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Hoping for miracles, Shiites walk Iraq's Arbaeen pilgrimage

Arbaeen is a religious commemoration that Shiites from around the world celebrate as a religious obligation and a social deed, and some witness miracles performed by Imam Hussein ibn Ali.
Shi'ite pilgrims gather at the Imam Hussein shrine during a ceremony marking Ashura in the holy city of Kerbala, 110 km (68 miles) south of Baghdad December 6, 2011. The festival, commemorated by Shi'ite Muslims, marks the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson Hussein in the battle of Karbala in Iraq in the year 680. REUTERS/Mushtaq Muhammed (IRAQ - Tags: RELIGION) - RTR2UWJ7
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KARBALA, Iraq — Amir Faez al-Atbi, 20, from Babil province (100 kilometers, or 62 miles, south of Baghdad), gets ready each year to participate in the religious commemoration of Arbaeen, by offering his services to Shiite pilgrims from around the world heading to the holy city of Karbala. These Muslims travel dozens of kilometers on foot from different cities. Atbi lives in Babil, which represents an important intermediate station for the pilgrims coming from different Iraqi regions. He deals with hundreds of visitors who pass by the congregation halls and pavilions set up by the people of the provinces surrounding Babil.

Atbi wakes up in the early morning to serve tea to the travelers. He told Al-Monitor, “The vast majority of the city’s youth dedicate themselves this month every year to set up pavilions and congregation halls in order to provide accommodation, food and beverage and medical services for visitors.”

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