Stories about karbala

Ashura’s message: Looking away, being indifferent is not an option

There are days when one just wants to give up and look the other way. Become indifferent. The inner argument is, “What difference can I make, realistically?” I recall feeling that way so many times. Like when I see “small” things like bribes being taken and given in front of me. That gnawing feeling, when people in your area steal water through suction pumps and you are the idiot who doesn’t do it because you think it’s wrong. Worse still, is the feeling you get if you stay quiet when you see a close relative scolding a small child, working ...

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Why do the grown-ups cry during Muharram?

As children, we found ways to amuse ourselves in Muharram. On the majlis farsh we planted ourselves besides the most interesting of the dowagers and matriarchs listening somberly to the majlis. Most dressed in black shalwar kameezes, some wore black chiffon saris whose blouses had grown smaller in such subtle gradations (half an inch every Muharram) over the years that, though their flesh now spilled out of them, they could not perceive the difference in the fitting. From those blouses, their flesh cascaded in soft, maternal folds and it was its shaking and quivering when they wept during the ...

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Of Urdu marsia

Most of the new books I have received in the Muharram context are either collections of marsia elegies or discuss the modern Urdu marsia as a genre. Sadly, few if any books have been published in decades about the Karbala tragedy that represent historical research. I remember a book by some Egyptian scholar Maktaba-i-Jadeed had printed and which became very popular as an objective account of the tragedy. The publisher used to print a fresh edition almost every year. Ever since Maktaba-i-Jadeed closed down the book has disappeared from the market. This aside is not meant to deny the significance of ...

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