The Arbaeen photos of Andrea DiCenzo, the American photojournalist, for the New York Times are stunning. (Photos by Andrea DiCenzo)
In the days leading close to Arbaeen 2021, a surf through internet results in texts, studies, and news that are stunning. Among other sorts of media, the impact of photos concerning an unknown issue is sometimes way more than others.
Through the years, various photographers registered amazing photos from the Arbaeen walk and the pilgrims. Just google “Arbaeen” to see hundreds of thousands of photos with different subjects. One photo depicts an old man walking and another relates non-Muslims taking part in the ritual. A third photo shows barefoot pilgrim onthe road.
Photos are way more powerful than texts and even videos in conveying the feelings. As with Arbaeen with its millions of pilgrims, logic and reasoning submits to feeling and affection. As such, in this short piece, we want to analyze the Islamic ritual through the lens of Arbaeen photos of a photojournalist.
Andrea DiCenzo, 36, is an American photojournalist working on humanitarian and conflict issues throughout the Middle East. She has worked on the battle with ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria and is currently focuses on an unknown subject in Baghdad. She works with New York Times and has scattered cooperation with loads of other outlets including BBC, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and Le Figaro.
Familiar with the zeitgeist of Islamic nations, and Iraq in specific, DiCenzo focused on Arbaeen pilgrimage in 2019. Her photos were published a year later in New York Times in a piece titled “From Iraq, an Intimate Glimpse of the Religious Holiday of Arbaeen.” Andrea DiCenzo also put her personal experience in the post.
In this piece, we go through her story and review some of her Arbaeen photos.
Arbaeen Photos Through the Lens of Andrea DiCenzo
DiCenzo opens its comments with an explication of a special event in Imam Abbas shrine. She explains that Arbaeen days are different due to the number of pilgrims visiting the place. She says around 15 million people “pass through its red glow before the two-day event concluded.”
According to the American photographer, tens of millions of pilgrims flock to the city of Karbala, a relatively calm desert place in northern Iraq. The aim is to observe the Islamic ritual of Arbaeen, the largest planned religious ceremony in the world. The rituals center on the shrines of Imam Hussein, the third Shiite Imam, and his step-brother which are next to each other.
Through the Arbaeen photos of DiCenzo, we see spectacular scenes of grief and mourning with people having muddied themselves. Besides, scenes of feeding pilgrims (usually free) along the road to Karbala are also eye-catching.
DiCenzo describes the atmosphere saying that the occasion is a moving exhibition of sadness, sorrow, and spiritual rapture. She says that it honors the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, a grandchild of the Islamic Prophet. Imam Hussein is one of Shiite Islam’s most significant figures. Hussein is reported to have been martyred in Karbala in 680 AD.
Explaining about the history of events in Karbala, DiCenzo she says “Tradition holds that, in 680, Hussein and followers were on their way to challenge the succession of Caliph Yazid, whom they saw as an illegitimate successor after the death of Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam.” She further explains that Hussein kept up with refusing a loyalty to the Caliph, so Yazid dispatched a vast force to confront him. Hussein was massacred in the ensuing conflict. Arbaeen photos are revealing about Muslim’s feeling toward events in Karbala.