Muharram is here again marking the beginning of yet another year in the Hijri Calendar. Whilst the auspiciousness of this great month does not rest in the least bit on the tragic incident of Karbala where Hadrat Hussein Radiyallaahu anhu, the beloved grandson of our Beloved Nabi Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam together with somewhat 70 members of his household were martyred, we cannot ignore this incident for in it lies a great lesson for an ummah facing a bleak future. Tragic and heart-rending as it may be its deeper significance and message, if heeded to, has the power to deliver us from the tragic state we as an ummah find ourselves currently in.

What was Karbala all about?

Outwardly it was a battle between two parties. On one side was Hadrat Hussain Radiyallaahu anhu and on the other side was the forces of Yazid Bin Muaawiya. To sum it up it was a battle for power on the side of Yazid Bin Muawiyaa. On the part of Hadrat Hussein Radiyallaahu anhu it was a battle for truth and justice to prevail. This battle took place in the year 61 A.H on the 10th of Muharram coinciding with the day of Aashura at a place called Karbala which is about 100kms away from Baghdad.

In its essence and real form, Karbala stands out as one of the most outstanding exhibitions of the greatest struggle of humanity— in fact it is a continuation of the struggle of all Divine Prophets and Messengers who were sent by the Almighty to realize justice, in its fullest meaning: “Certainly we sent Our Messengers with clear proofs, and sent down with them the Book and the Balance that mankind may keep up justice.” (Suratul Hadeed, verse:25)

At Karbala the choices were starkly clear. On one side stood truth, justice, virtue and unwavering commitment to the Divine message. On the rival side stood greed, falsehood, injustice and insatiable greed for power and worldly ambition in violation of the divine message.

Today as the ummah witnesses its very own Karbala, listening closely to the above message of Karbala becomes a dire need. As we recollect and remember this battle amidst pained hearts and tearful eyes we also need to ask ourselves on which side are we.

When we inspect our world today and determine the nature of the various forces at work, we observe innumerable injustices: abuse of power, exploitation of the weak, habitual resort to force, fake slogans, crazed materialism, endemic poverty and a list of endless horrors. Across the entire globe, men and women are taking to the streets to protest against injustices of all forms and sorts.

At the level of the soul and spirit, the modern world offers no solutions. In fact, it is the principal villain—consumerism and blind materialism have led to intractable moral crises and a spiritual vacuum in society, while the human being has become alienated from the reality of his own self and his life’s purpose and objective. When we look at crimes against humanity this is the very era it is all happening in ways that are shocking, appalling and dreadful. No one seems to care anymore about anyone else besides themselves. Those who know the truth have their hands tied too as their interests could be well jeopardized if they are to stand against the injustices. As a result they too have become mere bystanders as injustice upon injustice spreads across the world.

More than in any other period, as the ummah plunges deeper into misery and pain with each new day, the need to return to the central message of Hadrat Hussein Radiyallaahu Anhu cannot be ignored. Hadrat Hussein Radiyallaahu Anhu and his companions adhered to the noblest principles as outlined in the infallible teachings of His beloved and august grandfather Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa sallam with loyalty, honour and the deepest of understanding. The change achieved by their grand struggle began within their souls before it became gloriously manifest on the plains of Karbala. Outwardly Karbala carries hurt and pain but in essence and in facts Karbala was the crowning glory for those who laid down their lives for truth and justice. Firm and unshakable belief in Allah Ta’ala, inner strength and nobility of objective elevated these heroes of Karbala to a position of matchless distinction till the end of Time.

As individuals of the ummah today hoping to put an end to the plights of the ummah, our foremost responsibility is to work on ourselves and those around us in order that we also become principled followers who remain steadfast beside our scholars and leaders whose ideologies and principles are entirely based on the Qur’aan and Sunnah. We need to distance ourselves from those whose interests in reality are worldly gains but masked by religious concern. From Karbala we learn to be sincere, proactive and concerned members of humanity who make a conscious choice to stand with dignity in defense of truth and justice.

As we purify our hearts with the remembrance of Hadrat Hussein Radiyallaahu anhu during this Muharram we need to remind ourselves and communities of the great responsibility that we shoulder as Muslims. The grandson of our beloved Nabi Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam sacrificed all he had in order to safeguard Islam and its principles. The measure of our commitment to this path is ultimately reflected in our characters, etiquette and steadfastness to the truth over falsehood. This is the best way we can commemorate Karbala.

Year in and year out we will remember Karbala and commemorate it but if this is done only in the form of listening to lectures and discourses on it or reading about it then Karbala will continue to remain just like any other event in Islamic history.

However if we follow the sterling example of Hadrat Hussein Radiyallaahu Ta’ala anhu of standing and fighting against falsehood and injustice which he left behind at Karbala then we have truly commemorated this great event. This is the central message of Karbala!

This could mark the end of the many Karbala’s taking place in the ummah today!

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