The Legacy of Prophet Muhammad's Grandson
The Islamic year begins with the month of Muharram and terminates at Dhu alHijjah. Its commencement with the month of Muharram and termination thereat with Dhu al Hijjah is an indication that the journey of religious life in Islam begins and ends with sacrifice, the implication being that a Muslims life in its entirety is molded with the intent of sacrifice. While [the month of] Dhu al Hijjah presents us with Prophet Abrahams intense love of God and an earnest desire to achieve shahadat, Muharram is an invitation to a practical witnessing [of surrender] to that shahadat by the martyr Imam Hussein. On the tenth of Dhu al Hijjah, Ishmael in his submission to God offers his head on the altar of sacrifice, but God accepts this act of submission prior to the separation of the head from the body. And on the tenth of Muharram, not just the grandson of the Prophet, but those of his kin, present their necks in resignation [out of submission] in the Heavenly courtyard of acceptance.
In the prohibitive month of Muharram, Imam Hussein, the house-hold of prophecy [nubuwwat] accompanied with his companions [ashab] (who according to conflicting traditions number not more than 145), journey to the land of Karbala for the sake of upholding the sanctity of Gods religion, against an unjust, oppressive and dictatorial system, as they gathered to raise the standard of struggle. With the exception of the honorable ladies observing hijab and Imam Zaynul Abidin, all the honorable souls drank the cup of martyrdom. This is a momentous sacrifice in the history of mankind, which took place in the month of Muharram, and God the Almighty entered this as a sign (sha'ir) from the Muslim community [ummah] for eternity. So, the events of Karbala are not just for those who call themselves Shias but are important to every Muslim and every person of conscience.
The Event of Karbala ... Is it a mere historical happening? The martyrdom narrative and the events that transpired with Imam Hussein and the rest of his companions are duly remembered. In certain circles, this event and the martyrdom of Imam Hussein are treated as mere historical happenings liking it to the misfortunes and the mountains of hardship that befell other [mortal] beings, resulting in their martyrdom. Likewise, they regulate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, to just another historical narrative, not warranting any special merit.
This particularity has evolved over a certain period, with a rejection of its mentioning from the practical and conscious realm. There is a growing realization in the minds of people that the mention of the event of Karbala and the martyrdom of Imam Hussein lends towards Shia affiliations and is a task taken upon by them. As such, there is no importance attached towards propagating the event and martyrdom.
How can we be a companion of The Prophet’s Grandson? Whoever follows Islam and the Sunnah (Tradition) of Prophet Muhammad cannot pledge allegiance to an oppressor, or can such a person fight alongside an oppressor or excuse an oppressor or justify his oppression. Therefore, shorten your tears when they are tears of history, and let them flow when they are tears of the oppressed and downtrodden human beings. Karbala in its entirety was about oppression, since it sprang from the message in the path of justice, and it sprang from the heart of reality in order to argue against that reality, to revolt against it and to change it. Do you wish to be like The Prophet? If so, the issue is not to cry much, even though crying has its meaning. And the issue is not to mourn much and beat oneself, though that has its symbolism. Instead, the issue is to face reality in its entirety and to live that reality as Imam Hussein lived it and his family and companions lived it. They did not remain neutral in the face of the reality of oppression and arrogance. Do not move with Hussein in history; instead, move with him in reality, revolution, and change. So each of us should be Hussein, even if only one percent. Because when we live Hussein in his method, thought and spirit, and in his opening onto the issue of justice and liberty in the human being not only are we following the Sunnah (Tradition) we will find the audience of Muharram, Karbala and Imam Hussein among us today, and not just speak of its audience in 61 AH. (Al-Hijra / Muharram in 2010 will start on Tuesday, the 7th of December and will continue for 29 days until Tuesday, the 4th of January.) Here is an excellent movie made about the aftermath of this tragic event in Islamic History to the Grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) "Imam Hussein" called "Caravan of Pride" which is a movie that was made in Syria from what I understand with English subtitles (full feature):