Two Oregon Men Release Documentary Film of World’s Largest Annual Peaceful Gathering
Rev. John Shuck and Josh Townsley will offer a screening of their documentary “For Love of Hussain (A.S.)” on Sunday, April 28th during worship at ten a.m. at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Beaverton, Oregon.
Shuck and Townsley visited Karbala, Iraq in October 2018 for Arbaeen, the largest yearly human gathering on Earth. They walked 50 miles from Najaf to Karbala in two and one-half days to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (A.S.) and his companions in the Battle of Karbala 1400 years ago.
The walk spontaneously emerged after the fall of Saddam Hussain in 2003. Under Saddam, walking to the shrine was prohibited under penalty of arrest and execution. In 2018, according to official sources, in a two week period, over 15 million people converged on Karbala, the site of the shrines of Imam Hussain and his half-brother, Abbas. The needs of the visitors to the shrine including places to sleep and food are provided each year by the hospitality of the Iraqi people with no centralized organization.
Shuck and Townsley’s trip was sponsored by the Husayniah Islamic Society of Seattle, an organization formed in 2018 with the following mission:
“Husayniah society is determined to go beyond rituals to the strategic implementation of Imam Husayn’s message in western society, as bearing the true message of Islam. We plan to build an interfaith community where people come together to share and discuss ideas and work on things they are passionate about. Recognizing we belong to one human race means we have a responsibility to act as a community to affirmatively address issues of social justice.”
The 30-minute documentary will be an introduction to Arbaeen and the significance of Imam Hussain for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
According to Shuck, “The Arbaeen Walk, hosted by the people of Iraq, is truly a journey of love. It is a generous outpouring of hospitality toward the visitors of the beloved Imam who is a symbol of justice, sacrifice, and courage for the world. As a Christian and a pastor, I was warmly received. More non-Muslims need to come to Iraq and see this miracle.”
Townsley said, “This has been an amazing experience, witnessing the thousands and thousands of people coming to visit Imam Husayn. The most amazing thing is the hospitality and love of Iraqis and Iranians and people from all over the world.”
The public is invited to the film screening Sunday, April 28th at ten a.m. at Southminster. Townsley filmed and edited the documentary and Shuck conducted the interviews, wrote the script and provided the narration. It will be released on YouTube and other online venues on April 29th.
Both Shuck and Townsley are available for interviews and for venues to share their film and their experiences.
John Shuck is the pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church in Beaverton. Josh Townsley is executive director of Evergreen Habitat for Humanity in Clark County, Washington.
Also on April 28th, the youth of Southminster Presbyterian Church will hold a silent auction from 9:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. The church will be sending 17 youth and 4 adults on mission to the Westminster House in Spokane in June 2019 and plans are underway to send 30-40 youth and adults to Cameroon, Africa for a mission in June/July 2020. Auction items include group dinners; cabins at Sunriver and Mount Hood; artwork and jewelry; many themed baskets, and more.
For more information and for interviews contact John Shuck at 503-309-5346 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.