The Wikipedia page for Arba'een Pilgrimage claims that "some Sunnis" make the pilgramage. It cites the following reference:

20 million Shia Muslims - as well as some Sunnis, Christians, Yazidi and other faiths - are on their way to Karbala, Iraq to participate in the world's largest annual gathering of people, the religious pilgrimage of Arbaeen. -- Mark Piggott, IBTimes.co.uk

It doesn't seem to be the most reliable reference; the comments indicate the author mistakenly wrote "Sunni pilgrimage of Hajj".

Question: Which Sunnis go on Arba'een Pilgrimage?

  • 2
    It could be referring to local Sunnis of Iraq and/or the Sufis who share the Shia reverence for Ahl Al-Bayt and the doctrine of tawassul as applied to them.
    – infatuated
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 3:46
  • What infatuated wrote was also my first thought. Basically arba'een (the 40th day) has no back up in the sunnah of the Prophet (), yes it is practiced by some sunnis in funerals etc. but as a similar issue has never happened during the days of the Prophet it is considered as a bid'ah! Note that the article on Wikipedia speaks about Iraqi people whom brave ISIS by making the pilgrimage so it can also have a political background are can be considered as a symbol of unity, even if one must admit that nowadays sunnis are rather oppressed in Iraq.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 6:54
  • @Medi1Saif, The Shia argue that Imam Hussein is a special case and that the family of the Prophet and their rightful descendants were the first ones who practiced and recommended the pilgrimage to Karballa after the tragedy. If you ask a separate question I can expound and quote supportive hadiths.
    – infatuated
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 4:02
  • @infatuated I'd be interested to read a hadith statement with a full chain. But note that as the sunni doctrine says that the prophet hood and the religion (rulings) ended or was finalized with the death of Muhammad pbuh an evidence based on a statement from ahl-ul Bayt wouldn't be taken as more than an opinion.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 11:37
  • 1
    @Medi1Saif, I'm not sure whether there are Prophetic hadiths that explicitly encourage pilgrimage to Karbala, but there are ones in which he mentions the land of Karbala and the importance of the destined uprising and martyrdom of his grandson Hussein. But most hadiths about pilgrimage come from Imam al-Sadiq, and there's also the precedent set by Jabir ibn Abdallah and Zeinab bint Ali.
    – infatuated
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 12:58

1 Answer 1


Your reference is correct stating that Sunni Muslims participate in the Arbaeen for Hussain ibn Ali. An article in the Huffington Post describes the same.

Just for further reference, here is a video clip which shows Sunni Muslims from Pakistan performing rituals in the Arbaeen pilgrimage.

A Sunni Muslim woman from al-Anbar/Ramadi, Iraq is being interviewed during the Arbaeen and she said, that family members of hers had been killed by Daesh and she came to Kerbala to ask Hussain and his brother Abbass to take revenge. Unfortunately, it's only available in Arabic which I am not very good at. But near the end she said, "Hussain abul Kulleh", which means Hussain is for everybody, Shia and Sunna.

In fact, the message of Hussain is universal, not confined to one sect or one religion, therefore people from different religious backgrounds can be found during the Arbaeen pilgrimage or participating in other rituals around the world in remembrance of Husain and his sacrifice.

  • 1
    Attending Sunni Muslims in Shiite Rituals isn't an odd and new thing. For only one more example, you can see Sunni Muslims in Holy Shrine of Imam Reza (A.S) in Mashhad, Iran. Look at this video and visit this link.
    – Johnny
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 9:07

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