Shiafollowers conducted an exclusive interview with Kevin Barrett, the host of Truth Jihad Radio, to discuss the Day of Ashura and the legacy of Imam Hussein (AS).
“We find ourselves in a position not unlike that of the followers of Imam Hussein: Standing for truth and justice against a vastly more powerful army commanded by tyrants and oppressors,” Dr. Barrett said.
He also pointed to the role Western media play in marginalizing Shia Muslims. “The media reports on Shia Muslims in a way that is designed to marginalize them and prevent their message from being heard by other Muslims and oppressed people in general,” he noted.
Here’s the full transcript of the interview:
Dr. Barrett, could you tell us a little about the events of the Day of Ashura and what one can learn from those events?
Kevin Barrett: Ashura commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, one of the great tragedies of history. We can learn many things from the events of Karbala, including: *We should try to emulate the example of Imam Hussain and other prophets, saints, and wisdom teachers who have chosen to stand for truth and justice regardless of the odds against them; *We must recognize that the transformation of the early Islamic polity from a divinely-guided community under the Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) into an empire led by corrupt power-hungry individuals illustrates the unfortunate fact that large-scale political organization always tends towards corruption. *We are forced to recognize the painful fact that to gain in the next world we may sometimes have to lose battles in this world.
How do you personally feel about Imam Hussein (AS) and his martyrdom?
Kevin Barrett: I very much relate to his situation and try to walk in his path as I try to stand up for truth and justice in the face of difficult if not overwhelming odds. As my 9/11 truth movement colleagues and I try to convince the American people to recognize 9/11 as a coup d’état by Zionists and imperialists, we find ourselves in a position not unlike that of the followers of Imam Hussein: Standing for truth and justice against a vastly more powerful army commanded by tyrants and oppressors.
Since the day Imam Hussein (AS) was martyred, how has his martyrdom shaped Shia Muslims’ thoughts and actions through different generations?
Kevin Barrett: The martyrdom of Imam Hussein has made Shia Muslims a kind of permanent opposition party within the larger Muslim community. Sometimes this opposition to worldliness and injustice takes the form of political activism, while other times it expresses itself as mystical quietism. At its best it embraces both, as in the case of Imam Khomeini, who was both a mystic and a political activist of the highest order.
How do the events of Ashura relate to our time? Who are the Yazids of our time and who are seeking justice as Imam Hussein (AS) and his companions did at that time?
Kevin Barrett: The Yazids of our time are easy to identify. The ones who stand out are those who are the most arrogant and oppressive, notably the Zionists. Personalities like Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu, who glory in the oppression of the Palestinians, are obvious Yazids. Likewise with the billionaire oil sheiks of the Gulf, most obviously Bin Salman, who is creating another Karbala in Yemen. But most of the powerful establishment figures in the world are Yazids of one kind or another. The U.S. military, with its insane nuclear war doctrines, seems to be aiming to turn the whole planet into Karbala.
Despite the fact that the majority of Shia Muslims mourn Imam Hussein’s martyrdom in non-violent ways, Western corporate media outlets try to show Shia Muslims as violent people. What’s your take on how the Shia Muslims are portrayed in the media?
Kevin Barrett: The Western media wants to divide and conquer Muslims. The Western leadership is afraid that Muslims from all schools of thought might unite for truth and justice. So the media reports on Shia Muslims in a way that is designed to marginalize them and prevent their message from being heard by other Muslims and oppressed people in general. Shia Muslims should counter this by downplaying sectarianism, making alliances with Sunni Muslims and other non-Shia groups, and making “promoting truth and justice” rather than “promoting Shia Islam” their main priority.
Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist, is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror. He is Host of TRUTH JIHAD RADIO; a hard driving weekly LIVE call in radio show. He also has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications.