Forgive and forget
Aliasgher Janmohammed (Cape Town, South Africa) is a Project Manager specialising in development planning. He currently works in identifying the intersections of technology and its role in improving cities planning. His key interest is social justice and how planning can be more inclusive and pro-poor.
espected scholars, my brothers and sisters salaam alaykum,
Today, we are gathering for one of the solemn nights of Muharram. A tradition that we have continued for years that makes us remember the sacrifice of Imam Hussein, his family and his companies.
And I guarantee you as you look around the mosque at all the young ones, that they will continue this tradition because of the beauty of Hussein’s sacrifice.
Last year, I stood in front of you and told you that Hussein in its true sense won the war because it is his story that resonates with us and one that we will continue to speak about for years to come.
This puts the events in Kerbala in its true lens as the battle was not about immediate gains, at least from Imam Hussein’s view, but rather the cosmic nature of the events that have ripple effects across mankind.
If we were to use an analogy, we could say that if the story of Kerbala was written in a 1000 page book, Yazid would be mentioned as a footnote somewhere in the appendices. Imam’s story and the story of his family and companions would be mentioned in every page of the book, explaining their virtues and their bravery.
In fact, I can tell you that this mosque will see generations, centuries and eras of Hussein being commemorated and cried for because Hussein’s story transcends language, age and generations.
If you want to learn about trust, you go to Kerbala. If you want to know how to behave in your relationships, you go to Kerbala. If you want to what sacrifice means, you go to Kerbala.
I can stand here and list all the moral values that can be learnt from Kerbala.
But it would be easier to state that Imam Hussein, his family and his companions are the pivots to which every person can and should measure themselves when it comes to all moral values.
One virtue that always stands out to me is how Imam Hussein behaved with people regardless of whether they were his friend, family or enemy.
I was recently reading a book that spoke about how the only person that can offend you is you alone and nobody else.
And Imam Hussain and the Ahlulbayt always exemplified this, in the way they interacted with people and behaved with them.
The same attributes were shown by his grandfather, Prophet Muhammed, for example. We all know about the resistance that Prophet faced when he brought the religion of Islam to Mecca.
One famous story narrates that a woman would often throw garbage at the prophet in her show of resistance to his message and degrade him. But the prophet never responded negatively to these attacks.
One day the prophet was passing by the same street where this lady would attack him but to his surprise, she wasn’t there on that day. When he queried, he heard she was sick and visited her home.
He went to visit this lady and asked her how she was doing and offered to help her around the house to make life easier for her. The lady was not only humbled but shocked by this behaviour and later on converted to Islam because of it.
Fast forward to Kerbala and we see Hurr approach Imam Hussein for forgiveness and for a chance to join his army.
A good reminder is that Hurr had, only a while ago, diverted Imam Husseins caravan to Kerbala at the behest of Yazid. He may not have been entirely at fault for where Imam Hussein found himself, but he did play a role in it.
If Imam had negatively reacted to him, I don’t think any of us would have blamed him for it. But he doesn’t do that. He accepts him with open arms, no judgements held and through this act of kindness, Hurr and his son were able to receive the ultimate gift of being part of imams army and going to jannah.
There is a lot of praise that must be bestowed on Hurr and the lady who who converted to Islam because of Prophet’s behavior. Admitting to one’s mistake is not a small feat at all.
At the same time, not reacting to someone who has wronged you in a negative manner showcases the characteristics of our Ahlulbayt. They had all the power to feel pride at being the chosen ones. In both situations, they could have retaliated with an eye for an eye.
Instead, they chose mercy and forgiveness.
So what does this mean for us followers of Ahlulbayt? Well, someday in the future, you will find yourself in a situation where you will feel wronged and hate towards someone for what you perceive they have done to you.
It could be tonight, it could be tomorrow, this week or even much later.
You will have two choices, just the way the prophet and imam had. You can retaliate and get the final word because your opinion is right. Or you can show mercy and kindness and understand that every relationship is worth keeping.
People have bad days and bad moments, but these moments do not define who we are but rather our moments of weakness where we have perceived something incorrectly or have projected our feelings.
Our Imam and Ahlulbayt showcased to us the importance of not judging people by those weaker moments and as we go into this new Islamic year, we get a chance of implementing these attributes into our lives.
This is just one of hundreds of attributes that I was able to share with you. As we hear the majalis of the companions and family of Imam Hussein, I ask you to listen to beyond the stories that we hear and identify what attributes and lessons we can implement in our lives.
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