The session of remembrance and mourning around each Muharram was never a ritual to be performed on annual basis. It is but our open call against the modern-day Yazids who have occupied the seats of power and religion. By each thump on our chests, we declare our war against tyrants and their cruel rules.
Karbala is a complete conglomeration of divinely guided means for mankind to achieve salvation in both worlds. If we try to interpret the essence of one of the sacred Hadiths of the holy Prophet (SAW), “Innal Hussain misbah al huda wa safeenat ul najaah” (verily! Hussain (a.s) is the light of guidance and the ark of salvation), it is but the caravan of Imam Hussain (a.s) that alone can guide this ever-sinking ship of mankind towards the shores of liberation and bliss. Karbala is an unavoidable milestone on our journey towards freedom from all forms of injustices and lawlessness. The very commemoration of Imam Hussain (a.s) in our varied forms of grief and mourning has always been a thorn in the eyes of the tyrants in Muslim history, chiefly because the event and message of the Ashura has exposed them along with their corrupt regimes. It is an idea and preparation of our fight against them on multiple fronts. Karbala is the highest summit where we can stand firmly against all forms of hypocrisies that have plagued our religion, politics and other important dimensions of society.
The particular session of remembrance and mourning around each Muharram was never a ritual to be performed on annual basis. It is but our open call against the modern-day Yazids who have occupied the seats of power and religion. By each thump on our chests, we declare our war against tyrants and their cruel rules.
The path chosen by Imam Hussain (a.s) was practically full of thorns and barriers. It was a journey where death was imminent but Imam (a.s) had a divine vision, a certain plan embodied in the great sacrifice which he and his family and other chosen companions offered on the plains of Karbala to amend and stop the wrong course the Muslim Ummah had taken in the name of Islam. Imam (a.s) left Hajj midway to set the record and principles of Hajj straight: which was that Yazid-like tyrants can never be the rulers/leaders while we keep performing Hajj. This merits the importance of leadership in our history. In the words of Dr. Ali Shariati: “Imam Hussain did not complete his Hajj in order to teach the pilgrims that if there is no Imamat and there is no true leadership, if there is no goal, if ‘Hussain’ is not there and ‘Yazid’ is there, making Tawaaf around the house of Allah is equal to making Tawaaf around the idol-house.”
Thus, Imam Hussain (a.s) diagnosed the ailing tree of Islam and offered his pure blood to irrigate it afresh which was set to crumble under the protection of the Ummayad dynasty represented by Yazid at that time. The open defiance on the part of Imam (a.s) against the regimen which had, by that time, fully re-adopted the pre-Islamic trends and culture, is the continuation of that divine scheme of good vs evil running from Hazrat Adam to this day.
Imam Hussain (a.s) had to stand against Yazid to tear down the curtain of the conformity and hypocrisy of the neo Muslims who had forgotten the prophetic message too early. Under such context, the sacrifice of Imam (a.s) was thus full of wisdom and insight to shame and expose the falsehood represented by the dynast Yazid. Imam (a.s) willingly offered his head didn’t accept an arrogant, corrupted and false government ruling over Muslims and Islam. For Imam Hussain (a.s) death with dignity was better than a life full of humiliation.
Given such towering reasons behind the qiyam of the chief of martyrs, Imam Hussain (a.s), we the followers must go behind the forms of Azadari and try realise the essence that lie in the heart of these commemorations of Ashura and Karbala. There was never a year when we haven’t observed Azadari with all our devotion and love and opened our pockets wholeheartedly in this way. We have to reason out the plans to bear the impacts of this revolutions in our lives and society and cure our collective ills according the formulas set out by Imam (a.s) himself. The chief reason I am writing this paper is to recognize the fact that despite all such efforts in such holy observance, we don’t find visible changes in our lives as a whole. We remain the same as we are before each Muharram and every Ashura.
Karbala is a school of divine principles where a person can surrender and revolutionise his or her life completely. Today’s age is the age of appearance. People like glamourising and dramatising each simple event happening in society to broadcast and earn their little fame. The commemoration of the Majalis around the Ashura has not remained excepted from such things. We somehow like show-off while offering and arranging Niyaz or by wearing black we somehow make our status known. The quintessence of traditional Marsiyas and Nohas is no more propagated properly, given factors like limited time, lack of knowledge and sometimes lack of interest on the part of the listeners as well. We don’t see any original kalaams and nohas being written now. Ashura art is altogether missing from our society. Our Khateebs aren’t qualified enough to deliver the essence or render the truer spirit of Karbala that can create ripples in the corridors of the modern-day Yazid-like tyrants. We are just confined to a few rituals and nothing more. Is this really what Karbala and beloved Imam (a.s) taught us on the day of Ashura? Was that great sacrifice for such rituals only? Majority of us will say a deafening ‘No’.
Thus, the foremost responsibility lies in the hands of every Muslim to locate his own role in the Karbalas of his time and set his foot in that direction as a unit of the caravan of Imam Hussain (a.s) itself. The remembrance of Karbala must help him to recognize the current injustices and corruptions in order to fight against them. This would revolutionise his life and would indeed impact his family and neighborhood. He would be the role model for his immediate society in the various aspects of life.
Apart from such broad-based changes which we have to imbibe in us from the school of Ashura, the following changes and directions would indeed create a better tomorrow:
1: A good portion of our amount kept exclusively for Nazr and Niyaz during the month of Muharram be reserved for emergency needs, like providing college and university admission fees and books for those students who can’t afford them. We must be ready to offer help to the research scholars especially in the streams of Islamic Studies, Philosophy, Fiqh and other important sciences.
2: A community fund can be created by spending small percentages from our Niyaz to help marriageable persons obtain their needs for their marriage. Our sumptuous Wazwans can wait. The event of Karbala has taught us how to survive even without water. How can our Wazwan help us in our Azadari is beyond comprehension.
3: Our doctors can reserve a few hours of their spare time to treat the sick. People can pool in their resources to help patients in their treatment.
4: We have to help people come under a single banner, as Karbala has shown us that only one Imam can direct his caravan. We must stay away from people who create discord and disharmony in the Ummah. People need direction to know the essence of Ashura themselves, so they must be offered them books and audio. Encourage them to express their views and opinions. Encourage them in their art and other creativity.
No matter how far we might have diverted from the way of God, Imam (a.s) is always there to take us in open arms whenever we come back. Like Hurr (r.a), we just have to change direction and walk towards the side of Imam (a.s). Ashura makes us realise the divine in us which can never die. It is the same spirit which alone empowers us to stand against tyrants and their cruelty despite the limited sources available with us. It is to be a lonely Imam Hussain (a.s) in the times of a powerful Yazid to set the course of history right.
Hussain (a.s) tum nahi rahey, tumhara gar nahi raha
Magar tumharey baad zalimu ka dar nahi raha