Event of Ashura and Its Worldwide Impact
The Day of Ashura marks the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hossain (AS), the third Imam of Shiites and a 7th century revolutionary leader who was unjustly killed in The Battle of Karbala. The Day of Ashura is mourned by millions across the world to remember Imam Hossain (AS)’s valiant stand for social justice, against a corrupt tyrant called Yazid.
Imam Hossain (AS), grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), along with his family members and companions, were martyred on the plains of Karbala after his refusal to accept the tyrant Yazid’s allegiance triggered the Battle of Karbala on the Day of Ashura, and this marks a turning point for Shiite Muslims, as the great event of Ashura is replete with steadfastness and heroism of Imam Hossain (AS) and his companions.
At the beginning of each Islamic lunar calendar, in various parts of the Muslim world the first ten days are observed as a commemoration of a most tragic event of Ashura. In places like Iran and Iraq, Muslims stage passion plays, in India and Pakistan, the community organizes huge processions full with tazias, (recreation of the event of Ashura). Shiite Muslims relive the story of the first ten days of Moharram that took place in the first century of Islam when the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Imam Hossain (AS) stood against Yezid for the Quranic principle of justice and fairness and challenged the authority of, the Umayyad ruler. He established the principle that sometimes the goals of life become more important than life itself.
Imam Hossain (AS) spoke on behalf of those who were marginalized by a class of rulers who were laying the foundation of dynastic rules in Islam. Imam Hossain (AS) refused to surrender to the forces of oppression knowing fully well that he could die in the process.
It is a month of serious reflections for the Muslim world.
Imam Hossain (AS) is the grandson of the Prophet who lived his life the way he watched his grandfather did. He embodied the qualities of the prophet in his character and he remained deeply committed to the Quranic values of justice and equality. His struggle was for fairness and Islamic values for common men and women. When the power was usurped by the Ummayd rulers and the people’s right to elect their Caliph was turned into a dynastic rule with little regard for human life and human dignity, freedom and justice, Imam Hossain (AS) mobilized first his family then his supporters to challenge the authority of Yezid, the Umayyad ruler at that time. He was accompanied with his family and his closest relatives and supporters who stood by him in Karbala, modern day province of Iraq, and faced the brutal might of a well-organized, well equipped and well trained army.
The outcome was known from the beginning. Imam Hossain (AS) was aware of the imbalance in power. He had the choice to make a tactical withdrawal. He had the choice of accepting the rule of Umayyad’s and give legitimacy to their claim. He had the choice to accept the practices of the court in Damascus. Yet he chose to stand his ground knowing fully well that he and his followers may not survive at the end of the conflict. He did not run away. He knew why he was there and why he had challenged the authority. He fought bravely and left the world with violent wounds as a testimony of his belief that sometimes in the life of nations come moments when liberty and justice become more important than the life itself.
It was a sacrifice given in support of human rights and human dignity. It is this sacrifice that has held a profound impact on the history of ideas in the world. It is this sacrifice that has inspired millions throughout history to challenge injustice and inhumanity on the part of political powers. Imam Hossain (AS) is a living legacy of Muslims. Imam Hossain (AS) followed the path of prophets. If prophets were alive, they would have not done anything different.
Muslims need to work together to uphold the legacy and sacrifice that the Grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Imam Hossain (AS) gave. All Muslims and mon-Muslims need to remember Imam Hossain (AS) for his commitment to justice as taught by the Quran “… enjoin what is just; forbid what is wrong; bear anything that happens to you steadfastly: these are things to be aspired to.”