The next day was a free day for us, meaning we were free to do whatever we want in terms of praying visiting on our own the shrines, absorbing what was there and also paying our respect without time constraints. We decided to avail this opportunity by first getting up at a decent hour and then walking towards the shrine and also doing some shopping on the way. You really have to absorb the awe that you are in the presence of these great eminent personalities who were the household of Prophet Mohammed. It is really very hard to describe in words what you feel when you are there unless you truly love the Prophet and his family and the sacrifices they rendered in order to save us the true Islam which is peace and compassion for other people. The day went very fast and the next day we had to get up early in the morning to go to Samarra.
The next day we had to wake up at 4.00 a.m and get ready to leave by 6.00 in the morning to Samarra, since it was almost 5 hours drive from Karbala. We had to leave early because we had to come the same day back because of the precarious security situation there. This was the same place that was bombed by Al-Qaeda terrorists a few years ago in 2006 so there very few pilgrims stay there after dark. One of the guide person were saying that when they went to this place in early 2009, U.S. forces with their guns ready and tanks and APC’s (Armored personnel carriers) engine running on the pilgrims. Although I was not worried for now but the group wanted to make sure we visit it and make it back before dark.
As usual we did not start till almost 6.45 in the morning and then when we sat down, the journey became one long and excruciating sit in. Because you see when we left Karbala, we had to go through Baghdad and then we saw signs for Fallujah, Abu Ghareeb, Mosul and Ramadi (all Sunni Areas), and the situation in and around those areas is good but we did not wanted to test the security apparatus of Iraq. As soon as we left the Shiite Heartland, we started to encounter checkpoint after checkpoint. Every couple of miles, there was checkpoint, manned by Iraqi Forces with their Machine guns mounted APC on the ready. It was not as much a checkpoint as it was a slowdown of vehicles with barricades to stop any would be terrorist.