An Essay by Farhad Afghan

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Among the twelve months of the year, two months Ramadan and Muharram, are special for Muslims all around the world. In these two months Muslims change their physical surroundings and change spiritually. They cover their living place with special posters and wear special clothes. In addition, they confront their bad habits and modify them to be good ones. Ramadan is special because of fasting. Muharram is special for two reasons. First, based on Islamic culture, Muharram is the month of peace, and war is fully rejected. This culture of war has been around before the emergence of Islam among the Arab tribes. These tribes fought one another but during Muharram they put their conflicts aside and did their business peacefully. The second reason Muharram is special is because of the great event of Ashura. Ashura is the 10th day of Muharram and honors the martyrdom of Imam Hossain, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad, who fought against the cruel dictator, Yazed.

The Prophet Muhammad established an Islamic community and a powerful Islamic government that in less than two decades seized the two big empires and introduced the unknown Arabs to the world. Undoubtedly, the principles of Islam were the real reasons for this great success. Islam encouraged education, power, wealth and progress for their followers. Islam shone brightly until a cruel dictator inherited the governance of the Muslim community. This dictator, who was famous for his immorality and careless treatment of Muslims and disrespect for Islam was named Yazed, the son of Moavia. His behavior was completely against Islamic principles. When he began governing, he wrote many letters to eminent persons of the Muslim community requesting their support and acceptance of his government. He emphasized that any disagreement with him would lead to throat cutting.

Most of these eminent persons who were contacted accepted Yazed as dictator. However, Imam Hossain, son of Imam Ali and grandson of Prophet Muhammad, did not accept this cruel leader. Imam Hossain was a sophisticated man of his time in terms of religious studies and politics. Against the advice of others, he openly disagreed with Yazed’s dictatorship and warned people about the future of the Islamic community under the government of Yazed. Imam Hossain fully comprehended the dangerous results of going along with Yazed and the negative consequences of Yazed’s government. Imam Hossain was trying to wake up the people who had reluctantly supported Yazed and encouraged them to think of ways of defeating Yazed.

Imam Hossain became familiar with martyrdom as a way of waking up the people and ending the dictatorship of Yazed. Yazed’s government had already changed the public perception against Imam Hossain and his family. So, he had no soldiers, no political power and no money. He was determined to save the religion of his grandfather, awaken the people who had bowed to Yazed and become his slaves. Imam Hossain wanted to go down in history as someone who attempted to liberate his people and had done his responsibility even though he knew he would die in the process. It was a hard decision, but he had already chosen martyrdom.

He shared his decision with his family and close friends and with a few supporters. From the 1st of Muharram to 9th of Muharram Imam Hossain went on a trip organizing his army which included 72 warriors. On the 10th of Muharram (now known as Ashura) he and his small army faced the army of Yazed at Karbala plain (today part of Iraq). Family and friends were with him until his last moments when he was killed by Yazed’s soldiers at Karbala. The message of his revolution was conveyed to the people by his brave sister, Zaynap. She was with her brother at Karbala, she tolerated the pain of her relative’s and brother’s martyrdoms with her own eyes. She sent the message of the revolution to the men in the court of Yazed and appeared before the common people, speaking bravely about what she had seen and what her brother was fighting against. Her words resulted in positive changes in the Muslim community.

The revolution of Imam Hossain that occurred on the 10th of Muharram, in the year of 61 Hejri- Qamari (on the Muslim calendar) in Karbala is one of the most beautiful pages of human history. This page is full of loyalty, love, kindness, bravery and resistance. Imam Hossain’s revolution resulted in the collapse of Yazed’s dictatorship and brought an awareness to the people and reenergized Islam. The school of Hossain is full of messages for humans. One broad message for all humans is: “You are born free, you must live freely and you must die for your freedom.” This school of thought teaches you humanity and love, kindness, loyalty and brotherhood, and encourages you to be sensitive to the destination of your community.

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About the Author: Farhad Afghan is in his fourth and final year as an undergraduate student in Geoscience in the Geography department at Bamiyan University.

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