By Catherine Shakdam*
It is too often that we take our past for granted, failing in our arrogance to learn from History and recognize that some lessons have been inscribed not in stone but in blood – the blood of our martyrs.
Among the many sacrifices which the pious have made in service of God, one has towered grandest of all, and most magnificent of all. It is of course the martyrdom of Imam Hussain I am referring to, this brilliant and noble character, who, to this very day, and across ages of men has captured the imagination of billions, and inspired resistance against the yoke of tyranny.
It is Liberation against falsehood which Imam Hussain proclaimed on the plain of Karbala, it is guidance his martyrdom forever sealed, as men and women learnt of the pious strength of their Imam – how in the face of Evil and abject violence he offered patience, fortitude and righteous selflessness.
It is Hussain ibn Ali’s banner just revolutionaries have since born …
For every cry let out in opposition of tyranny, for every act of righteous resistance, for every attempt to restore justice and defeat oppression, it is Imam Hussain’s legacy which is breathed life into … indeed our dead are still alive!
As we face our darkest night still, as our shores are being laid siege to by our modern-day Yazid, the sons of Hussain have risen a rampart once more, holding true to the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad, he, who proclaimed sanctity for his household, and commanded we submit to his progeny’s guidance after him.
Recognize today yesterday’s struggle. Look upon our crises and our difficulties today, and learn of the very evil Imam Hussain battled on the Day of Ashura so that we would learn to stand in his light.
Hear the words our Lady Zaynab spoke at Yazid’s court, and stand witness to the oath our faith holds us to: “O Yazid! On the day when Allah will be the Judge and Muhammad will be the petitioner, and your limbs will give evidence against you, your father, who made you the ruler of the Muslims, will receive His punishment. On that day it will become known what reward the oppressors earn, whose position is worse and whose party is more humble?
O enemy of Allah and O son of the enemy of Allah! I swear by Allah that I consider you to be humble and not fit even to be reprimanded and reproached. But what am I to do? Our eyes are shedding tears, our hearts are burning, and our martyrs cannot come to life by our reprimanding and reproaching you. My Hussain has been killed and the partisans of Satan are taking us to the fools so that they may get their reward for insulting Allah.”
Today, as we stand on the brink; surrounded, outnumbered maybe and under threat, it is Hussain’s message which has awaken a grand resistance movement in the hearts of those who discern truth from falsehood.
From the shores of Lebanon where Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah sits strong over the Levant, the highlands of Yemen where another son of Hussain, Seyyed Abdel Malek al-Houthi has rung resistance against the House of Saud, to Iran, where Hussain ibn Ali’s very principles of justice have become rule of law, it is the Islamic world which is being reclaimed.
From their respective homeland the sons of Hussain have kept the Day of Ashura alive – this promise which our Imam made to honor his grand-father’s legacy and though the Word which was given.
Just as injustice’s burden has become impossible to bear, as the oppressed turn their faces to the Heavens calling for release, it is Hussain ibn Ali’s memory which burns still in our heart, guiding our allegiance. It is, he, martyr among all martyrs, whose light is embedded in Resistance.
"O people! Identify me and see who I am. Then you will come to your senses and reproach yourselves,” said Imam Hussain before Yazid army … “Identify me and see who I am.” We most certainly ought to ponder over those words.
Today it is Imam Hussain’s legacy millions have rallied behind. Today it is Hussain’s name which fills the lungs of all resistance fighters. Today it has been said: the sons of Hussain have come to claim their inheritance, and speak once more of the followers of Muhammad.
As Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini once reiterated the well-known quote: “Every day is Ashura and every land is Karbala” – meaning wherever and whenever we fail to hear the call of our Imams, it is in fact rebellion we are allowing and promoting.
Maybe too this sentence offers hope … hope for those who do choose to stand by Imam Hussain’s side as Justice is fought for, and God’s command spoken.
The lessons of Muharram are great and many – patience, perseverance, courage, faith, loyalty, selflessness …the list is infinite.
But this year I feel our greatest lesson was spoken by Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah when he called for the flag of Yemen to be raise on the Day of Ashura. Who better than a son of Hussain to recognize in Yemen the tragedy lived by his forefather?
Fate would have it that Yemen Resistance Movement is led too by a son of Hussain ibn Ali, just like another stands a guardian over Iran Islamic Republic.
The real question we ought to ask this Muharram is this: where will our loyalty lie when the sons of Hussain will call? Will we deny the House and deserve the words Imam Sajjad spoke to the people of Kufa: “You made firm promises with him and then rose to fight against him. May Allah destroy you, may you reap the harvest of your misdeeds in both the worlds, and may you be disgraced for the indecent policy which you have adopted. How will you face the Prophet of Allah when you are brought before him on the Day of Judgment and with which eyes will you look at him? At that time the Holy Prophet will tell you: "You have killed my children and behaved towards me dishonorably. You are not my followers.”
* Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements. The Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Catherine is also the co-founder of Veritas Consulting.