Muharram A Continuous mission against injustice

Imam Hussain bin Ali, the martyr of Karbala, forever demarcated the truth from falsehood.  Before heading to Karbala for a decisive battle against Omayyid tyrant Yazid bin Muawiya, Imam Hussain said, “Surely the aim of my stand is not inspired by vain exultation and it is also not for the quest of kingdom, neither is it to cause dissension and corruption nor is it  to wrong anybody unjustly.” These words of Imam are enough in themselves to prove that his stand was neither for the lust of power nor for any personal gain. It was to safeguard the religion of his grandfather from the clutches of Yazid, who was hell-bent on distorting the real picture of the religion.

As far as the real motive behind his uprising against Yazid is concerned, it can never be defined in a better way than the words of Imam himself when he said, “The purpose of my stand is the reformation of my grandfather’s nation. I intend to enjoin goodness and forbid evil. I want to emulate my grandfather, the Holy Prophet and my father Ali bin Abi Talib.”

Before heading for Karbala, Imam Hussain said, “A person of my type can never accept the allegiance of a person like Yazid.” These words of Imam Hussain also present the real purpose of his stand against the tyranny of Yazid. He presented before us a lesson to differentiate between a just and an unjust system. Imam Hussain’s message is a message of peace and justice. His stand was to safeguard the real Islam, the Islam of the Prophet, the Islam which teaches us to remain peaceful in our approach to the problems of life, but he also gave us a lesson regarding how not to remain just mute spectators the face of tyranny. His message “I prefer death with dignity to a life full of humiliation’’ also teaches us how to speak out against the mighty and powerful despite our material powerlessness.

When we talk about Imam Hussain’s commitment to justice, equality and liberation, we must think of ending all forms of oppression, tyranny and injustice,  be it racism, classism or regionalism, because there can never be a just society unless such ills are rooted out forever. The duty of Imam Hussain’s followers is not only mourning and talking about him but also to follow him and his path to seek justice.

What Imam Hussain did is something that is unmatchable as far as the fight for upholding justice and equality is concerned. It was his way of delivering justice when despite knowing that Hur, the brave commander of Yazid’s army, was there to round him up to Karbala, he offered his platoon with water by going thirsty himself. It was his way of delivering justice when he gave a slave named Juan an equal place with his other companions,  along with himself, before the battle of Karbala. The real meaning of justice is to give a person or a thing a place it deserves most and Imam did exactly the same. If seen seriously, each and every event of Karbala teaches us how to seek and stand for justice in extremely unfavourable and life-threatening circumstances.

Those who will forget Karbala and the martyrdom of Hussain will cause compromises in their mission. The so-called custodians of Islam or the radicals who are killing innocents in the name of Islam have forgotten Imam Hussain and the basic tenets of Islam.

Imam fought the battle with Yazid on the spiritual plane; he opposed Yazid’s might with his nobility of character, confronted power with powerlessness, met multitudes with want of material support and defied oppression with suffering and martyrdom.

In India, Imam Hussain is revered not only by Shias or for that matter by Muslims, but rather the followers of each and every religion, especially the Hindus, remember and mourn over his sufferings. They remember and mourn Hussain for his uprightness, they remember him because of the lesson which he gave to the whole of humanity how to stand to seek justice and how to make rulers accountable for their actions. The famous poet Firaq Gorakhpuri, who was a Hindu, said, “Kaam aa gayi Firaq Mohabbat Hussain ki/ Kalma padhe baghair Musalman ho gaya”. (Firaq it’s the love of Imam Hussain which is enough in itself to take me to heaven as I have become a Muslim without offering the Kalma).

While I was at my home in eastern India during Aashura, I met a security officer who was offering flowers at the Karbala there. On being asked the reason behind his attachment with Imam Hussain’s cause, he replied, “Please do not think that remembering the sacrifice of Imam Hussain is a copyright of Muslims. Imam Hussain’s martyrdom has given voices to the voiceless. His sacrifice was the ultimate level of tolerance and non-violence in which after losing every one of his companions and his family members he stood firm on the path of righteousness. We remember him because he is worth remembering. We remember him because it’s the way of Imam Husain only through which long lasting justice can be achieved. It’s the path of Hussain only which can be a harbinger of a just society.”

It’s most important today to tell the people about the sacrifice of Imam Hussain and his mission which will let them realize that the people who every now and then commit barbaric acts of terrorism and call themselves Muslims are just terrorists and the majority of world’s Muslims think these acts as going against all the ideals and principles of Islam.

While addressing the enemy in Karbala, the Imam said, “If you do not have religion, at least be a free man in your life of this world.” It’s a wonderful saying because a free man can differentiate between  good and evil more easily than a biased one.

About 1200 years later, Abraham Lincoln echoed Imam Hussain when he said: “To suffer in solace while they should protest makes cowards of men.” Nearly each and every revolution of the world got inspiration from the martyrdom of Imam Hussain.

Imam Hussain’s life was an inspiration for Indian greats like Gandhi and Tagore. Mahatma Gandhi said, “I learned from Hussain how to achieve victory while being oppressed”. Rabindranath Tagore wrote: “In order to keep alive justice and truth, instead of an army or weapons, success can be achieved by sacrificing lives, exactly what Imam Hussain did.”

For a world engulfed with continuous violence and bloodshed, the message of Imam Hussain acts as a beacon of hope.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own

MAJLIS – A Muharram Gatherings


Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

We do not greet the first night of Moharram – with merry-making, nor celebrate it by holding parties. Our hearts are filled with sadness and grief because we remember those martyrs who were killed in Kerbala.

For the next twelve days and nights, we hold Majaalis-e-Hussain (a.s) to mourn the death of Imam Hussain (a.s), his family and companions.

The word ‘majaalis’ means,  seatings where people gather and sit.

In Majaalis of Moharram, we recall the events of the martydom of Imam Hussain (a.s), his family and companions, and the hardship and suffering of those in his family who survived the tragedy of Kerbala.

The first Majlis-e-Hussain (a.s) was started by his sister, Bibi Zainab(s.a), as soon as they were set free by Yazid. Since then all the Imams and Shi’as have continued the Majaalis-e-Hussain (a.s) regularly.

Why do we hold these Majaalis?

To thank Imam Hussain (a.s), his family and companions for the great sacrifice in Karbala for saving us and Islam. We hold these Majaalis because we love our Imam and feel sad to hear about his hardship and suffering in Karbala, and also to comfort and please Bibi Fatima (s.a) – Imam Hussain (a.s)’s mother.
Bib Fatima (s.a) comes to Majaalis-e-Hussain (a.s). Though we cannot see her, she prays for us and our families’ safety. She collects our tears when we cry for Imam Hussain (a.s) and his family. On the Day of Judgement she will return all those tears we have shed for her family. These tears will protect us from the Fire of Hell.

On the 1st of Moharram, Imam Hussain (a.s)’s caravan had reached just outside Karbala. They pitched their tents for the night.

Hussain (a.s) and his sister, Zainab (s.a), were standing talking outside Hussain (a.s) tent.

Together they both sighted the moon of 1st of Moharram.
Tears flowed from Hussain (a.s) eyes.

Zainab (s.a) grew worried and asked her brother:
“My dearest brother Hussain (a.s), why are there tears in your eyes?”

“Zainab! My sister Zainab! Please pray for me that I keep my promise to Allah (S.W.T.). Pray, my sister, that I succeed in completing my mission to save Islam. Zainab! Pray for me that I do not hesitate in giving up my life for Islam.”

Hussain (a.s) was not crying because he was worried about dying. Hussain (a.s) did not ask his sister to pray to Allah (S.W.T.) to save his life. All he was concerned about was saving us and Islam.

Bibi Zainab (s.a) eyes were filled with tears when she heard what Hussain (a.s) asked her to do.
“My beloved sister Zainab! Don’t cry! You will have to perform a greater duty after my death. Be brave and patient!”

Bibi Zainab went to her tent. Ali Akber joined his father, Hussain (a.s).
“My son, Ali Akber! I saw a dream last night. I saw a group of people heading for a place where death was waiting for them. I saw them all killed, one-by-one.”

“Father! I know these people. Those people are us. But, tell me father, are we on the right path?”

“Yes, my son Akber, yes We are on the right path.”

“Then let us not worry? Father, if we are on the right path, then let us die happily. We should continue our journey and greet our death with a smile.”
“I am proud of you, my son Akber!”


On the 2nd day of Moharram, Hussain(a.s)’s caravan reached Karbala. Thousands of Yazid’s soldiers were already there, having arrived long before the Imam.
The small tribe living in Karbala gathered around Hussain(a.s)’s caravan. Imam Hussain(a.s) enquired about the price of the land in Karbala. He then bought the entire land.
Then, he first spoke to the menfolk of the tribe.
“O, menfolk of Karbala! We have not come here to fight. Yazid’s soldiers will fight with us and we will be killed. They will not bury our bodies and our bodies will be left to the wild animals of the desert. I request a favour from you. Please, bury our bodies.
Imam Hussain(a.s) then turned to the womenfolk of the tribe.
“Ladies of Karbala! Your menfolk, out of fear of Yazid’s soldiers might not bury our bodies. Ladies! When your men are working in the fields, please come out of your houses and bury our bodies.
Somehow Imam Hussain(a.s) did not feel the men nor the women would carry out his request.
Sadly, he turned to the children who had gathered and spoke gently to them.
Children! If your father or your mother are unable to bury us, I beg you to throw a fistful of sand over our bodies while you are playing in the fields. That way, children, our bodies will slowly get buried.”
Then, he turned to everyone who had gathered around and spoke again.
“My second request to you all is to look after the people who will come to visit our graves after our death. They will be my guests so please look after them and feed them for three days.”
Imam then ordered the tents to be pitched by the river. It was very hot in Karbala and the supply of water was absolutely essential for survival.
Abbas(a.s), commander of Hussain(a.s)’s army, with his men, started to pitch the tents by the river. The commanders of Yazid’s army ordered their men to pull out Hussain(a.s)’s tents. They stopped Hussain(a.s)’s tents from being pitched by the river.
Abbas(a.s) became very angry. He pulled out his sword and wanted to kill the enemies.
Abbas(a.s), the lion son of Ali(AS), was like his father. He was very brave and strong. The enemies feared him. If he wanted the tents to be pitched by the river, then Yazid’s men even though in thousands, would not be able to stop him.
Hussain(a.s) saw what was happening and quickly intervened. He knew his brother’s temper and strength.
“Abbas(AS), My brother Abbas(AS), Put your sword back. Abbas(AS), we have not come here to fight. Later on, people will say that we started the battle for water. Abbas(AS)! My brother Abbas(AS)! Calm down and put your sword back! Let us move away from here. We will pitch our tents elsewhere.”
Abbas (AS)considered his brother to be his master and always obeyed his commands. He(AS) put his sword back and ordered his men to pitch their tents away from the river.
This was the 2nd of Moharram. As nights and days passed by, the scene in Karbala changed.
Day by day Yazid’s army increased in number. Nearly 20,000 of Yazid’s soldiers surrounded Hussain(a.s)’s tents.
Why so many to fight no more than 72 men in Hussain(a.s)’s army?
Despite having so many men in Yazid’s army, his commanders were still worried because the 72 men in Hussain(a.s)’s army were no ordinary men. They were brave, faithful and did not fear death.

Yazid’s soldiers knew this and therefore thought of a way to weaken Hussain(a.s)’s army.

On 7th Moharram, Yazid’s commanders ordered their men to stop water from reaching Hussain(a.s)’s tents.
There were many ladies and children with Hussain(a.s) and they suffered a lot without water and food.
For three days, one could hear children crying for water.


Abbas (AS)could hear this. He could hear his beloved Sakina (SA)crying for water. Abbas(AS) loved Sakina (SA)dearly and always got her anything she wanted.

Everytime Abbas(AS) heard Sakina(SA) crying for water, he shook with grief.

Abbas(AS)! Poor Abbas(AS), could not bear to hear Sakina(SA) crying.
“AL-ATASH! AL-ATASH! AL-ATASH!” echoed through the land of Karbala for three days and nights. Many little children died from thirst and hunger.

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