Monday, December 28, 2009

Karbala, as relevant today as it was in 680 AD

Muslims across the world are commemorating the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, who was murdered along the banks of Euphrates near Karbala in the year 680 AD at the orders of the sixth Muslim Caliph, Yazeed son of Caliph Muawwiyah. 

The events in Karbala in the year 680 AD continue to shake the world today. The Taliban and their spiritual leaders in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Yemen, are in fact fighting Yazeed’s war even today. The war in Iraq between the Shiite and the Sunnis has the same pretext.

Though Imam Hussein was murdered along with his family by Caliph Yazeed, The real conflict was between Prophet Muhammad’s tribe, Bani Hashim, and Bani Omayya, a powerful Arab tribe that lost its key leaders and chiefs while fighting against the new religion, Islam. Even when the Omayyads converted to Islam, they continued resenting the fact that a large number of their celebrated tribal chiefs died in wars with Islam, especially, at the hands of Imam Ali, Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law and Imam Hussein’s father.

Caliph Yazeed demanded allegiance from Imam Hussein, which he refused on the grounds that their was no room for monarchy in Islam. Yazeed took over caliphate  from his father Caliph Muawwiyah as birthright. Imam Hussein offered Yazeed the option of going into exile if Yazeed were to leave his family alone. Yazeed instead sent an army of thousands to follow Imam Hussein’s family and friends who were travelling in a convoy of men, women, and children. Yazeed’s forces killed Imam Hussein, his friends and male offsprings, including a six-month old baby and numerous teenagers. In total 73 males, including Imam Hussein, were murdered by the Yazeed’s army. 

After the slaughter at Karbala, Imam Hussein’s family was made to walk from Karbala in Iraq to Syria to appear in Yazeed’s court, where he imprisoned the women and the surviving son of Imam Hussein, Imam Zain-ul-Abedeen.  More children of the Hussein’s family died in the prison in Syria.

This continued until Muslims loyal to Prophet Muhammad and his family staged a coup against the Ommayads under the command of Ameer Mukhtar. Yazeed and his associates who participated in the 680 AD massacre of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson and his family were singled out and eliminated.

The clash of values between Hashemites (Prophet’s tribe) and the Ommayads continue even today. The Saudis are the followers of Ommayads and the Ommayad’s version of Islam. The Saudis continue to preach and practice the nomadic tribal version of Islam that has more to do with the pre-Islamic tribal norms than the the teaching of Prophet Muhammad.

A caveat is indeed in order. Even today, a vast majority of the Sunni Muslims do side with Imam Hussein and not Yazeed.

The Shiites and the Ismailis have remained loyal to the family of Prophet Muhammad. However, the descendants of the Ommayad tribes and those who have been loyal to the Ommayads continue to attack the Shiites in the Muslim countries. Assassinations and bombings of Shiite notables and places of worship are common even today.

The fight in Iraq today has more to do with the shared history of those Sunnis who are loyal to Ommayads and the Shiites. Taliban are also followers of the Ommayads. It is indeed intriguing that even 1329 years later, the Shiites are still struggling and suffering to keep monarchy and tyranny away from Islam.

In Sindh, Pakistan, the Hindu minority has been observing Muharram and the death of Hussein and his family at the hands of tyrants. The following BBC footage presents the story of Pakistani Hindus who appreciate and understand the difference between just rule and tyranny. That’s why they commemorate Hussein. The Taliban, even being Muslims, couldn’t make that easy choice.

No comments:

Post a Comment