Stories about karbala

Iran and Iraq may not be tourist hot spots, but they offer a spiritual journey like no place else

I was recently invited to a trip to Iran and Iraq by a group of close friends from Lahore, and as I had never been to these states before, I decided to take the opportunity to visit the shrines frequented mostly by Shia pilgrims. After all, how else was I going to be able to travel through war-torn Iraq (where the Islamic State has only recently been defeated) and gain access to the heavily sanctioned country of Iran? Mesopotamia – the cradle of civilisation and home to many Imams of the Islamic world – has been off-limits to most ...

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Arbaeen: “If you want to see humanity living and breathing, experience this walk”

The 40th – or Arbaeen in Arabic – holds great significance in the traditions of Holy Prophet (PBUH) and Ahle Bait (AS). Arbaeen marks the completion of Ashura, the day when Imam Hussain (RA) was martyred on the planes of Karbala. Since then, his followers and lovers walk to their beloved as they feel his plight as their own. The walk particularly takes place in the memory of the return of Imam Hussain’s (RA) family from Syria, after getting freed from the shackles of Yazid. People from different parts of the world participate in this event, which remained banned ...

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When clothing brands profit from your grief

In this capitalist world, everything is for sale. Every season, every holiday, every occasion can be commercialised. Christmas Day sales, Black Friday, Thanksgiving sales, Diwali discounts, Eid collections; you name anything and there will always be a person making money off of it. In Pakistan, Eid and Ramazan are probably the most celebrated occasions, no surprises there since this country is the Islamic Republic after all. As soon as the month of Ramazan closes in, prices of food elevate to another level. From your fruit vendor to your butcher, everyone demands more money. And then there are of course those gazillion iftar ...

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Islam has and always will be a religion of women

To Muslim women, Islam is a religion of women. I will speak these words until my heart stops. Islam is a religion of women. Our Prophet (PBUH), who was delivered the revelation, was a man, but his first and truest disciple was his wife. She was a woman of stature, endurance, patience and poise. And to reiterate what has already been said, she was a woman. With female hands was the first iftar made. We would have no Adam, John, Jesus, Joseph, Idris, Aaron, Moses or Abraham without Eve, Elizabeth, Mary, Rachel, Barkanah, Jochebed, and Amathlaah. Even in the Prophet’s (PBUH) family, although it was Hazrat Ali (RA) ...

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When we’re told to “limit ourselves to the imambargah or shift these processions outside the city”

Recently, I came across a post on Facebook which stated the following: “Roads blocked, no mobile networks and markets are closed. Please stop bothering your fellow countrymen and limit yourselves to the imambargah or else shift these processions outside the city, somewhere on highway.” A typical, insensitive and privileged Pakistani comment. But this statement was not the only one. It is not unusual for the Shia community to hear such insensitive comments from Karachiities, whose lives are completely uprooted during 9th and 10th Muharram. Such insensitivity may not be uncommon, but it is hurtful, given the day and the solemnity of the incident being marked in Muharram. The ...

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Mourning is not exclusive to our Shia brothers – I am a Sunni and I mourn in Muharram

This article originally appeared here. I am Sunni. My family is Sunni. We love Abu Bakr (ra), Usman (ra), Umar (ra) and Ali (ra). We believe in their rightly guided caliphates. The Commanders of the Faithful. We believe in Aisha (ra) as the wife of the Prophet (pbuh) and a role model. A Mother of the Faithful. This is our belief. We are not Shia. Being Muslim, we love the Prophet (pbuh) and love all that he loves. For what is beloved to the Prophet (pbuh) is beloved to God. This includes the love for the people he loved. The Prophet (pbuh) loved his wives, his friends, his ...

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The importance of observing Muharram the Islamic way

Having grown up abroad, we were often part of a tiny (Muslim) minority group, no matter where we were based. Thus, we celebrated all religious and cultural occasions together. It happened over two decades ago, but I still recall it vividly. I must have been eight or nine-years-old when I was attending a majlis at another (Shia) Muslim household. When it came to the maatam (mourning), I was told not to participate. The child in me did as I was told, but I remember being left confused by the command. So I came home and asked my parents to explain. They tried to explain (as much ...

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Is religion more important than unity in Australia?

During my school days, students would queue in the main ground and proudly sing Pakistan’s national anthem during the morning assembly. Singing the national anthem brought everyone together, nurturing inclusiveness and a sense of unity. The school had students from different religious backgrounds, although the majority was Sunni Muslims. Singing the anthem instilled love for Pakistan from an early age and brought everyone together in solidarity. Those were the only times when Jinnah’s Pakistan twinkled in the eyes of everyone and reminded us of his quote, “You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other ...

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Show some respect – Muharram ‘holidays’ are not an opportunity to have fun

It was yet another mid-term exam for the management course and I was filling in my answer sheet at a rapid speed while trying to put forward my best handwriting. Although I was still tired from my hectic schedule in the last couple of days and was feeling a bit tired and drowsy. However, due to the fact that I have been good at rote learning due to my medical school days, the exam proved to be a piece of cake. Frankly, I had it all covered well before the schedule for the exams was announced. As I was handing ...

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Karbala is a call for empathy, a call to stand up against injustice

Today, conversations on religion, religious beliefs and notions even peripheral to religion are quickly associated with extremism, conservatism and terrorism. Therefore, I would like to begin with a definition of the word ‘religion’. Religion means ‘to bind’, to connect an individual to God – it is an institution with a purpose to transcend human beings and connect them to their creator, be it Allah (SWT), Ram, Jesus, Buddha or just Nature. However, religion remains incomplete without a line of tradition and rituals, which is an attempt to humanise the process of connecting with God. Muharram is the first month of ...

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