This year as a family we joined millions of people who walked on the journey of love, or safar e ishq. We traveled to Iraq for Arbaeen, or the 40th day after the day of Ashura. Ashura, or the 10th of Moharram (the first month of Islamic calendar), is the day the grandson of the Holy Prophet, Imam Hussain ibne Ali (as) was martyred with 72 of his family members and companions.
Ever since my husband went by himself for Arbaeen a few years ago, he claimed it wasn’t possible as a family. It’s just too difficult. The kids are going to have a really hard time. It’s too crowded.
At first I was upset. Seeing pictures and documentaries of the Arbaeen walk made my heart ache. I wanted to be a part of that beautiful journey. But then I gave in. OK, it will be hard. I’ll just wait until they’re older.
But this year I told my husband, let’s just try. If it works out, it works out. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. By the grace of the Almighty, everything worked out beautifully. And we set off on our journey.
I was skeptical the kids would cooperate all the way. But we set realistic walking goals, and after taking the blazing heat into consideration, we managed to part-walk, and part-bus it all the way from Najaf to Karbala.
Even though we live in Qom now, my kids are quite accustomed to a routine and a relatively easy life, Alhamdulillah. (However, they are pros at the squatters now!)
But you can’t teach them about overcoming obstacles by just telling them. I find they grow stronger when they physically endure.
No it’s not easy, but taking kids on a ziyarat trip is actually a good way to teach them about our Holy Prophet (PBUH) and his beloved family, and a good way to teach them about learning to overcome obstacles.
Sure we had some whining, long bus waits and there were plenty of hot days, but when we were in the shrines of Imam Hussain (as) and his dear brother Hazrat Abbas on the day of Arbaeen, I cannot even put into words the love and beauty I witnessed. There was no violence, no fear, no hate. Just pure love. Tears. Prayers. Light. Hope. And more than anything that I could explain to my kids about this, they witnessed it themselves. For the first time my kids had no questions. They saw. They saw the love for Imam Hussain (as). They saw the sadness of Karbala. They finally realized what I mean when I always say, “See how many people love Imam Hussain (as)? See the beauty of his ultimate sacrifice?”
All during the walk from Najaf from Karbala my kids saw little ones like them handing out water, tissue, tea, fruit, etc. They were given gifts from random people who would pat their heads proudly at these little lovers of Imam Hussain (as). At one point I remember it was hot and there were some men who would spray mists of water at the people walking. My eldest ran to him and after getting all wet, started walking again and just said, “I hope another guy comes and does that again.” No sooner had she mentioned this, another man was standing in the middle spraying. I smiled at her and said, “See? If you walk toward Imam Hussain with a pure intention, Allah will make it easier for you. He answered your request.”
How can we expect our children to feel a love for our honorable Ahle Bait if we don’t make an effort to show them? Kids are very resilient, and with the right intention, Allah will make the trip easy for us. I remember being very concerned about certain bathroom situations (just holes in the ground) or sleeping arrangements in the mawkebs during Arbaeen. Imagine a big slumber party with strangers. But my eldest sat down and said, “It’s not so bad. It could be worse.” I thanked Allah from the bottom of my heart. This is what I wanted her to learn.
Thank you Allah for giving us the opportunity to visit your beloved slaves. Through their love You honored us with this blessing. I pray we get to go again soon, and that our children always follow in their footsteps.