Karbala and universal truths

Published: November 3, 2014
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Thousands of Iraqi Muslim Shiite pilgrims crowd around the Imam Hussein mosque in Karbala. PHOTO: AFP

There comes a moment in our lives when we realise the ‘Great Truths’ around us and this happened to me a decade back in Amroha, Uttar Pradesh, India. I was taking part in a Muharram procession when I stopped to talk to a Sikh cloth seller. His shop’s porch was being used as a pulpit to read a eulogy of Imam Hussain (RA) and when it finished, I asked him why he allows the mourners to block his store’s entrance.

“Syed Sahib, it is because of Hussain that we earn our living. If it was up to me I would have people do a Majlis and matam in front of my shop every day.”

Later when I passed by the Hindu jewellers, I saw that they had opened their safes and carried their valuables outside to let the shadow of alms fall upon them as a blessing for their livelihood. After that, they closed their stores and joined in the procession and carried the Tazia, a replica of the mausoleum of Hazrat Ali (RA), and Tabood. Their children were distributing water and tea, and while watching all this, I recalled Fredrick Douglas words,

“When a Great Truth once gets abroad in the world, no power on earth can imprison it, or prescribe its limits, or suppress it. It is bound to go on till it becomes the thought of the world.”

After 13 centuries, the message of Imam Hussain (RA) and the message of Karbala rings true and strong. The message has thrived and found new followers in spite of centuries of virulent state persecution and covert subversion and obfuscation of truths. The cruelties and abominations of his killers are universally condemned and offer clear proof of the victory of ideals against force, of eternal triumph against transient and ill-gotten gains. Imam Hussain’s (RA) martyrdom at the hands of those who would have destroyed Islam has been hailed by Muslims and non-Muslims alike as the finest example of sacrifice, fortitude, patience, courage and strength against adversary.

Mahatma Gandhi said,

“I learnt from Hussain how to achieve victory while being oppressed.”

“My faith is that the progress of Islam does not depend on the use of sword by its believers, but the result of the supreme sacrifice of Hussain.”

The reason for this universality of Imam Hussain (RA) is because the lessons of Karbala are not bound by religious beliefs and practices but tie into the very fabric of morals and ethics. Can anyone be insensible to the tragedy of the family of the Prophet (SAW) being starved and deprived of water in a burning desert and then massacred while striving to uphold truth and justice in a capricious world? Can anyone remain unmoved by the killing and beheading of a six-month-old child? Can anyone absolve Yazid and his band of murderers of the grave injustices done to the women of the Prophet’s (SAW) household as they were marched thousands of miles as if slaves in a Roman triumph?

These tragedies are universal in nature and affect all who have sensitivities and sensibilities. Unfetters and unbound, they reach across artificial boundaries and appeal to all those who believe in truth, justice, dharma, duty, sacrifice and love. A Hindu clan mourns for Imam Hussain (RA) till today and are called Hussaini Brahmin. Legend goes around the time of the incident when their Maharaja was told by a seer to go and fight for one called Hussain (RA) in a place called Karbala. The prince came too late to help the Imam but carried his message back to his people and they continue it to this day. Karbala is ishq and this is why the myriad lovers of Imam Hussain (RA) identify him as their own.

A Punjabi friend told me that when he was a child, he could have sworn that Imam Hussain (RA) was from his village while a Sindhi follower told me that he thought he’s from interior Sindh. Lucknowis see him among themselves and a Lebanese said that he only knew of Imam Hussain’s (RA) Arab origins when he was well into his teenage years. This commonality exists because in fact, Imam Hussain (RA) is present in all of these people and transcends culture and backgrounds. As poet Josh Malihabadi wrote:

“Insaan ko bedaar to ho lene do,

har qaum pukaraygi hamare hain Hussain”

(Just let humanity awaken,

Every tribe will claim Hussain as their own)

Today, there are some who have become so removed from the soul of religion and its moral implications that they have forgotten the lessons of Karbala and trivialise it. We now hear people wish each other “Happy Islamic New Year” on first Muharram as if it is Sunnat, even though for centuries, this time has been respected by all sects as the month of mourning and restraint. We now see people celebrating their marriages and even utilising 9th and 10th Muharram holidays for enjoyment instead of reflection.

But this is not a subjective matter. It cannot be swept under the carpet and befuddled with the ‘free choice’ and ‘freedom of speech’ parrot cries. If you cannot determine good from evil than you lack empathy and not religion. Morality comes from the soul and only the soulless can be insensitive to evil. You don’t need religion to have morals. Religious affiliations can be subjective but morals are not. Mourning is a human condition and to deny it means denying ourselves of a basic human emotion.

Iqbal said,

“Ronay wala hoon Shaheed-e-Kerbala key gham men main,

Kya durey maqsad na dengey Saqiye Kausar mujhey”

(I am one who weeps at the plight of the Martyr of Kerbala

Won’t the reward be given to me by the Keeper of Kauser)

Just as doing a Nazi salute at Auschwitz or sitting on a hill and celebrating the bombing of helpless civilians in Gaza are incredibly insensitive and morally reprehensible acts, denying Karbala and being insensible to the tragedy is a sign of moral turpitude. Truth and justice are universal ideals and Karbala is a shining example of the soul of every religion. Praying five times a day in a certain direction or going to the temple or communion are religious practices and so followed by adherents of a certain faith. These practices are to lead us to a higher truth and Karbala is the manifestation of these truths, Imam Hussain (RA) the personification of timeless truths and values, and so is praised by atheists such as Bertrand Russell and believers alike.

Nowadays, Imam Hussain (RA) is hailed by followers in Chicago, London, Sydney, Paris and Beirut. The message of Karbala reaches across to lovers of truth everywhere and serves to strengthen Islam as it has for eons. There have been killings and terrorist attacks but the processions continue, the mourners mourn and the eulogies sound out. Imam Hussain’s (RA) supreme sacrifice saved Islam then and it will for all time. As Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar wrote,

“Qatl-e-Hussain asl main marg-e-Yazid hai,

Islam zindaa hota hai har Karbala ke baad”

(In the murder of Hussain lies the death of Yazid,

For Islam resurrects after every Karbala).

Sibtain Naqvi

Sibtain Naqvi

A writer and social commentator who has written extensively for various Pakistani English dailies. An art critic accredited by the AICA and the Royal College of Art, London, he dabbles in music and sports writing and tweets @Sibtain_N (twitter.com/Sibtain_N)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • naeem khan

    faith is a matter of personal choice it should not be forced on others and so if someone does nt wish to observe Muharram in particular that should also be respected this should also be a time for self reflection because those who betrayed and those who killed Hussein were also MuslimsRecommend

  • Muhammad Hassan

    Your argument rests on the absurd assumption that to be moral, one has to mourn on the 9th and 10 of muharram. Is there any proven link between the two? I believe in full and total religious freedom, but that works both ways. Stop telling us what to do on particular days of OUR lives.Recommend

  • Muhammad Hassan

    Also, there have been events in history MUCH MUCH more terrible than Karbala. Why don’t you guys mourn for them too? Is empathy subjective?Recommend

  • wb

    Your point is correct. But understand that monotheistic religions tend to be very intolerant of other faiths. History is my proof.

    Christians and Muslims and Jews killed by each other and among themselves and the others that these three groups have targeted runs to 100s of millions just in the modern history of last 100 years.

    To expect a Sunni or a Hindu appreciate Karbala or sacrifice of Hussain is nonsensical.

    But to expect a Sunni or a Hindu to not disrespect Karbala or Hussain’s sacrifice is perfectly reasonable.

    So, I agree with half of your essay.

    I’m sorry that the other half is meaningless. However your argument should have been towards respect for every ritual and faith as long as it doesn’t harm others. Which you failed to make in this.Recommend

  • Ajay Gupta

    Do you need religion to mourn a tragedy? Doesn’t empathy come from within? Be a human first & then a Muslim. Lessons can be learnt from contemporary life rather than going back in history . Let religion be private, humanism public. Recommend

  • ii

    ok so now ther eis a problem with wishing happy islamic new year. Recommend

  • Mahwish Syed

    Its Simply heart breaking that this post has been taken to some other sectarian discussion.What author was pointing towards is we should respect mourning.Its quite personal if you do your happy dance over some one suffering or show your condolence and respect. Hazrat Ali A.S said don’t talk about your happiness in front of saddest ,don’t talk about your father in front of orphan,don’t talk about money in front of poor.This has nothing to do with religion its humanity.Recommend

  • wb

    That’s a blasphemous question what you’re asking.
    We Hindus believe that morality and ethics is a question of common sense and soul searching. That’s why our religion goes deep into different philosophies rather than becoming instruction books.
    The other 50% of HInduism talks abt our gods, goddesses, their stories etc. And we know that it is symbolic and not real, it is supposed to teach us morality. And we accept them as various manifestations of god only.

    If you have read bible or quran, 50% of it is an instruction book and 50% talks about the history (starting from Adam to Abrahm to Moses to Jesus etc).

    Now, the problem is the history it talks about like the genesis and Noah’s ark, Moses parting the sea, David’s miracle against Goliath, earth is flat, people are made from dirt, are just like our mythology, there’s never been any evidence.

    Revelations and miracles in Abrahmic religions are to be blindly believed without ever questioning even though not an iota of evidence exists.

    The rest 50% of Abrahmic scriptures are just instructions. Don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t fornicate, etc.

    Which, for us is just common sense and some soul searching.

    But our religions can be questioned, modified and there’s no set of instructions for anyone. That’s why we also tend to be tolerant. Our intolerance is always reactionary. Otherwise history proves that India has given safe haven to St. Thomas who ran away from persecution, Jews who came to India from persecution, Zorostrians and some of the descendants of Prophet Mohammed.

    This is the reason why religion becomes very private for Indic people. And all Abrahmic religions become ways of life.

    The west has realized the disaster nature of this and they have moved on. Muslims are still stuck and are suffering.Recommend

  • Gurion

    Somehow Pakistanis never seem to mourn the far more worse atrocities perpetrated on humanity by Islam itself. But somehow, they expect entire world mourn a 1600 year old Arab family feud.
    Karbala is the story of those lived and died by the sword. That’s all there is to it.Recommend

  • Anon

    Reminds me of the Easter celebration by Christians. Other prophets were murdered too, why do we not mourn for them?Recommend

  • Maliha

    I’m very sorry but the phrase ‘MUCH MUCH more terrible than Karbala’ caught my eye. Has there ever been an incident in history where a six month old child was killed by shooting an arrow in his dry throat, that too, in front of his father? Was there any moment in history where heads of the martyred were tossed in front of their families? A moment where a thirteen year old boy was killed and then his dead body was trampled over by a herd of horses? People were thirsty for days and days and just to taunt the thirsty, the enemy poured all the water on the floor? Husbands were martyred in front of their wives, sons were martyred in front of their mothers, brothers were martyred in front of their sisters and families weren’t allowed to cry, to mourn for their loved ones. One tear shed would result in ten slaps. And this is just the basic parts. Scholars write that there is no cruel deed in this world which wasn’t implemented on Imam Hussain (AS) and his family. I, at least haven’t heard any event which were more terrible than the tragedy of Karbala. Recommend

  • Fareed Khan Afridi.

    Not at all. What the article does is expose your dogged inability
    to show respect to a tradition observed by Shia Muslims all over the
    world. In a similar vein, No one challenged your moral fiber. Just ask
    to extend common courtesy and religious understanding. Simple
    Do Protestants find it morally challenging to show respect to Catholic’s
    beliefs and rituals. No, barring that there extremists in every society
    What is so obvious and glaring is your inability to show any empathy.
    Or even to admit Shias deserve any. Your self righteous pseudo
    indignation spells it all out.Recommend

  • Fareed Khan Afridi.

    Well, by the same token, having more than 3000 deities in the
    hindu religioun makes hindus experts in worldly matters? And they
    never expounded killing anyone during the course of history? Vishnu
    and Kali certainly paint and exhort a very different ideology. However,
    granted,.. hindus do not have martial traditions. That is well known.
    And were never a war like or conquering people. That is true.Recommend

  • Someone

    I suppose it was intolerant monotheistic Jews & activists of the Vishwa jew Parishad,Jew-ang Parivar,Jew Janatha party,Jew-rang Dal etc.who were responsible for the Very Tolerant killing of indian nationals in the states of gujarat,uttar pradesh,orissa,karnataka,delhi in the ’80s,’90s & in this century. Recommend

  • guest

    No there haven’t been incidents much worse than this in my opinion. Ahl-e-Bayt’s sheer innocence and their goal and a great cause was met with complete brutality so while I hate to compare but if one learns and reads Islam and the live of Prophet and his family, you can’t help but feel the utmost savegry of this incident.
    Yes we can’t and should not tell someone to moan but if you read the history of Karbala, you would not be able to contain your tears. How can someone not moan at the beheading of children! so it almost feels like a crime when especially as a muslim we don’t even bother to read what the most beloved family of all times has done for us. Its all out of love

    ps. Being shia or sunni doesn’t change the love for karbala. I am a sunni.Recommend

  • Someone

    Empathy for people killed in religious violence,is often stifled by feelings in the majority population of the minorities ‘ had it coming’. Eg- I’ve observed,fellow indians here loudly, condemn religious violence in pakistan,but are hypocritically hard-hearted to religious violence in our own country with explanations of why the violence was justified or well-deserved. How many hard right gandhi killer Indians care to attack me now ?Recommend

  • Someone

    Empathy for people killed in religious violence,is often stifled by feelings in the majority population that ”the minorities ‘ had it coming’.”
    Eg- I’ve observed,fellow indians here loudly, condemn religious violence in pakistan,but are hypocritically hard-hearted to religious violence in our own country with explanations of why the violence was justified or well-deserved. How many hard right gandhi killer Indians care to attack me now ?Recommend

  • Ali Faraz Haque

    With all due repect sir, no body expects you to do anything on a specific day that you dont want to do. Just like if a non Muslim disrespects Mohammed and you feel angry because it hurts your sentiments, similarly it hurts the sentiments of shias when people celebrate stuff in the days which were the hardest for the family of the same prophet (PBUH) that we all so dearly love and respect. If you dont want to mourn, dont, but as Muslims taking care of the sentiments of other muslims is a must for us allRecommend

  • danyal78 .

    Can you give one example which is more tragic than karbala…you even know who Imam Hussain ( A.S) is and what his designation ? He was imam of ummat and leader of jawans in jannat who sacrificed not only his life but his beloved one including his six month old child…irrespective u are sunni shia or any other sect u cant deny these facts as they all agree on this…

    I agree you have right to choose ….but dont be naive and stupid in your arguments…. Recommend

  • Ali Faraz Haque

    Sir, who stops anyone from mourning anything, please do so.Recommend

  • Mohsin Raza

    Can you name few ?Recommend

  • Ali Faraz Haque

    Sir, if someone kills and disrespects your children and your women, will you own them as your own??? For that matter, I or anyone else is noone to judge someone’s religion. But the question is if you consider yazidis muslims then why do you consider Qadianis non muslims?Recommend

  • guest

    To expect a Sunni to moan Karbala is completely logical. I am one and I can’t imagine how a Sunni won’t feel sad about this. Also, I do not know any Sunni who knows about karbala and doesn’t condem and moan this barbaric event.Recommend

  • Think again

    Religious monotheistic violence of the last 100 yrs ? …forgot partition ? Where Hindus,sikhs & muslims killed & raped each other equally,with estimates of 12 million uprooted & one million killed…huh ?Recommend

  • Anushey

    What can be more terrible than the brutal killing and humiliation of the FAMILY of the PROPHET (SAW)? Empathy isn’t subjective, your love for Prophet (SAW) is.Recommend

  • siesmann

    It is exactly the atttitude of people like you that Muharram procession are bombed in PakistanRecommend

  • siesmann

    Nice way to respect Prophet’s family?!And you claim yourself to be a MuslimRecommend

  • hira

    Can you please name me one such event, that was more terrible than Karbala? Recommend

  • siesmann

    Isn’t it shameful that Muharram processions are peaceful and respected in other countries,whereas they are regularly bombed and subjected to violence in Pakistan?Why should somebody’s faith and tradition be hated and disrespected?what is wrong in mourning Prophet’s family?Recommend

  • Fareed Khan Afridi.

    if that is the case, then let’s start with the famous hero, Sala-uddin.
    [Yes the same Richard the Lion Heart’s Sala-uddin.] When he conquered
    Jerusalem,..er…liberated Jerusalem, there was ankle deep blood in the
    fortress, of Christian soldiers and Christians. Every single man woman
    and child was brutally slaughtered. Not many people know this.
    Yes, Sala-uddin, the Magnificent was a Sunni. We should all weep for
    this terrible incident in history. Just as you noted.
    [not sure if this will be printed, because ET moderators are prone to
    censure]Recommend

  • Mazgani

    Excellent article, may Allah(swt) bless you with enormous success and respect. May Allah(swt) strengthen our faith and guide us on the right path, insha’Allah ameen.Recommend

  • Ali

    “I have spent more than 20 years in prison, then on one night I decided to surrender by signing all the terms and conditions of government. But suddenly I thought about Imam Hussain (as) and Karbala movement and Imam Hussain (as) gave me strength to stand for right of freedom and liberation and I did.”
    —Nelson MandelaRecommend

  • Truth Seeker

    I respect your faith and emotions but let people live the way they want to. After all, God has given freedom to each human being to make his or her own choices. I respect all human beings but after reading your article I felt as if someone is forcing me to behave in a particular way. That is not fair to me or anyone.Recommend

  • Taimoor

    Why would sunnis disrespect Karbala or Hussain’s sacrifice? This is sooo untrue.Recommend

  • Bahlool

    Lucknow k non muslims ko ehsaas hai but our lot is quite impressed with the actions of ISIS. I loved your article as it makes so much sense but it is also true that I am a Hussaini (a.s.).
    Recommend

  • -SHAGY-

    The mournful events of Muharam came much later than the Religion itself…where no days of the year is forbidden for marriages..in fact in Islam even the mourning of the dead is advised for three days only and we as believers believe that every soul belongs to Allah and to Him it shall return. Therefore no need to portray that you are upset over the events of Muharam by wearing black and singing Marsiya…and organizing sham e ghareebaan….Read Quran instead and pray in solitude…that’s it!! and stop lecturing others…the quran and sunnah never advised us to mourn for 10 days a year!Recommend

  • Bill

    Seriously man… This dude has some arguments… Imam Hussain RA was from interior Sindh? That means ignorance actually.. Furthermore, I feel the only mourning you guys ever do is these days… What the other martyrs of Islam aren’t worthy enough?Recommend

  • FF

    @wb ‘To expect a Sunni or a Hindu appreciate Karbala or sacrifice of Hussain is nonsensical’
    You have no clue at all what you’re on about! Don’t expect appreciation or condemnation from a Hindu on this matter but Sunnis equally share the loss and pain..they just express differently!Recommend

  • Ali Muhammad

    Very well written,,,,,much needed piece….Recommend

  • Nouman Khan

    “Mourning is a human condition and to deny it means denying ourselves of a basic human emotion.” There is a cap on both if you know Islam outside what your parents had taught you.Recommend

  • imad uddin

    Your piece and ur writing style n ofcoarse the universal truth gave me goose pimples til you pushed it too deep into religious debate. I totally understand n strongly agree that morals are universal if one is suffeciently spritually escelated to see those patterns, i agree one must not celebrate sing and dance during this tym, n i dont reply to happy nw islamic yr msgs. Its a time for reflection, a sacrifice held in highest regard, great lesson for the believers. A thought ofthe pain they experienced should naturally scratch ones heart. Its natural.
    But all those greatest martyres are in the blessing of Allah Almighty, far more abundant than u n i could ever imagine. They are successful, n thEy r happy, for centuries n for all the tym to come, so i dont mourn.
    It does not necessary mean that I regard n love them any less than u.
    Recommend

  • Zee

    Shahdat of Hazrat Usman (R.A) and Hazrat Umer Farooq (RA). These two events were more terrible then Karbala. Recommend

  • Zee

    I don’t agree that Karbala saved Islam rather this event created the grave divide between the two communities and the whole Ummah is fighting with it up till now.Recommend

  • Ali Faraz Haque

    You honestly believe Muharram is observed to mourn the death of Ahl-e-Bayt? Lady, you need to come and attend some good Majlis. The mourning is not for the death. The mourning is for us Muslims to realize what great sacrifice the Prophet and His family made for this ummah. Do you think the Prophet who warned you about the Qayamat, the arrival of Dajjal, Gog and Magog, he didnt know what will happen to his family in Karbala? Did the Prophet extended his Sajood for the sheer love for his grandsons??? The events of Karbala were known, they were known to the Prophet, they were known even to Hussain and his family even before he went into Karbala, the mourning is for us to remember, that how important is this religion, how sacred is this Islam, that to save it even a 6 months old thirsty child was brutally killed. We observe Muharram only so that the people who claim that it was a political war or who say that it was an internal conflict of the Muslims understand that NO, Karbala is not a war between two sects or two schools of thought. It is indeed a war a battle between right and wrong and we mourn on it.
    Lastly, as a Muslim, I beg all of the readers here, please, if you wish to understand the concept of Muharram, please listen to some good Majlis by some authentic Zakir, Maulana Aqeel Ul Gharawi is one who I can recommend as I listen to him. His Majalis are available online, listen and understand, the mourning is just few minutes in a Majlis, the rest is the understanding and the knowledge. Do not condemn or fear something that is alien to you, atleast, atleast before forming an opinion do some research and read and realize what is that is mourned and done in these days.
    The people who hold the Ahl-e-Bayt as their own and consider this tragedy as a personal tragedy, only they OBSERVE Muharram. Nothing is portrayed for the world to see and get impressed. Anyone who wishes to remember the Prophet’s family’s hardships and sacrifices may come and join. Muharram is NOT a shia thing, its a human thing. The question is are you Human enough?Recommend

  • Ali Faraz Haque

    With utmost respect, I only wish to say, sir, we as Muslims do know and believe that Hussain (A.S) is the head of the youth in the Jannah, he and all the martyrs of Karbala are held in the highest of esteem by Allah. The month of Moharram and Safar are observed not to mourn or cry over the deaths of the Martys of Karbala, but to remember how, why and by whom were they killed? I as a Muslim observe Muharram because it is the greatest human tragedy of all times and this gives me an opportunity to understand that how important and how sacred is that religion for which the family of the Prophet (PBUH) was so brutally killed. Are we as Muslims doing what needs to be done. Are we on the right path, are we following the same version of Islam that preaches peace and sacrifice and acceptance and tolerance or are we following the concept of the other side which believed that if you cant convince them, kill them. Its indeed a time of reflection but reflection is less distorted when the mirror is flawless. Your reflection of thoughts will also be clearer if your mirror of history and facts is flawless. History of not only the incident but also of the two families that were involved in the conflict of Karbala and where do those families stand today.Recommend

  • Ali Faraz Haque

    Honestly man, who stops you from remembering them? And secondly, the mourning period extends throughout the month of Muharram and in Safar. The thing is if we even stop mourning openly in these 10 days, someday, someone named Bill the third or fourth will start questioning the event itself.

    Lastly, as a Muslim, I beg all of the readers here, please, if you wish to understand the concept of Muharram, please listen to some good Majlis by some authentic Zakir, Maulana Aqeel Ul Gharawi is one who I can recommend as I listen to him. His Majalis are available online, listen and understand, the mourning is just few minutes in a Majlis, the rest is the understanding and the knowledge. Do not condemn or fear something that is alien to you, atleast, atleast before forming an opinion do some research and read and realize what is that is mourned and done in these days.Recommend

  • Someone

    Talking about empathy- empathy,for people killed in religious violence,is often stifled in the majority population,by feelings like, ” The minorities ‘ had it coming’.”
    Eg- I’ve observed,fellow Indians here loudly, condemn religious violence in Pakistan: but are hypocritically,hard-hearted to religious violence in our own country with explanations of why the blood-thirsty violence was justified or well-deserved. How many hard-right,Gandhi-killer indians,care to attack me now ?!Recommend

  • Someone

    I suppose it was intolerant monotheistic Jews & activists of the Vishwa jew Parishad,Jew-sang Parivar, Jew Janatha party,Jew-rang Dal etc. who were responsible for the Very Tolerant killing of indian nationals, in the states of gujarat,uttar pradesh,orissa,karnataka,delhi in the ’84,’92,’96,’98,’99,’04,’08 etc ..(they really deserved it ..hmm ? )Recommend

  • Mehdi

    @sibtain – You have a written a wonderful article on the sacrifice of Imam Hussein. The humanistic nature of his battle against oppression and injustice to uphold greater values have fell on deaf years of the majority of Muslim over ~1200 years. Your intentions are honorable but the act is misplaced and the proof is in the comments being written by many here. Nobody is preaching anybody to mourn the way shias do, but understand why Imam Hussain’s noble deed is being accepted by non-Muslims.Recommend

  • Parvez

    This came across as a bit preachy.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    The Prophet’s (SAW) family massacre is akin to an Islamic 9/11 or the holocaust, and something along the lines of ‘Never forget’ or ‘Lest we forget’ with great religious historic significance for the minority, but to others (despite claims by some who observe, that they all respect it), they see no religious significance, or furthermore, wrong or disrespect with any celebration on that tragic day (which oddly is suppose to be a religious fasting day to all Muslims regardless of what reason). It gets stranger when justified with Wahhabi-like interpreted religious views and prejudices, even by non-conservatives or non-practitioners, some even suggesting it be stopped.
    Considering this day and age of the rise of fundamentalism that’s gone mainstream among a majority, one should probably just lower their judgemental expectations of their counterparts’ denying or opposing the importance of the events from their belief system. I’ve come to the point where we’re not attacked by intolerant extremists, in one way or another, it’ll be more than enough respect for the day…
    Anyways, a hopeful unity article.
    http://www.juancole.com/2014/11/along-sunni-commonalities.htmlRecommend

  • bigsaf

    You misunderstood him. He meant to people of those backgrounds (Sindhi, Lebanese, etc), they believed Imam Hussain were of their ethnic/cultural backgrounds growing up, because it resonates with them, whether you believe it strengthens the author’s point is up to you.

    ‘You guys’…mourning is pretty much the gist of it. This martyrdom was a massacre and capture as war prisoners of Islam’s last Prophet’s progeny. There is mourning for other Islamic martyrs for Shia Muslims, just not at this scale. I suppose its up to you what personalities, events or days in Islamic history or calendar are more important than others.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    Is it really any more absurd on citing morality in any other Islamic rituals?

    I suppose you make a case in regards to a secular point of view strictly on religious terms, not to be preached to, while the author puts it in the context of historical and cultural as well, not to be denied.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    ‘You guys’….This argument is becoming prejudicial. You’re talking about your religious namesakes’ family being massacred and made prisoners. How is that not something some practitioners might commemorate as a religious historical event?

    This is like calling mourners at 9/11 or other state events, like memorial day, selective or hypocrites.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    The same way you don’t share their beliefs, is the same way not everyone shares your ‘believers believe’ and authoritative Islamic interpretation on mourning and its number of days, religious days, grief portrayal, assumption in not reading Quran, praying out of sight in solitude instead as a group, etc. The lecturing complaint is ironic…its like one fundamentalist talking to another.

    Having said that, this should be something to ponder on for mourners or practitioners of Ashur expecting other non-practitioners to religiously believe, let alone, respect the events during Muharram, when many make clear they don’t intend to do so, some of it even driven by prejudice, regardless of some shared Islamic backgrounds.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    And you supposedly know Islam outside of what your parents had taught you?

    There are now growing number of fundamentalists among the mainstream during burials who in full view tell the family grievers that crying/mourning is religiously forbidden.Recommend

  • Critical

    Well,to start off

    Chengiz Khan’s brutal killing and raping spree which wiped out civilizations that forest regrew that earth got cooler because of that for few years…

    Wiping out native americans by throwing small pox infected blood, Mass murder of Mayans,Incan and Aztec men and their wives forced as sex slaves to Spanish and Portugest conquerors,

    Armenian genocide in Turkey killing a million people,The great Bengal drought,World War I and II, Nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,Polpot’s killing fields,Bosnian genocide by Milosevic,Radiation poisoning by Chernobyl plant,Bhopal Gas tragedy,Millions of people slowly dying in poverty in North Korea because of their leaders,Recommend

  • Critical

    Just a few I can imagine

    Chengiz Khan’s brutal killing and raping spree which wiped out civilizations that forest regrew that earth got cooler because of that for few years…

    Wiping out native americans by throwing small pox infected blood, Mass murder of Mayans,Incan and Aztec men and their wives forced as sex slaves to Spanish and Portugest conquerors,

    Armenian genocide in Turkey killing a million people,The great Bengal drought,World War I and II, Nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,Polpot’s killing fields,Bosnian genocide by Milosevic,Radiation poisoning by Chernobyl plant,Bhopal Gas tragedy,Millions of people slowly dying in poverty in North Korea because of their leaders,Recommend

  • Ali Abbas

    Superb salute!!Recommend

  • wb

    you maybe correct. Sunnis don’t disrespect Karbala. But occasionally bomb shia processions.Recommend

  • wb

    one million killed. I was mentioning more than 100 million killed.

    Also remember partition happened because people of one monotheistic religion wanted to create their own failed state instead of remaining with a largely plural and liberal and accommodating people.Recommend

  • Levantine

    Yes the death of the Prophet pbuh himself surely?. Do we set aside certain days to mourn the prophet pbuh? No we don’t why? because we worship Allah and not the prophet pbuh. Recommend

  • Levantine

    I agree it’s awful that these processions get bombed but I don’t agree with the procession at all. Surely you’d mourn the prophet himself more than his family?!?! But no we don’t spend specific days and have processions mourning our habib prophet Muhammed pbuh and why u do u think that is? its because we worship Allah and not the prophets or their families. Recommend

  • Umair

    @shias: So what is secularism?Recommend

  • Anushey

    Cannot mourn for 10 days? Okay so what was year of grief? Prophet Jacob going blind because of weeping for his lost son? Imam zain ul abideen crying for 20 years for his family?
    So we need to show that we are “upset” over this for people like you, who ignore the history and spread false statements.
    Ane of course it is not ‘forbidden’ to get married on 10th muharram, just like it is not forbidden to marry on the death anniversary of your loved ones.Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)

    Show respect by following the Quran & Sunnah to the letter & spirit. Do good deeds in this revered month. Fast on the 9/10th or 10/11. Refrain from doing what has not been enjoined by Islam. Islam allows you to mourn for 3 days only. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has forbidden us from holding mourning ceremonies on the death of any person, which was the practice of the people of jahiliyyah (ignorance). Did he do it for his son? No. Did his Four Caliphs practice what is done today.”He is not from our group who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah.” (Bukhaari). Do not hurt others sensitivities.Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)

    You are Oblivious to Islamic History. Do some reading. Do you now who were the First Martyrs of Islam & how brutally they were killed. Do you know the treatment meted out to Hazrat Bilal RA before he became a Muslim. Why don’t you mourn all these thousands of Martyrs of Islam ( The Sahaba’s) Read about the battles of Badr, Uhud, Khandak(All the Ghazwas) etc. & many more. The Shadat of Imam Hussain (RA) & his family is also included and we revere all our Shaheeds. Our love of the Prophet SAW(PBUH) transcends all barriers. We show our love by following his “Sunnah”Recommend

  • Muhammad Hassan

    The sack of Rome. And oh wait, how about EVERY day in WWI and II?Recommend

  • Muhammad Hassan

    That is akin to saying that any American who doesn’t cry on the day of the Oklahoma bombings is himself involved in bombing the US.Recommend

  • MyBeliefsNoneOfYourBusiness

    I respect your right to mourn and carry processions. I too consider karbala to be the saddest event in islamic history. i do not, however agree with the closing of major roads, shutting down cellular networks and the complete takeover of all media to force the mourning on everyone. I live in dha karachi. most of the imam bargahs are on major roads and those roads are closed. my mom was very ill and i wanted to call here from Riyadh but i couldnt. What if she needed an ambulance? Could she call one? I will object to hostile takeovers of my city and shoving your beliefs down my throat no matter who does it, whether it is shia in muharram or barelvis in rabi al awwal.Recommend

  • S.F.Ali

    We now see people celebrating their marriages and even utilising 9th and 10th Muharram holidays for enjoyment instead of reflection.

    Are you saying we should not celebrate our marriages on these particular days just because you think it is the month of mourning?? Moharram is never a month of mourning nor any other. Every time you do a good deed its blessing and when you do evil its vice versa.Recommend

  • nonConformistMuslim

    really? like what? what is more terrible than brutal and blatant murder of a family including men women and children? I am not a shia or a sunni. I reject all these sects but i am a muslim. you dont have to be shia to be shocked at karbala. you just have to be a normal un-braindead muslim.Recommend

  • nonConformistMuslim

    care to show us a reference or should we just believe whatever you say?

    “Every quote one discovers on the internet should be taken with a grain of salt, for seldom can one trust these without reference. At times quotations are not truthful even if they appear so.” – Abraham LincolnRecommend

  • nonConformistMuslim

    deobandi will force you to fast even if you are sick. they are fasting. how dare you be different. shia will force you to mourn and cry and wear black even if you just want to mourn in your own way and meditate. how dare you be different than us? barelvi will force you to revere the color green even if you are not into all of this. how dare you be different. . ….. maybe this is why the west is advanced while we are busy trying to force each other to conform to what we think is right. oh no wait, the west is only advanced because God gave them all reward in this life and they will get nothing in the hereafter! We always have lame excuses for everything.Recommend

  • JayMankind

    I can disagree with something without wanting to blow it up. All religion has to be taken with a pinch of salt. I mean ALL.Recommend

  • JayMankind

    The Holocaust, WWI and WWII, the plague in Europe, Bengal Famine, Nanjing … I could go on to fill pages. Battle for Karbala had less than 5000 people participating and very small by comparison.Recommend

  • Ali

    please read history first before making such false assertions. Prophet (saw) declared the year in which hazrat khadija and hazrat abu talib died as aam-ul-hizn, which means year of grief. he also used to visit his mothers grave and cry way after her death.Recommend

  • marium

    He isnt telling you what to do. He is merely pointing out our moral turpitude as a society in general. Please feel free to do as and what u like. Please dont feel the need to lead your life anyway other than you see fit. I think you’ve misunderstood what Mr. Naqvi is saying Recommend

  • Marium

    Yea when your family is brutally murdered, i’d love to see how long you mourn. Recommend

  • KlingOn2K

    You need to read more man. There are literally thousands of events more profound. Look up one of the posts above.Recommend

  • ak

    There are 100s of such incidents which are million time more tragic than karbala..while i understand your blessedness because of your religious leanings (and i respect that), but please dont let religion put a blinkers on your mind.

    Example, WW1 and 2, Stalin, Holocaust, Pol Pot, Mao..these are example from just the last centuryRecommend

  • ak

    With due respect you need to read more about what Vishnu and Kali espouses (and i am saying htis with utmost humility)
    By your words, believe me you have got totally incorrect understanding.

    Their avatar was targeted towards any “non-believer”, it was karma based. And no they dont teach us to be violent (I am a pious kali worshiper, who is more akin to mother to us and teached us empathy and love).

    Kindly read any philosophical text on the subject to understand that. I dont know any “group” who target other groups in the name of kali.Recommend

  • True

    Yeah..goddess of war. And it’s around 33 crore ,not 3000.
    As far as respecting other philosophies-look up the Kamkhya yoni temple in Assam- is such a philosophy worth being respected/tolerated by non believers ? I saw this on a bbc documentory & till then had no idea what yoni or ling were. I can accept others have different faiths & do strange things( like,build yoni & ling temples) & we must co-exist peacefully,but the ‘inolerence’ WB accuses,others of,seems hypocritical & far-fetched to me. Some things are best left unexamined.So don’t throw easy stones of monotheistic ‘intolerence’.First,WB,think whether your philosophy is worth,demanding that,non-believers must also respect it.Recommend

  • Fareed Khan Afridi.

    Wrong. Yazidi Lashkar from Syria was 30,000 alone!
    But say 5,000 as you claim,…against a total of 74 !
    That includes a 6 month old baby and women and children.
    Get a life.Recommend

  • Fareed Khan Afridi.

    Hope you check your history. It is people like you who twist
    falsehoods into ugly facts. Do remember, hate makes people
    look UGLY. No amount of applied make-up can hide thatRecommend

  • Zee

    Pl read the authentic history not yours! Kufis betrayed and killed Hussain R.A and they were Muslims. Pl tell me if Yazid has killed Hussain then how come remainder of the Hussain family lived in Yazid Darbar on government funding. How will you define Hussain R.A act of destabilising the established Khilafat?Recommend

  • Cynic

    Can you provide a reputed link,that proves this claim ?Recommend

  • Syed Hasan Haider

    You need to read up on history. It is not your fault that you consider these events worse then KARBALA. Its not about the number of people involved but the cause the event took place for.Recommend

  • abid

    putting a side the sects among muslims, that last poem
    1. hazrat Yazid R.A had won and Harzrat Hussain R..A had lost, that is historic fact.
    2. how could that last line be ever true? Hazrat Yazeed R.A was still in power after the death of Hazrat Hussain, nothing changed, the same people were their, no uprising took place. So what impact did this scarifise bring? nothing. So how did it start Islam?? thats just absurd and a lie, its undermining the scarifise of all the companions of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH that fought their brother, children, parents. I did not even write about the hardships of the Prophet PBUH, where Islam started again after Hazrat Isa PBUH.Recommend

  • Syed Hasan Haider

    Well Said Mahwish, a sensible post in quite a while.Recommend

  • abid

    the death of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH is more painful than karbala will ever be in a 10000000… years, the death of Hazrat Hamza R.A, the death of all the martyrs of badr, the death of all Caliphs, Abu Baqr Sadiuq R.A, the death of hazrat Umer R.a, the death of Hazrat Usman, Ali, R.A, the death of all the innocent children in Gaza, the death of all the innocent people everywhere. I am a patan, in patan vangence beheading was a common way, even parts of pk and afghanistan its still practised, honestly i dont see whats the big deal, he got here, he fought and died like a hero. thats the end of this chapter. nothing more to add or subtract. and they were not Prophets Of islam…Recommend

  • maverick

    Aaqa alahaisalaam declared it as the year of mourning but how did he react did He (S.A) stop doing Everything,take out processions order all his companions to mourn Recommend

  • Maliha

    The Holy Prophet(PBUH) died a natural death. Nevertheless, his death is, indeed, a great loss to the whole Muslim community, regardless of any sect. I’m not defending anyone, but it just so happens that Shias mourn the 28th of Safar and lot of majalis are held in different parts of the world to mourn the loss of the Holy Prophet(PBUH). Recommend

  • Maliha

    I’m sorry but how were they more terrible than Karbala? Do you know the whole story of Karbala? What cruelties the descendants of Holy Prophet (PBUH) had to endure? Recommend

  • Pseudo-scholar

    Too many sweeping assumptions in your cute little summary,dismissing Judaism,Christianity etc with your half knowledge.Recommend

  • s.a.hussain

    This discussion is between shia and one sect of sunni who are growing now and their new name is IS whose self declared leader is Abut Bakr Baghdadi.
    if they call them muslim then they should explain :How a fasiq ;sharabi;Yazeed could demand. Beyat from son of prophet swua who was already nominated as Sardar
    of youth of jennat.
    These yezidees are actually paid mercenaries of those who are waging a war against Islam
    so our coming educated generation will hate so much Islam whose leaders are like IS killersRecommend

  • bigsaf

    For a day, yes. Is this suppose to be the ‘shirk’ accusation? He (pbuh) wasn’t massacred. You can worship Allah (swt) and still love the Prophet, let alone recognize his importance, as well as extended to family and commemorate it. At least as ‘we’ see it.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    Surprising that anyone can have that opinion, or maybe its just out of spite, however clearly disagree. Assassinations compared to the massacre and imprisonment, and their religious statuses, to at leas the minority, I’d think the latter would have more weight.Recommend

  • Heh ?

    100 million killed in the last century ? Mr.plural-liberal-accomodating ,Pls. enlighten me as to which incident of religious violence killed so many people,in 9 digits,since 1914 ? Even Genghis didn’t manage that many ..Recommend

  • point

    Karbala and muharram is not all about mourning, and of-course massacre is never new to this world, there were and are other tragic events also. the event of karbala is about the infidelity of muslims towards their Leader, Muhammad (PBUH) who was, i dare say, quite the most celebrated personality of that time particularly. so this makes karbala quite a tragedy, if not the most traumatic. He made, to a degree fair point when said “Just as doing a Nazi salute at Auschwitz or sitting on a hill and celebrating the bombing of helpless civilians in Gaza are incredibly insensitive and morally reprehensible acts, denying Karbala and being insensible to the tragedy is a sign of moral turpitude. Truth and justice are universal ideals and Karbala is a shining example of the soul of every religion”.
    Some Christians compare and pay respect to the event of Karbala with The crucifixion of Jesus where the central idea is truth and justice against tyranny.Recommend