It’s the day of Ashura, the day that became a witness of a day that will be remembered forever in the history of Islam. On every Ashura, millions of Muslims across the world commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad, in the Battle of Karbala.
But why do we remember, with such overflowing anguish and passion, something that happened 1,400 years ago, each year? What is its relevance in the 21st century?
I have been sharing about Moharram every year because I feel, we tend to forget. In a world full of social media, government-controlled news channels, it’s easy to get carried away. To start questioning the good just because a thousand others intend to mar it.
All those years back, Imam Husain, although outnumbered and overpowered, refused to support the tyrant ruler, refused to bow down before his power and might. This is the first and probably the most important lesson that Karbala teaches us: Never support injustice and oppression no matter how powerful the oppressor might be. No matter what threat or temptation you may be given, never support falsehood and tyranny. Karbala shows the distinction between good and evil. Truth is always on the side of the oppressed, never the oppressor.
When Yazid couldn’t succeed in getting Imam Husain to speak in his favour, he decided to crush his voice by force. He gave orders for the assassination of Imam Husain and his family. This was terrorism as we know it. Terrorism exists everywhere. It exists in those white officers choking George Floyd to death, it exists in those mobs lynching Muslims to death in various parts of India. Let’s not fool ourselves into believing that oh such brutality doesn’t exist anymore, all that was in the savage past! Oppressors are present in each and every era and they do everything in their power to make the oppressed suffer.
Let’s learn from the battle of Karbala how to stand up against these injustices, however possible. Even if we can’t be Hussain, at least let us not be the timid people of Sham and Kufa who did nothing to save the Imam a.s. and his family from getting slaughtered at the hands of Yazid and his tyrannical army.
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