PHOTOS: The Shiite pilgrimage Arbaeen

(RNS) Drawing an estimated 17 million pilgrims, the Shiite ritual known as Arbaeen dwarfs even the hajj. Arbaeen marks the end of the 40-day mourning period after the anniversary of the seventh-century slaying of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, which engendered the Sunni-Shiite schism.

(RNS) It’s described as one of the world’s largest pilgrimages. Drawing an estimated 17 million Muslims to the Iraqi city of Karbala, the Shiite ritual known as Arbaeen dwarfs even the hajj in Mecca. Arbaeen marks the end of the 40-day mourning period after the anniversary of the seventh-century slaying of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein, which engendered the Sunni-Shiite schism.  All photos courtesy of Reuters

Click on any photo below to view a slideshow.