The unveiling ceremony of the book “Arbaeen Photo Album” in Spanish was held in Qom on Thursday morning, September 23, 2021, with the presence of Ayatollah Reza Ramazani, Secretary-General of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly.
At the ceremony, referring to Arbaeen as an international movement, Hojat al-Islam Naji, head of the Nasim Rahmat Institute, said, “The global movement of Arbaeen has reached the Latin American region. When Imam Mahdi (a.s.) Reappeared, he will introduce himself with the name Imam Hussain (a.s.). Therefore, we must use the keyword of “Imam Hussain (a.s.)” to introduce the Reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a.s.), and Arbaeen is the most important ritual that can introduce Imam Hussain (a.s.).”
“Although the book “Arbaeen Photo Album” in Spanish is unveiled in Iran, the main unveiling ceremony will be on Arbaeen day (Monday, September 27, 2021) in Colombia. The book has been published in Mexico and Colombia. The book “Arbaeen Photo Album” in Spanish will be available in various Latin American countries until “Arbaeen” of next year,” he continued.
“There is an annual walk in the Lufan region, Argentina. In this area, a priest was killed for justice. Therefore, people walk to the Lufan area every year to honor him. We have to connect the local walks to the Arbaeen World Walk. Imam Hussain (a.s.) was a figure who was martyred to preserve human dignity,” pointed out the head of Nasim Rahmat Institute.
Following the ceremony, referring to the importance of photographing the Arbaeen ceremony, Ebrahim Soleimani, head of the Qom Photographers Association, said, “Everywhere in the world, those who see Arbaeen photos can have a good idea of this event.”
“The art of photography was born in the 18th century, and today the most powerful media owe it to the art of photography. Wherever words fail, the image comes to the fore. The photo reaches perfection when the audience sees it,” he continued.
“The Arbaeen walk is similar to the Hajj ceremony in terms of the presence of millions of people. Thinkers from different countries took part in the Arbaeen Walk pilgrimage and observed it. They consider the Arbaeen ceremony to be the greatest world event,” added the head of Qom Photographers Association.
“Those who compiled the book “Arbaeen Photo Album” in Spanish, tried to inform the Spanish-speaking audience of an event attended by tens of millions of people. This work is more valuable than many virtual activities of institutions in Qom and Iran. Today, the people of the world need spirituality,” Soleimani stated, considering it necessary to convey the message of Arbaeen to the world.
“About half of the photographers whose works are in this book are from Qom. Qom has a lot of capacity in this field,” he mentioned.
At the ceremony, Ahmad Zahrabi, who compiled the book “Arbaeen Photo Album” in Spanish, said, “About three years ago, it was suggested that we collect photos of Arbaeen Walk for exhibitions in Spanish-speaking countries. 6,000 photos were collected and finally, 110 photos were chosen. But due to Qovid-19, a permanent virtual exhibition of these images was prepared on the Internet.”
“The 700 million Spanish speakers in 20 countries are a major issue for photographers. In the book “Arbaeen Photo Album” in Spanish, photos by 21 photographers are included. We hope that these images related to Arbaeen are a propagation for Imam Hussain (a.s.),” he continued.
Following the ceremony, referring to the importance of picture books, Hojat al-Islam Alireza Sobhani Nasab, the head of the Association of Child and Adolescent Publishers of Qom Province, said, “Arbaeen Photo Album in Spanish is one of the books that are spontaneously international. Even if there is no translation, and there is no caption for the photo, the photo itself is an international language for conveying meaning.”
“Most meaning transfer takes place through images. Picture books allow the audience to create meaning and reflection so that he or she can create a story for the picture in the mind,” he continued.
“There are difficulties with publishing books internationally. Therefore, activities in this environment must be of high quality, and such activities are costly,” added the head of the Association of Child and Adolescent Publishers of Qom Province.
“International publishing needs synergy, and everyone concerned about it should participate,” he mentioned.
Referring to the importance of the books, Mehdi Tavakolian, Director General of Public Relations and International Affairs of the Public Libraries Foundation, stated, “Books are not one-dimensional cultural products. Rather, audiobooks and picture books are influential in communicating with the audience.”
“All those who propagate Shiite teachings by art, recite lamentations in the form of illustrations. Today, Arbaeen is considered a global ritual,” he continued.
“The moral and behavioral examples seen in Arbaeen are of interest to all religions and human beings. These include respecting children and the elderly and sacrificing one’s properties to serve pilgrims,” added Director General of Public Relations and International Affairs of the Public Libraries Foundation.
“The enemy uses various techniques to spread Islamophobia, Shiaphobia, and Iranophobia. We must take advantage of the same techniques to counter these actions of the enemy,” e mentioned.
In another part of the ceremony, referring to his presence at the Arbaeen Walk ceremony, Pedro J. Saavedra, the famous Spanish photographer, stated, “For me, Arbaeen was a great experience that is influential in terms of spirit and human communication. Arbaeen must be introduced to the whole world. It has good subjects for photographers.”
“I was not afraid to go to Iraq (despite Western media propaganda). Because I was comfortable in this country and everyone helped me to take more beautiful photos,” he continued.
“I participated in the Arbaeen Walk pilgrimage through the “Tariq al-Ulama” route (or “Tariq al-Euphrates”, is the name of the old pilgrimage route from Kufa to Karbala, which crosses the Euphrates River and the grove.) Because it was a traditional route. Along the way, I saw a man who always saves his income during the year to serve the pilgrims of the Arbaeen Walk,” Saavedra noted.
Referring to the importance of art, Soheil Asad, head of the headquarters of Arbaeen in Latin America, said at the ceremony, “Art should be used as a sacred tool to convey the message of Islam. Benefiting from art is a great opportunity for us. Because in the past, it was not easy to talk about the tools of art in conveying Islamic knowledge, and if someone had spoken on this issue, it would not have been acceptable.
“We have seen great changes over the years and now is the age of media. The philosophy of the first Arbaeen pilgrimage was to convey the message of Imam Hussain (a.s.). Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Revolution, considers Imam Sajjad (a.s.) and Hazrat Zainab (a.s.) as media figures of Imam Hussain (a.s.) movement. In Arbaeen, we must convey the message of Imam Hussain (a.s.),” he continued.
“The event of Ashura originally has reached us by artists. Artists conveyed the message of Ashura to others in the forms of Noha reciting (eulogies) and other arts,” he added.
“Art has such a high status that God also used art in his revelations in Quran. There are 1800 verses in the Quran in the form of stories. One of the important tools for conveying Islamic knowledge is the tool of art,” specified Asad, considering the art to have a high status.
“By using the art of photography, the message of Arbaeen can be conveyed to other nations. The photo conveys reality. It should not be limited to publishing a photo book in Spanish about Arbaeen, and this book should be the beginning of a long journey. In covering the Arbaeen pilgrimage, photographers must pay attention to the divine and dignified aspects of Arbaeen,” he mentioned.
Saying that Arbaeen has various dimensions, Ayatollah Reza Ramazani, Secretary-General of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly, as the last speaker of the ceremony, stated, “Arbaeen has media, cultural and social dimensions. One should not look at Arbaeen from a single dimension. Arbaeen can be considered from different perspectives. So far, photographers have exhibited some of the Arbaeen facts by their works, and some of the Arbaeen photographs have become extremely lasting.”
“Arbaeen is a global movement and artist photographers capture part of Arbaeen,” he said, referring to the characteristics of Arbaeen.
“Arbaeen is a divine phenomenon whose main management is in the hands of God and no one can claim to manage Arbaeen. Everyone who attends Arbaeen is impressed by its spirituality. God has taken over the management of Arbaeen with His saints,” pointed out the Secretary-General of the AhlulBayt (a.s.) World Assembly.