It comes every year. Preparations for it begin months ahead in thousands of Imambargahs all over the world. Planning for majalis, nohas, niaz and other azadari events is in full swing. There is an air of anticipation among the momineen, young and old. Something big is going to happen. But wait, you say: “I thought it has already happened”. How to explain? Yes it has happened. In fact, it took place more than 1400 years back. Yet there is this anticipation (as if it were an event beyond the boundaries of time).
For some, the “something about to happen” feeling stirs inside as early as the anniversary of the day that the caravan of the oppressed leaves Madina months earlier. And from time to time there is awareness of various stages and events in their journey. Emotional and mental association, as if participating in the journey, continues and intensifies as it progresses through Makkah and onwards to Karbala.
Once the moon of Muharram is sighted, a deep transformation comes about in every lover of Ahlulbayt (as). A tinge of sadness is felt deep inside which intensifies with each day and pervades the entire being as the mourning climaxes on the day of Ashura on 10th of the month. Preoccupation with mundane worldly matters has by now been subdued by a conscience that calls passionately towards spirituality and good deeds. Night after night, clad in black, all roads seem to lead to the mourning gatherings to commemorate, and learn lessons from, the severe atrocities against Imam Husain (a.s) , the beloved grandson of the Prophet (saw), against his entire family and companions for their refusal to allow the distortion of Islam by the corrupt rulers. The mourning continues unabated year after year, growing and spreading all over the world.
Tragic events of history are normally remembered for some years. Fervently in the initial years, then sedately, with passion decreasing each year and eventually they are all but forgotten. Time takes it toll. Time is a great healer, they say. Wounds and hurts lose their bite with time. But not so with Muharram. The event of Karbala seems to defy the norm.
Why? How is this even possible?
Is this to do with gratitude for someone who sacrifices everything for you? It was the noblest of ideals for which Imam Husain a.s. and his supporters laid down their lives on the scorching sands of Karbala on the the day of Ashura. They had the option to save their lives and let Islam die. They chose death so that truth is separated from falsehood once and for all, so that the right way continues to be available as a choice for humanity for all times. And in the process they also explained in practical terms the meaning of true submission to the Will of Allah (swt).
Or, is it in response to Quran Surah 42:23 in relation to the services rendered by the Prophet (saw) for the muslims:” Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives….” There is also the hadith which states that the Prophet (saw) had predicted about a people who will cry for the martyrs and prisoners of Karbala. Our passion certainly has much to do with the love we feel for the pure household of the Prophet (saw). Many a time we find ourselves pondering: what forces are at work that produce such strong attraction, how did this love come to reside in hearts and permeate the souls, why does it not become stale with time, why these tears year after year at the very mention of the martyrs on the day of Ashura ? …. at this point, words cease to be of much help. All one can say, with utmost humility, is that if one has this love, one certainly knows it. And feels blessed. And feels the urge to share this treasure with the world.
The following videos enlighten us further on how and why the mourning for Imam Husain a.s. is the only mourning known to the world that continues to survive and grow year after year:
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