The representative of the leading Marja’iyah in Europe speaks about the importance of the Ziyaratul-Arbaeen (40th day pilgrimage to the tomb of Al-Hussain a.s.), its legitimacy, and its social, political and cultural objectives
He says:
·         Let the world today see how the visitors of Imam Hussain (a.s.) enjoy the tranquilities of good ethics.
·         There are more than ten Ziyarates for Imam Hussain (a.s.) during the year which is not the case for other Massomeen. (a.s.)
·         Appeals to visitors to honour the aims of the movement of Hussain (a.s.)  and adhere to them, especially by performing obligatory prayers on time – as in the Hadith by Imam Al-Sadiq (a.s.): “Our intercession shall not be achieved by he who takes his prayers lightly” and the negligent shall suffer fifteen types of punishments in both worlds.
Emphasizes upon organisers of processions and serving stops, not to indulge in waste and extravagance when dishing out food and other provisions and avoid showing off and bragging – in line with the leading Marja’iyah’s directives to the visitors of Imam Al-Hussain (a.s.)
  ·         One should ask oneself when visiting the holy shrine of Imam Hussain(a.s.), is he sincere when saying:  Wish we had been with you we would have gained a great victory ? And with every step taken will the visitor receive a good point and a bad point be erased? And when tears of grief for Imam Hussain (a.s.) flow, will it be as Imam Al-Sadiq (a.s.) said: “On the day of resurrection all eyes will be weeping except the eye that wept for Hussain (a.s.) - which will be laughing.” 
·         Let those associated with the government who have no qualms in eating Haraam funds know,  by taking bribes from the vulnerable and the widows and orphans who hold the love of Hussain (a.s.) in their hearts and weep profoundly for him, that they will be among those referred to in the speech of the Aqeelah Zainab (a.s.) “Yes by God, weep much and laugh much for you have taken with you its shame and dishonour.”  
·         Imam Hussain (a.s.) is innocent of those who have hoarded the wealth of the Iraqi people for themselves in foreign banks – they will be engulfed and burnt by fire [of this wealth] on Judgment day and their punishment will be painful.
16 Safar 1437

Allamah Kashmiri’s speech was delivered on the occasion of  Ziyaratul-Arbaeen   of Imam Hussain (a.s.). This Ziyarah personifies the might of Islam in these difficult and sensitive times, with the tide of terrorism and Takfiri that has distorted the image of Islam and Muslims with its abhorrent barbaric methods of killings, decapitation of limbs, and gouging of eyes and enslavement of families and exploding public places and other heinous actions.  

This has led some people to see this as the reality and essence of Islam – as though the message [of Islam] is based on such savagery - whereas the Ziyara [pilgrimage] of Imam Hussain (a.s.), which attracts millions of visitors from a multitude of nationalities, languages and beliefs from all over the world, is totally the opposite; showing the bright face of Islam with the spirit of love and affection, tolerance and helping each other.

These millions converging on the tomb of Imam Hussain (a.s.) from all over the world by transport and on foot, travelling hundreds of kilometres without any baggage, only their clothes and accompanied by the prophet’s moral principles of compassion, love, and affection;  as though they are of one family; their father being Mohammad and Ali (s.a.w.w.) as the holy prophet said: “O Ali you and I are fathers of this nation.”  

The pilgrims forget this world and its pleasures and temptations, retaining its emotions, understanding, feelings and thoughts of love for God and the prophet and Hussain and Ahlul-bayt (a.s.) – committed to their approach, wishing the people of the whole world goodness and happiness.  

These amazing multitudes move with their hearts filled with courage and strength. They do not know fear or anxiety; expecting death any minute from the enemies. How great is the need for the peoples of the world today to emulate the devout pilgrims of Al-Hussain (a.s.) ?

And how great is humanity’s need, with all its diversities, faiths and beliefs, to know about the authentic Muhammadi Islam from the style of the pilgrims of Imam Hussain (a.s.)  on the 20th day of the Islamic month of Safar. The style which embodies love and affection between nations of the world – away from grudge and hate and the language of blood – without carrying a hateful burden or a word to alienate others or resorting to a policeman’s intervention or that of the security forces to protect them from their enemies and aggressors. For this reason they moved on the path of Al-Hussain (a.s.) chanting the poet’s words:  

If you want victory then visit Hussain
tomorrow you shall meet the Lord in comfort
For hell’s fire shall not touch a body
that has Hussain’s dust on it  

After this general introduction, there are those who ask: What is the rationale behind visiting the tomb of Imam Hussain (a.s.) on the Arbaeen, especially since it involves time, effort, hardship and disbursement of funds.

I’ve left the answer to this question to our teacher, the late Marhoom Shaykh Kashi on the Ziyara [pilgrimage] of Al-Hussain (a.s.) who said:  

Visiting the tomb of Al-Hussain (a.s.) is the best thing, whoever wishes can visit more or less frequently, as Imam Al-Sadiq (a.s.) had said. Yes it’s a good lovable and rational act  in line with Shari’a. As for the rational aspect, the sanctification and glorification of great people and  heroes after their death is an innate human tendency and an intelligent tradition prevalent all over the world among nations and civilizations since ancient times till today. Even these days in our generation this tradition is adhered to more than before.  

We see some countries that do not have a well-known leader and a famous world champion, glorify heroism and sacrifice made for their nation by building a memorial like the“Unknown Soldier” symbolizing  a unique sacrifice for the sake of the country and glorifying heroism and gallantry.

We now hear and read that no visit by a head of state to another country in the East or West is complete without scheduled visit the tomb of its founder or liberator, or to visit the memorial of the “Unknown soldier” where a wreath is laid and the traditional salute is performed.  

Even communist countries that have renounced all public traditions and old customs still retain this one ceremony. No official state visit to Russia is without a visit to the tomb of leader of the communist revolution, Lenin, to pay tribute.  

It is worth noting the Muscovites always visit the tomb of Lenin during various celebrations. Also in the United States, the tomb of John F. Kennedy, the slain President, is still visited by thousands of Americans and they may even cry for him.  

In brief, visiting the graves of heroes and great men and tombs of martyrs is a rational humane tradition that does not apply to a particular people, nation or sect. So why are the Shi’a reproached or criticised when they go to Karbala to visit the tomb of Imam Hussain (a.s.) who it the master of martyrs and sacrifice, the leaders’ hero, an ideal reformist of this world. He who saved a nation from danger of obliteration and launched it on the right path, after paying the ultimate price and all he had in this world.  

In visiting the tomb of Imam Hussain (a.s.), there is spiritual and moral benefits; unattained at other tombs and shrines. Thus, Imam Al-Sadiq said: “Whoever visits Al-Hussain (a.s.) aware of his right is as though he visits God on His throne”.  In another Hadith he (a.s.) said: “Visiting Al-Hussain is obligatory upon whoever believes the guardianship to belong to Imam Hussain (a.s.).”  

Do you not see non-Muslim people carving images and erecting statues of their reformers in public squares and high profile sights in their cities? Why do they do that? No doubt you know they are doing it to honour their reformers’ and heroes’ memories and to show their gratitude for the sacrifice they made and to remind young people and future generations of the careers and lives these great men led. However, Islam absolutely forbids carving and making status of individuals.  

So in order to honour our faithful leaders and martyrs and to show our gratitude to them and teach our future generations their ideas and principles, we Muslims can but visit their graves and stand humbly in front of their shrines recalling their sacrifice for the sake of public interest. This is Shi’a’s logic and philosophy on this event, which as you see is the logic applied in every time and place. 

Lastly, here is an extract form the book ‘Father of Martyrs’ on this subject who said: Coincidence directed Al-Hussain’s caravan towards Karbala after all other destinations were eliminated. Thus the history of Karbala, from that day, has gone hand in hand with the entire history of Islam. It is Imam Hussain’s (a.s.) right that his history goes hand in hand with human history because of his virtues that are worthy of eternal commemoration.

Karbala today is a shrine visited by Muslims to remember and shed tears. It is also visited out of interest by non-Muslims. But if justice is to be done to Karbala,  then it should be a place of pilgrimage for every human being who believes in the sacredness of life and virtue of his fellow man. Because we do not know of a place on the face of this earth that is associated with the virtues and qualities of the highest calibre than that which is associated with Karbala - after the death of Al-Hussain (a.s.)

All these Alawi qualities , i.e. qualities inherited from Imam Ali (a.s.), which make a human being human are personified by Imam Hussain (a.s.) in that barren land [of Karbala]. Without these qualities one becomes like grazing livestock. (This extract was taken from a book by Al-Qa’ad an Egyptian writer).

Ahlul-Bayt (a.s) and their Shi’as have been committed to maintaining the Ziyara of Imam Hussain (a.s) in difficult and gruelling conditions,  costing them heavy sacrifices. During the time of the Mutawakil Al-Abbasi for example, a tax of 1000 golden dinars was levied on each person who travelled to Karbala to visit the grave of Imam Hussain (a.s.). However, when Abbasid authorities saw this exorbitant tax did not prevent people from visiting Al-Hussain (a.s.) they added a bloody tax; whereby one out of ten visitors would be chosen by lot to be killed.

The Imams of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s.) were aware of all this but did not prevent people from visiting the tomb of Imam Hussain (a.s.) because of the spiritual, social and political gains the visit had for the faithful. They even urged people to continue visiting the tomb of Imam Hussain (a.s.) saying to them: “with every step the visitor takes to the tomb of Al-Hussain(a.s.) he gets an advantage with Allah Almighty.