Elegies

A Shangri-La…in Karbala?

The writer, Sh Dr Imranali Panjwani (Chelmsford, UK) is a Senior Lecturer in Law, Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, UK and Head of Diverse Legal Consulting.

A beauty lingers on those bloody and maimed plains,
Like a sweet Arabian perfume removing the stench of stains.
Were one to tell you of contentment and calmness,
In Karbala as if there was a Shangri-La,
Perhaps this would be a different story,
But the narrator remains the same with his glory.
Hmm…a thought is needed though it is already seeded –

Not in those earthly plains,
Not in those human pains,

But in the tremendous soul of that loving man, al-Husayn.
For what is planted, He sowed it and he spread it.

Did al-Husayn feel disdain?
Did al-Husayn unleash cantankerous claws?
Did he spear up for toothy revenge without pause?
Nay! Let the myriad of stars failingly illuminate,
That serene soul of al-Husayn who understood his fate.
Our honourable narrator pens before he defends,

“Whosoever rejects me,

May Allah be the final judge between them and me.” 2
Al-Husayn’s core was a lamp giving light –
Not eruption but illumination,
Giving the soul-searching blind, sight.
A true conscience of humanity,
Whose light still shines if we wish to see,
Through ‘luminosity.’
Yes…perhaps we need this measure –
Not to leave those gory and gut-wrenching sands,
Whose grief-stricken woes fill our hearts like an hourglass

But to ponder them from afar,
And understand the ubiquitous al-Husayn,
Lest he become buried in our pain.
If we choose al-Husayn, the Shangri-La of Karbala,
Our Godly souls for Him and humanity will not be slain.

1 “Shangri-La is “a remote beautiful imaginary place where life approaches perfection: utopia”:
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Shangri-la (accessed 29th August 2022). It is primarily known as a
fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. In the book, ‘Shangri-La’ is
a mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains.
Shangria-La has become synonymous with any earthly paradise but particularly a mythical Himalayan utopia—a
permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shangri-La) [accessed 29 th
August 2022]. There is, however, a place actually known as Shangri-La today – “Shangri-La, previously known as
Zhongdian, is a small, primeval Tibetan town located 5-hours-drive north of Lijiang, Yunnan, China. In Tibetan,
“Shangri-La” means the “sun and moon in heart,” a literal heaven on earth”:
http://www.chinatourguide.com/zhongdian/aboutzhongdian.html (accessed 29th August 2022).
2 Ishtihardi, Mohammad, Lamentations – The Tragedy of the Lord of the Martyrs – Part II , trans. by Sheikh Arif
Abdul Hussain (Al-Mahdi Institute, 2001), ‘Will of Imam (Husayn) on his departure from Mecca’, p16.

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