A stand for mankind
Reflecting on the martyrdom of Imam Husayn in Karbala, who, when surrounded and outnumbered by an enemy army refused to give but a little of his moral standing, Dr. John Morrow, a lecturer on Islam and author of “The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad With The Christians Of The World,” told L’Indro: “Imam Husayn is the symbol of sacrifice. He did not seek death by martyrdom; however, he did not flee from it when it faced him. He was a man who stood by his principles, lived by his principles, and died to defend his principles.” He added: “Despite the dearth of faith-filled freedom fighters, the Muslim world has produced some inspirational combative clerics who courageously opposed colonialism and imperialism. In the United States, we have the exemplary case of Malcolm X, who spoke truth to power and gave his life in the defense of true, traditional Islam.”
And though the mainstream narrative continues to hold by those truths that Islam lives a religion of hate and violence, a faith of extreme radicals and reactionary regimes, Islam is none of those things — just like Christianity can never be reduced to the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition or slavery in America.
Hasan Saleh postulates: “Islam moves beyond human error, it an ideal, a model to aspire to, an inspiration to strive for better and truer. And because Imam Husayn stood a mirror to such ideals his impact has defied time, and his stand in Karbala remains as relevant socially and politically today as it was over a millennium ago.” He added, “Non-Muslims often wonder what Islam is. Islam, I believe is the very definition of anti-imperialism, political pluralism and civil liberties.”
Saleh believes that in every activist, every freedom fighter, every liberator and rights defender stand the brilliant legacy of a man, an Imam whose fight, whose sacrifice and stand before evil was universal -beyond race, racism, class, and religion. A man of God, Imam Husayn was also a man of the people, a leader which renown has been hailed, celebrated and mourned by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. In Sindh, a province of Pakistan, Hindus and Shiite Muslims have come together for hundreds of years to mark Ashura, united in their understanding that courage and true leadership are not reserved to a minority but all men and women.
In an article for Newsweek Pakistan, Dr. Mubarak Ali, a historian explained, “Sindh, once a Hindu-majority province of India, has long been the model of peaceful coexistence between communities of different faiths.” “Why should different faiths not recognize greatness in each other? Especially when history has yet to give us a more brilliant symbol of resistance and true piety than Imam Husayn. Hindus see in Imam Husayn the divine nature of God, His light and Message,” Dr. Ali said.
Imam Husayn’s legacy
It was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India who stated: “There is a universal appeal in his martyrdom. Imam Husayn sacrificed his all, but he refused to submit to a tyrannical government. He never gave any weight to the fact that his material force was far less in comparison with that of an enemy; the power of faith to his greatest force, which regards all material force as nothing. This sacrifice is a beacon light of guidance for every community and every nation. Imam Husayn’s sacrifice is for all groups and communities, an example of the path of righteousness.”
Today, Imam Husayn’s message to the world — that before tyranny and oppression none should bow without the fear of becoming themselves the evil which they fear — remains very much alive. This is particularly true in the Middle East, a land which still echoes of his footsteps and injunctions.
Dr. Morrow believes that because the army of Yazid have returned under the flag of Wahhabism, so did Imam Husayn’s valiant army. He postulates that the growing resistance movement shaping up across the MENA (Middle East and Africa), is reminiscent of Imam Husayn’s campaign against imperialism and religious oppression, only this time the evil is not Yazid but the rulers of Saudi Arabia and those western powers which sit by its side.
Dr Morrow told L’Indro: “Although the Yazids of the age are easy to identity–many rulers could fit into this category according to varying degrees–there was only one Imam Husayn. We do, however, have heroes who attempt to emulate his example. So long as the message of Imam Husayn remains alive, hope will remain alive.” He added: “The problem, however, is that the message of Imam Husayn has been misunderstood by many. The majority of Sunnis, for example, continued to follow the despotic dynasty that killed, not only Imam Husayn, but the descendants of the Prophet’s Holy Household. Most followers of Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Tasawwuf understood that while they could not oppose the oppressors physically, they could oppose them spiritually.”
“For every cry of freedom the world has uttered since Karbala, for every stand against injustice, racism, fascism and oppression it is Imam Husayn’s army of brave which has lead,” said Dr. Mohammad Mousavi, a human rights activist and Islamic scholar in Bahrain.
The Return Of Yazid
At such a time when wars, famine and despair have but engulfed the MENA, threatening to evaporate aspiring democracies; when activists are thrown in jail, labelled as dissidents for they dared demand that their voices be heard before injustice, many Arabs, Kurds, Alawites, Yazidis, Christians and Muslims together are looking up to those men which inspire resistance.
Before the danger of radicalism, an evil which many political analysts, among whom Stephen Lendman, have already warned hides in the corridors of Riyadh, voices have begun to unite in a common front. In an interview for MintPress Stephen Lendman, a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization, identified Saudi Arabia covert imperialistic campaign in the Middle East and the rise of terror as the two face of the same coin.
“Make no mistake, Saudi Arabia has been terror’s catalyst,” Lendman said. “Those radicals we see under the banner of al-Qaida and ISIS are mercenaries paid by Riyadh to serve Western agendas.” Whether in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia wages an illegal war – a genocide masqueraded as a liberation campaign; in Bahrain where Bahrainis have called for reforms against the Saudi-backed throne of King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa; or again in Syria and Iraq, where communities struggle against Wahhabi-inspired radicals, it is Imam Husayn’s spirit which lives on against the army of Yazid.
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