Thursday, December 22, 2011

Alhussain: A Modern Example


I have been asked many times "Why did Imam Hussain (AS) continue with his uprising against the 'Legal' ruler of the time, Yazid? What was the benefit that he was seeking to gain from his historical march? And, most importantly, why did he take his family members with a fleet of some seventy soldiers, risking the fall of the prophets household against a morally corrupt leader?"

Strangely, there are those that attempt to justify the actions of Yazid and his position by labeling Hussain (AS) an outlaw and a defiler of the loyalty towards the "Islamic Leadership". They have completely ignored the immorality of Yazid and his lifestyle and have claimed his eligibility as a Leader and a "Prince of the Faithful" relying on the famous quote "Loyalty towards the leader is mandatory until his orders defy the law of God".

To understand Hussain’s decision, you need not to look further than the Arab Spring of the past year, a movement that caused the fall of four Arab leaders and many other demonstrations throughout the Arab world. This is the same movement that was sparked by Muhammed Bouazizi, a vegetable dealer that literally lit the flame by setting himself on fire on the 17th of December, 2010. To this I ask, what motivated the initial thousands to rise against their established corrupt leaders? Why did the same thousands risk their stable lives to defy their tyrants? Just like Imam Hussain, People realized that life without dignity and self-respect is not worth living. Just like Imam Hussain, these people realized the importance of living under a system that understands and respects their rights as human beings.

To justify the position of Yazid in killing Hussain (AS) and his followers, one needs to justify the violent crackdowns practiced by the Arab governments against their own people. Likewise, to justify the uprising of Hussain, you need to understand the reasons and the motivating factors of the Arab spring. With this in mind, I still find it shameful to justify the killing of the grandson of the prophet by labeling him an outlaw against the Islamic nation therefore deserves the death penalty to set an example for all who dares defy the law of man. But I guess such a person needs to justify his support and his religious leadership’s support for a corrupt political system or (in many of these cases) governor.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ashura: A Day in Qatif



On the 10th of Muharram, 61 Hijra (680 CE), the Islamic nation witnessed the martyrdom of the Prophet's Grandson
Hussain (AS). A death which highlights several controversies in Islamic history as it is resembles and uprise of a Muslim against the corrupt Muslim leader (depicted in Yazid ibn Mu'awiya) of the time. In retaliation, and to ensure his death, Yazid sent his armies to tackle Imam Hussain's progress to Kufa, where its people promised Imam Hussain their allegiance. Since then, the Shia have been commemorating the days of “Ashura” which represent the days from 1st of Muharram till 10th of Muharram.
After the events of Qatif during the past two weeks and the fall of the four men at the hands of the “Anti-Riot” forces, the days of Ashura have had their significance and a different sensation. On the 6th day of Muharram, we found out of March starting at 3:30 PM in what was labeled as the street of martyrs, the same street that witnessed the demonstration of some thousands in Qatif two week ago. As people started to come, the organizers began arranging people for the march. By 3:45 we started marching with the speaker started the Latmiya, the Islamic poetry commemorating the days of Ashura, which was about the success of the Martyr in his sacrifice for the greater good. The organizers held the pictures of the martyrs throughout the demonstration with slogans that have complimented them as being soldiers of Imam Hussain (AS). As we came towards the end, the total gathering seemed to be close to one thousand people with many viewers on the side line. This march showed me that the people of Qatif, no matter the claims against them, are extremely organized and structured. During the march, there were no riots between the marchers, public belongings and shops were undisturbed and their safety maintained, traffic was passing by without much hassle (surprisingly the road was very small).
On the evening of the same day, we attended the lecture Sh. Fawzi Alsaif, a prominent Shia cleric of the region who spoke about the strategies corrupt leaders use to control their public. He mainly focused on the strategy of maintaining the public occupied with anything other than their political situation. In the Arab world that strategy has been to have people running behind money to ensure they can provide their daily nutrition. After the lecture, we attended another Latmiya, one many held in the alleyways of the city of Qatif on a yearly basis. Last night, we completed our activity (a light-weight activity) at 10:30 PM and were at home at around 11 PM.
The days of Ashura are always filled with a lot of activities in Qatif. Stepping into Qatif during this season, the visitor can't help but realize that there is something happening. This activity can consume the individuals time positively as he can visit the many lectures that may hold a significant value, or attend a session of a Latmiya to understand this regions struggles during a specific period, or just to walk around and discuss with the people to gather their understanding of these blessed days and what Imam Hussain's sacrifice means to them. Muharram in Qatif has always been special to me because it is truly a season that brings people of the region together and abolishes the negativity they have for one another.