Million-Strong Gathering in Nigeria on Arbaeen


A brother of Nigeria’s top Shia cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky said hundreds of thousands of Shia Muslims and others attend a ceremony in Zaria, northern state of Kaduna, every year to mark Arbaeen.

Sheikh Bamasi Yaqub Zakzaky said a large number of pilgrims march from long distances toward the Husseiniya (religious center) in Zaria to mourn Arbaeen, which comes 40 days after Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of the third Shia Imam, Imam Hussein (AS).

He said people in cities on the path of the mourners provide them with food and shelter to show solidarity with those who mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS).

Sheikh Bamasi Yaqub Zakzaky added that if it had not been for the restrictions put in place by the Nigerian government, many more people would attend the mourning ceremony annually.

The massive participation in Shia mourning rituals in Nigeria takes place despite the Nigerian armed forces’ crackdown on Shia Muslims in the country.

At least 20 people were killed and several others injured on October 12, when Nigerian forces opened fire on Muslim mourners commemorating Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (AS).

In December 2015, Nigerian forces raided the house of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and arrested him after killing those trying to protect him.

The Sheikh himself was shot seven times during the attacks and blinded in one eye. He still remains in custody of the army.

The raid occurred a day after Nigerian soldiers attacked a group of Muslims attending a ceremony at a religious center in Zaria, accusing them of blocking the convoy of the army’s chief of staff and attempting to assassinate him.

The Nigerian army killed 348 Muslims during the attack on the religious ceremony, according to a report by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, a non-profit organization based in London.