Muharram Statuses: Should I say “Happy Islamic New Year”?

Published: October 17, 2015

As a Muslim, he knew that using someone else’s property without permission or rightful authority is not permissible. Yet, today we see mosques being built ‘in the name of Islam’ on property that belongs to someone else. PHOTO: Wallpaper

It’s that time of the year again. The one in which we start a social media debate about mourning versus sending out New Year greetings. It’s Muharram; after all, that’s what the sacrifice of Karbala was meant for, wasn’t it?

Harsh, you say? Well so is reality.

In recent times, well, since the advent of social media, people have taken to their keyboards to voice otherwise offensive views without any fear whatsoever or any inkling of tolerance. Since the past couple of days, my Facebook newsfeed, blogs online and Twitter timelines have been replete with sectarian conflict. New Year greetings are spewed venom against due to their ‘celebratory’ impression and Muharram statuses are gutted with comments on the so-called ‘biddati’ rites of Ashura. And amidst all this chaotic finger-pointing the one thing that stands out loud and clear is our ignorance pertaining to our own religion. While scholars continue to encourage a critical and analytical understanding of the event of Karbala and continue to decry how the media only conveys the ritualistic aspect of the story, we are left with a whole array of confusion. The superficial, and exceedingly immature, debate goes to show just how much we crave a clearer understanding of the most revered sacrifice in human history.

Imam Hussain’s (RA) sacrifice has left a strong message for us all and yet we do not pay heed. For example, not many people are aware that Imam Hussain (RA) purchased the land of Karbala from the tribe of Bani Asad and then gifted it back to them. He had foreseen the battle awaiting him and bought the land to ensure that he and his companions were buried there and that when their loved ones came to visit their graves, they would be treated with respect and honour. He did it to ensure that the owners of the land did not suffer any detriment. He did not hide behind the excuse that he was being forced to camp there or that he would not be responsible if the land were rendered useless for its owners. He did not say that he was fighting for the cause of Islam thus any land was God’s land. No. As a Muslim, he knew that no matter what the situation, using someone else’s property without permission or rightful authority is not permissible.

Yet, today we see mosques being built ‘in the name of Islam’ on property that belongs to someone else. Yet, today we carry out Muharram congregations throughout the country without any thought to damage done to the property of others.

When Hur invited Imam Hussain (RA) to Kufa, the men in Hur’s army were exhausted and desperately thirsty. Despite knowing that they were the enemy force, Imam Hussain instructed that water be taken out of his limited supply and be given to Hur’s men. How many of us even bother to shake hands with those we dislike?

Anyways, Hur then deceivingly led Imam Hussain (RA) and his companions to the desert land of Karbala. When Yazid heard that Imam Hussain (RA) and his companions were forced to camp on the land of Karbala, he sent his army to surround them completely. After failed negotiations to try and convince Imam Hussain (RA) to give an oath of allegiance to Yazid, the army blocked all supply routes to the land leaving not even one drop of water with Imam Hussain (RA) or his companions. Mothers and their children suffered from thirst. Yet, they waited in patience.

Any ‘rational’ person would have deprived their enemy of water and saved it for his/her own family instead Imam Hussain (RA) followed the words of Islam in letter and spirit. And we all know that Islam teaches more than just rationality, it teaches morality.

Yet today, we let our rationality dominate our morality. We forbid our servants from eating before we ourselves have eaten. Yet today, we do not stop to think how thirsty a policeman may be standing in the heat manning our chaotic traffic.

Are you still trying desperately to separate these acts of justice and morality in your head and excusing yourself from following the real essence of Islam? Are you still creating that dichotomy in your head between a Sunni and a Shia?

When Hur saw that the children of Imam Hussain’s (RA) caravan were suffering from extreme thirst, because the army he was serving had prohibited water and food supplies from reaching his camp, he felt a sense of guilt overcome him. He remembered the act of kindness Imam Hussain (RA) had bestowed upon his army, despite his deception. That night he went to Imam Hussain (RA) to repent.

Imam Hussain (RA) could have made Hur pay for his crime, but following the footsteps of his Grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the spirit of Islam, he opted for forgiveness rather than vengeance.

Yet today, we kill, maim and burn innocent, unarmed people in the name of religion. We are divided in the sophomoric debate of ‘us’ and ‘them’, while Imam Hussain (RA) provided access to his camp to an enemy soldier at night because he believed in atonement and forgiveness. Yet today, when we get into an accident on the road we stoop to brawls before even talking about what happened. Yet today, in our race to be proven right about religion, we forget what religion actually is.

With the widespread sectarian disarray around the globe, there is a dire need for us to move beyond the ritualistic aspect of Karbala. It is time for us to sit down and learn about our own religion. It is time for us to reflect over its social, economic, ethical and political messages. It is time for us to truly follow the teachings of Islam to spread humanity and order. Stop being ignorant.


Narjis Fatema

A student of Mass Communication at Karachi University who Tweets @Narjis_Fatema (

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

  • Hassan

    Mashallah nice article. There is so much to be learned from Karabal but it is an irony that we have associated this event with a specific sect. Imam-e-Hussain(A.S.) message of standing against the oppression is an example for all the nations.Recommend

  • ovais

    With all said and done i hope u do what you preach and stop blocking hospital roads in muharram. these juloos are of no use and are easy targets and a big menace for the common man who has an emergencyRecommend

  • imran

    I would not like to hurt anybody’s feelings but why is it that only Muharram is the time when suddenly being happy is a crime since there are many other days in Islamic history which offer a lot to be sad about.

    Do you not celebrate or wish other people birthdays and similar celebratory greetings? I am sure there must be people who were born on a day of catastrophe. Should they simply be sad that they were born??

    There is nothing wrong in wishing a Happy New Year to you and your family and may it shower upon you are your family lots of blessings and happiness.

    I do agree that statements like “partying like its 1435” etc have no place in Islamic Society but then it can be taken lightly and something to be left for God to decide as He is the only one who knows the true feelings of the hearts and He is the best Judge of them all.

    With that said history has its importance and lots of lessons to be learnt from it, one of it is to live and let live.


    A simple Muslim.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    Not long ago, majority of Sunnis stayed away from any sadness and happiness while Shias kept themselves busy in their own rituals. There were processions only on 10th of Muharram and in those processions Shias did what they wanted to do and Sunnis stayed on sidelines serving procession participants with Water and Sharbat. Things changed with Shia revolution in Iran and huge money flow from Saudi Arabia. The fundamentalist of both sects are now in full control and adding more hate between two sects with each passing day. As Shias have seized economic activity of entire country for almost one month, the Sunni terrorists and their threats have dried out our national resources. Unfortunately, innocent but naive followers of both sects are not getting the point behind happy Islamic new year trend and too many processionsRecommend

  • Zeeshan Raza

    We have not asked to block roads, it’s the government that does it. We are more than capable to protect ourselves. We can take out juloos without government provided security.

    The juloos are not only held in Muharram it’s also held by the political parties in Pakistan. When PTI held protests last year people supported them sang songs and danced, and you think that to take out juloos to mourn the martyrdom of Nawasa-e-Rasool S.A.W.W his family and companions is of no use??????

    Where did the word “NO USE AND EASY TARGETS AND A BIG MENACE” were when PTI held protests last year?????

    The Islam was saved by Nawas-e-Rusool S.A.W.W his family and his companions. The most mourned personality in this world every year is Nawas-e-Rusool S.A.W.W his family and his companions.Recommend

  • Syeda Ali

    Really nice article. Those commenting on this article with comments like ” You better start doing this…” fail to understand the point of this piece of writing. We need to educate ourselves & implement Imam Hussain(A.S)’s teachings in practical life. No road is blocked for emergency situations or to hospital. Had it not been for these juloos, no one would even remember what happened in Karabala hundreds of years ago. RespectRecommend

  • Syed Sajid Ali

    Well written and concluded article. Obviously we all have to learn the lessons from these history parts instead of focusing and criticizing others we should gain knowledge regarding these historical facts from the Books of Scholars and authentic resources in-spite of believing what ever we do read from online resourcesRecommend

  • Ali

    First a very good piece of writing, sufficient to think about the cure for our society’s flaws.
    Well, everybody has its own point of view but think for a second what Imam Hussain (A.S) went through at Karb-o-bla in Muharram. Imam Hussain (A.S) and his followers were humble to wish of Allah when the troop of yazid came and surrounded them, Yazid’s army did so much cruel to Imam Hussain (A.S) and his followers.This is where the most sorrowful event of Islam and whole world started. I am sure this wont be the best moment to say “Happy New Islamic Year”.Recommend

  • zeshan

    well one thing is to be understood that islam in its present shape is just because of the sacrifice made by nawas-e- rasool (SAWW). have you ever gone through the cause that why hazrat imam hussain (AS) resist the alligiance to yazeed? please one must go through it. a rd can be blocked once your dear one id dead and u block the road infront of your house. at that time somebody ask you to open up you will have a fight with him. please re think these congegrations are not meant to tease any one but to involve yourself in the mourning of your own prophet (SAWW). if you so called love your prophet. give it a thought.Recommend

  • Zee

    Why would every one subscribe to your accounts? I mean 1st Muharram is the start of new Islamic calendar and one can wish the same though it’s a day of Hazrat Umer (R.A) Shahadat as well .
    So do not try to impose your thoughts on anyone. Recommend

  • ovais

    Imam Hussain is same for everymuslim but what you guys do is to just make it difficult for the common man to pass these three days.Recommend

  • ovais

    do u live in karachi , do u see the havoc you create . I am sorry you are lying your self in the name of imam hussainRecommend

  • jaffer

    What about the havoc created in the name of “Islam zindabad conference” by Molana Diesel. I dont know why anything done in the name of the Ahlulbait(a.s) stings you guys. Hypocrisy at its best Mr. OvaisRecommend

  • Syeda Ali

    Yes I live in Karachi and I am sorry if you fail to see that we are not creating this havoc. If you all had stood by oyr side when we were being butchered, this situation wouldn’t have reached a stage where law enforcing agencies block roads and create havoc. We mourn this event throughout the world. If our authorities manage it like this, its ironical for all of us. Own your problems rather than blaming othersRecommend

  • Syeda Ali

    Yes I live in Karachi. I am sorry if you fail to understand that this havoc is created because you never stood up when we were being massacred. Processions are held throughout the world. If our LEAs out of fear of an attack block roads, it is a havoc for us too. We follow authorities’ prescribed routes & schedules. Please learn to own your problems rather than blaming others.Recommend

  • Syeda Ali

    What do we do? Juloos & Majalis are held throughout the world since 1400 years. If the government fails to protect us without creating a hurdle in your way, it is not our fault.
    Moreover, if majority people had shown solidarity when we were being massacred, situation wouldn’t have reached such a low point. We need unity amongst ourselves & this is what the writer is emphasizing. Hope you understand this.Recommend

  • Zee

    “We were being massacred” when was this happen? If you are taking the entire terrorism after 9/11 only against yours then am sorry you need to grow up.

    And yes, LEAs to block the roads because you people insist to do your stuff on the roads instead of any compound etc. if it is done in the ground / compound then this havoc can be avoided and majority will be relieved.Recommend

  • abeer

    Very nice mARecommend

  • abeer

    Narjees Fatma! Nice article carrying the important message within.Every incident of Islamic history is important to get lessons from and to be celebrated or mourned according to how Prophet Pbuh taught us.peace and tolerance and not more than three days after death.Recommend

  • Syeda Ali

    Oh so you don’t even know when that happened. Actually for you massacre is what only non-muslims can do. Even if I don’t narrate what is happening with us since late 80s, hope you remember what happened and is happening to our Hazara brothers only because they are shia. I condemn attack on any innocent human,be it from any sect or religion. Yet I fail to see the same from majority around me.
    Secondly you don’t even know that for first 5 days there was no procession on streets. Yer they were jam packed. Because we were holding majalis within our Imam bargahs and houses but due to security reasons many areas were cordoned off.
    Thirdly as I said earlier this happens throughout the world on roads! It creates havoc because unfortunately conditions are quite bad here and our manage it this way. LEAsRecommend

  • ovais

    so that means you will be a pain for the common man . its ok the ammount of difficulty i had to reach to hospital , its ok . May you get the reward for thatRecommend

  • ovais

    i dont suport that as well . just like the havoc on 10 muhaarram its political islamRecommend

  • Syeda Ali

    I guess you haven’t even read my comments. No roads are blocked for ambulances or emergency situations. My own father was ill on 10th of nd theseMuharrama people allow ambulances, they are more humane than you think.
    Purpose of this article is to encourage people to understand the message of Karbala and I hope it’s achieved. Respect.Recommend

  • ovais

    my own sister is a doctor the way i picked her up during the juloos , you cant even imagine. Secondly last year we had an emergency and yes the roads were blocked. Recommend

  • Syeda Ali

    Firstly picking up your sister wasn’t an emergency. Secondly if you had an emergency and had to suffer because of juloos, it is really sad and our purpose is never to harm anyone in any way.Ideally it should happen the way it happens all over the world. But since security situation in our Country in too bad, we all have to suffer in many ways. But that doesn’t mean we should stop going to mosques if there are blasts during prayers. We are mourning our Prophet’s grandson in a legal way, as permitted by government. Criticise terrorism, conditions in our Country that creates such havoc, not our peaceful procession.Recommend

  • ovais

    legal way b y closing roads .. Way to go on legality !!!Recommend

  • Syeda Ali

    Yes it is legal as we have the routes described, license issued & permission granted by the government.Recommend

  • ovais

    and being a pain is also a legal wayRecommend

  • Syeda Ali

    Giving you pain is not at all our motive, nor an outcome of what we do. I hope you get the point of this article. RespectRecommend