The spiritually uplifting journey of visiting the Maʿṣūmīn and their families is also a very transformative experience. As mentioned in the Illustrated Ziyārah Guide to Iraq, when visiting the Ahl al-Bayt (ʿa) we feel closer to them and have an increased love for them and that will lead us to want to be like them.  One can feel like a changed person internally. This can also reflect on the individual’s relationship with their family, community and the world. Additionally, the experience of going to ziyārah with close ones can be a bonding experience. 

The following experiences from the Al Kisa/SABA ziyārah group highlight the beauty of this journey within the greater journey of our lives. 

Ziyārah with your Spouse:

What did you do to prepare for going for ziyārah with your spouse?

“We read the ziyārah guide book together, shared our excitement with each other and prepared for our journey together!” 

“My spouse and I planned and prepared by getting things together that would ease our travel” 

“We spent time asking for forgiveness from others and asking Allah (swt) to forgive us for any shortcomings. We read books and discussed what to expect during the journey. For the two months leading up to the trip we were very aware that we were not going on vacation but going on a spiritual journey to gain closeness to Allah and the Imāms (ʿa)”.

“We listened to ḥadīth and majālis together to prepare ourselves for the journey ahead” 

“We used the Iraq and Iran books from Al-Kisa Foundation to learn about the shrines prior to our trip. It was very helpful.”

How did you and your spouse bond through this trip?

“We spent time together praying and visiting the different maqām (religious/historical sites), we spoke about how we felt and shared our experiences at the end of the day. We spoke in awe of the personalities we visited and redefined our goals in life together.” 

“Bonding with my spouse came in the form of reflections. We quickly learned that even though we were clearly on the same trip, our journey and our experiences were very different. It was really nice to feel how the various shrines had their own vibes and energy. Some felt sad, some felt powerful, etc.”

“We bonded by visiting the shrines (ḥarams) together and discussing the lives of the divine personalities buried there.”

“After each trip to the shrine (ḥaram) we would stay up during the night sharing our experiences and how each place made us feel. We also gained a stronger connection with each other that will last forever since we both prayed so many years separately to make ziyārah and Allah blessed us to make the trip together.”

“This ziyārah trip fell around our anniversary and there is no better way to celebrate than visiting the Prophet’s family”.

“This was such a wonderful experience for us to share together and we both pray that inshāʾAllāh we will be able to return.”

Ziyārah with your Children:

What are ways you prepared your children for ziyārah?

“We had a discussion on ṭahārah (purification) and making intention for ziyārah and how to benefit spiritually from this trip.” (ages 10-18)

“My son and I watched the Live video of the shrine of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) on YouTube, it helped him have a better understanding of where we were going.” (ages 10-13)

“I taught my children to kiss the ḍarīḥ (tomb), and also to do mātam (lamentation), as they are small, these gestures will stay with them for a long time and are easy for them to do.” (ages 0-4)

“I guided my son on how to prepare himself mentally and spoke to him about the level of spiritual purification that can be achieved when one visits the shrine.” (ages 18+)

“First we drew out a map that showed all the places we would visit based on our itinerary and then I created a book which had pictures of each of the shrines and a little bit about the personality who was buried there so she could follow along. We also spent time watching YouTube videos such as walking to Karbala and some of the other ones that are out there about going for ziyārah.” (age 2-4)

What are ways you bonded with your children during ziyārah?

“Praying with my daughter in the ḥaram was a bonding experience for us. My daughter came back upset that she was not able to touch the ḍarīḥ (tomb). I took her with me to the shrine of Imām (ʿa) and helped her touch the ḍarīḥ. . I hope that experience stays with her.”

“We were able to pray all of the daily prayers at the shrines and we would also go back and forth without the group. It allowed both of us to gain closeness to the Ahl al-bayt (ʿa) and each other”

“Taking them to shrines (ḥarams) with me and performing the rituals together was a bonding experience, we also spent time reading familiar nawḥas (poetry) together”. 

“My son learned the etiquettes of ziyārah of the Imāms every step of the way by observing what I was doing.  We developed a strong bond during the trip.” 

“We prayed together and went to the ḍarīḥ (tomb) together. We also got to share the experience and learn from one another. She copied what I did when we went to the ḍarīḥ and I learned from her how to be patient as we went through the crowds and also to be ready to go whenever we woke up. It was humbling”

Did you do anything special that you want to share?

“I took a lot of pictures of my kids on the trip. Though they did not enjoy all the picture taking, I know they will love to see those pictures in a few years. The pictures will bring back beautiful memories of our ziyārah trip. When I showed them pictures of our ziyārah trips in 2018 and the pictures we took now, they enjoyed seeing them and sharing memories of our experience.”   

“Sharing stories of the divine personalities, or reciting poetry in the different maqām (religious sites) felt like I was passing down generations of traditions in real time along with feeling a meta experience of being there while sharing the story with my daughter.”

Ziyārah with your other family members:

How did you prepare?

“We packed a lot just in case other people needed medical supplies or other things, and we also coordinated with each other about what to bring along on the trip.”

“We were all excited and prepared by reading about ziyārah and planning our trip together.” 

What are the ways you bonded?

“Spending time in the ḥaram and going for ziyārah of our Imāms (ʿa) together was a wonderful experience”

“We looked out for each other and took care of one another during our travels; especially when children were sick and whenever the need arose.”  

“It was nice to bond with my extended family and it was so helpful to have family to rely on for support especially while traveling with a child.”

Ziyārah with your Friends:

How did you prepare together?

“We talked to each other about what to pack and how to keep our children occupied throughout the journey.” 

“We shared previous experiences, or asked other friends about their experiences”. 

How did you bond together?

“We bonded spiritually and had fun while shopping together. It was an amazing experience.”

“We bonded through our children and by spending time together in the shrines (ḥarams), praying together, having amusing experiences together, and looking out for one another.” 

What are some spiritually uplifting experiences you had during ziyārah?

“The entire trip left me spiritually rejuvenated. The atmosphere of the holy cities, our visits to the shrines, and constantly being surrounded by prayers and duʿās, all added to the spiritual ambiance.” 

“The whole ziyārah experience was uplifting.”

“I saw my prayers answered almost immediately, especially when I prayed for my husband’s visa to come in. I remember asking Ḥaḍrat ʿAbbās  for his help and I said to Allah, I will pray a two rakaʿāt namaz in Ḥaḍrat’s  ḥaram if my husband’s visa comes through. The visa came through  almost immediately. We went to the shrine that night and I felt immense gratitude and was humbled by His generosity. I also had time to reflect on the meaning of Karāmah (generosity) and how the entire trip and even my entire life was filled with Allah’s blessings and His  Karāmah towards me. The opportunities I’ve been given and even just being in the presence of the Imāms (ʿa) really highlighted that.”

What have you done to keep ziyārah alive after coming back?

“We talk about our memories and  the trip in general.  We also discussed saving money to go for ziyārah as a family again, inshāʾAllāh.” 

“This trip was a huge wake up call for me of the need to bond more with the Imām of our time. As a result, I try to have my baby and  myself send salām to him as often as we can .”

“We pray for the opportunity to make ziyārah again one day.”  

Conclusion

As it says in the Illustrated Ziyārah Guide to Iraq, The ḥarams of the Ahl al-Bayt (ʿa) are symbols. Their true place is in the hearts of the believers. Performing the ziyārah is a way to rekindle our love and obedience towards our beloved Maʿsūmīn and when one comes home they can keep that spiritual connection alive within them and strive towards making changes within themselves to maintain that connection. The amazing journey of ziyārah can be a personal experience but also ripple towards the people around us and benefit us for the rest of our lives. 

Thank you to the contributors of this blog, Please recite a Sūrah al-Fātiḥah for their marḥūmīn (deceased), including: 

Syed Nisar Hussain Razvi s/o Syed Jarrar Hussain Razvi, Syed Ihsan Hussain, Syed Muttaqui Hussain, Ajaz Fatima, Riyaz Fatima, Muneer Unissa Begum, Munawer Ali Baig, Shabber Ali Khan