Muharram – A brief introduction for those who believe
Received on WhatsApp, 22 Sep 2017
It might interest you to know that Islamic calendar begins with the month ( of Moharrum) which witnessed the most heart rending tragedy experienced by humans, inflicted on a God fearing family of which very person was kind hearted, generous and pious, possessing character without blemish and heavenly inspired by the noblest of ideals ever cherished by mankind.
I mean the grandson ( Imam Husain-a.s. ) of Muhammad Sahib ( p b u h ) and his pious family. Their fault – if it could be termed a fault- was Husain’s refusal to submit and pay homage to an unjust and an oppressive ruler, a usurper who claimed to be the ruling Caliph of Islam.
In tune with the frailty of human nature,a vast majority of people had accepted his false claim out of fear and for the sake of filthy lucre.
The tragedy befell Husain(a.s.) in Karbala, a place in Iraq, in the year 680 AD. They were a handful of people, just about 72, accompanied by women and children, and the most ill-equipped to give a fight to an enemy, much less to the most well-equipped 30,000 strong ( conservatively estimated ) well trained army of a king widely known for tyranny, corruption and debauchery of the worst kind. The irony is that he too pretended to profess Islam but wanted Imam Husain(a.s.) to swear allegiance to him, not even permitting the latter (Imam Husain-a.s.) to leave his kingdom and to migrate to India( one of the options suggested by Husain a.s.) known for the hospitality and fair mindedness of its people.
It was a wholly unequal fight, by all means. The result was massacre of Husain’s small band of people carried out with unprecedented brutality in a matter of hours. Husain’s army of 72 souls, which included old people and the young together with the accompanying women and children were kept thirsty and made to suffer from hunger for 3 days and, after the massacre, the women and children were subjected to heartless plunder and the most inhuman treatment recorded in history.
The 72 who fought for Husains (a.s.) were rare people, rare for their dedication to Husain (a.s.) and his cause who did not desert him even when Husain (a.s.) gave them repeated options to quit and find safety elsewhere. Mahatma Gandhi had precisely this small band of bold and dedicated people in mind when he said that if he had a small band of dedicated supporters like Husain’s friends and relatives, he would have succeeded in securing freedom for India in 24 hours.
Hussain’s cause was just and he upheld it to the last drop of his blood and that of his sons, nephews, other relatives and friends who all stood by him like a rock without fear in a situation which held out no hope whatsoever. Husain(a.s.) believed that living under an oppressive and an unjust regime and submitting to its dictat, even for a moment, is the greatest misfortune that can ever befall people anywhere. It is to recall to memory this unique and the most gruesome tragedy willingly courted by a select band of Godly people for a just cause that we( a large section of muslims and a good number of Hindus) observe mourning in their respective ways, for a period of ten days from the first of the lunar month to its tenth. We thus stand reminded every year of the sacred and the just cause upheld by Husain(a.s.). It also renews our commitment to uphold the principle and the cause for which Husain lived and was martyred. We also recall, with joy and just pride, on this occasion, that while nobody knows the where abouts of the grave of the usurper king, millions of people visit the holy shrine – fabulous and grand in all respects-of Imam Husain(a.s.) and the grand shrines of the other martyrs of Karbala, to pay homage to all of them year after year.
It is about this unprecedented tragedy that Edward G. Brown, Professor at the university of Cambridge- one of the several Scholars world wide who have commented on this tragedy- wrote thus in 1919: “..a reminder of the blood-stained field of Karbala, where the grandson of the Apostle of God ( Husain a.s.) fell at length , tortured by thirst and surrounded by the bodies of his murdered kinsmen, has been at any time since then sufficient to evoke , even in the most lukewarm and heedless, the deepest emotions,the most frantic grief, and an exaltation of spirit before which pain, danger and death shrink to unconsidered trifles.”
May the Supreme sacrifice of Imam Husain and his progeny, friends and companions keep guiding the humankind, not to lose hope and keep faith, even in the toughest of situations.