The Significance of the Arba'een
of Imam Hussein (peace be upon him)
-Supreme Leader, Sayyed Ali Khamenei
From whence does the significance of Arba'een arise?
What distinguishing feature lies in the passage of 40 days?
The distinguishing feature of the Arba'een is that it is the revival of the
memory of Imam Hussein's martyrdom, and this is a matter of utmost
Presume that this great martyrdom occurred historically–the martyrdom of
Hussein son of Ali (peace be upon them) and the rest of the martyrs in
Karbala- but that the Umayyads in addition to killing Hussein son of Ali and
his companions on that day, and eliminating them and concealing their pure
bodies underground- were able to remove their remembrance from the minds of
the generation of that time and in the subsequent days. What would have been
the benefit of this martyrdom to the Islamic World?
If it would have left an impact at that time, then would this remembrance
have had –with regards to the following generations- an effect which would
reveal and expose the darkness, oppression, the anguish, and the bitterness?
[Would it have had an effect which would] expose the Yazidis in the
following historical periods?
If Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) had been martyred and the people of that
time and the following generations did not understand that he had been
martyred, then what impact and role would this remembrance have left behind
with respect to counseling , structuring, guiding, and urging nations, and
moving societies and history? You know that it would not have had an impact!
Yes, Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) through his martyrdom would have
reached [the highest ranks]. There are martyrs whom no one knows about and
they departed alone and were enfolded by silence. They will attain their
reward in the Hereafter and their spirits shall gain victory and mercy in
the divine presence, but how much will they present a lesson and an
When do martyrs become exemplars? A martyr's biography becomes a lesson
when modern and upcoming generations know and hear about how he was
oppressed and martyred. A martyr presents an exemplar and a lesson when his
blood boils and flows throughout history.
In that time, the tyrannical systems were ready to offer everything they
possessed so that Imam Hussein's name and blood and the martyrdom at Ashoura'
would not remain and would not be known as a lesson to the people of that
time and to the nations that would come afterward. Of course at the
beginning they did not comprehend the significance and importance of this
issue, but with time they perceived it to the extent that in the middle
period of the Abbasid rule they destroyed the grave of Hussein son of Ali
(peace be upon them), caused water to flow over it, and did not want any
trace of it to remain.
This is the role of the commemoration of martyrs and martyrdom. Martyrdom
will not produce its effect if it is devoid of remembrance and commemoration
and lacks the eruption of the martyr's blood. The Arba'een is the day in
which commenced the high elevation of the banner of the message of the
martyrdom at Karbala and it was the day of the immortalization of the
commemoration of the inheritors of the martyrs.
The first Arba'een was the day when the pilgrims who knew of Imam Hussein's
[rank] came to Karbala for the first time. Jaber bin Abdullah Al-Ansari and
'Atiyah- the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his Household)
and the disciples of the Prince of Believers (peace be upon him) went there.
Accounts and narrations state that Jaber was blind and that 'Atiyah took his
hand and placed it on the grave of Hussein (peace be upon him). He touched
the grave, cried, and spoke to Hussein…Through his advent and words, he
revived the memory of Hussein son of Ali (peace be upon them) and stabilized
the practice of visiting the martyrs' shrine. The Day of Arba'een has such a
degree of importance.