As the Islamic New Year comes close, we start getting questions in our mind; questions that we don’t even think about the whole year round. Questions like what is Muharrum? Why do Shias stop their usual activities in this month? Why do they refrain from wearing coloured clothes, getting married, and conducting celebrations in this month? Why Muharrum, Safar and the first nine days of Rabi ul Awal are spent in mourning? Isn’t praying in the name of Imams biddah? Or shirk? What do shias do on the night of Ashura? Allow us to address your thoughts.
Imam Hussain, along with his tribe which included his family, reached Karbala on the second of Muharrum. His intention was to negotiate with Yazid who had been continuously disobeying the Islamic Principles and the treaties. However, he wasn’t able to convince Yazid yet was not ready to give up in front of a tyrant, even if it cost him everything. He was trained, by the Prophet and his father Hazrat Ali, to always stand up against tyranny.
What were the consequences of refusing to surrender to Yazid’s will?
Yazid used his power in the most unjust and inhumane way possible. On the 7th of Muharrum he ordered his army to prevent Hussain and his companions from collecting water from the river Euphrates. You read that right. They had no access to water for 3 whole days. Imagine living in a hot desert, by a river and yet not being able to get water. Not only did Imam Hussain go through this torture but also his companions and family; even his children, including a 6 month old son. This went on till the 10th of Muharrum, the morning of which the battle began. One after another, Imam Hussain’s companions and male family members went in the field only to be martyred. How they were even able to fight in spite of all the weakness from not eating and drinking since 3 days is a mystery, but they showed extraordinary valour. His brother, Abbas; his nephew, Qasim; his other two young nephews, Aun and Mohammad; his 18 year old son, Ali Akbar. Even his aforementioned 6 month old baby was not spared. Only a heartless person can shoot an infant with an arrow.
Unfortunately, Yazid’s cruelty didn’t end here. Hazrat Zain ul Abideen, Imam’s Hussain’s son and successor, was the only male member who wasn’t given the permission to fight due to his sickness. He was tied up with such heavy chains that it was difficult for him to move or even lift his head, not to mention that due to the extreme heat the chains literally burned his skin. The veils of the women were taken away. Sakina’s, Imam Hussain’s 4 year old daughter’s, earrings were pulled so brutally that her ears bled. Her clothes caught fire when the enemy burned down their tents. She was slapped by Yazid for crying for her father because her cries disturbed his sleep. Sakina was only 4. Imagine a 4 year old who has just lost not only her father but uncles, cousins, and brothers, being treated so harshly, both physically and emotionally. The enemy mocked them and made them walk barefoot from Karbala to Shaam (Syria) from Shaam to Kufa. During the way numerous children fell off the camels, because of the unbearable heat or because they could not balance due to the speed, and sometimes got trampled on. They had to be buried there and then. Imagine their mother’s anguish. In Kufa they were brought in the courts of Yazid.
It is since then that Muharrum is spent as a month of sadness. We mourn. We cry. We thank for the sacrifice Imam Hussain made for Islam.
But, unlike what some think, nobody worships them. Like every other Muslim, Shias also believe that worship is for the Almighty Allah alone. Majalis are held to remember his sacrifice; to remember that the righteous will always win. Processions are organized in the remembrance of the events of Karbala. Would we want everyone to forget our loved ones once they leave us?
Black colour indicates sadness like red is used to express happiness.
When we need something we ask our moms to ask our dads to get it for us? Or vice versa? Yeah? When we are looking to get something done we use a strong reference? Likewise, the Prophet and his family are the closest to Allah. They make duas using them as a waseela. And that is all.
Talking about the contents of a Majlis, it begins with marsiya which is poetry about the Battle of Karbala and the journey after that. Next, a Zakir talks about important Islamic teachings and recalls the Karbala incident. Nohas are, again, like poetry. Context revolves around the Prophet’s family.
No, there is no saliva in the Haleem. No, there are no wrong activities taken place on Ashura. Instead, prayers are offered all night.
Contact authentic and reliable scholars to clear your confusions. Don’t believe every Tom, Dick and Harry who tries to create disturbances between the sects.