The legacy of Ashura: Re­sis­tance and vic­tory

Tehran Times - - FRONT PAGE - Son­doss Al Asaad Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst from Beirut

Shi­ite Mus­lims around the world mark the holi­est lu­nar months of Muhar­ram and Sa­far to mourn the mar­tyr­dom an­niver­sary of Imam Hus­sein Ibn Ali.

Imam Hus­sein is the grand­son of the Prophet Muham­mad (PBU’em), born in 620 A.D. to a fam­ily famed for their val­ues of love, hon­our and peace. His mar­tyr­dom an­niver­sary which is, be­yond a doubt, con­sid­ered a defin­ing event in the ide­o­log­i­cal and re­sis­tance move­ments of Shi­ite Mus­lims against cor­rup­tion and op­pres­sion at all times, in all things, and in all places.

Dur­ing The Bat­tle of Kar­bala, Yazid; the cor­rupt, tyrant and il­le­git­i­mate ruler killed Imam Hus­sein, the 7th-cen­tury revo­lu­tion­ary leader, who has recorded a phe­nom­e­nal valiant stand for so­cial and po­lit­i­cal jus­tice. Def­i­nitely, the re­sis­tance’s cur­rent vic­to­ries over the im­pe­ri­al­ist ar­ro­gance il­lus­trate one of Ashura’s core is­sues: the tri­umphs of the op­pressed over the op­pres­sors.

Af­ter more than 1400 years, Imam Hus­sein still has the ca­pa­bil­ity to awaken the op­pressed peo­ple to hero­ically re­sist and to never ap­prove any hege­monic power. Hezbol­lah Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Sayyed Hasan Nas­ral­lah says, “And that what hap­pened dur­ing the Is­lamic rev­o­lu­tion of Iran and the Is­lamic re­sis­tance [Hezbol­lah], as well as fight­ing all Tak­firi groups. Ashura’s logic, spirit and de­ter­mi­na­tion are still ac­tive and present.”

To com­mem­o­rate Ashura means to ac­quire knowl­edge on how to con­front despo­tism and au­toc­racy and how to dis­able the fun­da­men­tal goals of the Zion­ists and the Im­pe­ri­al­ists. It in­doc­tri­nates us that only Re­sis­tance man­ages to pre­vent those foes from achiev­ing their colo­nial­ist goals.

Thomas Car­lyle, a Scot­tish his­to­rian and es­say­ist say, “The best les­son which we get from the tragedy of Cere­bella is that Hu­sain and his com­pan­ions were rigid be­liev­ers in God. They il­lus­trated that the nu­mer­i­cal su­pe­ri­or­ity does not count when it comes to the truth and the false­hood. The vic­tory of Hu­sain, de­spite his mi­nor­ity, mar­vels me!”

While most of the Western me­dia’s fo­cus is on the very bloody rit­ual of self-flag­el­la­tion; known as Tat­bir, the main aim of Ashura is to refuse hu­mil­i­a­tion and to fight for ev­ery uni­ver­sal right­eous causes. In­deed, Tat­bir is a wrong­ful, un­law­ful and also a fab­ri­cated ir­ra­tional and su­per­sti­tious tra­di­tion. “Be­come an or­na­ment for us, do not be a dis­grace for us,” Imam al-Sadiq; the fifth Shi­ite’s Imam States.

Be­sides, the high­est rank­ing and most widely re­spected Shi­ite schol­ars stress that any rit­ual which ridicule the re­li­gion is im­per­mis­si­ble and that this sus­pi­cious rit­ual has not been men­tioned any­where in the re­li­gious teach­ings.

Islam sur­vived, spread and ex­panded be­cause of sac­ri­fices of this great Imam; buried to­day in in Iraq’s holy city of Kar­bala, where some 22 mil­lion of Shi­ite Mus­lims gather to pay homage to Imam Hus­sein, in the world’s big­gest an­nual pil­grim­age.

Dur­ing the ten days of Ashura, Shi­ite Mus­lims par­take in large con­gre­ga­tions where they re­cite ele­gies, lament and beat their chest as a cul­tural tra­di­tion. They do not only dis­play their grievance but they dis­trib­ute food and or­gan­ise char­i­ta­ble and blood-do­na­tion cam­paigns.

Not long af­ter the death of Prophet Muham­mad (PBUH), the Mus­lims had slid into po­lit­i­cal tur­moil and cor­rup­tion as the Umayyad dy­nasty usurped power and slowly be­gan de­stroy­ing the moral fab­ric of so­ci­ety.

Just like his fa­ther and brother, Imam Hus­sein was a leader widely known for his com­pas­sion, wis­dom and in­tegrity. He re­jected to pay Yazid an oath of al­le­giance in or­der to gain cred­i­bil­ity for his il­le­gal rule.

Out of his moral obli­ga­tion and prin­ci­ples of so­cial and po­lit­i­cal jus­tice, Imam Hus­sein re­fused to pledge al­le­giance and le­galise Yazid’s cor­rup­tion and re­pres­sion, de­spite it be­ing a risk to his life. He chose to make a phe­nom­e­nal stand, and launched his mighty up­ris­ing, along­side with his fam­ily and 72 sin­cere com­pan­ions.

Know­ing that what was ahead of them was a cer­tain mar­tyr­dom; yet they all re­mained stead­fast, loyal to their prin­ci­ples and fought valiantly against the army of Yazid.

Charles Dick­ens; an English nov­el­ist, main­tains, “If Hu­sain had fought to quench his worldly de­sires… then I do not un­der­stand why his sis­ter, wife, and chil­dren ac­com­pa­nied him. It stands to rea­son, there­fore, that he sac­ri­ficed purely for Islam.”

Out of fear, that Imam Hus­sein would gain mo­men­tum, Yazid dis­patched an army of 30,000 to halt him and his com­pan­ions in their track from Me­d­ina. Yazid had or­dered his army to block, deny ac­cess to wa­ter, attack and kill them in the desert land of Kar­bala (in Iraq), on the 10th day of Muhar­ram, the first month of the Is­lamic cal­en­dar; known as The Day of Ashura.

Cer­tainly, Imam Hus­sein headed to Iraq not to seek power but to re­form and re­or­gan­ise the Is­lamic Muham­madan state and its uni­ver­sal hu­man­i­tar­ian ethics. He fought bravely against the en­emy and was at­tacked from all sides with swords, spears and ar­rows.

Even­tu­ally, a man by the name of Shimr ruth­lessly be­headed him on the burn­ing plains of Kar­bala, fa­tigued, thirsty and heav­ily wounded but vic­to­ri­ous through his legacy and dis­tinct goals.

The Bat­tle of Kar­bala, ab­so­lutely, has trig­gered a se­ries of up­ris­ings against tyran­ni­cal regimes and im­pe­ri­al­ist forces through his­tory. Fur­ther­more, the Ashu­ra­ian re­sis­tances have ob­vi­ously proven that each hege­monic power would have an even­tual demise.

To­day, pil­grims, from all across the world, pay trib­ute to Imam Hus­sein’s coura­geous stand and re­gard him as a sym­bol of re­sis­tance who stood for hu­man­i­tar­ian val­ues of sac­ri­fice, free­dom and dig­nity.

In the af­ter­math of The Bat­tle of Kar­bala, Yazid’s army held the Imam’s women and chil­dren cap­tive and marched them from Iraq to Syria. His sis­ter was the one who safe­guarded the up­ris­ing’s prin­ci­ples to re­flect the es­sen­tial role Islam set for women in any revo­lu­tion­ary move­ment.

Sayedah Zainab de­fied Yazid in his own court­yard in her fa­mous ser­mons, which un­nerved even his clos­est al­lies, and im­posed his heinous mas­sacre and vi­o­la­tions.

Un­de­ni­ably, Hezbol­lah – the Le­banese re­sis­tance – and var­i­ous other revo­lu­tion­ary move­ments have been greatly in­spired by the out­stand­ing fig­ure of Imam Hus­sein (PBUH). Along with the axis of re­sis­tance, it de­feated the U.S.-backed re­gional pow­ers, who in­vaded and im­posed an un­con­di­tional global war on Syria.

Hezbol­lah’s armed strength has grown in the wider re­gion to con­tend the hos­tile U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion. It has be­come a drain­ing move­ment to van­quish and pro­voke the im­pe­ri­al­ist hos­til­ity, not only stand­ing up to the Zion­ist con­spir­a­cies but has also mor­phed into a pow­er­ful re­gional force.

In fact, es­ca­lat­ing Hezbol­lah re­sis­tance’s in­volve­ment in Syria has el­e­vated the move­ment into an in­dis­pens­able part­ner in a high-stakes con­fronta­tion, whose prin­ci­pal ex­po­nents are the ex­trem­ist rad­i­cal Saudis.

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