Significance of Arba'een and the Performance of the Ziyarat of Arba'een
Imam Hasan Al-Askari (a.s.) includes the performance of Ziyarat-e-Arba’een as one of the five marks for a believer, in addition to reciting 51 raka of sala, audible recitation of Bismillah, wearing a ring on one’s right hand, and doing sajda on dust. (This hadith has been narrated by Sheikh Tusi in the book Tahthib).
Why is so much importance given to the performance of the Ziyarat of Arba’een and the observance of Arba’een (40 days of mourning)?
Ziyarat, as we all know is a visitation, which in essence, is the act of speaking with and visiting our role models. Of course the physical manifestation of the ziyarat is actually being present in Kerbala to perform the Ziyarat of Arba’een, but, in reality, that is not possible for every believer. So does making ziyarat while not in Kerbala give one the same benefits? Ahadith tell us that performing the Ziyarat of Imam Hussain (a.s.) far from Kerbala would hold the same significance as being in the land of Kerbala, as long as the person performing the Ziyarat has truly understood the status of the Imam and seeks to emulate him.
Imam Muhamed al-Baqir (a.s.) states that the heavens wept over Imam Hussain (a.s.) for forty mornings, rising red and setting red. As we complete 40 days of remembrance of our Imam, we re-assert our pledge of obedience and loyalty to him,
“I bear witness that you are the Imam (who is) the upright, the pious, well-pleased (with Allah), the pure, the guide and the rightly-guided.
I bear witness that you fulfilled the pledge of Allah and you struggled in His way…I am a friend of whoever befriends him ...”
By performing the Ziyarat of Arba’een, we pledge that we will continue to follow the path of justice and righteousness and will reject injustice and speak up against the oppressors of the time,
I am an enemy of whoever is his enemy
In essence, we make a promise to continue to mold our lives according to the teaching of Imam Hussain (a.s.).
But why is it that we mourn and remember Imam Hussain (a.s.) for a period of forty days and then move on?
Our Prophet has said, “The earth mourns the death of a believer for forty mornings.” Therefore it appears that the deceased should be remembered and mourned over for a period of forty days. Performing an act for a continuous period of forty days is also known to help one to not just form a habit, but also to carry on the practice for the rest of his life.
If we look at studies dealing with bringing a lifestyle change, we notice the time period emphasized to bring about a change is usually 6 weeks which is about the same time period as 40 days (to be exact it is 42 days).
In the book 40 Days to Personal Revolution: A Breakthrough Program to Radically Change Your Body and Awaken the Sacred Within Your Soul, the author Baron Baptiste explains the significance of forty days:
Why forty days? Because the number 40 holds tremendous spiritual significance in the realm of transformation. Jesus wandered in the desert for forty days in order to experience purification and come to a greater understanding of himself and his mission. Moses and his people traveled through the desert for forty years before arriving at their home in the holy land. Noah preserved the sacredness of life by sailing his ark for forty days and forty nights. According to the Kabbalah, the ancient Jewish mystical text, it takes forty days to ingrain any new way of being into our system….
Reciting particular duas for a period of 40 days is highly recommended in our practices as well.
The unit 40 (forty) is said to be very effective. If a particular Duaa is recited 40 times, or 40 people gather to recite it, or it is recited for 40 days then its effectiveness is highly increased. (Duas.org)
It is reported from Imam Ja'fer Sadiq (a.s.) that whoever recites Dua-e-Ahad for forty days, after morning prayers will be amongst the helpers of the 12th Imam (a). Visitation of the shrine of Imam Hussain (a.s.) as well as Masjid-e-Sahla for 40 consecutive Thursdays is also very highly recommended and is one of the acts that promises a visit from the 12th Imam (ajtf).
Thus, as we perform the Ziyarat of Arba’een and commemorate the Arba’een, 40 days of mourning of Imam Hussain (a.s.), we hope and pray that this forty days of remembrance of Imam Hussain (a.s.), brings about a transformation in us by which we can continue to follow the path of Imam Hussain (a.s.) and carry on his message of upholding justice with true faith and a strong sense of sacrifice!
A’maal of Muharram and Safar (Tayyiba Publishers)
Kerbala and Beyond by Yasin T. Al-Jabouri
The Miracle of Ziyarat-e-Ashoora
Commentary on Ziyarat Ashura, translated by Saleem Bhimji from the work of Ali Asghar Azizi Tehrani
Kitab al-Irshad, translated by IKA Howard, authored by Sheikh Al-Mufeed
Peace be on the favourite of Allah, Peace be on the beloved friend of Allah, His distinguished hero! Peace be on the choicest confidant of Allah, sincerely attached precisely like his father! Peace be on Husayn, who gave his life in the way of Allah, a martyr, underwent untold hardships Peace be on the hostage surrounded by the-tightening circle of sorrow and grief, killed by a horde of savages.
O my Allah I give witness that beyond a shadow of doubt he is Thy favourite and choicest confidant, who enjoys Thy confidence and favour, precisely like his father!
Thou looked upto him and elected him in Thy cause, picked and chose him for the good fortune, selected for him the best purified parents, appointed him guardian, leader, and defender of rights, a true representative (inheritor and progenitor) of guardians, leaders and defenders of rights, gave him much and more from the inheritance of the Prophets, put him forward as a decisive argument, along with the other successors (of the Holy Prophet-the twelve lmams) to the mankind. He met with deadly dangers, acted justly and fairly, made use of everything belonging to him to pay full attention to give sincere advice, took pains, made every effort and put his heart, mind, soul and life at the disposal of Thy mission to liberate the people from the yoke of ignorance and evil of bewilderment, but an evildoer, deceived with empty hopes of mean and worthless worldly gains, had pressed heavily on him, and sold out his share (eternal bliss) for the meanest and lowest bargain, betrayed his "day of judgement" for a vulgar return, took pride in insolence, fell into the fathom- well of silly stupid follies, provoked Thee and Thy Prophet to anger, did as the harsh discordant, the hypocrite, the heavily burdened bearers of sin, condemned to Hellfire, advised to him, however, he (the Holy lmam), steadily, rightly and justly coped With them, till, in Thy obedience, gave his life after which his family was set adrift.
O my Allah, therefore, condemn them to hell as a denunciation and conviction; and crack-down on them with a painful Punishment. Peace be on you O the son of the Messenger of Allah! Peace be on you O the son of the first of the successors (of the Holy Prophet)! I bear witness that Allah put faith in you like He had full confidence in your father, and that you always looked for and collected good and virtue, lived a highly praiseworthy life and departed from this world a martyr, forsaken and abused; I bear witness that Allah will promptly fulfill the promise, He made to you, and destroy those who left you helpless and punish those who killed you; I bear witness that you kept your promise made with Allah, and strived in His way till what was certain came upon you, so curse of Allah be an those who killed you, curse of Allah be on those who oppressed you, curse of Allah be on the people who came to know and approved.
O my Allah be my witness that I make friends with those who love him and oppose those who deny him. I, my father and mother, are at your disposal 0 the son of the Messenger of Allah. I know and bear witness that you were "light" in the sublime loins and in the pure wombs, never touched you the dirt of ignorance, nor ever obscurity concealed you in its folds; I bear witness that you are the pillar of "Deen", support of the Muslims, refuge of the faithfuls; I bear witness that you are a truthful, well-aware, content, intelligent, rightly guided guide (Imam); I bear witness that the Imams among your descendants are the symbols of "conscious piety" and signs of "true guidance", the "safe handle"-Islam, and the decisive arguments over mankind; I declare positively that I have full faith in you and I know for certain that you shall return. I am, fully committed to the laws of my religion, certain of my deeds, my mind and heart ready for your return, and my affairs carried out in the light of your instructions, till Allah gives you permission, together with you, along with you, not at the same time with your enemies. Blessings of Allah be on you, on your souls, on your bodies when you are visible, when you are invisible, on your perceivable aspects, on your innermost genius be it so, O Lord of the worlds