conflict (much less one from antiquity) unless they have a personal stake in the outcome.
If you believed someone was fighting for your right to liberty, your chance to be treated fairly must be respected. Then, you’d feel a stake in the outcome and sympathize with him to the degree that adoption to his views isn’t out of the question.