In Shia tradition, Muharram is not only the beginning of the Islamic calendar but marks the period in which we remember the sacrifice of Prophet Mohamed (SAWW)’s grandson, Imam Hussain. Therefore, during this month Shias remember and lament the tragedy that occurred between Imam Hussain (AS)’s small band of followers and Yazid, the governor of Syria’s large army.
However, there is much more to Muharram than merely grief. For many of us, the annual act of remembering serves as a reset button. No matter who the oppressor(s) are, it serves as a reminder to instill in people the value of standing up for what is right and speaking out against tyranny.
Moreover, there stands to be a deeper meaning and lesson of patience in the face of injustice throughout the entirety of this story. Imam Hussain (AS) remained patient during his journey to Karbala and upon the battlefield. Even when the oppressors assassinated the Imam’s youngest child, Ali Asghar, who was just six months old, he had the patience to leave his affairs in Allah’s hands. His forbearance was not a sign of weakness, but rather of his fortitude and bravery.
Today, Muslims confront a wide range of challenges from prejudice to Islamophobia which in turn has a negative impact on our society. As a result, our faith is weakened and we are affected by this, be it: academic setbacks, professional complications, or personal issues. Yet, Imam Hussain’s (AS) experiences teach us to have patience during trying times. We learn to remain tranquil in the sign of adversity rather than giving up.
Even passed the battle, it is narrated that the women and children were chained and taken to Syria, where they were beaten and tormented. Yet, Bibi Zainab (AS), the sister of the Imam, remained faithful, attended to the children, and cared for her sick nephew all while continuing to preach the oppression endured.
The grief and heartache that the devastation of Karbala brings can be shown in numerous forms such as lamentation poetry, the light beating of our chest, in some societies, processions and so many more.
Every practice is deep-rooted in the love that we have for the family of the Prophet (SAW), and how can someone restrict how to exhibit such compassion and endearment in one way or definition? Muharram allows us as a community to mourn the hardship that Imam Hussain (AS) and his family sustained, while also offering experiences and morals to learn from.
As Muslims, we read in the Quran, “Surely, Allah is with the patient,” but through events like the tragedy of Karbala, we see true examples of how much stronger we become in our faith when we are patient (Quran, 8:46). Bibi Zainab (AS)’s perseverance through this difficulty allowed the sacrifice Imam Hussain made to be shared with the world because if she had given up, his movement would have been forgotten and to no avail.
Hardships in this world are microscopic but seem like the end of the world. Using examples like Imam Hussain (AS) and Bibi Zainab (AS) we are reminded how a sacrifice in this world, leads to immeasurable rewards in the next. In the same way, when we are tested and are so close to giving up our beliefs, we must remember that patience is truly a virtue, that when faced with tribulations we must remain patient while promoting the truth; a lesson that the battle of Karbala established.