In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful
The Holy Qur’an says:
‘So set your heart as a person of pure faith on this religion, the original nature endowed by Allah according to which He originated mankind…’ [30:30].
In the well-known Ziyarat al-Shuhada we address the martyrs of Karbala as follows: ‘Peace be unto you, O helpers of religion’ (al-salam ‘alaykum ya ansara din Allah) [Shaykh Tusi, Misbah al-Mutahajjid, v.2, p.723]
Have we ever thought carefully why we actually weep for Imam al-Husayn (‘a) and his family members? Is there any kind of filial relationship between us? Do we weep for them as a mere custom practiced for so many years? Or is the matter beyond all this? In order to respond to this important query, it is imperative for us to define who Imam al-Husayn (‘a) is. If we ponder a little we will come to realize that Imam al-Husayn (‘a) is an epitome of religious values in the most perfect extension attainable for any human being. Thus our love for Imam al-Husayn (‘a) is actually our love for religion. If we weep for the atrocities perpetrated again the Imam (‘a) and his loyal companions, we are actually weeping for the atrocities perpetrated again religion and its values.
In light of this, we must try to analyze and see how close do lamentations bring us to religious values. If lamentation brings us close to prayer and observing its timings, if it brings us close to the values of Quran, if it motivates us to be observe justice, if it renders us completely submissive to God, we must know that the source of our tears are really the love for Imam al-Husayn (‘a) and we truly miss his noble presence. This is because Husayn is religion itself.
In a lengthy narration from Imam ‘Ali (‘a), he is reported to have said: ‘…and I am Islam, which Allah approved for Himself…’ [‘Allamah Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, v.2, p. 154]
In another hadith, Imam ‘Ali (‘a), revealing the unity between religion and the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) is reported to have said: ‘They (the Ahl al-Bayt) are the foundations of religion and pillars of conviction.’ [al-Tabari, Dala’il al-Imamah, p. 21]
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said in a lengthy narration: ‘…we (the infallibles) are the receptacles of the Divine Message and we are religion [itself]…’ [al-Daylami, Irshad al-Qulub, v.2, p. 418].
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) in a beautiful conversation with one of his companions called Dawud, is reported to have said: ‘O Dawud, we are salat mentioned in the Book of Allah (the Invincible and Majestic), we are zakat, and we are the fasting; we are the hajj, we are the sacred month, and we are the sacred city; we are God’s ka’bah, and we are God’s qiblah…’ [‘Allamah Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, v.24, p. 303]
The well-known mystic Mu‘in al-Din Chishti (d. 1230) beautifully portrays this reality in his well-known poetry that begins with Shah ast Husayn (Husayn is the King). One of its beautiful verses is ‘…din ast Husayn, din panah ast Husayn…’ (…Husayn is religion itself and the protector of religion.) Chishti perhaps was trying to convey the message to those who enthusiastically participate in gatherings of lamentation that the real concern of those who truly lament for Imam al-Husayn (‘a) must be religion, because the Imam (‘a) was the embodiment of Islam in the highest degree.
Hence we need to revise the reason behind our true attachment to Imam al-Husayn (‘a). We will come to realize that many of us, despite being distant from the Islamic values are enamored by the personality of Imam al-Husayn due to his very Islamic spirit manifested in his lofty thoughts, sublime words excellent character, and exalted goal. The reason is that Allah knit the fabric of our existence to love religion and its values.’[Q,30:30]. Those however, who have covered this innate deep attachment to religion have no inclination to the majesty of Imam al-Husayn (‘a).
Muharram is an occasion when we must reexamine the different dimensions of our beings and observe the extent of their alignment with religion. It is a time to check our beliefs, our morals, our sincerity, our devotion to God, etc. If we do so, and then struggle to reform ourselves and thereafter opt to reform others, we will have followed what Imam al-Husayn (‘a) actually did. In his famous statement he (‘a) says, “I set out and rose only to seek reform in the nation of my grandfather…” If we reform the state of religion in our individual beings and then struggle to reform our communities, we will have truly proven our unity and love for Imam al-Husayn (‘a). This is because Imam al-Husayn is Din itself. Din ast Husayn!
Dear readers, if our gatherings of lamentation oppose our religious values then they would not reflect our true love for Imam al-Husayn (‘a) and in all its dimensions and levels.
One of the most important manifestations of intense attachment to religion is strict observance of prayer in its time. On Ashura day we find Imam (‘a) despite the enemy’s attacks, observes prayer on time. In some nations such as the contemporary Islamic Republic of Iran, the scholars emphasize that at the time of noon prayer one must struggle to be with congregations of prayer, for that will practically reveal our genuine love for Din which is Husayn himself. If one is unable to observe prayer in congregation, then at least prayer must be performed on time.
When one strictly observes the different teachings of religion, the tears that trickle from his heart transport him to levels that only God and those to whom He bestows knowledge are aware.
O Husayn, while we weep due to your separation, enable us to truly unite with the teachings of religion.
Peace be unto you, and on the spirits who were honored with martyrdom in your proximity.