Mere indulgence in rituals, however fervently executed, cannot answer the call of Hal Min Nasirin Yansurna, if we ignore the call of our conscience towards social justice.
According to the holy Qur’an when the moral fabric of a society is being torn, then such a community passes through the path of corruption and will be in desperate need of reformed.
In Ayah 88, Surah Hud, Hazrat Shoeib has been quoted as saying: “I desire nothing but reform so far as I am able, and with none but Allah is the direction of my affair to a right issue; on Him do I rely and to Him do I turn.”
It is in that spirit that one must understand the spirit of Aza e Husein. In his own words Imam Husein (AS) declared his mission of reformation:
"Wa innama kharajtu li talabi-l islahi fi ummaati jaddi".
"I am not taking up arms in order to make merry, or be delighted over what I possess. I am not making mischief, nor exercising oppression. But, I am fighting to defend the sole goal of seeking reform of the Ummah of my grandfather, the Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.). I want to enjoin good and forbid evil and guide the affairs of the people as my grandfather, and my father, Ali bin Abi Talib(A.S.) were doing."
The key point made is this announcement was that Imam Hussein "left Madinah seeking reformation to the ummah of his grandfather."
The above words eloquently capture the mission of Imam Hussain (A.S. ) - The reform of the ummah through amr bil ma'ruf and nahyi anil munkar. To seek reform in Islam is a duty for everyone. Through amr bil maaruf and nahi anil munkar, we are able to raise the human conscience and its quest to social justice . Every one of our actions action during these two months should be towards a rededication to the message of Imam Husein’s (AS) message of reformation. We cannot remain indifferent towards personal and social disorders and injustices around us if we are to pay real homage to Sayyidus Shuhada.
Mere indulgence in ritualistic practices, however passionately executed, during 'ashra can only be an insult to our own intelligence if we lock them away for another year and continue during the interim ignoring the call of our conscience to heed to the message of Sayydus Shuhada.
Through the sacrifices he offered, Imam Hussein (as) sought to revive Islam and separate truth from falsehood. It is important to understand that true reformers, who see reform as part of the divine pattern, try to change the direction of society towards goodness. Reform in Islam has been regarded as a social responsibility, which includes all affairs. In other words, reform in Islam is an effort to remove deficiencies, weaknesses and corruption from within individuals and hence from society.
The modern world primarily regards reform in economic, cultural, social and political spheres. Such compartmentalized concept of reform cannot truly resolve the real problems of mankind – all they really do is secure the interests of specialty groups. Reform in the Islamic context means attention to the promotion of social justice. The domain of reform in Islam is much wider than materialist schools of thought to the extent that it begins from an individual and ends in the society.
The movement of Imam Hussein (as) is a reforming movement based on the Islamic principles of justice and equity. Imam Hussein’s uprising was aimed at campaign against the corruption of the Umayyad government and the social injustices of that time when moral principles which were set up by the holy Prophet of Islam were on the verge of destruction, the human values were forgotten and treachery and injustice became common.
Today there are many parallels and as we commemorate yet another Muharram. We must not shirk our responsibilities to campaign against injustice, oppression, poverty, corruption and social disorders.
This is why today our Azadari must send a message to the world at large - in the name of Imam Hussein (as) and seventy two of his dear ones who sacrificed their lives under the scorching sun of that parched land of Karbala – that we stand for the truth and social justice for all of humanity.
That our weeping on Kerbala tragedy signifies that when we see any group of people being humiliated, downtrodden, oppressed, suffering from a despotic regime, we must join that that group to stand up for their cause. As they rise for their rights we must not side with tyrants and despots. The constant lesson we draw from the events of Karbala is to refuse to tolerate the despots of this world and never reconciling with an unjust authority, whether a Muslim or a non-Muslim.
A Pakistani Scholar and researcher states:
Imam Hussein (as) uprooted despotism forever till the Day of Resurrection. He watered the dry garden of freedom with the surging wave of his blood, and indeed he awakened the sleeping Muslim nation. Hussein (as) weltered in blood and dust for the sake of truth. Verily he, therefore, became the bed-rock (foundation) of the Muslim creed; la ila ha illal Allah (There is no god but Allah).
This is a period where we can once again inspire the concept of a better society through the Muslim creed of la ila ha illal Allah. To do so, the framing of the message must also be congruent with the society and the era we live in. It is important to emphasize that, in a place where the audience live in an area where they are in a minority and have to bear the brunt of taunts by other sects who are not in favor of azadari and the Jafari faith then they need to be equipped with sufficient knowledge of their religious tenets and history to be able to counter the polemics of their opponents. More relevantly to this submission, when the audience lives in a multicultural pluralistic society, it becomes all the more important to offer solutions and assistance relevant to such a society.
Contextually, what is relevant in Lucknow or Karachi today may not necessarily be relevant in Los Angeles or Kitchener. The language, mode and organization and above all the function and purpose of majlis may have to be markedly different. Clearly, our centers in North America need to cater for a different requirement. While the attendee seeks to come to a sea of tranquility and spirituality, at the same time he/she needs to feel familiar and at peace with what he is experiencing at the center. Therefore if all he/she does is to perform rituals that have little or no meaning he/she may go back unfulfilled.
The form of majalis and the total environment Community Center must address these aspirations and cater for them in a way that addresses the real needs of members of that community. The style of oratory, the language medium and the level of scholarly debate has to reflect the expectations of a literate educated community and not the 'perceptions' of preachers and some ‘know all elders’ as to how the status quo may be maintained in the ritual of azadari 'back home'.
We have to face the fact that, if offering the same menu of rituals and sermons year after year is no longer as appetizing as it was once was, then the menu will just have to change.
Our functions of Azadari should propagate Islam by extolling it proudly and as a direct antithesis to the deobandi-takfiri-Wahabi alliance and show what a truly civilizing force Islam has been for the history of the world. That is the challenge ahead. Our performance as organizers, leaders and khadims of the community will be critically examined and judged upon our ability or otherwise of seizing the opportunity that no other sect in Islam has to exploit.
The house of Yazid was used by the Ahlul bait (AS) to meet the need of time right within enemy territory. In the West we live in a society, which is relatively open, and the need of the time is that we seize that opportunity to deliver the message of the teachings of Ahlul bait (A.S).
Azadari has blessed us with the structure of a Huseini Open University - Muharram Majalis - to equip one with learning to live with and practice social justice for the benefit of humanity. Then we will have truly answered his call of Hal Min Nasirin Yansurna.
Reality Of Islam