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al-Ridha alayhis-salam, Muhammad al-Jawad alayhis-salam, ‘Ali al-Hadi

al-Ridha alayhis-salam, Muhammad al-Jawad alayhis-salam, ‘Ali al-Hadi

alayhis-salam, Hasan al-‘Askari alayhis-salam, and Muhammad al-Mahdi

alayhis-salam. The Prophet salla-llahu-alayhi-wa-aalih himself is the

greatest lantern and ship. Allah has said: {O you the Prophet, surely We

have sent you as a witness and a bringer of glad tidings and a warner

and a summoner to Allah and as an illuminating lantern}. Humanity,

living as it is in the darkness of ignorance and drowning in the depths of

chaos, confusion and anxiety, has no cure available to it – if it wants

salvation – other than seeking illumination by the light of those pure

people and boarding their ship; for they are the complement to the wise

book (the Qur’an) as the Messenger of Allah salla-llahu-alayhi-wa-aalih

has said:

‘I leave behind me the two weighty things; the book of Allah

and my household. As long as you adhere to these two you

will never go astray after me ever.’

This points to the fact that without adherence to the household alongside

adherence to the book there will be a resultant straying which, in this

world means dishonour and ignominy and in the next world means hell

and the inferno.

The month of Muharram is the month of the sorrows of the people of the

Prophet’s household alayhum-as-salam. It is the month when the religion

was renewed by the uprising of the ‘ship of salvation’ and the ‘lamp of

guidance’ (i.e. Imam Husayn alayhis-salam). In this sacred month, a

strong Islamic nation should derive great benefit from this uprising. The

supreme religious authority Ayatollah Muhammad al-Shirazi believes that

the benefit of this month has been confined previously to one aspect only;

namely to the reviving of religious practises such as establishing prayer,

and paying the statutory Khums and Zakat along with other acts of

worship, ethical practises and etiquettes, and the building of religious

centres in the name of Husayn alayhis-salam and mosques and developing

sites of religious interest as well as feeding the poor and providing water

and the like. Two other aspects should be added to this, namely:

1. The implementation of the laws and rulings of Islam generally

and fully. At the top of which comes a system of consultative

government through the holding of free and fair elections to set

up a government which fulfils the conditions stipulated by Islam.

Next come the freedoms that Allah has ordered in saying: {. . .

and (for the Prophet) to relieve them from the heavy burdens

Benefiting from Ashura


and the yokes that were upon them}, such as the freedom to

form Islamic political parties under the supervision of the Islamic

religious authorities (maraji’), the freedom to trade, the freedom

to manufacture, the freedom to cultivate land, the freedom to

build, the freedom to travel and settle in a place, the freedom to

print and publish, the freedom of association, the freedom of

expression, and all the other freedoms conferred by Islam and

mentioned in the Qur’an and the sunnah or traditions and deeds

of the Prophet. Next comes the abolition of taxes and customs

and excise, and of all the laws that have no basis in the Qur’an

and the sunnah or in the consensus of scholars or reason. Then

comes the institution of Islamic unity meaning that no borders

will exist between the countries of Islam and no differences small

or large will be recognised between nationalities or races. For

{The believers are brothers} and in the words of Imam Husayn


‘By my life, the Imam is none but one who rules by the book

and stands up for justice and equity and follows the religion of

Allah and restrains himself for the sake of Allah.’

Imam Husayn alayhis-salam explains his eternal uprising saying:

‘O Allah, you know that what we did was not out of competition

for worldly power, nor were we seeking the vanities of this

world, but we desired to see the features of your religion and

reform in your land and so that the oppressed of your servants

might find respite and so that your commands and laws might

be carried out.’

2. The propagation of the message of Allah – Islam - to the people

of the world as a whole and instilling Islamic values and ideals.

The month of Muharram can become an appropriate starting

point for propagating this message and these values and ideals,

which were embodied in the goals of Imam Husayn alayhissalam,

to a thirsty humanity. This mission can be funded through

collections at gatherings and Husayniyas, and forming bodies,

which will send missionaries to every part of the world. Benefit

may be derived from the gatherings held in remembrance of

Husayn in that they stir up deep emotions in the self and the

occasion they provide for intellectual direction, which has an

effect in changing human behaviour. Speakers should concern

Husayn – The sacrifice for mankind


themselves in their sermons with showing the way to social

responsibility and institutions should be established in every

mosque and Islamic centre for the task of fulfilling the material

needs of the people according to priorities. These may be funded

by donations from charitable people and businessmen and the

wealthy. Imam Husayn alayhis-salam said in encouraging

donations and expending in the way of Allah:

‘Your wealth does not belong to you unless you spend it in the

way of Allah. Therefore do not leave it as a store for those who

come after you, when you yourself will be held responsible for

it. Know that you will not survive to make use of it and it will

not remain for you, so consume it before it consumes you.’

Attention and concern must be paid to Islamic institutions for they

continue to experience two crises; quantitative and qualitative. There is a

noticeable lack in the number of Islamic cultural and social institutions

and places of worship for Muslims in the Islamic world and for the Islamic

communities in other countries. This quantitative lack may be filled by

exploiting the occasion of Ashura so that preachers and hosts of gatherings

concern themselves with setting up such institutions by encouraging and

persuading the people to participate in providing the means and laying the

ground work. In this way and through these gatherings, which are spread

throughout the world, we will be able, each year, to establish one hundred

thousand institutions of differing types such as schools, mosques,

Husayniyahs, libraries, clinics and hospitals, orphanages, radio and

television stations, research institutes and newspapers and the like. After

fifteen years this would probably equal the number of institutions the

Christians have provided in Africa alone where they have founded

hundreds of thousands of institutions.

As for the qualitative side, we must attain the necessary administrative and

other skills to run these institutions in an organised and lasting manner so

that the cultural institutions such as the Husayniyahs and mosques can be a

source of thought and awareness including the scientific analysis of the

events of Karbala and elsewhere, and linking the past to the present and

the future. Without this, society will not be able to combat the dangers that

surround it. The intellectual level of the pulpit must be deep so that the

youth in particular can be protected from deviancy when it raises its ugly

head. Often, it is a low intellectual level that is the cause of the deviancy

of the youth and takes them to prisons and detention centres, and to the

grave or exile. Hence, those who host gatherings and administrators must

Benefiting from Ashura


exhort the preachers to deliver the best possible psychological, social,

historical, doctrinal, and other analyses. The speakers best equipped to

carry out this task must be invited and their lectures must be recorded and

published and distributed amongst the people to stir their emotions and

direct them towards the good and the right and towards reform so that a

wealth of information is available in all fields and aspects.

Islam is a world religion for the rescue of all people from darkness. It is

not the religion of one thousand million Muslims only. However, this calls

for great a deal of support. Is it not a source of regret that there are no

more than few hundred Muslim missionaries working outside Islamic

countries, whereas statistics show that the number of Christian

missionaries in Africa is more than ten thousand and in Asia ninety

thousand all equipped with all the aids and technology they need and

whose task is to convert the Asians and Africans to Christianity? They

have succeeded in converting tens of millions in these two continents.

If we, then, were to take the month of Muharram as a starting point for

these three tasks, we will have fulfilled what is incumbent upon us as far

as possible, as well as bringing Muslims from slavery to mastery and

many non-Muslims from the darkness to the light. This is in reality a

world Islamic movement not merely a local or territorial one, which has

begun to adopt these three tasks. Our condition today is as that of the

person yawning as he is newly awakened from a long sleep. However, this

is a sign of the beginning of an awakening rather than a preparation for

sleep. The Muslims have slept long enough so that their lands have been

divided up, their wealth plundered, their honour torn, and their blood spilt.

Illegal laws have been placed over them and chaos, ignorance, illness,

poverty, enmity and sectarianism reign. Now, thanks be to Allah, they

have begun to rise and they are able to make a programme for this rising

out of these three aforementioned tasks and starting from this sacred

month of Muharram so they might reach their lofty goal if Allah wills.

Among that which Imam Shirazi strongly recommends as part of this

programme is:

1. The establishment of an organisation and expanding it to

encompass all the lands of Islam so that communication may take

place amongst the various wings, on the condition that this

organisation includes free and fair elections held for example

every two years.

Husayn – The sacrifice for mankind


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