Ten key notes on Arbaeen travelogues

Interesting travelogues enriched with interviews

Mohammad Mehdi Abdollah Zadeh
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian


For a number of reasons, travelogues have long been favored and used. When travel was not possible in its current form and mass media were not available, a small number of people who traveled successfully wrote their observations, hearings, memories and experiences of travel to be used by others. So each travelogue is made up of the narrator's memoirs and stories. Also, as long as photography was not commonplace, some travelogues guided audiences in understanding the situations by painting.

In addition to capturing and sustaining the narrator's memoirs, each travelogue implicitly contains geographical, historical, literary, and human data. For this reason, travelogues will be a source of guidance for others on their journey, and will serve the work of historical, religious, political, and social scholars. So, professional ethics dictates the travelogue authors to report facts and avoid transforming facts into fictions favored by the audience.

In our country, since 2011, when formal Arba’een religious tourism were arranged, the Arba’een travelogues have been favored. Numerous books have been published under the title of Arba’een Travelogue, and notable travelogue articles have been published in the media, all of them valuable. It is hoped that we will reach to a point that at least half of Arba’een tourists will write their travelogues even in brief.

Consideration of the following will promote Arba’een travelogues quality and quantity:

  1. There have to be no doubts in writing. We shall write smoothly and comfortably. We don't want to produce literary text. Write as easily as we speak. In this way, the audience will stay with us until the end of the journey.
  2. Considering the easy access to photo equipment, take pictures of the subjects as much as you need. The perfect images will make the travelogue vivid and live for the audience. Each image carries a lot of material that writing fails to convey.
  3. Nowadays, the media publishes numerous written and visual reports of Arba’een travelers, which are very popular, but it makes travelogue writing much more difficult. In order to write a different travelogue, interviews are very efficient. Knowing about a thousand words of local Iraqi Arabic makes it easy to establish a line of communication with the local Iraqi officials and people. If this were not possible, we would have to travel with a translator. Travelogues composed partially of interviews are rich and interesting read.
  4. Every profession has its own ethics. The individual writing a travelogue is the loyal trustee of the people and history. Magnification and in contrast, minimization of the observations, experiences and events is betrayal. Reality must be reflected, no more and no less.
  5. To write this spiritual travelogue, like everyone else, one has to go through the whole process and record everything carefully and sharply. A person who has not walked a part of the columns has deprived himself of the same amount of experience. For example, pilgrims' walking speed and walking style vary from the seven hundred column above compared to the previous ones. Consequently, if a travelogue author succeeds in walking five hundred columns, he will be deprived of seeing the wounds under the feet and hardship of travel by others and the areas where massage is provided to the travelers.
  6. Attention to detail is also important. Generalization is detrimental. The travelogue should respond to potential questions of the audience. For example, when we write that our lunch was Najafi Gheymeh[1], the reader would like to know the difference with Iranian Gheymeh. So you should also write about the contents of this dish and how to prepare it.
  7. Memoirs and travelogues should indicate time, space and narrator’s features. Better understanding of the importance of the events is subject to indication of time and space of observations made or interviews conducted.
  8. Be biased towards our writing. Don’t fear criticism and use them to complete your work. People who fear criticism, betray themselves. We can publish our travelogue in the form of a book. Or send it to related sites if we believe that the volume is insufficient for a book or we lack resources. If we don't find a solution for publishing, it takes less than a few minutes to launch a personal blog. By uploading our memories to our own blog, we support those in search of Arba’een material with access to such content.
  9. Some, write the travelogue during the journey. Some, take notes of important topics and then develop them in due time. Some take pictures to write accordingly. Some, record their content to transcribe it later. Considering the short travel period for Arba’een and it is mostly spent on travelling the distance, a combination of various methods are recommended.
  10. The best way to learn Arba’een travelogue writing is to study them as written by others. One good aspect of such studies is intrigue in writing. Also, we learn how to deliver different issues. Practice makes perfect and have in mind that you don’t have to imitate the prose and style of prominent authors.


[1] A kind of stew made with split peas and meat

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