From the First Memories of the Marching Ceremony to Karbala

Compiled by: Faezeh Sasanikhah
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


One of the very interest and heartwarming memories I have from my stay in Najaf was participating in the marching ceremony from Najaf to Karbala. In addition to professors, scholars, and students, usually, the authority on matters of religion also participated in this ceremony. Walking on occasions like Ashura, and Arbaeen, the presence of the late Grand Ayatollah Shahroudi was more noticeable and remarkable. They left Najaf on foot and headed towards Karbala, the others joined them. Some gentlemen used to come back in vehicles, but Mr. Shahroudi always returned on foot.

I also had the opportunity to participate in this very spiritual ceremony several times. I often visited with my students. The route between Najaf and Karbala, which is about 60 Km, was usually traveled for two or three days. Some people, like Mr. Sheikh Hadi Zabali, who studied with me, had a special taste. Mr. Zabeli used to travel this distance in one day and return in one day. After the ceremony, some of them would go to Kazmin and Samarra from Karbala, and some of them would return to Najaf from there.

Interestingly, in the middle of the road, Arab nomads who had the Shiite religion were living. They welcomed the pilgrims of Imam Hussain (PBUH) and students and nobles in a good way. They did not make any difference between people and treated everyone equally. At lunch and dinner time, they would welcome the gentlemen inside the big tents that served as the reception hall and take them to their tents for a party with requests and wishes. With all the propaganda that was done in Najaf and other cities against the clergy and the synagogues, the minds of these nomads were free from all these rumors. They had a strange belief in the clergy and Hosseini pilgrims. Sometimes it was observed that they collected the soil from the students' feet from their shoes and took it for medical treatment. These nomads were not in a favorable economic situation. Next to the Euphrates, each of them cultivated a small amount of rice, and their food was mostly rice and yogurt, and they did not have any other stews. Despite all this, they were very generous towards Hosseini pilgrims and seminary students and did not harass them for anything.[i]


[i]Source: Memoirs of Ayatollah Muslim Malkouti, translated by Abdul Karim Abazari, Tehran, Islamic Revolution Documentation Center, 1385, p. 174.

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