“Akela sach Husayn sa na dekha humne
Sabar aur sachai ka aisa mail na dekha humne
Sajdey me sir kata k jo qurbani di hai
Insaaniyat aur islam ko zaroori nishaani di hai.”
Muharram – The Legend of the Faithful Grandson:
Leaders are wrought with the example they set, the sacrifices they make and the paths they show.
Some fourteen centuries ago on the day of Ashura, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, Imam Husayn, and his little son, were mercilessly martyred by a cruel and oppressive ruler in the Battle of Karbala. Although Imam Husayn was slain in the battle, his message of kindness, justice, and equality lives on among his people who love him, and hence, that is his real victory.
Muharram – What?
One of the four sacred months of the year during which warfare is forbidden, Muharram is held to be the second holiest month, after Ramaḍān. The sighting of the new moon ushers in the Islamic New Year. The first month, Muharram is one of the four sacred months mentioned in the Quran.
Muharram is a month of remembrance and modern Shia meditation that is often considered synonymous with Ashura. Ashura, which literally means the “Tenth” in Arabic, refers to the tenth day of Muharram. It is well-known because of historical significance and mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad.
Muharram – Why?
The Days of Ashura are the most important because Husayn and his family and followers were deprived of water from the 7th onward and on the 10th, Husayn and 72 of his followers were killed by the army of Yazid I at the Battle of Karbala on Yazid’s orders. The surviving members of Husayn’s family and those of his followers were taken captive, along with most of his family and companions, the sacred ritual of pardah done by the Muslims humiliated as the cloak of the women’s were snatched and the prisoners taken with heavy pointed metalled chains in their necks marched to Damascus, and imprisoned there.
Shia and Sunni Muslims mourn the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali and his family, honoring the martyrs by mourning and abstinence from joyous events.
Muharram – The Decision:
Prior to his death, the Umayyad(The Dynasty of the Caliphs) ruler Mu’awiya appointed his son Yazid as his successor, contrary to the Hasan-Muawiya treaty. When Muawiya died in 680 CE, unjust tyrant Yazid demanded that Husayn pledge allegiance to him. Husayn refused to pledge allegiance to Yazid, even though it meant sacrificing his life. As a consequence, he left Medina, his hometown, to take refuge in Mecca.
Muharram – Today:
As a part of the Mourning of Muharram Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims practice faqa or partial fasting on Ashura.
Shia Muslims do not fast on the 10th of Muharram, but some will not eat or drink until the afternoon to show their sympathy with Husayn. In the Shia sect, it is popular to read this Ziyarat ae Ashura on this date.
Mourning for Husayn is considered by Shias to be a source of salvation in the afterlife, and is undertaken as a remembrance of his suffering. Special gatherings “Majlis” are arranged in places reserved for this purpose, called Husayniyya or Imambada. In these gatherings, the story of Karbala is narrated and various elegies are recited by the orator.
Muharram – In words of an Adherent:
Muharram is remembering Husayn.
He asked us to remember him when you are alone, alone and sad.
He asked us to remember, While he was picking bodies of his brothers, son, and companions and couldn’t provide water to women and children with him, do not forget to remember his thirst while drinking cold water.
When all 71 companions were martyred Imam Husayn asks if there is anyone who is there to come and help.
To which Shia Muslims answer during their procession “Labbaik ya Husayn” we are at your service.
Muharram – The still Resonating Legend:
Husayn is highly regarded by Muslims for refusing to pledge allegiance to Yazid, the Umayyad caliph because he considered the rule of the Umayyads unjust Husayn’s actions at Karbala fueled later Shia movements, and his death was decisive in shaping Islamic and Shia history. The stand that Husayn and his followers took became a symbol of resistance inspiring future uprisings against oppressors and injustice. Throughout history, many notable personalities, such as Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, have cited Husayn’s stand against oppression as an example for their own fights against injustice. In Sufism, where annihilation of the self and suffering in the path of God are paramount principles, Husayn is seen as a model Sufi. Turkish Sufi Yunus Emre labels Husayn, along with his brother Hasan, as the “fountainhead of the martyrs” and “Kings of the Paradise” in his songs.
The act of Husayn on Ashura, with complete sacrifice for God and for others, signify that what happened on Ashura in Karbala must always be remembered as part of suffering everywhere and the narration “Every day is Ashura and every land is Karbala!” lives on and echoes ever louder.
Written By: Syed John Abbas & Yashdeep Bajpai