Eid al Adha (or Dhuha) is one of the greatest eids of Islam. It is a feast of love, sacrifice, and submission to the will of Allah (s.w.t). Celebrated on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar, it is the time of the year where Muslims from all over the world gather for the annual ritual of Hajj and mark the end of Hajj by sacrificing a camel, a cow or a sheep. Those Muslims who could not make it for Hajj, sacrifice these animals and distribute the meat and other gifts among the poor, their family and friends.
There are many recommended (not obligatory) rituals and practices to be performed on the day of Eid al Adha, some of them are as follows:
-Doing Ghusl (ritual bath)
-Eid Prayer, either in a congregation or individually
-Reciting the Ziarat of Imam Husain (AS), the third infallible Imam
-Sacrificing either a camel, cow, or sheep. Sacrifice is obligatory for those performing Hajj and recommended for those not performing Hajj
-According to Islamic laws, it is forbidden to fast on this day
Prophet Abraham (PBUH) was a true embodiment of the verse from the Holy Quran: “Do the people suppose that they will be let off because they say, ‘We have faith,’ and they will not be tested? Certainly, We tested those who were before them. So, Allah shall surely ascertain those who are truthful, and He shall surely ascertain the liars.” (29:2)
Prophet Abraham (PBUH) was a great Prophet of Allah (SWT) who is greatly celebrated in the Holy Quran. He is one of the Ulu –l-Azm (Arch) prophets. Allah (SWT) calls him his friend in the Holy Quran (4:125). The intended sacrifice of this holy prophet is greatly eulogized in the Holy Quran and the prophetic traditions. Abraham is especially famous for the numerous ways God tested him; especially the tough tests of leaving his wife Hagar and his firstborn son Ishmael (2:124) and bringing his son to a special place as an offering to God (37:100-113).
“My Lord! Give me [an heir], one of the righteous.” So We gave him the good news of a forbearing son. When he was old enough to assist in his endeavor, he said, ‘My son! I see in dreams that I am sacrificing you. See what you think.’ He said, ‘Father! Do whatever you have been commanded. If Allah wishes, you will find me to be patient.’ So, when they had both surrendered to Allah’s will, and he had laid him down on his forehead, We called out to him, ‘O Abraham! You have indeed fulfilled your mission! Thus, indeed do We reward the virtuous! This was indeed a manifest test.’ Then We ransomed him with a great sacrifice, and left for him a good name in posterity: ‘Peace be to Abraham!’ Thus, do We reward the virtuous? He is indeed one of Our faithful servants.” (37:100-110)
The Holy Quran gives us a very clear picture of the incidents that unfolded with Prophet Abraham (PBUH). It tells us that Prophet Abraham (PBUH) prayed for a righteous heir and Allah (SWT) answered his prayers. But after a few years, Allah (SWT) orders his Prophet to sacrifice his only son and both Prophet Abraham (PBUH) and Prophet Ishmael (PBUH) agree to submit to the will of Allah (SWT). It was a test for Prophet Abraham (PBUH) as well as his son Prophet Ishmael (PBUH), who emerged victorious from this test. Thus, leaving a legacy of complete submission to the will of Allah (SWT), a submission that calls for sacrificing everything you have to gain the pleasure of your beloved creator. It is this humble and pure submission of Prophet Abraham (PBUH) that makes this great prophet a ‘good example’ for us. (60:4).
The sacrifice of Prophet Abraham is not a fairy tale to be read to our children before going to sleep, it is a story that has the potential to make human beings build a lasting relationship with Allah (SWT). If we truly trust in Allah (SWT) and reach a position where we readily sacrifice everything in the way of Allah, we can proudly claim to be inheritors of the legacy of Abraham, a friend of Allah (SWT). But for us to reach that position we need to first ask ourselves: who is our Ishmael? Is it my child, my spouse, my property, wealth, job, position or my desires?
- Quran Translations, Ali Quli Qara’i
- Recommended rituals and practices on the eve of Eid and the day of Eid: Dua for EID ul Adha Night and Day (duas.org) (these recommended acts can also be found in Mafatih Al-Jinan under the section of aamaal for Eid)
- Exegesis of Surah Saaffat, Tafseer Nemuneh, Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi (Farsi)
Hadith 21: The Condition of Honor
Imam Sadiq (as) said: Whoever wants to be in the neighborhood of the Prophet (pbuh&HP) and next to Ali (AS) and Fatima (AS) should not leave the pilgrimage of Imam Hussain (AS).
Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. 10, p. 331, p. 39
Imam Sadiq (as) said: If one of you observes the Ihram of Hajj for the entire of his life but does not visit Imam Hussain (as), he has left the right of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HP) because the right of Hussain (as) is a divine duty and obligatory for every Muslim.
Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. 10, p. 333
Imam Sadiq (as) said: Whoever does not visit the grave of Imam Hussain (as) until he dies, his faith will be incomplete and his religion will be incomplete, and when he goes to heaven, he will be lower than the believers there.
Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. 10, p. .335
Imam Sadiq (as) said: Do not leave the pilgrimage of Imam Hussain (as) and recommend it to your friends and companions as well! May Allah prolong your life, increase your sustenance, and may Allah bless you alive and you will not die except as a martyr.
Wasa'il al-Shi'ah vol. 10, p. 335
It was narrated from Imam Sadiq (as) that he said: Whoever Allah wants good, will put the love of Hussain (AS) and his pilgrimage in his heart, and whoever Allah wants bad, will have him hate Hussain (AS) and anxious with his pilgrimage.
Wasa'il al-Shi'ah vol. 10, p. 388, Sea of Lights, vol. 98, p. 76
Imam Sadiq (as) said: Whoever does not visit the grave of Imam Hussain and dies as our Shiite and dies, is not our Shiite, and even if he is from the people of Paradise, he is the guest of the people of Paradise.
Kamel Al-Ziyarat, p. 193, Bihar Al-Anwar, vol. 98, p.4
Imam Sadiq (as) said: Whoever visits the grave of Hussain (as) and has knowledge of the right of that Imam, Allah Almighty will register him in the highest rank.
Man la yahzurul Faqih, vol. 2, p.581
Imam Musa Kadhim (as) said: The least reward that is given to the pilgrim of Imam Hussain (as) on the banks of the Euphrates is that all his sins, before and after, are forgiven. Provided that he knows the right, honor and guardianship of that Imam.
Mustadrak al-Wasa'il, vol. 10, p. 236, quoting Kamil al-Ziyarat, p. 138
Imam Reza (as) said: Whoever visits the grave of Imam Hussain (as) on the banks of the Euphrates is like the one who has visited Allah.
Mustadrak al-Wasa'il, vol. 10, p. 250, quoting in full
Imam Sadiq (as) said: Whoever visits Imam Hussain (as) on the day of Ashura, heaven will be obligatory for him.
Iqbal al-A'mal, p. 568
Imam Sadiq (as) said: Whoever wakes up on the night of Ashura next to the shrine of Imam Hussain (as), on the Day of Judgment he will rush to Allah stained in his blood, like someone who was killed in Karbala next to Imam Hussain (as).
Wasaelu shiah, vol. 10, p.372
Imam Hassan Askari (as) said: The signs of a believer are five:
1 Fifty prayers
2 Arbaeen pilgrimage
3 Ring in the right hand
4 Prostrating on the ground
5 Saying loudly the name of Allah, (Bismillah Rahman Rahim)
Wasaelu shia, vol. 10, p. 373, and also Al-Tahdhib, vol. 6, p. 52
Chapter Four: Torbat and Tasbih of Love
The Prophet of Islam (PBUH&HP) said: Know that the answer to prayer is under the dome of his shrine and healing is in his soil, and the Imams (as) are of his children.
Mustadrak al-Wasa'il, vol. 10, p.335
Imam Sadiq (as) said: Take your children with the soil of Hussain (as) (Karbala) because the soil of Karbala insures your children.
Wasaelu Shiah, vol. 10, p.410
Imam Sadiq (as) said: The cure for any pain is in the soil (torbat) of Hussain (as) and it is the greatest medicine. Kamil Al-Ziyarat, p. 275 and Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol. 10, p. 410
Imam Sadiq (as) said: Prostration on the soil of Hussain (as) tears the seven veils.
Mesbah al-Muttahid, p. 511, and Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 98, p. 135
Imam Sadiq (as) did not prostrate on the ground except on the soil of Hussain (as) and he did this in violence for the sake of Allah.
Wasailu shiah vol. 3, p.608
Imam Sadiq (as) said: Prostration on the soil of Karbala can light up to the seventh earth, and whoever has a rosary from the soil of the shrine of Hussain (as) with him, is a truthful person, even if he says nothing.
Man la yahzurulFaqih vol 1 p 268
Imam Kadhim (as) while narrating a hadith announcing his death, said: do not take anything from the soil of my grave to seek blessings, because it is forbidden for us to eat any soil except the soil of my grandfather Hussain (as), Allah Almighty has healed only the soil of Karbala for the Shiites and our friends.
Jami ahadith, vol. 12, p.533
Imam Musa ibn Ja'far (as) said: Our needs are four things:
1. Prayer mat on which prayers are offered.
2. Rings on the finger
3. Toothbrush with which to brush teeth
4. A rosary from the shrine of Imam Hussain (as) Tahdhib al-Ahkam, vol. 6, p. 75
Every year on the 20th of Safar, the second month in Hijri Calendar, a huge number of people from all over the world, Muslim or even non-Muslim, gather in Iraq to take part in a symbolic walk. People of Iraq for months before this day, eagerly prepare themselves to welcome the visitor of Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine. They find it a great honor to serve those who are participating in this event and are paying a visit to Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine. Iraq on this period becomes the site of the purest and most humane manifestations.
But, one might wonder what is the reason behind all these efforts? Why would someone walk a long distance, bearing all the difficulties on his/her way, to reach a shrine? What is it that drives this huge number of people here?
In what follows, you will find out about Arbaeen and the ceremonial walk on this day.
Arbaeen is the Arabic word for forty, and it marks the 20th of Safar, the fortieth day after Imam Hussain’s (AS) martyrdom on the day of Ashura, who was martyred in the event of Karbala along with his companions in the cruelest and most inhumane way possible.
After the event of Karbala, Imam Hussain’s (AS) family including his sister Lady Zainab (AS) and his son Imam Sajjad (AS), were taken as prisoners to Sham (Damascus) to Yazid’s court. Imam Hussain’s (AS) head was also sent to Yazid’s court along with his family .
According to some historical accounts , some of the members of Imam Hussain’s (AS) family after being released from the bondage of Yazid forces, returned to Karbala from Sham (Today’s Damascus) to visit Imam Hussain’s (AS) grave. Also, some believe that Imam Hussain’s (AS) head which was taken to Sham by Yazid’s army was brought back to Karbala on this day and buried with his body  & .
But these are not the only reasons behind the commemoration of Arbaeen every year. Visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine is one of the recommended deeds at any time of the year, especially in Arbaeen [i]. Also, Imam Baqer (AS) enumerates the several benefits of this action. These include the increase in wealth, acceptance of prayers by Allah, longer life, and pardoning of the sins .
But, why would visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine be of such importance? It is not where we are visiting, but who we are visiting and what he taught us that makes this action so worthy of attention. In fact, in paying a visit to Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine, we try to remind ourselves of these two messages:
1. To never surrender to injustice and oppression, as Imam Hussain (AS) did not yield to the tyrant of his time.
2. To always be eager in improving and reforming ourselves and our society, as Imam Hussain (AS) answered people’s call for improvement and did his best to help them, despite the fact that his will remained unfulfilled due to his enemies’ deception.
Now, we can better understand the Prophet’s (AS) conviction that Imam Hussain’s (AS) personality would forever guide the humanity toward everlasting peace and success. And ignoring the values he emphasized would cause eternal distress and calamity .
Visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine is more recommended on some occasions, especially Arbaeen which could be because of the history of this day. Yet, this does not mean that this action cannot be done on any other days of the year.
But, this is not the only reason for this huge number of people to gather together on this day. In fact, they are all driven by the lasting message that Imam Hussain (AS) left for us through his courageous and rightful movement. That is the urge to stand against injustice, oppression and to strive in the way of improving their situation socially or individually. Arbaeen walk is where people reunite to commemorate these lessons of Imam Hussain’s (AS) revolution together.
The journey on foot from Najaf to Karbala which is called Arbaeen walk takes almost three days. But, everything is ready for those who want to take part in this life-changing walk. Many camps (Mawkib) are prepared on this way by people voluntarily which provide free food and accommodations for the respected pilgrims of Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine.
Muslim or non-Muslim, a large number of people take part on this journey. According to the Independent: “Nusayyef al-Khattabi, who heads the Karbala provincial council, said he expected the total number of visitors over several days to range ‘between 17 million and 20 million’” .
While Arbaeen Walk is one of the greatest Muslim gatherings, it is not an obligatory ritual. In other words, it cannot be considered as one of the practical principles of Islam (e.g., prayer (Salat), fasting (Sawm), Khums, Hajj, etc.) which a Muslim is required to perform. Participating in this journey is totally up to your choice, decision, and interest. Yet, Arba’een walk is a recommended ritual which carries many spiritual benefits for the one who takes part in it.
Anyone, from any nationality, religion or any age, can join this walk. This is a gathering of those who respect humanity and peace, are after making changes for the better and do not surrender to injustice. As Imam Hussain (AS) believed being free-spirited and honest is what guarantees human dignity . So, as long as you believe in these values, you are most welcomed on this journey.
It only takes your decision. And you might need to prepare some necessary things to carry with you in this walk. Also, it is better to be both physically and spiritually ready for this experience. Since, like many other life-changing experiences, it has its own hardships and challenges.
Note that the walk starts three days before Arba’een so that you will reach Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine on Karbala on this day. So, you should start your journey from the 17th of Safar and finish it on 20th.
While visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine on Arba’een is a recommended deed, what matters most is to be aware of the philosophy behind this action. Imam Hussain’s (AS) universal and all-encompassing message, is not limited to an especial location or a specific time .
We can declare our commitment to Imam Hussain’s (AS) cause anywhere and at any time. So, if you couldn't manage to take part in Arba’een’s ceremony, there are some actions that would help you benefit from this occasion spiritually, such as reciting the Ziarat al-Arba’en or Ziarat al-Ashura. The least you can do is to send your peace and salutations to Imam Hussain (AS) wherever you may be:
Peace be upon Hussain (AS) and Ali ib al-Hussain and Hussain’s children and Hussain’s companions 
[i] Imam Hassan al-Askari (AS) told in a hadith that, among the signs of a faithful person, is visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine .
- for more information see Salam Islam’s ebook: 40 Points about Imam Hussain (AS) and the Event of Karbala
- Ibn Tawus, 'Ali b. Musa, Al-Luhuf 'ala qatla l-tufuf, Uswi, Qom, 1414 AH.
- Al-Biruni, Abu Rayhan, The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries, p.331.
- Qazi al-Tabataii, Muhammad Ali, A Research on the first Arba’een of the Leader of Martyrs (Imam Hussain (AS)), vol.3, p.304.
- Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol.10, p.239.
- Hashim al Bahrani, Al-Burhan Fi Tafsir al-Quran, vol.3, p.232.
- Shaykh Tusi, Tahdhib al-Ahkam , vol.6, p.52.
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, p.49.
- Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol.10, p.309.
- Ziarat al-Ashura