In the end, what have we learnt from Kerbala?

by Mohamedarif Suleman

(Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

Farewell O Husain! As we approach the pinnacle of this year’s commemoration, the air is once again filled with a sombre aura, an inexplicable fresh grief and a familiar hollowness in our hearts that most certainly represents loss and separation.  Yes, we are in awe of your fortitude, your resoluteness and your eagerness to submit to the will of the Almighty.  However, as we recount the merciless savagery of the opponents of Islam and humankind, we naturally recoil into a surreal sorrow that hurts and pains as though it were happening again and again. For us, what are the lessons from Kerbala?

O our master, as we look around our own world, this very era, things seem to have worsened for many wrongs are now making the mighty right and peace is a song sung by the merchants of war, very ironical indeed.  Power today, like in your generation, is licentious to dominate unfairly, and equality is no longer a given. Unfortunately, as our present Imam remains distant by the will of Allah (SWT), we find ourselves helplessly agonising over the schemes and plots of tyrants who are hell bent on driving the world to a state of utmost corruption of morals and values.

Imambadas and mehfils in cities where this has been possible, as well as reciters on virtual podiums, have done their utmost to remind us of unfinished business – that of reforming ourselves and reaching out to others, but do we have the tawfeeq yet, O maula?

Diversions and distractions of daily material life, and excessive hands working towards exhibiting their allegiance to you in a bid to show off, have all but robbed away the essence of these important discourses.  We have begun believing in blessings without effort of reform as we hop from one majlis to another.  In some places, the sacred institution of majalises where the front-running agenda was to learn, we have popularly turned them into places of heroic politicking, witty hate speech, self bloated campaigns and pure poetic amusement amidst loud chants of your greatness and our expression of allegiance, reminiscent of partisan and kingly courtyards of yore.

O Husain! We are failing you as we remain obstinately poised to get past your glory, your sacrifice and begin subscribing to your ethos, for Allah (SWT) is witness that you did not face this to gain our applause and accolade, but rather to nudge us towards the only path of salvation in the face of audacious hypocrisy, turbulent and sin-filled lives and an adversary that seemed unassailable. 

If there is one prayer we must implore of today, then it would be to help us struggle inwards and seek the pleasure of Allah (SWT) and cease to portray you as the end of our pleasing, for quite certainly this may anger you having taught us that life is about obeying His commandments and seeking His nearness, of performing only deeds that are good and beneficial to all, of spreading the truth rather than enforcing and imposing it , and to refrain from sin and bad actions.

O our beloved and revered Imam, we need guidance to rid ourselves of adulterated and ritualised versions of your commemoration and of Islam.  Who knows how long our provision on this land has been ordained, but for the rest of our days, may we conjoin with your principles, your teachings and your guidance, Ameen.

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About the author

Mohamedarif is a marketing professional and educationalist with a penchant for writing as a hobby since childhood. As he experimented writing about sporting events at first and then current affairs, he quickly developed a skill for observation of his environment and began to write on reform topics, especially in connection with the community. To further feed his pursuit of writing, he founded several newsletters and bulletins at his school and at the Husayni Madrasah in the 1980's, all the time learning from others already in the field not just about writing, but also about pre-press and production processes. He was also the editor-in-chief of the Knowledge Magazine in 1995–1996. A decade later, importing a flurry of ideas into his new home, Nairobi, he first founded a two page community newspaper then became a regular writer of the Friday Faculty before establishing the Community on Friday, a fully fledged Madrasah magazine in 1996. And while his writing at the community continued, he simultaneously started writing for a business weekly, pairing in with his newfound role as a marketing professional. During his time in Nairobi, he wrote several speeches for sitting chairmen and presidents while also giving some himself, developing his concurrent role as a public speaker and trainer.

With changing times and a decrease in advertising sponsorship, as well as a fall in overall readership, Mohamedarif transformed this publication into an electronic blog. Thus was born the Community on Friday in its present format.

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