The Martyrdom of Karbala and our ‘Attitudes’

Don’t waste your time chasing things that will never be beneficial to your future.

………..April Mae Monterrosa

But the moot point is – How do we conceive our future – the materialistic future or the spiritual one?

If you are sitting with a religious zealot without a rational attitude, he would advocate a future in Black and White. All sermons and advice would he shower about the nothingness and emptiness of this world and promises of heaven where you might be allowed many of the luxuries (of course chaste and pristine) that you have been looking in this world and didn’t enjoy. May be he would enlighten with the verses of the Holy Book and Holy Traditions like the following:

Surah At – Takathur, 102:1-8
(In the name of Allah – the most Beneficent, the most Merciful)

  1. You are obsessed by greed for more and more.
  2. Until you go down to your graves.
  3. Nay, in time you will come to understand!
  4. And once again: Nay, in time you will come to understand!
  5. Nay, if you could but understand (it) with an understanding (born) of certainty,
  6. you would indeed, most surely, behold the blazing fire (of hell)!
  7. In the end you will indeed, most surely, behold it with the eye of certainty:
  8. and on that Day you will most surely be called to account for (what you did with) the boon of life!

And for an unripe mind, it leads to a thought of giving up all the attractions, magical spells and allurement of this world. And the next streak leads to ASCETISM – the renouncing of this world.

Does the religion of Islam demand that situation?

Indubitably, we as Muslims have a clear purpose in our lives and that is to earn the pleasure of our Creator. The positive feelings such as inner peace, joy, gratitude and hope all devolve around that very concept.

“And I created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).”

The Holy Quran Chapter 51:56

This Surah is one of the most powerful and prophetic passages of the Qur’an. It illuminates man’s unbounded greed and tendencies which have come to dominate our societies. We jump with indiscrete to increase in benefits, be they tangible or intangible, real or illusory. It denotes man’s obsessive striving for more and more comforts, more material goods, greater power over his fellow-men or over nature, and unceasing technological progress.

However, it is imperative here to understand the concept of worship. As we understand, the worship of God is not only ritualistic akin to some choreographed acts of gymnastic. Worship of Almighty includes seeking knowledge, fulfilling the family, social, political and state responsibilities, helping others and performing the regular prayer rituals. And to conform to all those duties, tasks and avocations one has to wade through the rough and tough of hard practical life with all its pathos and privations.

The Holy Quran Chapter 67:2

“And We have not created the heaven and earth and what is between them in vain. That is the opinion of those who disbelieve. And woe to such disbelievers, because of the Fire. Shall we treat those who believe and do good deeds as those who spread corruption on the earth? Or shall we treat the pious as sinners?”

Allah wants us to perform good deeds and be honest. Corruption and Islam can never go parallel. We have to strive to do hundred percent justice to all the activities which are entrusted to us. And to perform good deeds we have to be both materialistic and spiritual. Islam proscribes and prohibits ‘asceticism.’ While the religion wants us to live within our means and be content with the modicum of comforts, it exhorts to improve our economic and social conditions by all fair means.

The conventional wisdom suggests that a materialist wants to change the present for a better future. He deals with the unpleasantness of life with intelligent and self-willed efforts and works hard to attain a standard happy life and prosperous life by creating conditions within himself and his environment. He goes by his past experiences and relies upon his strengths and abilities to safeguard his / her interests. While doing all that he prays the Supreme Authority for a positive response.

The problem with the so called-religious-spiritual zealot is that he thinks more about the rituals and prayers and feels that spending most of the time in these activities would entitle him for Allah happiness. He inadvertently ignores his family, social, economic and educational tasks and indulges in the practices that relate to outward show of sainthood and religious paraphernalia. Those errands and engagements hardly make any difference in his attitudes and dealings. On the contrary, this kind of excessive devotion leads to PRIDE in one’s own piousness and importance which is not what the Islam expects.

From an ordinary Muslim, Islam expects the golden mean where there is fine balance in his spiritual activities and his professional responsibilities. The true worship is if we are honest in all the dealings of life; if we lead a simple life without conceit and arrogance; if we take care of our social responsibilities as a good citizen; if we’re to ready to allow our resources to be availed by our needy neighbours; if we give real respect to our elders and lead a life without hate and work hard for a better tomorrow for us and for those who connect us.

As the famous Urdu poet Jigar Moradabadi has said:

“Mehav-E-Tasbeeh To Sab Hain, Magar Idraak Kahan,
Zindagi Khud Hi Ibadat Hai,…….. Magar Hosh Nahi.”


Most of us busy with the prayer string beads without knowing the Real Truth. Are We but conscious and aware that all the activities of our (honest and diligently lived) LIFE itself are PRAYER….Nay, but we are not sentient!

A few weeks later the Mourning Period of Moharrum is approaching when we would recall and remember the Martyrdom of Karbala. I believe the best tribute of Imam Hussain (AS) and his mission would be to fulfill all the responsibilities of life, especially for the youth, to spend time in their studies along with the traditional rituals and prayers in just proportion. The Holy Imam would also never approve our display of wealth, pomp and power in his name. He would love to see his followers taking lead in the world in all positive fields. He would love to see the youth engaged in activities that would enhance their character. Wasting time is never part of worship or mourning of martyrs of Karbala!

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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Holy Shrine and the dance of death

Two alleged suicide bombers blew themselves up at the Data Ganj Bakhsh shrine on Thursday night at Lahore, killing at least 41 people and injuring 170 others.

THERE IS no end in sight to the game of religious delinquency and degeneration. Two alleged suicide bombers blew themselves up at the Data Ganj Bakhsh shrine on Thursday night at Lahore, killing at least 41 people and injuring 170 others. The first explosion took place in the basement reserved for ablution and the second in front of the shrine’s main building where a large number of people from across the province gather for worship on Thursdays.

Here you face Extremism with a strategy and with hi-fi precision. Surveillance cameras, walk through gates and metal detectors were rendered ineffective in advance. According to the Senior Superintendent of Police Chaudhry Shafiq two suicide attacks had been carried out and investigators had found the bombers’ skulls and limbs. He said ball-bearings and other material used in the blasts had also been collected. Lahore Commissioner Khusro Pervaiz Bakhtiar told journalists at the spot that the bombers had blown themselves up during a large congregation.

And to cap the story – the Pakistani Taliban denied any involvement in the attack.
The civilized society of the world in general and Muslims around the world in particular are no longer shocked when they witness the misdeeds of these religious fanatics in different places.

Irrespective of what Talibans, their Wahabbi guides and admirers say, rest of the world knows well that they have hijacked the agenda of True Islam with the clandestine support of Wahabbi regimes of Middle East, Pakistan Military, Intelligence and the chieftains of tribal belts of Afghanistan. These brutalities can be traced back to the time by Syrians Rulers a few decades after the death of Prophet Mohd (PBUH). They had massacred the entire family of Prophet (PBUH). The martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet (PBUH) is remembered by Muslims in the Islamic month of Moharram every year to remind that crooked, inhuman and heinous past.

A few centuries ago, the world witnessed the revival of the same cruel streaks in Najd Province (in Arab Peninsula that time and now in Saudi Arabia ) where these marauders played the game of death and destruction in pursuance of their newly invented Wahabi doctrine.

In 1802, and army led by the sons of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism) and Muhammad ibn Saud occupied Taif and began a bloody massacre. A year later, the forces occupied the holy city of Mecca. They executed a campaign of destruction in many sacred places and leveled all the existing domes, even those built over the well of Zamzam. Wahhabis to re-occupied Mecca in 1805.

In 1806, the Wahhabi army occupied Medina. They did not leave any religious building, including mosques, without demolishing it, whether inside or outside the Baqi’ (graveyard). They razed to ground the tombs of the Hazrat Fatima, the daughter of Prophet (PBUH) and all his grandsons, relatives, companions and highly revered personalities buried in different graveyards. They intended to demolish the grave of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), but would repeatedly change their minds. At this time, non-Wahhabi Muslims were prevented from performing the Hajj (pilgrimage). In 1805, Iraqi and Iranian Muslims were refused permission to perform Hajj, as were the Syrians in 1806 and Egyptians the following year. The Saudi leader at the time wanted the pilgrims to embrace his Wahhabi beliefs and accept his Wahhabi mission.

So, there is nothing new in the recurring incidents of madness as long as we have the people who preach and pratice Wahabiyat.

These Sufis are usually Syeds, the progeny of Prophet (PBUH) and their shrines in the Indian sub-continent symbolize love and amity amongst all religions. These are the epitomes of humanity, friendship, kindness, tolerance, universal brotherhood and all that is sublime in human life. These crazy killers, who call themselves the soldiers of Islam can’t see peace and brotherhood in any form.
For them the name of the game is the dream of Beautiful Virgin Girls in Heaven as a reward for their inhuman deeds in this world. They are ready to commit any act to reach them !

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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Moharrum – where Hindus and Muslims Unite

One can observe the richness and beauty of the diversity of Indian Culture at the occasion of Muharram. Since the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, Muharram ceremonies are observed all over the world including India. Hindus take part in them with great reverence and devotion. The tragedy of Karbala has become the harbinger for interfaith understanding in the Indian sub-continent. Participation of Hindus in the mourning rituals of Imam Hussain has been a feature of Hinduism for centuries in large parts of India. Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and even Christians observe Muharram. In the city of Varanasi which is the holiest city for Hindus many Hindu families participate in Muharram processions.

A Hindu poet had once said:
“Baad marne ke bhee matam ki sada aati rahi,
Log harat se meri jalti chita dekha kiye”.
Translation: The sound of lamentation (at the martyrdom of Imam Hussain) continued even after my death. The people watched my burning pyre with adoration and admiration.

One can notice the same spirit of love, respect and sadness for Imam Hussain in Lucknow, Allahabad, Kanpur, Hyderabad, Kolkatta, Mumbai, Chennai, Amroha, Indore, Nagpur, Jaipur, Bhopal and other major cities and towns. In several cities Hindus also take part with enthusiasm in making the taziyas (replicas of the Imam Husain’s mausoleum in Karbala). Varanasi’s Shivala Mohalla boasts of the most artistic taziya, and a replica of Zuljinah, Imam Hussain’s brave horse which is given milk in a traditional ritual in many cities.

Readers of this blog would find it interesting to learn that the Hindu rulers of Vijayanagar in Deccan (southern India) built wonderful Imambaras during the 16th and 17th centuries. They even wore the black garments of mourning during the first 10 days of the month of Muharram. Muharram processions during the 18th and 19th centuries were taken out by the Hindus in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra with rath-shaped (Hindu chariots) tazias. The Maratha kingdoms like the Scindias of Gwalior, the Holkars of Indore, the Gaekwads of Baroda and the Bhonsle of Kolhapur and Pune till now observe Muharram rituals with great devotion.

Let us forgive and forget the recent conflagrations caused by those who are not even aware of the meaning and message of Hinduism and Islam and recollect that during the dynastic Hindu rules they strived to create interfaith understanding between Muslims and Hindus by observing Muharram ceremonies. The most famous of them all was the Rajah of Gwalior, a state in central India. The Rajah used to go barefoot with the procession every year on the day of Ashura, holding a replica of Imam Hussain’s mausoleum.. Many Hindus in Lucknow fast with Muslims on this day, while others distribute sherbet (sweet juices) and iced milk to those participating in the Muharram processions. Lucknow also boasts of several Hindu ‘imambaras’ (mausoleums). One such is the ‘Kishnu Khalifa ka Imambara’ in Bashiratganj locality in the old city area. The Imambara, established in 1880, is famous for its Hindu ‘azadars’ (devotees) who observe Muharram with all the religiosity of the Muslims. In Lucknow, seat of the Shia nawabs of Awadh, prominent Hindu noblemen like Raja Tikait Rai and Raja Bilas Rai built Imambaras to house alams, the standards representing the Karbala event.

Muharram is an unique occasion in the socio-cultural fabric of Indian history which presents an unparalleled example of Hindu-Muslim unity. Let us go to South India and you will find the non-Muslim tribal Lambadi community in Andhra Pradesh has their own genre of Muharram lamentation songs in Telugu. Among certain Hindu castes in Rajasthan, the Karbala battle is recounted by staging plays in which the death of Imam Hussain is enacted, after which the women of the village come out in a procession, crying and cursing Yazid for his cruelty.

Let me talk about Madhya Pradesh. The Sharma Hindu families have been taking out the Tazia procession on Muharram for more than 120 years in some districts of Madhya Pradesh. The ritual began in 1882 when the Raikwar family of the Vidisha town began preparing and taking out Tazias on the ninth day of Muharram. Since then, the Raikwar’s Tazia leads the procession of mourners on Muharram, and moves ahead of the long line of replicas of Imam Hussain’s tomb and flags along the streets. Like several Muslim families across the globe, the Raikwar family members, too, set aside their daily chores to grieve for the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. He is one of the greatest personality of Islam and he is loved, respected and admired for his courage and fortitude against the inhuman, corrupt, delinquent and tyrant ruler Yazid, the son of Muawiah. According to historical references Yazid was not properly educated with the teachings of Islam. He used to drink alcohol, gamble, and commit all other cardinal sins. This despot transformed the face of the Islam of Prophet and made it subservient to his whims, fancies and debauchery. He was the real terrorist and he had brought back the old unprincipled life-style that Prophet and his companions had banished and destroyed from ordinary life. Truth, Justice, Equality, Freedom and Liberty were all at stake during his rule. All precious values were disappearing from the life as the ruler was flouting the tenets of Islam. The restoration of those values demanded rebellion against the tyrant ruler and it meant the sacrifice of life of Imam. He chose the path of danger and hardships and never swerved from it, giving up his life. Imam Hussain was martyred in the Karbala along with 72 members of his family and companions. For three days the supply of water and food was completely cut off by the rulers. However, that didn’t weaken the reslove and determination of Imam and he refused to surrender.

Imam Hussain is everybody’s hero. He was the embodiment of virtues of piety, courage and self-sacrifice. He did not seek power. His message was for everyone.

“The Hindu”, one of the largest selling English daily in India reported in its 31 January, 2007 issue that a large number of Hindus participated in the `Tazia’ procession along with Muslims at Pulimankulam in Tamil Nadu state. The procession was led by V. Nayaz Ahmed Bijili and H. Habeebur Rahman Bijili, hereditary trustees of the Athangarai Pallivasal Dargah. Hindus from Sokkalingapuram, Urumankulam, Tiruvamabalapuram and Avudayalpuram, marched towards the `chavadi’, where the `Panjas’ were installed, and offered prayers.

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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