It was during the Islamic month of Muharram that a key event in the Shia history took place, 1400 years ago: Prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Hussein, was brutally killed in Karbala, 100 Km from Baghdad. To Shia believers, this was the biggest tragedy ever. Therefore, during every Muharram they commemorate the death of Hussein in any Shia community around the world. But this time, for the first time in 3 decades, Shia people were allowed to do it in the same place where Hussein and his followers were cruelly slaughtered, escataling their emotions to unprecedented levels.
The British group had 29 people from all over the UK. Mohammed Ramzanali, the London-based tour operator who guided them through the week of pilgrimage, has been to Karbala 32 times. He has been taking pilgrims to holy sites in the Middle East for the past 8 years and due to his Shia origin, Karbala has always been his favourite destination. He rejoices that this time he and his fellow devotees were able to perform the rituals fully. “I have witnessed people being shot dead inside one of the shrines by Saddam's men, just because they broke the imposed rules and engaged in the traditional rituals. It was horrible”.