AshuraIranMiddle East

The Life-Inspireing Mourning Ceremonies for Imam Husain (AS)


Condolences to you on these sad days of the month of Moharram as we edge towards the tragic 10th that saw martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS) in Karbala. Every year with the advent of this month, the atmosphere changes in cities where the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) live.
In Iran, in every city, town, village and hamlet, the young and the old, the men and women, of all ages, don black clothes, and hold special ceremonies for the martyrs of Karbala at mosques, hussainiyahs, takiyes, and homes. Even in the streets, tents are erected for the faithful where pictures, banners, and placards are displayed on the rich legacy bequeathed to us by the grandson of the Prophet. This is firm proof of the fact that the epic of Ashura was not a time-bound remote event in history or in a particular place, but is a universal, international and immortal event that inspires us to strive for loftier values in society. In other words every place is Ashura and every day is Ashura. In the words of the Father of the Islamic Revolution Imam Khomeini (RA), whatever we possess we owe it to the mourning ceremonies of the months of Moharram and Safar – that have kept humanitarian values alive. No doubt, like many other reformative and revolutionary movements throughout history, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in Iran that delivered the country from domestic despotism and foreign hegemony, is indebted to the uprising of Imam Husain (AS), which we continue to commemorate with more fervour every passing year.
Although in Karbala, Imam Husain (AS) and his loyal companions lost their life, they achieved their objective and granted Islam a renewed life. With their bravery and resistance they taught the manner of campaign against oppression to all posterity. The martyrs of Karbala attained a high and glorious status inspiring the seekers of justice and endearing themselves forever to the hearts of the faithful. The victorious uprising of Imam Husain (AS) is replete with self-sacrifice of the martyrs, and scenes full of pains and suffering of thirsty children, who witnessed the tragic death of their fathers and brothers. In view of this, the heartrending tragedy of Karbala strikes an emotional chord with all conscientious human beings, in a way that every year the victory of blood over swords is commemorated through the grand mourning ceremonies. Participating in the mourning ceremonies for the martyrs of Karbala makes the mourners familiar with the great personality and spiritual glory of Imam Husain (AS) and his loyal companions. These paragons of virtue enjoy such lofty characteristics as patience, piety, prudence, perseverance, and the peerless quest for martyrdom that are indeed exemplary virtues. The mourners by weeping and beating their chests as signs of grief in memory of the sufferings of the Prophet’s Household strengthen their emotional links to them. They also become familiar with the brutality of the bestial enemies of the Imam, such as Yazid, Omar Ibn Sa’d, Obaidollah Ibn Ziyad, Shemr, and others. It is thus natural to express hatred towards these animals in human form.
Ashura is confrontation between good and evil, between truth and falsehood, and between virtue and vice. On one side are the most despicable persons devoid of any humanitarian values, while the other side represents the pinnacle of faith and angelic characteristics. The Omayyad hordes are indeed the incarnation of the devil. A famous Hadith narrated by the Prophet’s 5th Infallible Heir, Imam Mohammad Baqer (AS), who as the grandson of Imam Husain (AS), was present at the bloodcurdling tragedy of Karbala at the age of hardly four years, says: Religion is nothing but affection. Thus, the holding of mourning ceremonies for Imam Husain (AS) could be viewed within this framework, since mourning stems from deep affection while weeping signifies the love for the Prophet and his blessed household deep down in the hearts. As God says in ayah 23 of Surah Shura of the holy Qur’an, love and affection for the Ahl al-Bayt is a token of gratitude towards the 23-year selfless efforts of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) to guide and enlighten mankind:
“Say (O Prophet to mankind): ‘I do not ask you any reward for it (my missioin) except love for [my] nearest of kin.”
On being asked by Muslims on the revelation of this ayah as to who were his nearest of kin – whose love and affection is a divine commandment – the Prophet said: Ali, Fatema and their children”. Jend he repeated these words three times. This Hadith has been quoted in several sources including about authoritative books of our Sunni brethren. Thus, the mourning ceremony is expression of love towards Imam Husain (AS) and disavowal of Yazid and all evilness.
The tragedy of Ashura is indeed a great epic. When on the night of Ashura, the Imam said to his companions to leave him by availing of the darkness, since the enemies only want him and no one else, they replied one after another that they will never desert him. The words of these companions are preserved in history. For instance, the Imam’s brother, Hazrat Abbas (AS) said: “Do we leave you alone for remaining alive after you! No, we will never do such a thing, and may God never bring such a day.” Most of them expressed similar terms. Muslim Ibn Awsaja said: O son of the Prophet, life after you is not worth at all; I will thrust my sword in the chest of your enemies, and if I do not have the means, I will fight with stones and will ever leave you alone until I die. Zohair Ibn Qain said: O Son of the Prophet, even if I were to be killed seventy times and each time raised to life, I will never leave you. They well knew that death comes only once, while sacrifice in defence of the Imam and humanitarian values ensures eternal dignity and prosperity. Thus, it is these mourning ceremonies that instill in us ethereal values.
Weeping and mourning are part of human sentiments. When tears roll down the cheeks on listening to the accounts of tragedy of Karbala, this is an indication of and healthy and strong heart, and certainly not a sign of depression. The burning plain of Karbala, the torn bodies of the martyrs, the severed heads of the progeny of the Prophet on spear points, the flaming tents, the frightened children, the shameless jubilation of the people of Kufa and Damascus, the sufferings in captivity of the Imam’s son and successor, Zain al-Abedin (AS), and the moving sermons of the Imam’s sister, and Hazrat Zainab (SA) all come alive. They bring torrents of tears for the patience and courage of the person who revived religion and showed us the path of justice. The mourners in this way express their love for Imam Husain (AS) and his ideals. It was indeed the uprising of Imam Husain (AS) that inspired Iranian Muslims to face and defeat the aggressors during the Islamic Revolution and the 8-year imposed by Saddam. Thus, weeping and mourning for Imam Husain (AS) has kept his movement and school alive, and conveyed the message of the Prophet’s grandson to all human beings.

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