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Millions of Shias, packed the city of Karbala on Thursday for the culmination of one of the world's largest religious events. The faithful have for days been streaming through the golden-domed mausoleum of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA), the Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) grandson who was killed in 680 AD by the armies of Yazid, despite the threat of militant attacks. Many in the sea of black-clad devotees swarming the shrine walked days to reach Karbala, sometimes from cities as far afield as Basra, about 500 kilometres away by road.

Thousands of “mawakeb”, spots where tents are erected by volunteers, are set up along the way to serve the pilgrims food and beverages. Baghdad and much of the country south of the capital come to a standstill in the days preceding Arbaeen, as several major motorways are reserved for pilgrims on foot on one side and authorised vehicles on the other. Over 20 million pilgrims, among them five million Arabs and foreigners, took part in the pilgrimage this year.

An aerial view taken on December 1, 2015 shows Iraqi Shias gathering at the shrine of Imam Abbas ibn Ali, the brother of Imam Hussein, during the Arbaeen religious festival which marks the 40th day after Ashura, commemorating the seventh century killing of Prophet Mohammed's grandson, Imam Hussein, in the holy city of Karbala, 80 kilometres south of the capital Baghdad. —AFP
An aerial view taken on December 1, 2015 shows Iraqi Shias gathering at the shrine of Imam Abbas ibn Ali, the brother of Imam Hussein, during the Arbaeen religious festival which marks the 40th day after Ashura, commemorating the seventh century killing of Prophet Mohammed's grandson, Imam Hussein, in the holy city of Karbala, 80 kilometres south of the capital Baghdad. —AFP
Shia pilgrims march to Karbala during the Arbaeen ritual in Baghdad, Iraq on Sunday. The Shia ritual of Arbaeen marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the killing of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)'s grandson Imam Husain 13 centuries ago. —AP
Shia pilgrims march to Karbala during the Arbaeen ritual in Baghdad, Iraq on Sunday. The Shia ritual of Arbaeen marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the killing of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)'s grandson Imam Husain 13 centuries ago. —AP
Shias pilgrims wait to board a train at Baghdad central station. Thousands of Shia faithful heading to and returning from the holy city of Karbala have been massing in central Baghdad station in the days running up to the culmination of Arbaeen. —AFP
Shias pilgrims wait to board a train at Baghdad central station. Thousands of Shia faithful heading to and returning from the holy city of Karbala have been massing in central Baghdad station in the days running up to the culmination of Arbaeen. —AFP
Most of the millions of pilgrims that flock to Karbala each year walk and take buses to the holy shrine city. The train fare is only three US dollars/350 Pakistani Rupees, and avoids the many checkpoints that dot the road to Karbala but it stops in every station on the way and takes at least five hours to cover the 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Baghdad. —AFP
Most of the millions of pilgrims that flock to Karbala each year walk and take buses to the holy shrine city. The train fare is only three US dollars/350 Pakistani Rupees, and avoids the many checkpoints that dot the road to Karbala but it stops in every station on the way and takes at least five hours to cover the 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Baghdad. —AFP
Iraqi security forces use a sniffer dog to inspect the luggage of Shias pilgrims at Baghdad central train station. Iraqi officials say security was stepped up this year for the millions of pilgrims who descended on the holy city of Karbala to mark the commemoration of Arbaeen Wednesday. Operations were coordinated between the interior ministry, an umbrella group of militia volunteers and Iranian advisers. —AFP
Iraqi security forces use a sniffer dog to inspect the luggage of Shias pilgrims at Baghdad central train station. Iraqi officials say security was stepped up this year for the millions of pilgrims who descended on the holy city of Karbala to mark the commemoration of Arbaeen Wednesday. Operations were coordinated between the interior ministry, an umbrella group of militia volunteers and Iranian advisers. —AFP
Shia pilgrims walk to the holy city of Kerbala, ahead of the ritual of Arbaeen, in Najaf. Government run Iraqi state media said Wednesday the total number of pilgrims who have visited Karbala is more than 22 million. —Reuters
Shia pilgrims walk to the holy city of Kerbala, ahead of the ritual of Arbaeen, in Najaf. Government run Iraqi state media said Wednesday the total number of pilgrims who have visited Karbala is more than 22 million. —Reuters
An aerial view taken shows Iraqi Shia pilgrims gathering at the shrine of Imam Abbas ibn Ali, the brother of Imam Husain. —AFP
An aerial view taken shows Iraqi Shia pilgrims gathering at the shrine of Imam Abbas ibn Ali, the brother of Imam Husain. —AFP
An aerial view taken on shows Iraqi Shia pilgrims gathering at the shrines of Imam Abbas ibn Ali (front) and Imam Husain (background). —AFP
An aerial view taken on shows Iraqi Shia pilgrims gathering at the shrines of Imam Abbas ibn Ali (front) and Imam Husain (background). —AFP
Iraqi Shia pilgrims gather at the Imam Abbas shrine in the central Iraqi city of Karbala, 120 kms south of the capital Baghdad, on the eve of the Arbaeen religious festival which marks the 40th day after Ashura. —AFP
Iraqi Shia pilgrims gather at the Imam Abbas shrine in the central Iraqi city of Karbala, 120 kms south of the capital Baghdad, on the eve of the Arbaeen religious festival which marks the 40th day after Ashura. —AFP
Iraqi Shia pilgrims gather at the Imam Abbas shrine in the central Iraqi city of Karbala, 120 kms south of the capital Baghdad, on the eve of the Arbaeen religious festival which marks the 40th day after Ashura.  —AFP
Iraqi Shia pilgrims gather at the Imam Abbas shrine in the central Iraqi city of Karbala, 120 kms south of the capital Baghdad, on the eve of the Arbaeen religious festival which marks the 40th day after Ashura. —AFP
Shia pilgrims march to Karbala during the Arbaeen ritual in Baghdad, Iraq. The total number of pilgrims who have visited Karbala is more than 22 million.  —AP
Shia pilgrims march to Karbala during the Arbaeen ritual in Baghdad, Iraq. The total number of pilgrims who have visited Karbala is more than 22 million. —AP
Iraqi Shia pilgrims participate in the Arbaeen ritual in Baghdad, Iraq,  —AP
Iraqi Shia pilgrims participate in the Arbaeen ritual in Baghdad, Iraq, —AP

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Comments (56) Closed



M. Zaki Dec 05, 2015 01:30pm

If its not a Living Miracle then what else would be .... SUBHANALLAH

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Ayan (Super Hero Not Super Model) Dec 05, 2015 01:37pm

Once again, Dawn sets standard of exceptional reporting. Thank you very much for such nice coverage.

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Maimoon Dec 05, 2015 01:41pm

Subhanalla, Her quoam pukaaray gee humaray hain Hussain. Tributes to the organizers of the event.

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Ali Dec 05, 2015 02:14pm

Miracle! SubhanAllah

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javed ali hasrat Dec 05, 2015 02:20pm

live like Ali a.s Die like imam Hussain a.s

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Syed Hasan Naqvi Dec 05, 2015 02:27pm

It's miraculous, amazing, unbelievable and outstanding. It's Hussain (AS).

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Shanawar Dec 05, 2015 02:32pm

Karbala shall stand as a metaphor of line between right and wrong, injustice and sacrifice, ishq and zulm......

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Danish Dec 05, 2015 02:41pm

Ummah to learn message of peace and love my Imam Hussain. I am a devoted Sunni however, I have a firm believe in the message Imam gave to the world while defending Islam in Karbala.

I was amazed to see that not only Sunni Shia Muslims but other Muslims sets, Hindu and Christians came to Karbala to pay homage to the beloved grandson of our Holy Prophet (SAWW). Islam is nothing but the love to humanity and and peace for everyone.

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Kamran kasi Dec 05, 2015 02:41pm

Long live Hussein. Live like Husssein die like Hussein

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Dr.Cajetan Coelho Dec 05, 2015 02:44pm

May peace, joy and fellow felling reign in the hearts and minds of people across the planet.

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Kumail12 Dec 05, 2015 03:10pm

Feel sorry for world media like Bbc and CNN for totally ignoring when it shows how peaceful are Muslim

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Messam Dec 05, 2015 03:19pm

SubhanAllah. InshaAllah one day we will too give our "Nazrana e Aqeedat".

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Hussaini Dec 05, 2015 03:28pm

The event is not only attended by Shia Muslims but from all Sects even Christians with their priests & other non-Muslims do attend the proceedings with their devotion & love. As Love for Hussain(A.S) is the love for humanity.

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Muhammad Zaidi Dec 05, 2015 04:04pm

Thank you Dawn, the World Media is ignoring this mega event of not only Muslims but even many religions join it officially, like Vetican and others etc. This should also be reported in Guiness Book as the largest ever gathering for a single event, Biggest Free Meals for an event, No Causality in the biggest event reported in the biggest law less country.

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Dar Ab. Gani Dec 05, 2015 04:14pm

The only grave tragic problem inMuslim world today is disunity.Disunity I think is due to igorance and the lack of understanding of spirit of Islam

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Hussayni Dec 05, 2015 04:25pm

At your Service, O Hussain!

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Akhtar Dec 05, 2015 04:29pm

It's impressive gathering and one of the largest. But 20 million? It's physically impossible to have 20 million additional people in a city like Karbala at one time.

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fas Dec 05, 2015 04:34pm

excellent photography - never seen before. May shower his countless blessing on Dawn and his photographer.

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Mehdi Dec 05, 2015 04:54pm

Good to see this article in a Pakistani newspaper. Generally the world media only covers negative stories about Islam. I wonder how this gathering of millions is missed by everyone every year. Good job Dawn.

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Taqi Haider Dec 05, 2015 04:59pm

@Akhtar . Dear. Please show us your statistical findings to prove the number wrong. its 20 million plus gathering.

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adil H Dec 05, 2015 05:01pm

Having walked from Najaf to Karbala myself, I met people from all walks of life, some as far away as Basra, who were travelling on foot for the past 2 weeks...we all came across tremendous hospitality from war-ravaged Iraqis who brought everything they had for the zairin of Imam Husayn (a).

One family just accommodated us in their house when the tents had no further space left...truly a life transforming experience... I recommend everyone who has not gone on this journey to experience it once in their lifetimes

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Syed Awais Ali Dec 05, 2015 05:11pm

Why does it mentions explicitly the word "Shia Muslims", Yes mostly Shia muslims do revere the place as holy, but i being a sunni muslim want to go there and perform ziarat of Imam. I being a Sunni Muslim would love to visit Karbala. Don't restrict the personality of Imam Hussain to any one community or group of people.

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Raja Dec 05, 2015 05:12pm

@Akhtar Yes you are right the it was 19,735,450 and not 20 million. Still it is the largest gathering of humans on the planet every year.

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Muslim Medina Dec 05, 2015 05:23pm

A living miracle. it is all self service. The memory of Karbala will always be fresh in the minds of generations to come. Hussaniyat paindabad.

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khangul Dec 05, 2015 05:45pm

@Syed Awais Ali Agreed brother, Hossain Sab Ka!

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Syed Hussain Akbari Dec 05, 2015 05:49pm

@Akhtar But it is a fact. And Akhtar Sahib it happens in the same mass every year. Just go there and you will be touched.

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M Akram Dec 05, 2015 06:25pm

Dawn thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures of an awesome gathering of Muslim people. Those of us living in the West cannot but just admire the courage of our muslim brothers living in countries like Iraq and Syria that despite the hardship and sufferings being imposed on them they still find the time to partake in Arbaeen.

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Adil H Dec 05, 2015 08:04pm

The article by AFP mentions the word 'Shia' fourteen times... as several readers have pointed out Imam Husayn (a) is revered by Sunnis and Shias alike and both go to perform his ziarat...

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M Khan Dec 05, 2015 08:05pm

It will take militants a hundred year to subdue a crowd of faith like this....Iran should change its stance towards the West so the world has a better understanding of shia ideology and their purpose of existence.

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mazhar Dec 05, 2015 09:56pm

the truth of islam... the,real face of islam... which western media will never let the world to see... imam Hussain is not only for shias... instead he is for the humanity...

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Hussain Zaidi Dec 05, 2015 10:42pm

This shows what sacrifice Imam Hussain has given to save the religion of Islam.

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Khan Dec 05, 2015 10:50pm

Imam Hussain set the standard of sacrification Boldness and Peace !!! The most amazing ariel view of Roza-E-Hussain

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Najam Dec 05, 2015 11:07pm

Live like Ali, die like Hussain.

I love imam Hussain

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Amjad Ali Dec 05, 2015 11:14pm

@Syed Awais Ali ........ great lines

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JZ Dec 06, 2015 12:02am

Imam Hussain (a.s) gave his life to save Prophet Muhammad message we all gather at Karbala at Arbaeen to commemorate that. this is true live miracle

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Syed Hasan Naqvi Dec 06, 2015 12:17am

@Syed Awais Ali absolutely right sir

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John Ali Dec 06, 2015 01:54am

@Akhtar its at least 20 millions, real figures are 27 millions. which you can see on official sites.

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Touseef Dec 06, 2015 07:27am

@Syed Awais Ali Brother no one is restricting you. Inshallah go there and you will find eternal peace and tranquility. Just remember his sacrifice for humanity.

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SBB Dec 06, 2015 08:22am

@Danish Very well said sir.

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KaKa Dec 06, 2015 10:17am

Rooh Perwar...SubhanAllah

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Fayyaz Ali Dec 06, 2015 05:15pm

Salam Ya Hussain (AS)

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Kazim Reza Dec 06, 2015 08:41pm

He presents his head but doesn't lowered head to them(From a great Marsia)!

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zahid Dec 06, 2015 08:42pm

Thanks Dawn !

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Daanish Dec 06, 2015 10:46pm

nice pictures.

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Aa Dec 07, 2015 12:36am

@Syed Awais Ali many sunni, christian and even hindus already go and visit karbala...

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Dr. tito basu Dec 07, 2015 02:44am

I am from Hindu background myself but would love to visit the place of sacrifice of great spirit in the name of justice. Imam Hussein will always live in the hearts of the righteous and compassionate.

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Asim Dec 07, 2015 07:25am

@Akhtar it was mire than 30 million last year or the year before.

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Sahil Dec 07, 2015 10:00am

@Kumail12 BBC and CNN are quick to coverage the Paris attacks.These western media are double standard and deliberately ignore good things.Long live Islam.

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SAIMA Dec 07, 2015 10:08am

brotherhood harmony and equality long lost traits of muslims are seen on the streets of karbala. hope we do it more

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Ali Dec 07, 2015 10:20am

@Akhtar than you must go and see it yourself next year

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Saleem Dec 07, 2015 02:12pm

Salam Alaikum,

Very nice coverage, thanks a lot to DAWN team

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Goga Nalaik Dec 07, 2015 02:35pm

28 millions of pilgrims on Arbaeen in Karbala this year and not a single incident of mismanagement...

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hussein Dec 07, 2015 11:01pm

Journey of a lifetime. Its all about humanity. Imam stood for all humanity.

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Syed Dec 08, 2015 01:58am

@Akhtar My Dear Sir Akhtar, You have to visit to get the idea. It was unbelievable. People sleep on the roads, houses were opened...... Kindly youtube walk to karbala

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AP Dec 08, 2015 12:18pm

@Akhtar That's the miracle my friend. Go see for yourself IA once in your lifetime.

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Wasif Dec 08, 2015 01:17pm

I was among these millions marching from Najaf to Karbala covering 80 kms on foot. The highlight of this event was the "Humanity at the peak of moral values". The locals and others as well, arranged free and ample food, drinks, accommodations, volunteer medical care and much much more for the millions of pilgrims. We witnessed no incident of quarrel, indiscipline or stampede even though the main location in Karbala is not more than 10 kms radius yet 25 million souls stood with each other having single agenda i.e Love of Islam, its prophet and his Ahle Bayt. They all stood for Righteousness and truth, condemning the injustice. This is True Hussainiat which we learn from Karbala.

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