Muslims commemorate the fortieth day after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions, called Arbaeen, meaning the fortieth day in Arabic. They all gather around the city of Karbala and Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine, mourning and lamenting the unfair and cruel war between his comrades and those of Yazid Ibn Muawiyah, which led into the death of those pure men and the bondage of their families.
This commemoration happens every year around the city of Karbala. Muslims begin to walk to Karbala from other towns. They gather together in groups to pray, and especially to mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS).
This walk is a hard one. It takes at least three days and lots of energy and time. So, why do Muslims take that? What is the philosophy behind it?
To answer our questions, first, let’s have a review of the history behind this walk and then move to the other aspects of this commemoration.
The history of Arbaeen walk goes back to the first visitors of Imam Hussain (AS) after his death. On the day of Arbaeen, forty days after the tragic martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS), Imam’s (AS) son, sister and the remaining members of his family and that of the other martyrs came back to Karbala to lament the death of their dear ones besides their graves.
Their next visitor was Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari on the year 61 AH. Visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine was a tradition in Shiite culture until a short period after Morteza Anasari’s became the religious reference (Marja’) of Shiite Muslims. It was then lessened for some years and then revived. Some other religious references (Marja’) kept this tradition alive among their followers, until the government of Saddam Hussain, which banned all religious Shiite traditions to be performed publically .
The tradition was revived after the fall of Saddam, and it is still to be continued.
Visiting the holy shrines and going on pilgrimages on foot is not something new or belonging to our age. It’s got a long history, and Adam did the first pilgrimage on his visit to Mecca . It isn’t a tradition just among Muslims either. It is performed in other faiths and religions, too. For instance, Caesar made a vow to his God to go on a pilgrimage to the Dome of Rocks if he won the battle against the Empire of Persepolis (Iran). He performed his vow after his victory .
Pilgrimages are highly admired, and their act is seen as a way of getting closer to Allah by Imam Sadiq (AS). Visiting the holy shrines of the twelve Imams (AS) is even more praised, especially the sacred shrine of Imam Hussain (AS). Of course, it’s not these shrines themselves that are of value and importance, but the people who have been buried there. Thus, when one makes a pilgrimage toward these shrines, he/she finds the chance to think more about these great personalities who won Allah’s satisfaction and praise and were Muslims in the real sense of the word. So, in every step that a pilgrimage takes toward Imams' (AS) shrines, especially that of Imam Hussain (AS), he/she is getting closer to a source of spiritual blessing, bringing him/her thousands of virtues and wiping away thousands of vices from his/her mind and soul.
The Arbaeen pilgrimage is not merely a long walk. Instead, it is a kind of movement in which despite being in publics, pilgrims have their own private relationship with Allah and Imam Hussain (AS), which finds a new form of divine immaterial dependence and conformance. Thinking about the goals and the history behind the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS), the injustice and cruelty imposed on his family and the devotions of his faithful followers brings about many personal and social growth and improvements.
Meeting other Muslims, exchanging ideas, and making friendships with Muslims of the other countries is another social outcome of this pilgrimage. One finds out that they are not alone in their faith, and have friends all over the world. They may have differences, but they have one thing in common: Belief in Imam Hussain (AS) and his right cause.
The last and the most crucial point to mention this great gathering is it's a kind of preparation for the grand reappearance of Imam Mahdi (AS), the awaited savior among Muslims. The Arbaeen pilgrimage is to make the minds and souls ready for this great event. It is said that when Imam Mahdi (AS) reappears, he introduces himself as the son of Hussain (AS) , whose fame has reached many people through the Arbaeen Pilgrimage; one of the most significant religious gathering around the world, with the estimated number of 40,000,000 people participating in it, whose news is broadcasted all over the world .
- "The background of Arba'een rally/The importance of Najaf-Karbala rally from the scholar's viewpoint." Fars News. Archived from the original on 16 November 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
- Hor Ameli, Muhammad Bin Hussain Vasayel-o-Shia, Vol 11, p 132
- Sobhani, Jafar The Light of Eternity p. 696
- Kamel-o-Ziyarat: Pp 183, 184 and 185
- Philipson, Alice (19 January 2015). "The ten largest gatherings in human history." The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 6 October 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- Khademi Shirazi, Mohammad Yad’e Mahdi P16, P132
Coexistence means living together, cooperating socially and economically of either the people of two countries to fulfill their livelihood or two individuals who might not share the same interests. In other words, coexistence includes being together, not interfering in others’ private affairs, and respecting the rights of others. Islam, which considers both the individual and social needs of human beings, offers a complete package for a thriving social life. Through its teachings, the Prophet’s (PBUH & HP) and infallible Imams’(AS) tradition (Sunnah), and the Quranic teachings, Islam has provided some clear guidelines for Muslims and the followers of other religions peaceful coexistence in the Quran. Here, we focus mostly on what the Quran offers in this regard.
The first point raised about the peaceful coexistence in the Quran is that Muslims should deal with non-Muslims with justice and beneficence, as far as non-Muslims have not expressed any hostility against them and don’t respond to their kindness with hatred (60:8). In Surah Mumtahina, it is said that: “Allah forbids you only in regard to those who made war against you on account of religion and expelled you from your homes and supported [others] in your expulsion, that you make friends with them, and whoever makes friends with them—it is they who are the wrongdoers.”(60:9).
Accordingly, non-Muslims are in two groups — the first group who are in peace with Muslims and live peacefully with them. The Islamic government and Muslims of society should respect this group and recognize their rights. The second group is those who act against Muslims, Islam, and the Islamic government. Undoubtedly, they should be counteracted, and there would be no place for peace in this case . That’s why Imam Ali (AS) had devoted a share of public treasury (Bayt al-mal) to help the needy people of other religions. It means that an Islamic government does not overlook non-Muslims, but recognizes their rights and supports them. (10:57)
Humans naturally tend to reject any imposed idea or belief. And, the Quran never orders something which opposes to human’s nature. Hence, non-Muslims are not compelled to convert to Islam (2:256), and they are free to keep their religion. In Surah An’am, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) is told that: “Had Allah wished, they would not have ascribed partners [to Him]. We have not made you a caretaker for them, nor is it your duty to watch over them.” (6:107). Based on these verses, along with some others, Islam recognizes other Abrahamic religions, and no Muslim is permitted to force any non-Muslim to accept Islamic ideas. Still, Muslims should let non-Muslims to retain their own religious views and beliefs and to live peacefully in society.
If Muslims want to discuss their religious viewpoints with followers of other religions, they are told: “not to argue with the People of the Book, except in a manner which is best” (29:46). It means to exchange peacefully with logical reasoning and argument. Even in their discussions with polytheists, Muslims are prevented from insulting those whom they invoke besides Allah Almighty; otherwise, they would affront Allah Almighty out of hostility (6:108) . It should be noted that the aim of these discussions should be clarifying the truth and not obliging others to convert. As stated above, no one is forced to accept what we believe. This manner ensures Muslims and non-Muslims peaceful coexistence in the Quran.
In surah Baqara, it is stated that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) and the faithful have faith in what has been sent down to him (PBUH & HP) from Allah Almighty, and they believe in Allah Almighty, His angels, His scriptures and His apostles, and they make no distinction between any of His apostles (2:285). It means that a real believer should recognize all previous Prophets sent by Allah Almighty and what they have brought to humans from Him . Besides, in Ayat 62, the followers of other religions like the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabaeans who are faithful to Allah and the Day of Judgement and act righteously are told to have their reward from Allah Almighty (2:62). This is another proof that Islam recognizes other religions. Also, it reveals that there have been faithful people among the followers of other religions who truly believed in Allah almighty according to the teachings of their faith.
In dealing with the opponents of Islam, Islam orders Muslims to accept if they offer peace and declare a ceasefire and emphasizes that: “Allah does not allow you any course [of action] against them” (4:90). In other verses, Muslims are told that: “If they incline toward peace, then you [too] incline toward it” (8:61).
Another example that demonstrates Islamic teachings promote peaceful coexistence in the Quran with non-Muslims is that in the Quran, Muslims are told that: “the food of those who were given the Book is lawful to you, and your food is lawful to them” (5:5). Besides, according to the Quran, Muslim men can marry the chaste ones from among faithful women, and chaste women of those who were given the Book before Muslims, once their dowries are paid to them (5:5). These two instances show that Muslims are free to fraternize with non-Muslims and exchange with them in society.
What has been mentioned above are only some of the many Islamic guidelines that encourage treating others kindly and behaving friendly with the followers of other religions. That makes them incline slightly towards Islam, such that after a Christian boy who had converted to Islam changed his bad behavior with his mother, the mother was attracted and converted to Islam, too. This, together with many instances of the way that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) and Infallible Imams (AS) treated non-Muslims, proves Islam's deep care for the way Muslims deal with others which should ultimately lead them toward tolerance and maintaining a peaceful coexistence as stated in the Quran.
- M. A. Amini, “The principle of peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims in Islam,” Ma’rifat Journal, no. 165, p. 35-52.
- M. H. Tabataba’ei, “Translation of Tafsir Al-Mizan, “vol. 2, p. 681.
One of the main differences between Islamic and non-Islamic lifestyle is manifested in the eating habits. Not eating pork and not drinking wine are two of these practices which are indeed evident in the life of a Muslim. This article will briefly analyze some of the reasons why Muslims do not consume pork.
However, it is important to keep in mind that the central philosophy behind all religious rules including Islamic rules and regulations is only known by the All-Wise and All-Knowing God who is the Creator of the whole universe and all the creatures.
Pork is forbidden in different Divine religions. For instance, the Bible says about pork: "And the swine ... he is unclean to you. Of the flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you." (Leviticus, 11:7-8). The same command is repeated in Deuteronomy, 14:8.
Christians often depict Satan in religious anecdotes in the form of a pig. The Gospel of Barnabas mentions that Pig is Satan personified and that the pig’s body has the spirit of Satan. The present Bible among the Christians (Matthew 8-32 Marks 5-13, Luke 8: 28-39) describes how Jesus thrust the soul of Satan inside the herd of swine and sent them towards the river .
In Islam, there are two primary sources for understanding the orders of Allah: the Quran and the Sunnah . Both the Holy Quran and Sunnah have equal status as far as the obligatory orders (wajibat) are concerned. If one wajib is mentioned in Sunnah only, it has the same weight as one said in the holy Quran only  and vice versa. Both sources mention that eating pork is forbidden.
Allah has announced that eating pork is forbidden in several verses of the Holy Quran:
“You are prohibited carrion, blood, the flesh of swine …” (5:3).
The unclean nature of swine flesh is stated in the following verse:
“Say, ‘I do not find in what has been revealed to me that anyone be forbidden to eat anything except carrion or spilled blood, or the flesh of swine —for that is indeed unclean— or an impiety offered to other than Allah.’ …” (6:145)
The same concept is declared in the verses (2:173) and (16:115).
Imam Reza (AS) mentions regarding the prohibition of pork, “The Almighty Allah has prohibited (made Haram) Pork because it is a horrible and dreadful animal that Allah has created for men to derive lessons from. People should also refrain from sensuality and shameless deeds that cause such a terrible appearance. And that they fear from being transformed into pigs by Almighty Allah. (In the description of past nations it is mentioned that people who committed sexual promiscuity are changed into pigs in the Intermediate world (Barzakh) [i], and they shall be raised as pigs in the Judgment Day (Qiyamat)).
Also, pigs were allowed to exist so that they are a reminder of the metamorphosis (Maskh) [ii] of previous nations into pigs. The second reason for prohibiting pork is that the staple diet of pigs consists of extremely impure (Najis) and filthy things, and its blood contains innumerable harmful germs.” 
Imam Sadiq (AS) said,“The Almighty Allah metamorphosed many nations into animals. Among them are pigs, monkeys, and bears, etc. After this these animals were prohibited from being eaten so that people derive lessons from them and do not consider the sin minor.”
Pork is very harmful to the body but we mention below only some of its harmful effects.
The present-day science of parasitology has proven some serious diseases in human beings caused by the bacteria and germs found in pork. Pork is the main carrier of many germs and parasites such as Faciolopsis buski, Paragonimus, Clonorchis sinesis, Erysipelothrix rhusiophathiae . Moreover, Dr. Joseph Mercola has cited the following diseases caused by pork: Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), the Nipah Virus, Porcine Endogenous Retrovirus (PERV) and Menangle Virus .
On the whole, the pig is the cause of many serious and fatal diseases, among them, dysentery, trichinosis, tapeworm, roundworm, hookworm, jaundice, pneumonia, suffocation, intestinal obstruction, acute pancreatitis, enlargement of liver, diarrhea, emaciation, stone formation in liver, cancer, anemia, high fever, hindrance of growth development in children, typhoid, lameness, heart trouble, abortion, sterility, and sudden death .
It is important to note that despite hard efforts in medical science, many of the pig parasites cannot be eliminated by antibiotics, drugs or vaccines.
Some people assert that by present day means it is possible to eliminate all these parasites and make pork devoid of them, but even upon the supposition that use of sanitary equipment or cooking of meat at high temperatures eliminates all the parasites, nevertheless the harms associated with pork cannot be denied for according to the incontrovertible law, the meat of every animal bears the traits of that animal and, by means of the glands and the hormones secreted by them, influences the conduct of those who consume it.
Thus, consuming pork may transfer the attributes of sexual depravity and indifference towards the affairs of the womenfolk of the family - the most blatant traits of the male members of this species - into the person who consumes it. And perhaps, one of the reasons for the excessive sexual profligacy dominant in the West could be consumption of the meat of this sordid animal .
So since the scope of science and the knowledge of human beings are limited, there might be other harms still undiscovered. However, even if human beings find some way of eliminating all the physical and spiritual harms of something, it does not mean that the forbidden (Haram) law of God becomes permissible (Halal). As mentioned at the beginning of the article, we must submit to the will of God as the Creator of the whole world and the Only One who truly knows about what is good and bad for the creatures and why.
[i] The stage between this world and the hereafter
[ii] In Arabic, Maskh means for something to change form to an uglier one. In the Quran and Islamic tradition, this term refers to a specific divine punishment which was sent upon the wrongdoers and wrongdoing nations in the past (of course not all wrongdoers, but those who committed certain wrong acts) which can be called metamorphosis. For more information, please refer to http://www.islamquest.net/en/archive/question/fa614