(Arbayeen) means "forty" in Arabic, or Chehlum, as it is known by
Urdu-speaking Muslims, is a
observation that occurs 40 days after the Day of Ashura (Aashura/Ashurah),
the commemoration of the martyrdom by beheading of Imam Husayn Ibn
Ali (as), the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) which falls on
the 20th day of the second month of the Islamic Lunar Calendar
called as Safar. Imam Husayn Ibn Ali (as) and 72 supporters died in
the Battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH (680 CE). Forty days is the
usual length of the time of mourning in many Islamic cultures.
Number forty is mystic in Theosophy. According to the Islamic
culture if someone practices a good deed constantly during forty
days, it would be his inseparable attribute and lead to descending
of Allah's blessing. In some religions forty days and forty nights
praying has been special position.
Prophet Musa / Moses (pbuh) prayed forty nights; found the
ability to hear the words of Allah (SWT), "And when We appointed a
time of forty nights with Musa, then you took the calf (for a god)
after him and you were unjust." [Glorious Quran 2:51]
Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, "Whoever dedicates himself to Allah
(SWT) for forty days, will find springs of wisdom sprout out of his
heart and flow on his tongue."
Commemorating of the fortieth day of deeds by their family and
giving alms is one of the common customs among some of the Muslims.
The 40th [Arbaeen (Arbayeen) or Chehlum] marks an important
turning point in the movement of Karbala (Kerbala). This day, which
is no less important to the day of Ashura (Aashura/Ashurah) is
important for many reasons - the prime being that the
reached the land of Karbala on this day and performed the visitation
to Sayyid ash-Shuhada al-Husayn (as) and the loyal family and
friends who gave their life for the cause of Islam.
Although the historians differ on when this event transpired;
some say it was in the same year of the massacre in Karbala in the
year 61 AH, whilst other say it was in the following year 62 AH.
Whatever the case, the atrocities and difficulties which the family
of Prophet Muhammad (saw) was put through in the court of Yazid and
the long ride to Karbala culminated on the 20th of Safar on the
empty plains of Karbala.
According to most widely accepted traditions, the family of
Prophet Muhammad (saw) remained in captivity for about a year in
Damascus by Yazid, the Umayyad Caliph. After one year when the ruler
of Shaam (Syria) were forced to release them, Bibi Zainab (sa) said
Ali ibn al-Husayn as-Sajjad (as) that she wanted to go back to
Karbala to mourn his brother and all the martyrs of Karbala. The
same was desired by other women of this caravan and Imam Ali ibn al-Husayn
as-Sajjad (as) directed them towards Karbala.
The grave of Imam Husayn Ibn Ali (as) was not desolate as some
may expect. Rather, as the Ahlul Bayt were approaching Karbala,
there were a few people already at the grave, marking his martyrdom
with tears. The individual, who had been a
Prophet Muhammad (saw) - Jabir ibne Abdullah al-Ansari (who at
this point was blind) - along with his assistant (Atiyya bin Saad),
had made the trek from Madina to the place of martyrdom of his Imam
and master, Imam Husayn Ibn Ali (as). Jabir ibne Abdullah al-Ansari
(ra) called out to his Imam, "I testify that you are the son of the
Seal of the Prophets, the son of the Master of the Faithful, the son
of the inseparable ally of piety, the descendant of guidance." His
servant, Atiyya bin Saad noted to him that he could see a caravan of
people in the distance and they were approaching this sacred site.
As they approached, they realized that this was none other than the
caravan of present Imam, Ali ibn al-Husayn as-Sajjad (as) with the
other family members and assistants!
The historians note that at this point, Jabir ibne Abdullah al-Ansari
(ra) and his assistant, Atiyya bin Saad, moved out of the way so
that the women of the Ahlul Bayt and the others could show their
grief at the sacred grave in privacy and according to reports, the
heads of the martyrs were also buried at this point in time - as
before leaving Shaam (Syria), they were given back the sacred heads
of the martyrs.
According to a famous saying of
Hasan Askari (as) - there are five characteristics of a Momin
- Performing fifty-one (51) Rakaat Prayer (Salat) during the day
and night in 24 hours;
- Fajr - 2 Wajib and 2 Nafl,
- Zuhr - 4 Wajib and 8 Nafl,
- Asr - 4 Wajib and 8 Nafl,
- Maghrib - 3 Wajib and 4 Nafl,
- Ishaa - 4 Wajib and 1 Nafl (2 Rakaat in sitting position
counted as 1 Raka