The arrival of Arbaeen pilgrims to Karbala and other Iraqi cities accelerates with Arbaeen day fast approaching.
Pilgrims coming from foreign countries have faced severe restrictions from visiting Iraq since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is while Baghdad began was preparing to welcome the travelers since months ago and reduce the level of restrictions.
The continuation of restriction has pushed multiple sectors further. Hotels, stores, cafés, eateries, and travel agencies all closed or laid off staff, putting a strain on the tourist and retail businesses in Iraq.
Iraq administration declared a month ago that only 40,000 pilgrims would receive the permission to take the Arbaeen pilgrimage. Among those, three-fourth would be from Iran.
Arbaeen is the largest religious ritual in the world. Marking an end to 40 days of grief for Muslims’ Imam Hussein, it used to attract around 20 million pilgrims before the Pandemic.
Baghdad, by the way, has doubled the number of pilgrims in a second thought. The local government has not announced the share of different nations, but local companies estimate that at least 60,000 Iranians will be visiting Karbala during the days ending to Arbaeen.
The pilgrimage, having started since days ago with the traditional mile-long walk to Karbala, will culminate on Monday.
According to official estimates, over fourteen million pilgrims took their way to Karbala from across the world in 2019. Local estimates, along with transportation data, however, certified that the number visitors surpassed 20 million in that year. At least thirty percent were from other Muslim and non-Muslim nations.
In previous years, millions of pilgrims traveled by land, with many walking at least part of the way from Iraqi cities to Kabala in huge caravans. In the current year, however, international visitors must visit Iraq by airplane and present a negative PCR.
Karbala; An Islamic Reunion
From Lebanon and Syria to Saudi Arabia, Iran, and loads of other nations, Islamic countries deal with local and bilateral challenges and tensions.
Economic crisis, environmental challenges, political disputes, scattered military confrontations may be taken as the status quo of the region. But with the coming of significant rituals like Arbaeen, an air of solidarity could be observed in the same region.
Through the centuries, Muslim nations have learnt to resolve challenges using religious resolutions. While different political and ideological philosophies still remain, common points like Arbaeen provides the chance for a new route.
As such, far from a mere religious ritual, Arbaeen in a trans-national option for Islamic nation to get out of collective social and political stalemate. Dictators come and go, but the philosophies and resolutions remain though the centuries.
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