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  Updated: July 7, 2012

Ziyarah Sha’baniyah culminates with letters, candles floating; millions celebrate

By: Ismail Zabeeh

HOLY CITY OF KARBALA, Iraq: Authorities estimated that more than six million Iraqi pilgrims along with 150,000 foreign pilgrims commemorated the birth of Al-Imam Al-Mehdi Al-Montadhar (the awaited Imam) on Friday morning Shaban 15, July 6 under heavy security measures after a series of recent attacks targeting worshippers.

They gathered at the holy shrine of Al-Imam Al-Hussein (AS) in the holy city of Karbala to observe Zyarah Ash-Sha’baniyah, with children lighting 1,176 candles, representing the number of years since the birth of 12th imam.

Worshippers also marched to a holy site once visited by the imam, which lies around one kilometre (0.6 miles) away from the centre of Karbala. They also chanted religious poems and shared foods and sweets with each other.

"The Shabaniyah visit ceremonies ended successfully without any security violations," Karbala provincial Governor Amal al-Din al-Har said.

Some 38,000 soldiers and police were helping secure the city, with measures including 2,000 policewomen for women-only checkpoints, sniffer dogs and explosives detecting devices, officials said.

Atmosphere in the holy Karbala was overflowing with further spirituality, bliss and happiness as festivals and a’maal marking fifteenth Sha’ban (night between 14-15 Sha’ban Thursday-Friday) began at the holy Shrine of Al-Imam Abi Abdellah Al-Hussein (AS) on Thursday, eve of Sha’ban 15.

Zyarah Ash-Sha`baniyah, or the mid Sha`ban visit to Al-Imam Al-Hussein (pbuh), is one of the most important zyaraat and the best amal (deed) of this blessed night of Sha’ban 15, according to narrations.

As various narrations urge this visit, flocks of believers had been in practice of heading to this holy city for the visit of Al-Imam Al-Hussein (AS) shrine every year despite strict measures taken by the ousted despot Saddam regime which was used to commit atrocities against the pilgrims preventing them from going to holy Karbala this day. The devotees were used to defy tyrannical rule and persevered in performance of rituals of this visit sacrificing for this expensive and precious things subjecting themselves for security pursuit and detention many times.

In 1991 on this occasion, large number of pilgrims was martyred, went missing and detained at the hands of Baathist regime as a punishment for heading to Holy Karbala for visit of the holy Husseini Shrine.

Narrations from A’immah Ahlul Bayt (pbut) say that fifteenth night of Sha’ban is the best after the night of Qadr.

It has been narrated from holy Prophet (S)’s fifth infallible descendant Al-Imam Al-Baqer (AS) that: “This is the best night after the Night of Qadr. In this night, Allah grants the servants His favor and forgives them with His blessing, so spare no effort in nearing Allah therein. This is a night wherein Allah has made obligatory for Him He would not send one, who asks him, empty handed… and this is the night which Allah has made for Us - the Prophet's progeny (Ahlul Bayt) - as He made the Night of Qadr for our Prophet ...”

The birth of Prophet Muhammad (S)’s last descendant Savior of Humanity Al-Imam Al-Hojjah bin Al-Hassan Al-Mehdi Al-Montadhar (AS) in Sorra Mann Ra’a (Samarra), Iraq in 255 AH increased the honor and excellence of this night.

According to the sayings of holy Prophet (S), Imam Mehdi (AS) will return to deliver humanity from darkness and strife, and he will fill the earth with justice and equity as it would have been filled with oppression and injustice.

Thursday’s A’maal culminated with the floating of hundreds of candles and letters to Imam Al-Mehdi – Imam of the Era (may Allah hasten his reappearance) - on a river in Holy Karbala at Friday pre-dawn (Sha’ban 15, July 6).


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