Every day is Ashura and every land is Kerbala
Tomorrow the 25th of November, Shia Muslims in Arusha are joining others across the world to mourn an extraordinary person, the climax of Ashura commemorations.
What is Ashura?
In the month of Muharram 61 AH (approx. 20 October 680 AD), an event took place in Iraq at a place known as Kerbala on the bank of the river Euphrates. It seemed in those days insignificant from the historical point of view.
A large army which had been mobilised by the Umayyad regime besieged a group of persons numbering less than a hundred and put them under pressure to pay allegiance to the Caliph of the time and submit to his authority. The small group resisted and a severe battle took place in which they were all killed.
It appeared at that time that like hundreds of similar events, this battle would be recorded in history and forgotten in time. However, the events that occurred on the 10th day of Muharram in Kerbala were to become a beacon and an inspiration for future generations.
Preserving His Sacrifice
Imam Husain took women, children, and all of his family members with him. This strategy ensured that after his death, his message would be spread through his family members, and that Yazid would not be able to suppress the truth or falsify Imam Husain's motives.
History proves that it was a brilliant move. His sister Zainab (A.S.), through her scholarly and bold speeches, and with no fear of the tyrant Yazid, eloquently proclaimed the truth and exposed the falsehood of Yazid in his own court. He was speechless and humiliated before her. His court was full of dignitaries, both local and from other nation-states, and his own supporters.
They were shocked to hear the truth put forth so forcefully, and many were brought to tears. The same scene was repeated in the bazaars and marketplaces of the country, all along the travel route of the surviving captives. Husain had laid the foundation of the revolution with his blood. His sister Zainab stirred the revolution with her oratory. That revolution changed the world forever.
Statements of Historians and World Leaders:
This unique historical sacrifice of Imam Husain and his small band of 71 male supporters has caught the attention of historians, scholars, and writers throughout the world, in all periods of history. Some of the more notable quotes and insights are given below:
"Of that gallant band, male and female knew that the enemy forces around were implacable, and were not only ready to fight, but to kill. Denied even water for the children, they remained parched under the burning sun and scorching sands, yet not one faltered for a moment. Husain marched with his little company, not to glory, not to power of wealth, but to a supreme sacrifice, and every member bravely faced the greatest odds without flinching." - Dr. K. Sheldrake
"If Husain had fought to quench his worldly desires, as alleged by certain Christian critics, then I do not understand why his sister, wife, and children accompanied him. It stands to reason therefore, that he sacrificed purely for Islam." - Charles Dickens
"The best lesson which we get from the tragedy of Cerebella is that Husain and his companions were rigid believers in God. They illustrated that the numerical superiority does not count when it comes to the truth and the falsehood. The victory of Husain, despite his minority, marvels me!" -Thomas Carlyle
"In a distant age and climate, the tragic scene of the death of Husain will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader." - Edward Gibbon
"The tragedy of Karbala decided not only the fate of the Caliphate, but also of Mohammadan kingdoms long after the Caliphate had waned and disappeared." - William Muir
"A reminder of that blood-stained field of Karbala, where the grandson of the Apostle of God fell, at length, tortured by thirst, and surround by the bodies of his murdered kinsmen, has been at anytime since then, sufficient to evoke, even in the most lukewarm and the heedless, the deepest emotion, the most frantic grief, and an exaltation of spirit before which pain, danger, and death shrink to unconsidered trifles." - Browne's History of Persia