Khutbaaz

Sunday, November 27, 2011

End the Silence on Ashura

Open Letter to the Silent Majority

It will break my heart if I have to sit through another typical Ashura gathering.

That's why I've decided to write this letter appealing for full disclosure and impartiality from scholars lecturing at most mosques around the world. (Readers, please forward this to a relevant Islamic center near you!)

At many of these commemorations, much time is spent relating how God blessed a string of noble prophets on Ashura, the 10th day of the sacred month of Muharram, as they spread the Divine message on earth. But little to no time is given to discuss the Ashura event that safeguarded this same message from corruption after the era of the prophets came to an end.

This event was the sacrifice of Hussain, the grandson of the final Prophet Muhammad (S) and son of Fatima (one of the four perfect women), a courageous soul who stood up against an illegitimate regime to save God's rule from the clutches of tyranny, corruption and oppression. As poet Allama Iqbal wrote:

"The story of the Kabah is unfortunate, simple and colorful
It began with Ishmael and ended with Hussain."

So, respected scholars, when you remind us this week that on the 10th of Muharram:
  • Adam was forgiven after his exile, remember to talk about Hussain as he is chief of the youth of those eternal gardens of Paradise.
  • Noah was rescued on the ark, remember to talk about Hussain as his family was likened to that ship of salvation. Prophet (S): "Whoever embarked on it was saved, and whoever turned away from it perished."
  • Moses defeated Pharoah, remember to talk about Hussain as he resisted the pharoah of his time with faith, nobility and valor. Hussain: "I have not come out with the intention of violence and rebellion or in obedience to my passions, and it is not my object to create mischief on the earth or to opress anyone. My only object is to reform the affairs of the Muslim nation and to act according to the conduct of my father and grandfather."
  • Jacob was reunited with his son Joseph, remember to talk about Hussain as he lost on this day his young sons, including a thirsty baby pierced by an arrow in the neck while being cradled in his arms.
  • Abraham was protected from the fire, remember to talk about Hussain as he was left the last man standing "under the blazing sun, on the parched land and against the stiffing heat of Arabia," in the words of historian Washington Irving.
Now, don't stop short. Continue the narrative by reminding us what our own Prophet Muhammad (S) did on this fateful day. With dust on his head and dust in his beard, he was the first to propagate the plight of Hussain, the grandchild he once cuddled in his lap and rode on his back.

"I have just been at the slaying of al-Hussain," he told his wife Umm Salamah in a dream of hers, according to her tearful narration [Tirmidhi].

Respected scholars, I ask you to disseminate the story of Hussain far and wide--not for the sake of historical truth or inclusiveness--but because it is the sunnah (tradition) of the Prophet (S) and exactly what the world needs right now!

People in all corners of the globe are finally wising up to the injustices being committed against them.  It is from Hussain they can learn how a small cadre of people dedicated to truth, peace and justice can undertake a successful struggle against tyrannical regimes with wide-reaching control.

"Let humanity awaken and every tribe will claim Hussain for their own," predicts poet Josh Malihabadi.

The rest, as they say, will be history.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

One of your most powerful pieces so far! Ya Hussain!!

Salina Khan said...

Thank you, anonymous! I grew up knowing almost nothing about the family of the Prophet (S) though we attended Islamic schools, camps and conferences all the time. How unfair!

Anonymous said...

With due respect Salina, this post is very confusing to me. I am at a loss when you wrote that each point made by Scholars should end with the rememberance of Hussain. In our Islamic history we have learned that the grandson of the prophet was by far the braviest youth in our Ummah, but i lack to understand what that has to do with the Day of Ashura. On this Day, the people of Moses we delivered from the bondages of the Pharoah, and that also have nothing to do with the grandson of the prophet Muhammad(pbuh), hence it was recommended to fast on this day, for our thankfulness to Allah(swat), and pray for the Prophet and his family.

Respectfully, I lack to see the coherency of this blog.

Salina Khan said...

Thank you for sharing, Anonymous. The point of this post was to ask scholars to talk about EVERYTHING that happened on this day and not neglect the martyrdom of Hussain, which also occurred on Ashura. It is sunnah to talk about Hussain on Ashura Day so why do we not do it? At least not here in many mosques in America.
Perhaps Allama Iqbal can better help us see the connection between the efforts of Moses and Hussain (also called Shabbir):

Musa o Firaun-o-Shabbir or Yazid
In do quwwāt az Hayāt āmad padid.

Not sure about the exact translation but he's saying since the creation of life, virtue and vice have been at war with one another. Musa rose up against Pharoah like Hussain did to Yazid.

Anonymous said...

Respectfully again, no true Muslim should neglect to remember the martyrdom of Hussain, the beloved grandson of the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh). In the Shia traditions, the Day of Ashura is remembered as the day of martyrdom of Hussain, while in the Suni traditions it is the day that Musa, aalihis-salaam was freed from the Pharoah, and hence we are greatful to the God and fast as prescribed by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) for two days, either one day before or after the day of Ashura, and the day of Ashura, believed to be the 10th of Muharram. Respectfully, i think it is the will the Allah that the day of Ashura is both the martyrdom of Hussain and deliverence of Musa, aalihis-salaam from Pharoah. As stated early, no true Muslim can neglect the events of the this calendar day, 10th of Muharram. Al-hamdullilah i was blessed at a very early age with knowledge and stories of the early Islamic history in the Mosques that i attended.
Repectfully your sister in Islam.

Maryam said...

Salaam Anonymous,

From my understanding (and Salina please correct me if I'm wrong) the mission of the open letter is to highlight the fact that the martyrdom of Hussain (as) is just as much a part of Sunnism as Shiaism. Sr Salina has shown this through the use of Sunni references. The reason for sending this letter to scholars is to request the events of Karbala to be mentioned so we can learn more about it's significance and those who sacrificed their lives for the preservation of Islam. Like you said, no true Muslim should neglect to remember this martyrdom.

Gypsy said...

Very well written. I have referred to your letter in one of my post. http://researchintoothersects.blogspot.com/2011/11/interesting-post-in-my-reading-list.html

I hope we will see some changes among the silent majority.

Salina Khan said...

Thank you, Maryam and Gypsy!

Anonymous said...

Let us not get confused here, we are NOT ALLOWED TO FAST DURING AUSHURA. This is a huge misconception that exists among Muslims. Unfortunately some Muslims fast on Aushura and have wrongfully led others to believe this is the right thing to do.

Great post Salina! We just had a discussion about this among the youth and it is nice to have someone put our concerns in a succinct letter.

Anonymous said...

Wow excellent article, definitely one of your best pieces of work. I will have to agree that not much is taught at the sunday schools regarding ashura and inshallah I will plan on passing this onto our local masjid to emphasize the story of imam hussain in their ss curicullum. JK for all your great work :)

Farah

Salina Khan said...

Thank you, Farah! Please report back here on how your suggestion is taken at your masjid. May Allah reward you for your sincere efforts, insha Allah.

Salina Khan said...

Forgot to thank you, Anonymous! Please try to circulate the letter. Unfortunately, our kids know more about the Suite Life of Zack and Cody (Disney Channel stars) than the sweet lives of Hasan and Hussain (or the other heroes of Islam).

Salina Khan said...

As an update, some readers are reporting that their mosques/imams are now discussing Imam Hussain and Kerbala this weekend, making it the first time ever that they can remember! I want to thank those of you who have shared this open letter or any other similar information with your mosques. It doesn't take much to slap a letter online like I did, but it takes courage, conviction and sincerity to bring it to the attention of your local mosques in the real world. I am inspired!

Anonymous said...

salaam! i was shocked to learn that my Sunday School students did not know who Imam Hussain and Imam Hasan were today. only a handful could name Fatima and Ali (R) as their parents.

their homework assignment for next week is to research the trials of Karbala and write a one page report on their findings.

Salina Khan said...

Good for you (and the kids), mashaAllah!
It's unbelievable to me that kids are not taught about Imams Hasan and Hussain, the two "chiefs of the youth of paradise," according to the Prophet (S). They surely did not earn that title from just being the Prophet's (S) grandsons.
Not only should we know information about their lives but we should be taught to love them, identify with them and aspire to emulate them (as well as all other pious Islamic personalities).

Anonymous said...

I'm 14, I'm not sure I understand this very well. In all the lectures I've seen before, they talk about a certain topic or person and then for 20 minutes towards the
end they talk about how that had something to do with Karbala, last night, I watched one on Prophet Yusuf, it was about brotherhood and envy between brothers, then toward the end he talked about the brotherhood that day in Karbala, between Aun and Muhammad, between Imam Husain and Hazrat Abbas etc. is this what you mean?

Salina Khan said...

I am honored that a 14-year-old is reading my blog! That lecture sounds very interesting!
No, I was talking about lectures where there is absolutely no mention of Imam Hussain and Kerbala!

Farah said...

Just wanted to say thanks to you, I passed along your blog to our sunday school staff and we spent a lot of time discussing the events of Karbala and the lives of Imam Hussain and Hassan. Inshallah hope we continue to do this going forward. Can you email me any books or websites you recommend on this? I would love to read more. thanks Salina.

Salina Khan said...

I'm proud of you, Farah, for taking the initiative on this at your school! Insha Allah, you will continue to teach your kids more about them. Here's an article written on Imam Hussain and Kerbala by Yusuf Ali, the translator of Quran into English.
http://www.al-islam.org/short/martyrdom/index.htm

Anonymous said...

May Allah(swt) Bless you and help you to continue the great work that you're doing i.e. creating awareness about the Holy Prophet's Ahlul Bayt(as) to so many who don't know. The Prophet (saww) has said with the Qur'an and his Ahlul Bayt, a Muslim will never go astray. Keep it up!

Unknown said...

Will Salina speak about non shia traditions and non shia figures? That would help in unity I suppose?

Saba Ali said...

Alhumdulillah for everything. Its nice to read this in case anyone forgot what the Prophet (SAW) said about his grandson, their sacrifices and their martydom. Allah will more than reward them also of course. But the note and reminder ends there sister because our Beloved Prophet (SAW) didnt ask us to do nor did he do the things you are asking us and scholars to do. We surely cannot make things up or add new things to our religion. If we fee close to a certain slave of Allah then Alhumdulilah, but thats our own individual action and not something suscribed by Allah or our Prophet (SAW). And Allah knows Best who we should remember and already has conveyed this clearly through the Quran and our Prophet (SAW). This writing can actually confuse new muslims but Alhumdulillah for the concise knowledge available to us that is not in accordance with your advice. Salaam

Amer said...

This is a great post. Thank you for reminding us about the connections between ALL of the events of this day. Bless you sister.

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