Posts Tagged ‘Karbala’

What the World can Learn from the Grandson of the Prophet

by Salma Hooshmand

Millions of Muslims around the world gather annually to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.  Hussain and his family were massacred on the plains of Karbala, modern-day Iraq, in the year 680 AD.  Mourning ceremonies vary from culture to culture.  They often include reenactments of the events leading to and including the final battle on the day of Ashura, recitations of song and poetry, and episodes of self-flagellation.  This last ritual ranges from a light, rhythmic beating of chests in unison, to, in extreme cases, the practice of incurring self-inflicted wounds.  The personality of Hussain is often obscured by these loud and highly ritualized ceremonies; actually, his story is a simple one with a universal message.

The tragedy of Hussain’s martyrdom is magnified by the sheer inequality of numbers.  In the manner of David and Goliath, Hussain was grossly outnumbered.  The aggressor, Yazid, had recently inherited the caliphate from his father.  He felt threatened by Hussain’s popularity and blood ties to the origins of Islam, and vowed to acquire either Hussain’s allegiance or his life.  In simple terms, Yazid was a bully, and Hussain stood up to him.  In the days leading up to the final battle, Yazid sent a force of 4000 troops to corner and surround Hussain’s caravan of 72 in the middle of the desert.  There, Yazid’s representatives attempted to extract Hussain’s endorsement with false promises, bribes, and threats; but Hussain stood his ground.  Soon, threats became acts of aggression and violence.  Access to the river was blocked on the day of Ashura, and Hussain and his family were left thirsty under the scorching desert sun.  Still Hussain did not give in; Yazid’s policies were oppressive and unjust, and Hussain would not join him.  A famous quote from Mahatma Gandhi states, “I learned from Hussain how to achieve victory while being oppressed.”  Indeed, the millions who continue to honor Hussain across centuries consider his quiet dignity and his refusal to capitulate to corruption a noble triumph, not a defeat.

Read the rest of this entry →



12 2011

Turn in your Weapons

Muharram marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. It’s the beginning of a new start where we pray to Allah to forgive our sins from the past year, and to also make this following year immersed in His remembrance and filled with Taqwa.

Muharram also is an important month rich with lessons about the sacrifice of the grandson of the Prophet, Imam Hussein (as). Every year, many people come together to commemorate these nights to take lessons of where they can apply them to their daily lives. Below is one story that was mentioned in one of the books narrating the story of Karbala which contained a lesson for me:

The day before the war in Karbala began, Umar-ibn-said sent a messenger with a letter of request for Imam Hussein to make allegiance to Yazid.  The messenger arrived close to the Imam’s tent and was faced with a guard. They haven’t mentioned in history who the guard of the tent was, but it was usually the Imam’s brother, Hadrateh Abbas.

Read the rest of this entry →



11 2011