From all what we have indicated while discussing the issues enumerated by the said hadith as the marks of iman, the gist of ziyarat al-Arba’in connotes directing those who are loyal to Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) to visiting the shrine of the one who was slain in a foreign land, the Master of Martyrs (‘a), in order to mourn him and to renew the memory of what he had to bear of cruelty the like of which was never committed by anyone who has a tint of humanity in him, let alone those who claim to follow Islam. To be present at the gravesite of al-Husayn (‘a) on the Arba’in anniversary of his martyrdom is the most evident of all signs of iman.
Amazement never ends about someone who twists the meaning of this statement by claiming that it means visiting forty believers despite the absence of reference to any such forty believers, nor is there any clue referring to such a meaning.
Surely Islam commends a believer to visit forty others; this is enjoined by Islam and is not a distinguishing mark between the Shi’as and the Sunnis, nor is it directed only to the believers in order to distinguish them from others.
Yes, visiting the shrine of al-Husayn (‘a) on the anniversary of forty days after his martyrdom is called for by those who have a pure faith in and loyalty to Ahl al-Bayt (‘a). It is underscored by the eagerness to be near al-Husayn (‘a). It is known that those who are present at this most sacred shrine (forty days after the martyrdom's anniversary) of the master of the youths of Paradise are, in particular, those who are his Shi’as and who follow in his footsteps.
A testimony to the sacred hadith quoted above is the fact that the renowned scholars do not dispute in their understanding of the significance of visiting the gravesite of al-Husayn (‘a) on the 40th of Safar.
One of them is Abu Ja’far Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan al-Tusi who discusses the merits of visiting the shrine of al-Husayn (‘a) on p. 17, Vol. 2, of his book Al-Tahthib. Having narrated the traditions referring to the merits of any visit to his shrine, he started discussing those to be performed on specific dates one of which is ‘Ashura. After that he quoted this same hadith.
On p. 551 of Misbah al-Mutahajjid (Bombay edition), the month of Safar is discussed and so are the significant events that took place during it. Then the author goes on to say, “On the 20th of Safar, the ladies of Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a) returned from Syria to the city of the Prophet (S).
They were the first to make such a visit (ziyarat). Also, Jabir Ibn ‘Abdullah al-Ansari came at the same time to visit the gravesite of Abu ‘Abdullah (‘a), thus becoming the very first person outside al-Husayn's family to do so. Such is ziyarat al-Arba’in.
Imam Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-’Askari (‘a), is quoted as saying, ‘The marks of a mu'min are five..., etc.' Abul-Rayhan al-Biruni has said, ‘On the 20th of Safar, the head [of al-Husayn] was returned to the body and buried with it. In it, there is ziyarat al-Arba’in, and so is the event of the return of his ladies from Syria.'”1
‘Allama al-Hilli says the following in his book of ziyarat after one performs the Hajj as recorded in his book Al-Muntaha: “It is highly recommended to visit the gravesite of al-Husayn (‘a), on the twentieth of Safar.” The shaikh quotes Imam Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-’Askari (‘a) saying, “There are five marks for a believer..., etc.”
Sayyid Radiyy ad-Din ‘Ali Ibn Tawus, in his book Al-Iqbal, discusses the ziyarat of al-Husayn's shrine on the twentieth of Safar saying, “We have narrated through isnad to my grandfather Abu Ja’far [Imam al-Baqir (‘a)] what he narrated by way of isnad to our master, al-Hasan Ibn ‘Ali al-’Askari, saying, ‘The marks of a believer are five..., etc.'”
Al-Majlisi, may Allah elevate his status, in his book Mazar al-Bihar, quotes the same hadith as he discusses the virtues of visiting the shrine of al-Husayn (‘a) on the Arba’in. In the discussion of ziyarat that follows the Hajj, shaikh Yousuf al-Bahrani includes in his book Al-Hada’iq the topic of visiting al-Husayn's gravesite on the 20th of Safar, describing it as one of the distinguishing marks of a mu'min.
In the same reference, shaikh ‘Abbas al-Qummi narrates the same tradition from Al-Tahthib and Misbah al-Mutahajjid as proof for the preference of ziyarat al-Arba’in without making any reference to visiting “forty believers”!
Some scholars base their exclusion of ziyarat al-Arba’in on the claim that the Imam (‘a), never referred to rewards in the hereafter for those who visit his shrine during it despite the fact that when Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) encourage visiting the shrine of the oppressed Imam (‘a) and those of other Imams of Guidance (‘a), they mention the rewards in the hereafter due to one who performs such a ziyarat. Such a claim should be discarded in the light of the fact that when narrating the said tradition, the Imam (‘a) was highlighting the marks that distinguish a mu'min from others, counting ziyarat al-Arba’in as one such mark of distinction. This is what we have already clarified. He was not discussing the rewards due to one who performs such a visit.
Shaikh al-Mufid, in his book Masar al-Shi’a, discusses how commendable and rewardable it is to perform a visit to the Imam's grave on the 20th of Safar. So does ‘Allama al-Hilli in his book Al-Tathkira wal Tahrir. The same applies to Mulla Musin al-Fayz in his book Taqwim al-Muhsinin. The reason why shaikh al-Baha'i, in his book titled Tawzih al-Maqasid al-Arba’in, suggests the 19th of Safar instead, is based on the tenth day of the Arba’in (forty days) under discussion, something that contradicts what is already established.