The World's Largest Annual Walkathon

21 November 2016 11:18 in Qubes
The World's Largest Annual Walkathon

Millions of people from across the globe -- mostly Muslims but also those of other faiths -- have engaged in the world's largest annual peace march towards the Iraqi city of Karbala.

Millions of people from across the globe -- mostly Muslims but also those of other faiths -- have engaged in the world's largest annual peace march towards the Iraqi city of Karbala.


This walkathon of peace, which annually draws close to or more than 20 million participants, is to mark the occasion of Arba'een (40th day) mourning the tragedy in Karbala that took place over 1,300 years ago in which the beloved grandson of the prophet of Islam, Husayn ibn Ali, and a few dozens of his followers were brutally slaughtered by 30,000 soldier army of a corrupt Caliph of time for refusing to pay allegiance to his rule and taking a firm stance against his attempts to distort Islam -- pretty similar to what the ISIS terror group is trying to do in the name of Islam today.



He made the ultimate sacrifice by standing up to the corrupt Caliph despite being abandoned by masses of people who originally pleaded with him to lead the resistance and vowed to support him, but later backed off or remained silent, under threats of reprisals or offers of prizes -- when the prophet's grandson responded to their call.

In the aftermath of the lopsided battle, the forces of the Caliph -- who had kept the small but committed forces of resistance and their families under siege, depriving them of food and water in the desert land for days -- brutally beheaded the combatants, including the prophet's Grandson, after killing them, mutilated their bodies, attacked and set afire the tents housing women and children as well as beating the grieving kids and their mothers while ripping away their jewelry and anything of slightest value and ultimately marched them in chains across cities to the Caliph's mansion.

So many years after the tragic event, the unwavering stance of the prophet's grandson continues to serve as the ultimate model for many Muslims and other people of faith familiar with the historic event for standing up for justice. This is what's behind drawing so many people to the Arba'een peace march. It is clear that people from all walks of life see the Karbala tragedy as a universal and meta-religious symbol of courage, compassion, love, and freedom.

One of the features of the Arba'een marathon walk -- ranging from a few dozen to over 400 miles -- is that throughout the 2-week event ordinary people go out of their way to host, greet, feed and accommodate the millions of participants 24 hours a day, without running out or any sort of shortages and totally free. All these of course is offered with utmost respect and pleasure all in show of respect and salutation of what has become known as the Martyr of Karbala.


Despite this great show of masses, generosity, love and kindness as well as resolve and purpose, media conglomerates across the globe have given very little press coverage to the annual event.

The following are some more facts about the Arba'een peace march to reflect upon:

1- Over 22 million people participated in the Arba'een rally last year. That is an astounding 60 percent of Iraq’s entire population, and it is growing year after year.


2- Millions of the participants begin their journey to Karbala on foot from Najaf, nearly 90 kilometers away -- a distance that takes 3 to 5 days. They also come on foot from other places as far as Bara, 510 kilometers south of Karbala.


3- Throughout their journey, the participants are served with free water, hot meals, foot massages, and housing by nearby Iraqi local residents who consider the acceptance of such offers as a bestowing honor on them.

4- Children waddle with parents, the elderly venture in wheelchairs – even the disabled hobble along, step-by-step, supported by nothing but crutches and an iron will to make the journey to commemorate Arba'een.




5- Along the entire journey one finds tents (called mawqibs) established by the locals to serve the participants with an abundance of facilities and amenities -- including showers, lots of public toilets, mattresses, pillows and cozy blankets.


6- And none of the aforementioned services are paid for by any government or company. It is, in fact, people taking care of each other.


7- Moreover, there are people on hand to massage the feet and legs of the walking pilgrims, places to shower and, of course, lots of public toilets.


8- While the Arba'een event is a distinctively Shia spiritual exercise, many Sunni Muslims and even Christians, Yazidis, Zoroastrians, Jews as well as Sabians partake in both the rally as well as serving of devotees. It shows that people, regardless of race or creed, see the prophet's grandson as a universal, borderless, and meta-religious symbol of freedom and compassion.

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