The AhlulBayt Islamic Mission (AIM) today released its annual Muharram message in which it stressed the need to draw lessons from the message of Imam Hussain (a) in tackling the challenges facing the Ummah.
In His Name the Most High
“Peace be upon you, O Imam Hussain, and peace be upon those souls who supported you in your mission. We send you our salutations for as long as we live, and for as long as there is night and day.”
As we stand today in the divine ambience of the month of Muharram, we seek to connect to that ever-flowing source of principle and instruction that is Imam Hussain’s grand revolution; a revolution which forever changed the course of Islam and humanity.
For millions, Ashura marks a day of loyalty and commitment. A day on which, we express our inseparable love for the AhlulBayt (a) and our lasting commitment to tread their path. The pearls of the Prophetic message, we affirm, can only be obtained by holding high the standard of Karbala through word and deed. At the same time, we declare our eternal rejection in the face of tyranny and
oppression, and disassociate ourselves from those who perpetrate injustice no matter what slogans they use to mask their crimes.
Even after more than 13 centuries, Shias from all over the world turn to the life of Imam Hussain and the plains of Karbala. We inspect every act and utterance and find in them a lasting message for generations till the end of time. We survey the grave troubles afflicting our world today and contrast our condition with the vision for the sake of which, the Imam sacrificed all he had. In our constant revisiting of that everlasting stand made by Imam Hussain, we find new inspiration and intensity for giving purpose to our lives and those of our respective societies.
Humanity is the principal victim of contemporary society. The definition of Modern Man is given within a concocted vacuum strictly-free of any spiritual attachment – Value and principle have given way to reckless rebellion and nihilism resulting in a growing sense of alienation with self and society. The sum result of this affliction has made our individual and social lives ever more violent and desperate. The chain-links of compassion and justice that once held society together are now crushed under the juggernaut of so-called liberal humanism. Blind materialism and greed have become the organisational principle
of individual and society; all founded on top of a fanatically narrow understanding of ‘modernity’.
These tendencies are by no means unique to our age. Humanity has during the course of history encountered materialist ideologies of different shades and colours. Indeed, one of the marked features of the Ummayyad caliphate was the organised attempt to re-introduce tribal and racial yardsticks into the psyche of the Ummah. At a time when the merit of the individual was being actively defined by worldly-affiliations and riches, Imam Hussain rose to salvage the dignity of humanity from the claws of a materialist caliphate. He re-established the worth of humanity according to the Islamic faith, and declared submission to the Divine path as the pinnacle of merit: “He who has You has everything, and he who has deprived himself of You is the poorest in the world.”
The fate of the solitary human being of today is merely a condensed microcosm of the state of wider society – Instead of being havens of security and safety, our societies have turned only more violent with the frequency of inhumane wars and bloodshed symbolising the most notable achievements of the last decade. Casino capitalism has further wedged the divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’, and has brought upon untold suffering on the peoples of the world. More than 1 billion people around the globe go to sleep with empty bellies whilst rich nations annually throw away food – by the thousands of tonnes – in extravagance and waste. For a world which claims to be more civilized than previous epochs, the facts launch a scathing condemnation of these assertions. In connection, the prevalence of the principle of ‘might determines right’ has meant military budgets outweigh GDPs of entire nations. The very sanctity and survival of the planet has been put at risk by excessive greed and materialism as we brace ourselves for an impending ecological crisis.
Just as rampant oppression throughout the Umayyad caliphate was once justified on the basis of unjust laws, similarly, we witness a sustained effort today to expand the role of the state. The passing of new security-related acts is now a regular matter as we despairingly exacerbate our present situation in which security is pitched as a pretext to inhibit natural freedoms.
All these developments should make us pause to reflect on the direction in which we are being led down, both as individuals and societies. We should also pay considerable attention, as followers of Imam Hussain, to the grave responsibilities we have in guarding ourselves, our households and wider society from the prevalent negative tendencies that are being spread by a worldview that stands distinctly opposed to the values which the Imam rose to establish.
In the Muslim world, the present crises of Gaza and Yemen are illustrative of a nearly decade-long period of incessant war and instability at the behest of imperial forces. The residents of Gaza are caged in an open-air prison for selecting the wrong option; they are paying the price of democracy with the blood of their women and children. The leaders of Muslim nations, instead of coming to the aid of their suffering brethren, have only acted to tighten the noose; most notably amongst them Egyptian premier, Hosni Mubarak.
The victims of Saada in Yemen have escaped media attention altogether, as the Saudi military-complex unleashes death and destruction with no fear of being brought to account. Innocents are being murdered and entire villages are being razed to the ground while the media continues to concoct false narratives; forgetting altogether, the oppressive policies of political and economic marginalization carried out by the Yemeni state against segments of its own population.
In the West, relentless targeting of Islam and Muslims in the media has led to greater intolerance and suspicion. In this regard, regular incitement against Islamic symbols has served to further weaken ties between communities. The largely negative role played out by an irresponsible, sensational mainstream media cannot be overstated. All in all, the increased number of Islamophobic attacks together with the rise of the Far Right across Europe serve to convey a worrisome omen for future generations, should matters pursue the present course.
On the other hand, the proliferation of an extremist, narrow-minded version of Islam represents a serious challenge to all, and more particularly to Muslims. The revolutionary movement of Imam Hussain represents a clarion call to one and all to salvage the name of Islam from the hands of those who wish to taint its lofty image for the sake of political ambition and worldly ends.
At this juncture, AIM underlines the central importance of serious engagement in collective efforts – involving figures from across the Muslim community – in order to tackle the challenges facing the Ummah.
As with years past, our pledge of eternal rejection in the face of despotism and injustice has made Muharram commemorations a target for modern-day enemies. The bloodiest attack this year occurred in the Pakistani city of Karachi where more than 40 believers were killed when a bomb blast rocked an Ashura procession. Violent attacks against Shias were witnessed in other regions including Iraq and Kashmir. In certain Gulf nations, restrictive measures on commemorations were put in place; a clear sign of the authorities’ dislike for the message of Imam Hussain. To such people, the memorable challenge of Lady Zainab (a) is once again renewed: “Scheme and plot as you wish and intensify your efforts. But by God, you shall never eradicate our remembrance.”
The revolution of Imam Hussain which once awoke the slumbering hearts of the Muslim Ummah continues to stand tall as the supreme paradigm of individual responsibility and social awakening.
At this crucial juncture, it is incumbent upon us to rise to our responsibilities. The central asset to the movement of the Imam was, before all, the true pious believer; one who was informed by the true message of faith and remained steadfast at times of adversity. Indeed, the Imam constantly thanked the Almighty for giving him the most loyal companions. Our foremost concern therefore is to seriously strive to develop our personalities in light of Islamic teachings, and thus emulate the high-ranking companions of the Imam.
“People are slaves to the world. As long as they live favourable and comfortable lives, they are loyal to religious principles. However, at hard times, during the times of trials, true religious people are scarce.”
In the sphere of society, it is imperative that we build an accurate understanding of social affairs and that we direct our efforts towards establishing relations on the principles of equity and justice. There is no place for an ‘ends justify means’ mentality amongst those who claim to be followers of the Imam: “One who pursues a goal through sinful ways, will ironically distance himself from that goal, and will approach what he was afraid of.”
In the end, we should strive to impress the profound lessons of Ashura within the depths of our souls. Looking upon the grand personality of the Imam, we should likewise provide the right answers to the challenges of our time. The central message which we extract from Karbala today is unmistakably clear: prepare yourselves for the imminent return of the Master of our Time, Imam Al-Mahdi (atf) through whose hands the vision of Imam Hussain will be realised.
Wa min Allah Al-Tawfiq.
AhlulBayt Islamic Mission (AIM)
7th January 2010
20th Muharram 1431