Safar e Ishq | Pakistan Today

Safar e Ishq

  • Indeed, it is the walk of love

1,400 years ago, the burning plains of Karbala witnessed the biggest tragedy of mankind. All forms of humanity were slaughtered during the battle of Karbala. The atrocities committed, remain unmatched till date. The grandson of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was butchered by Yazid’s army. His family was made to suffer in the aftermath. The blood of Hussain (AS) and his companions washed with it what was left of humanity.

The massacre of Karbala, even though on the face of it, saw the martyrdom of the Ahle Bait (AS), however in the times to come was the biggest victory ever won on a battlefield. It taught the oppressed to stand up against the oppressors. Had the Holy Prophet (PBUH’s) grandson cowered down to Yazid, the oppressed would never have learnt how to resist.

Tyranny and despotism would have been the rule of the day. The suppression of the oppressed would have greatly increased and no one would have dared question the tyrant. Yet, Hussain (AS) became the beacon of hope for all those who face persecution. He became the light to enter the people’s hearts and create not only a path for them but also instill peace and harmony in their hearts and minds. Teaching them not to be afraid of the tyrant and always stand up for Haq.

As I wrote in a previous piece, the message of Karbala was the message of peace. Every word uttered and every action undertaken in Karbala taught the humankind a lesson.

Fourteen centuries later, the pain of Karbala remains alive in the hearts of many. Every year the tragic martyrdom of Hussain (AS) and his family is commemorated by millions around the globe. The month of Muharram, particularly the 10th, is observed with respect and mourning. However, the more soul-stirring event is the day known as Arbaeenmarking the 40th day of the tragedy of Karbala.

Comfort and hospitality in any manner is provided to these people. Food and snacks are available in vast quantities

To mark the 40th day of Hussain (AS’s) martyrdom, millions of people flock to the city of Karbala to pay their respects to the slain grandson of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). What is mesmerising isn’t the fact that millions gather there. It is how they undertake this quest. Known as the walk of love, the followers and lovers of Sayyed ush Shuhada begin a walk from the city of Najaf towards Karbala. The distance between both the cities is approximately 100 miles. Yet, these people elders and children alike walk all day and night to pay their homage to the martyrs of Karbala.

This journey on an average takes somewhat between 3-5 days. Anybody who has experienced the scenes on the highway between Najaf and Karbala remains moved for times to come. Western journalists report it as the biggest gathering of peace and love that they have witnessed.

United under one banner; Hussain (AS), millions of people from all corners of the world walk shoulder to shoulder towards the city of Karbala. Some even undertake the walk of love barefoot. The locals of the nearby villages gather along the sideways in a hungry quest to serve those walking towards their Imam. They consider it their personal duty to serve the Zaireen visiting Karbala for paying homage.

It would make any person with a soul tearful to witness a 90 year old poor lady, with no money of her own, standing with two slices of bread a few cups of water and begging the Zaireen to take the bread and water from her so that she may fulfill her duty. A lady who is not in a position to feed herself or her children, grandchildren, begs the people to take and eat whatever she has. The ironic part, these locals consider it an insult if you try and pay them money in exchange for anything. They cry and weep if money is offered to them. The love for Hussain (AS), they say, is the consideration they seek in exchange for comforts they offer throughout the route.

And it’s not just food and water. A vast majority of the locals has the doors to their houses open for anybody wishing to rest for a couple of hours. The men of the household would bring the guests in and make them comfortable. The women would cook hot food and the youngsters offer foot massage to the Zaireen. All done in the name of one in Karbala.

There’s a reason why they call it the walk of love. The love isn’t just within the hearts of those people. It is actually felt by the hospitality of the locals who are poor themselves and yet hell bent upon serving the guests. Some of them save all year round to spend the money during the walk of Arbaeen. Huge tents are erected throughout the route to provide the walking people comfortable beds along the way.

Comfort and hospitality in any manner is provided to these people. Food and snacks are available in vast quantities. All these servers want is a smile of approval in exchange. Everything for the love of Hussain (AS). The ultimate goal is to seek contentment. Thousands of volunteers remain gathered to be of help in any manner they can.

It is but surprising to see, 1400 years later, the love of Hussain (AS) and his family is so entrenched in the hearts of people that they leave everything and flock towards the city of Karbala. Human nature would allow people to get over a loved one’s loss within a few days or months. Yet, centuries could not ease the pain from the hearts of these people. Love for the Ahle Bait (AS) binds them. The western media should go and witness this experience of love and peace. Ironically, in the midst of a war torn country, the message of peace is professed.

Once somebody sees it with their own eyes, they would actually feel the aura in which these people remain mesmerised. Indeed, it is the walk of love. Safar e Ishq, Manzil Karbala.