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By the Grace of God I have been going for the Arbaeen walk in the last few years but recently a very disturbing and confusing video has been forwarded to me showing a public speaker who calls the walk a carnival and an innovation similar to Salat-al- Tarawih. He said this is an innovation which has shackled us. He also says ‘the walk was supposed to be a private practice for every individual to do it in their own good time’. He also said the Hadith says ‘walk from Euphrates to the Haram of Imam Hussein (as)’.

Please shed some light on the significance of the walk on Arbaeen. Is this really an innovation?!


This is not the first time or the first person who has attempted to extinguish the ‘Light of God’:

“They wish to extinguish God’s Light with their mouths, but Allah will not allow except that His Light should be perfected.” (Chapter 9, Ayah 32)

Although one of my colleagues has answered the above misgiving in a very academic manner, I will Inshallah shed some more light on this issue for your further information.

1. The abundant merits of visiting the holy grave of Imam Husain (as) is promised in numerous words of the Imams of AhlulBayt (as). One of the best and the most authentic primary sources on the merits of visiting the holy graves of AhlulBayt (as) is the book of ‘Kaamelu-Ziyaraat’ written by ‘Ibn Qulawayh’ who was one of the main students of Sheikh Al-Kulayni and the teacher of Sheikh Al-Mufid. The author has compiled over 500 narrations on the merits of visiting the holy grave of Imam Husain (as). The followings are only a few examples:

1.1: Mo’awiyah Ibn Wahb (a very prominent narrator) narrated from Imam Sadiq (as):

“Do not abandon the ziyarat (visitation) of al-Husain (as). Do you not like to be among those for whom the angels pray?!” (Kamelu-Ziyaraat, P. 119)

1.2: Mo’awiyah Ibn Wahb also said:

“I entered the house of Imam Sadiq (as) and I found the Imam on his prayer mat. I waited until he finished his salat (prayer). Then I heard the Imam saying in his supplication: “O Allah!… forgive me and my brethren and the visitors of the grave of my father al-Husain; those who spend their wealth and return (to his grave) in person (frequently)…” (Ibid, p.117)

1.3:  Imam Sadiq (as) said:

“Verily, Fatima; the daughter of Muhammad (P) attends the visitors of her son al-Husain (as) and seeks God’s forgiveness for their sins.” (Ibid, P. 118)

1.4: Visiting the holy grave of Imam Husain (as) is equally recommended for both men and women. Um Saeed al-Ahmasiyah; a very learned female companion of Imam Sadiq (as) narrated:

“Imam Sadiq (as) said to me: O Um Saeed! Do you visit the grave of al-Husain (a.s)? I said: Yes. She further added: Imam then said to me: “Do visit him, for surely his visitation is a covenant on men and women.” (Ibid, P.122)

2. Significance of walking to holy sites in Islam

Walking towards the holy sites is a much recommended rite in Islam. It is a gesture of humbleness and homage. Walking to the mosque (Wasaelu-Shi’a, vol.5, p.201), going on foot for Eid Prayers (Ibid, Vo.16, p.152), walking to Haj and hence one of the virtues of AhlulBayt (as) was their frequent pilgrimage to Haj on foot, also walking for stoning the Jamaraat in Haj, and even going on foot to visit a believer (Thawabul-A’mal, p.32) are examples of its significance.

3. Significance of walking to visit the holy grave of Imam Husain (as) in particular

Ibn Qulawaih has dedicated chapter 49 of his book to the merits of visiting Imam Husain (as) on foot. In one of its narrations it is quoted from Imam Sadiq (as):

Whoever leaves his house aiming at visiting the grave of al-Husain Ibn Ali (as) if he is on foot, Allah will write for him for every footstep a good deed and will erase an evil (for him) until he reaches the al-Haer (the vicinity of the grave)…” (Ibn Qulawaih, P. 132)

Unfortunately the speaker has mistakenly assumed that the walk is supposed to start from the Euphrates! As you can see from the above narration one may start walking from his home if possible, for the longer walk the more rewarding. The recommendation of walking from the Euphrates which is in the vicinity of today’s city of Karbala is about walking barefooted, not just walking. Here is the text of the Hadith in Arabic:

فَإِذَا أَتَيْتَ الْفُرَاتَ فَاغْتَسِلْ وَ عَلِّقْ نَعْلَيْكَ وَ امْشِ حَافِياً وَ امْشِ مَشْيَ الْعَبْدِ الذَّلِيل‏.. (کامل الزیارات، ص 133)

“Then when you reached the Euphrates River perform your Ghusl (of Ziarat), hang your shoes around your neck, walk barefooted and walk like a very humble slave…” (Ibn Qulawaih, p. 133)

4. Walking on Arbaeen is a pure Islamic tradition NOT an innovation:

Walking to the holy grave on the 40th of Imam Husain (as) is a well-established Sunna and one of the signs of being a true follower of Ahlul-Bayt (as).

4.1:  Sh. Al-Mufid  (4th century A.H) narrated from Imam al-Askari (as):

The signs of a believer are five: praying 51 Rak’at daily, Ziarat Arbaeen, wearing a ring on the right hand, prostration on soil, and pronouncing the Bismillah loudly.” (Al-Mazar, P. 53)

‘The believer’ in the above narration is an expression for ‘a Shi’a’, and thus the above five mentioned practices are mainly observed by the Shi’a.

4.2:  Safwan; one of the trustworthy companions of Imam Sadiq (as) narrated a ‘visitation’ from Imam Sadiq (a.s) for visiting Imam Husain (as) on his 40th. (Mesbahul-Mutohajjid, vol. 2, p.788)

4.3:  Jaber Ibn Abdillah al-Ansari; who was a prominent companion of the holy Prophet (P), along with Atiyyah al-Oufi, who was also a prominent companion of Imam Ali (as) are the first main visitors of the holy grave of Imam Husain (as) on Arbaeen. At the time of the tragedy of Karbala, Jaber who had an impair vision due to aging was residing in Medina. Upon hearing the martyrdom of Imam Husain (as) he made a trip all the way to Kufa. Attiyah narrates the story: “I left Kufa with Jaber on foot heading to Karbala to visit the holy grave of Imam Husain (as). (Besharatul-Mustafa, p. 74). Note that today Kufa is part of the holy city of Najaf, from which the main walk begins. We believe the choice of Jaber to visit the holy grave on the 40th was not accidental.

Therefore, walking on Arbaeen to visit the holy grave of Imam Husain (as) is:

a) a strong recommendation of Imam Sadiq (a.s),
b) a sign of a true believer according to Imam al-Askari (a.s),
c) is practiced by prominent companions of the holy Prophet (P) and Imam Ali (as),
d) and practiced by many Shi’a scholars throughout history when possible. Then how can one dare calling it an innovation and compare it with ‘Salat-al- Tarawih’ which its innovation is unanimously accepted?! In fact, Ziyarat Arbaeen is not an innovation even according to the Sunni principles, for it has been practiced by one of the companions of the holy Prophet (P); i.e. Jaber Ibn Abdillah. Perhaps that is why every year we witness more participation in this heavenly procession by Muslims of different denominations.

5. Ziarat Arbaeen is NOT supposed to be a private practice

Unlike the false assumption of the speaker, a glance at the numerous narrations of AhlulBayt (as) certainly suggests that the visitation of Imam Husain (as) has to be publicized and globalized. I wonder how can a Muslim speaker echo the voice of secularism which calls ‘religion a private affair and should be kept that way’?!! It will not be surprising for such mentality to call the global Muslim pilgrimage to Haj another innovation and suggest that ‘it’s supposed to be a private practice to do it in your own good time’. Then Friday and daily congregational Prayers have to be also private practices! Muslim ladies also should not be allowed to practice their Islamic dress code, for ‘religion is supposed to be a private affair’. And the list goes on!

I heard from one of the Iraqi brothers: “During the reign of Saddam we had to keep the Arbaeen walk hidden and private, otherwise we could be put in prison or executed!” I cannot fathom how a Muslim speaker promotes ‘Saddam’s policy’?!!

6. Ziarat Arbaeen has NOT shackled us, it has liberated and united us.

Unlike the blasphemous claim of the speaker who claims Arbaeen walk is ‘an innovation which has shackled us’, the Shi’a history proves otherwise. Nay, even Gandhi said: “I learned from Husain how to be wronged and be a winner, I learned from Husain how to attain victory while being oppressed.”

I sincerely invite the speaker for the next Arbaeen procession to witness how Muslims of different denominations along with Zoroastrians, Sabians and others walk on this heavenly worshipping act hand in hand. Instead of making such unprofessional and derogatory comments please do join ‘the world’s largest and peaceful annual pilgrimage’ and witness for yourself a utopia where its citizens are the most generous, the most caring, the most sacrificing, and yes the most loving people for our dear al-Husain (as). And finally I humbly appeal to such speakers to follow the wise recommendation of Imam Sadiq (a.s) where he says:

“Remain quiet on matters unclear to you, for it is better than indulging in utter destruction.” (al-Kafi, vol. 1 p. 68)

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei


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Can you please provide proofs for the belief that Prophet Jesus will return at the time of the reappearance of Imam Mahdi aswell? Ayaat from the Quran and Hadiths would be appreciated.


The Return of Jesus in Islam

Muslim scholars irrespective of their denominations are quite unanimous that upon the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (May God hasten his reappearance) Prophet Jesus will also descend to Earth from the heavens. During that time Jesus and Imam Mahdi will spread peace and justice on Earth, and the Earth will attain unprecedented peace, justice and welfare. Jesus will be like the minister for Imam Mahdi and his main mission will be to correct the dogma of Trinity and to clarify his humane personality and servitude to God.

The Islamic doctrine of the descension of Jesus to Earth is derived from a couple of Ayaat in the Quran and many Ahadith which are narrated by both Shi’a and Sunni narrators. The following are the most important reasons for this doctrine:

1. Jesus is still alive

The holy Quran in a unique style denotes the false dogma of crucifixion. The holy Quran clearly states that Allah raised Jesus to Himself. Thus, Jesus has not tasted physical death as yet. On the other hand, ‘every creature shall have a taste of death’. [29:57]. In conclusion, Jesus must return to earth to live a physical life and die a physical death.

2. The People of the Book believe in Jesus before his death

The Almighty Allah states: “And there will be none of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) but must believe in him before his death and on the Day of Resurrection, he will be a witness against them.” [4:159].

Most interpreters of the Quran agree that the above Ayah is with reference to the time of the return of Jesus to Earth. During that time there will be no Jews or Christians, but rather those who believe in Jesus as a Messenger of Allah and a human being. According to this interpretation, the pronoun in ‘before his death’ returns to ‘Jesus’ not a Jew or a Christian.

Shahr bin Houshab narrated: “Hajjaj bin Yusuf said to me: “There is an Ayah in the Quran that I’m baffled as to its meaning. I said: O Amir! Which Ayah is that? He said: “And there will be none of the People of the Book …” By Allah! I have ordered the execution of many Christians and Jews and I have witnessed their death, but none of them believed in the humanity of Jesus before his death.” Shahr said: “I said to Hajjaj: This is not the meaning of the Ayah. (He meant the pronoun in that phrase returns to Jesus not the Jews and Christians). The meaning of the Ayah is that Jesus will descend to Earth before the Day of Resurrection and there will be no Jews or Christians but believers in Jesus, and he will pray behind Imam Mahdi.” Hajjaj asked from whom I had learnt that interpretation from. I replied: Imam Baqir, son of Imam Sajjad, son of Imam Husain, son of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib narrated this to me.” Hajjaj said: By Allah, you gained it from a pure spring.”
3. The followers of Jesus will be superior over disbelievers

Almighty Allah states: “And when Allah said: O Jesus! I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear you of those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieve till the Day of Resurrection. Then you (believers and disbelievers) will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matter in which you used to dispute.” [3:55].

The above Ayah is one of the controversial Ayaat in the story of Prophet Jesus. Some Christian preachers use this Ayah to prove the superiority of Christians over the adherents of all other religions whom they also call ‘disbelievers’ until the Day of Judgment.

Christians assumed the Quranic phrase ‘those who follow you’ equals Christians. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Christianity today is in essence very different from the actual teachings of Prophet Jesus. The followers of Jesus were those who truly followed his teachings. According to the Quran, the dogma of Trinity is in full conflict with the teachings of Prophet Jesus. Thus, how could Trinitarians be regarded as the followers of Jesus?!

The examples of ‘those who follow you’ from the time of Jesus till the advent of Islam are those sincere believers who believed in Jesus as a Messenger of Allah and followed his teachings. With the rise of Islam, Muslims who believe in Jesus as a Messenger of Allah are the true followers of Jesus. The disbelievers in return are those who never believed in Jesus as a Prophet such as the Jews or even the Christians who believed in the divinity of Jesus. Thus Almighty Allah has made the true monotheists who believe in Jesus as His Messenger superior in their ideology over the disbelievers who do not believe in Prophet Jesus.

Another meaning for the Ayah is to say when Imam Mahdi (a.s) reappears and Jesus returns to Earth, the true followers of Jesus who include all Muslims, Jews, Christians who truly followed Jesus, will be superior to the disbelievers.

4. Prophetic narrations confirm the descent of Jesus

Numerous Narrations in both Sunni and Shi’a sources confirm and detail the descending of Jesus at the same time as Imam Mahdi.

Renowned Sunni narrators such as al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ibn Maajah, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Abu-Dawood and many others have narrated the narrations of the return of Jesus at the time of Imam Mahdi, and that he will pray behind Imam Mahdi.

Ibn Jouzi in his book ‘Tathkeratul-Khawas’ narrated: “Mahdi and Jesus will reunite. When it’s the time for Prayers, Mahdi will ask Jesus to lead the Prayers, but Jesus will say: You are more preferred to lead the Prayers. Then Jesus will pray behind him.”

According to the narrations of his return, Jesus will break the cross and abandon the meat of the pig. He will also abolish the Jazyah for the People of the Book of his time who will have no excuse to adhere to their false principles. They have to either convert to Islam and hence no Jazyah will apply to them or will be executed by Jesus. Jesus will live on the Earth for 40 years before he dies. Imam Mahdi will pray on his body and will attend his burial in pubic.

The Return of Jesus and the Seal of Prophet-hood

One of the theological problems about the return of Jesus is the paradox between this concept and the seal of Prophethood. Undoubtedly, Prophet Muhammad was the last Prophet and Messenger of God. With Prophet Muhammad, prophethood ceased to continue. Then how could one of the previous prophets return to earth after Prophet Muhammad?

The answer to the above paradox is that Prophet Jesus will not return to Earth to bring a new Shari’a Law. Thus, he will pray behind Imam Mahdi. In fact, Imam Mahdi who is the 12th and the last successor of the Prophet of Islam will lead the world. The main purpose of the return of Jesus to Earth is in order for him to prove to the Jews and the Christians the truth about himself.

Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei