The arrival of a new year is always a moment of joy for other religious communities. But for the Muslims, the New Year always marks the grief and mourning. It is in this month that Imam Hussain (RA), the grandson of our beloved Prophet (S.A.W) was martyred along with other 71 members of his family in the scorching desert of Karbala, a city in Iraq. Every year, in the month of Muharram, millions of Shi’as and Sunnis alike, mourn Imam Hussain’s martyrdom. It is regrettable, however, that of these mourners very few focus their attention on the objective for which the Imam not only sacrificed his life but also the lives of his kith and kin. There is an exhaustive amount of literature on the history of this tragic event in the canons of Islamic thought across all the schools of thought, but it is not the historicity of the event itself which is of concern but the existential significance of it. Karbala, in essence, is a political protest against Yazidiyat, which is a metaphor for oppression, violation of human rights, wretchedness, exploitation and bloodshed, and spiritual devotion of Hussianiyat–which is a symbol of love, peace, forbearance, patience, justice and protection of rights of humanity. Had Hussian (RA) remained silent or recognized the unlawful and tyrant regime of Yazid without any protest or resistance, it would have legitimized and justified the unjust rule till the Day of Resurrection. Not only the Muslims but the entire sphere of humanity should feel obliged to Hussain (RA) and his companions for showing them the way to not accept the rule of tyranny.
There are no two opinions about the fact that the philosophy behind Hussaini rebellion was to revive moral standards and human values. Husain (A.S) refused to be coerced into loyalty to Yazid’s regime. He, by revolting against the Yazid, aimed at freeing the society from violence, tyranny, oppression, moral turpitude. Being recommended to yield to the dictatorial regime of his time, Husain (A.S) replied, ‘I will never surrender to them like a humiliated person and never pledge allegiance to them like slaves. He preferred martyrdom to a wicked life and deemed it a moral responsibility to release those who were subdued to coercion and brutality. His main objective was to stop the spirit of religion from moribund and teach a lesson of humanity to the world through his practices. He urged people to listen to the call of their conscience and beckoned them to join him in his revolution against despotism. He voiced his concerns over the flagrant violation of religious tenets and moral standards.
To put it succinctly, he cherished humanity, spiritual purpose, and divine message. It is quite sad to note that the philosophy of Imam’s martyrdom has been disregarded and instead some rituals and customs have been associated with this greatest event of the entire human history. An overwhelming number of people shed tears without regarding the objective of Husain (A.S) or following his footsteps – i.e., valuing divine messages, humanity, and moral standards. That is to say, scores of people who live under cruelty or breathe no words for protecting their rights and freedoms mourn for an individual that lived a free life and safeguarded his soul against evils. It is the tragedy of our time to see that people focus on the wounds inflicted on his body rather than his soul that spread the message of freedom and humanity. Although his blood was spilt mercilessly, each drop of his blood was a stain on the face of Yazid’s regime and stigmatized it forever. It is an unmistakable fact that the death of a freedom-fighter, religious reformer, or simply a well-intentioned individual will be tragic for a society, but this tragedy is not supposed to overshadow other aspects. The followers of Imam Husain (A.S) ought to practice upon religious tenets in its true way; respect the rights, freedoms, and dignity of others; uphold moral standards and humanity; show religious tolerance; and defend the right versus the wrong in their daily life. They need to figure out its philosophy. Moreover, religious preachers will have to enlighten all aspects of this historical revolution rather than simply speaking about the tragedies and merciless killings occurred in Karbala.