The Arba’een Pilgrimage is the world’s largest public gathering that is held every year. This Ziyarah is held at the end of the 40-day mourning period following Ashura, the religious ritual for the commemoration of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Husayn ibn Ali’s death in 680. Arba’een marks a “pivotal event in history” in which the pilgrims make their journey to Karbala on foot, where Husayn ibn Ali, the third Imam of Shia, and his army were killed and beheaded by the army of Yazid I. Some of the pilgrims make their journey from cities as far as Basra, about 500 km away by road.
Jabir ibn Abd Allah was the first pilgrim of Husayn ibn Ali in the Arba’een of 61 AH. According to narrations, the custom of performing the pilgrimage on foot was forgotten during a time period after Morteza Ansari and it was revived by Mirza Husain Noori Tabarsi in an Eid al-Adha who repeated this action every year performing the last one by 1319 AH. Some other scholars and Marja’s kept on the same manner in Arba’een up to the Saddam’s time during which the pilgrimage was banned although some people used to perform it secretly. It was revived just after Saddam’s overthrow in 2003.