Travelogue: Nigeria? Sheikh Zakzaky? (PART 2)

By Abdulmumin Giwa

There are indeed many holy places to visit within Iraq alone most of which we visited. We travelled as far as Samarra to visit the shrine of Imam Mahdi AS. We started the journey around three in the morning from Kufa and returned to Kufa the next day around four in the morning.
The entire area is a Sunni dominated region that is battered by terrorists. One could see villages bombed with bullet holes all over the walls and several damages symbolizing terror and sorrow. It was part of the heaven of the ISIS were they established their murder centers.
What actually chased them out was a religious decree called ‘Fatwa’ by the world leading Shiite leader Sayyid Sistani who was also advised by Sayyid Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The ISIS was only a few tens of kilometers to the holy shrine of Imam Hussain AS in Karbala with its assault. Sayyid Sistani went into spiritual seclusion in the holy shrine of Imam Ali at Najaf for a while. When he emerged he issued a decree that it is incumbent on anyone of the age of 18 and above to rise against the terrorists.
The loyal Shiah followers were waiting for that and within the first day of the decree over three million men registered as volunteers to fight against the America and Israeli backed ISIS in Iraq. They were given simple two weeks training of handling the killing machines and sent to the battle fields. Several people gained martyrdom as their corpses were brought back from the fields in tens.
This was the strong battle that completely flushed out ISIS/DAESH from Iraq and restored sanity and it became successful from just the religious decree issued by the world leading Shia cleric Sayyid Sistani.
When we visited Samarra we could not reach the location of the holy Shrine in our own vehicle we had to drop from it at about 10-15 kilometers away to either trek to the shrine or board vehicles belonging to the shrine if we are lucky. But there were too many people to be served so we trekked.
We later got informed that the shrine is in a circle of 10-15 kilometers radius which no one is allowed to cross as part of measures of the fight against the US/Israeli backed terrorists. The actions of the Shiite leaders also destroyed the plots of the imperialists of obliterating Shias and Shiism due to that impenetrable leader-follower bond.
Before the visit to Samarra, on the day of our arrival at Najaf we went to visit Imam Ali AS’s Shrine to pay respect. It was so crowded with pilgrims who were coming and going in their millions on daily basis from all parts of the world.
Seeing us as dark skinned attracted a lot of attention from people around as well as enthusiasm to hear where we are from. This attracted the workers of the holy shrine to us. When they were told that we are followers of Shaikh Ibraheem Zakzaky from Nigeria they were so pleased and gratified to meet us. They were begging to become our host because of the regards they have for the Sheikh. It took a while to convince them that we were already putting up somewhere.
They took us to a special and secluded spot behind the shrine where Imam Ali AS used to pray. We were offered water with which we performed ablution and prayed supplementary prayers on the spot. They gave us special treatment for being followers of Sheikh Zakzaky AS.
We also visited the Kazimain the shrine of Imam Musa Al-Kazim AS as well as the Shrine of Hurr who paid allegiance to Imam Hussain AS at the most difficult of times and against the wicked of all tyrants, Yazid bn Muawiyya LA.
About three days to the date of the Arabaeen of Imam Hussain AS we commenced the trek to Karbala from Kufa through Najaf.
At the time we started heading to Karbala from Najaf, there were poles along the route signifying how far one has gone trekking because there was nothing to show that you were in a town or outside of it. This is because countless numbers of rest places have been erected for those trekking with all necessary home needs provided for free.
There were feeding points everywhere with people begging you to come and eat or rest in their rest points. One needs not to spend a dime for the whole period and could feed ten times if he so desired eating all sorts of assorted meals with fish, chicken, beef, milk, tea, rice, honey, dates, fruits, nuts and on and on all for free. Its left for one to decide how much distance he wants to trek a day how many times he wants to eat and where he wants to rest. Because people in their millions were trekking 24 hours a day and seven days a week for Imam Hussain AS and those providing them with services daily are busy working.
There were mobile hospitals providing world standard health delivery services to pilgrims, there were massage centers, laundries and scholars providing answers to all religious questions along the road. One thing I will live to remember was when I saw a cloaked and turbaned scholar wearing apron and cleaning and polishing the shoes of those trekkers for Imam Hussain AS who wait to rest by his tent. This is the extent of regard they give to the visitors of Imam Hussain AS along the road to Karbala.
On our arrival at Karbala it was very colorful with all sorts of colored lights as the nights were not in any way different with the days.
We visited the Shrine of Imam Hussain AS which is even more crowded than what I earlier saw at the shrine of Imam Ali AS. It was a very beautiful small town with thousands of shops, supermarkets and restaurants. There were study centers and world class colorful fountains that are good to watch at night.
At the shrine of the Imam in Karbala we were honored as well because we were introduced as followers of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky. We were taken round the Karbala museum where we were shown a lot of historic collections of the battle of Karbala. We were also shown a documentary of how the entire shrine was destroyed by the western stooge and tyrant Saddam Hussain who ruled Iraq with his racist ideology and submitted himself to the control of the imperialists. He served the imperialists with all his life and they betrayed and killed him in the end.
It is similar to the Nigerian stooges who submit themselves to the total control of the imperialists and even murder their citizens to please them. The case of President Muhammdau Buhari who murdered over 1000 Shiah Muslims in December 2015 to please the imperialists remains indelible in history. Many were burned alive, many were buried alive including children and women, some of who were even pregnant. Definitely he will not end in a better way than the other betrayed stooges.
The most interesting part of this pilgrimage is that anywhere one goes he is asked the same questions, Nigerian? And the answer is yes and he is asked, Sheikh Zakzaky? And the answer is yes and he is hugged and begged for a group photo. From my personal experience, I have never taken so many pictures as this in my entire life even as a journalist. I concluded that if taking pictures could finish one I would have not returned to Nigeria because I would have finished before the date of return all because I am a Nigerian and follower of sheikh Zakzaky.
On countless occasions, I have received souvenirs, gifts, free taxi rides, free meals in Najaf and Karbala all because I am a Nigerian and follower of Sheikh Zakzaky. They see the revered leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) as a revivalist and hero of Islam and Shiah in Africa. Everyone wanted to hear about him and prayed for him.
Another incident I will also live to remember is that of the Maukib on the day of the commemoration of the Arbaeen at the holy shrine of Imam Hussain AS. We hosted a life-sized poster of Sheikh Zakzaky as well as a banner carrying his picture and a quotation of his on Imam Hussain AS and Karbala. The officials gave us a special treatment as our presence was announced with a difference. They explained to us that we could not carry the poster in because no pictures are allowed but they have allowed us to carry in the banner carrying his picture and quotation as a sign of respect to Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky.
Everyone in the shrine was chanting along with us even as they could not understand our eulogies that were all in the Hausa language but could hear Hussain coming out of it.
I realized how great the revered leader of the IMN has become in the Shiah Muslim world and the way they regard and respect him in all the Shiah camps. Some of our brothers paid a special visit to Sayyid Sistani who asked a lot about the condition of Sheikh Zakzaky. He could not help but reveal that he prays for Sheikh Zakzaky every night and day.
This pilgrimage is something that I will love to repeat every year of my life as I am so proud of it that I even attach the acronym ‘KP’ (Karbala Pilgrim) after my name. This is to keep the romance with the holy Imam Hussain AS, the true symbol of fairness and justice to all irrespective tribe, race, region or religion

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