The Mawakib (Plural of Mawkib) are a key medium through which the governance of the Arbaeen rituals operates. Along the road to Karbala, thousands of Mawakibs are organized to provide pilgrims with a wide range of free services including food, beverage, lodging, religious training, medical services, free international phone call, and almost everything one may need in his path toward Karbala. The central idea regarding Mawkib is that people partake in both the pilgrimage as well as serving of devotees. Indeed, providing services to lovers of Imam Hussain is considered as a pious act of devotion and source of divine blessing as the pilgrimage itself. Thus, one may encounter Mawakeb organizers who even intercept the pilgrims to plead with them to accept their offerings.Generally speaking, there exists two main types of Mawakib: those dedicated to services (al-khidma), mostly providing food and accommodation to visitors, which may remain active from Ashura to Arbaeen; and those dedicated to mourning (al-'aza), which organize and perform rituals including mourning sessions, mourning processions, visits to Hussain's tomb and so on.
The term Mawkib, meaning a procession or parade, was historically used in two different contexts. It was used by Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimids to often describe the cortege of an amir, wazir or other officials. By the 4th/10th century, it had acquired a broader meaning of audience as well as procession. Moreover, nomads living beside the Euphrates traditionally set up large tents called Mawkib to serve pilgrims and accommodate them.
There is little information about the precise history of Mawkib foundation. By considering political difficulties in organizing Hussaini mourning ceremonies amongst Arab Shias, and also the complex nature of labor division in organizing a Mawakeb tent, the establishment is probably related to modern period.
The structure of each Mawkib consists of: the principle and the main authorities, the preacher and the orator, eulogist and sometimes special poet and other servants. Mawakeb work on religious occasions and particularly during Muharram. Some of Mawakeb are based in their special places called Husseinieh. They generally have religious names and sometimes they are named after their founder or their main activists. Ethnic groups and guilds have their own individual Mawakeb. Mawakeb sometimes are going out from their seating for gathering and moving in public places. They also provide various services for pilgrims such as welfare services, health, food etc. mostly in different routes leading to the city of Karbala during Arba’een pilgrimage.
Under Saddam Hussein, Arbaeen Walk and setting up Mawkib became illegal and involved the risk of being caught. After Saddam's overthrow in 2003, the Arbaeen rituals revived and attracted many pilgrims from all around the world.
- shiite mourning encyclopedia, mohsen hesam mazaheri. 2016.
- Seyed Mahdi al-Modarresi (2015). Word's Biggest Pilgrimage now Underway, and Why you've never heard of it.
- The Encyclopedia of Islam, Masrah Mawlid