Sunday September 24, 2023

The meaning of sacrifice

September 11, 2023

The ‘chehlum’ of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his devoted companions was observed on Thursday (Sep 7) where thousands of people participated in the processions held in different parts of the country.

Undoubtedly, Hazrat Imam Hussain is a great figure of human history whose great sacrifice along with his family members is a remarkable example for every principled person who supports the truth.

Every religion in the world urges its followers to live in a dignified way and be ready to offer sacrifices for the sake of truth and social justice. The followers are required to stand on principles and unconditionally support those who are oppressed or facing cruelty and injustice. According to the Bhagavata Purana, if a person persecutes another human, God will not be pleased with them even if he is a devout worshipper.

In one of the weekly columns published in these pages on September 29, 2017 I had mentioned in detail that Rahib Dutt, a Hindu from present-day Lahore, also fought against the Yazid army alongside Imam Hussain at Karbala. He lost his 12 sons in the battle. Dutt, after coming back to ancient Lahore, founded a new community, known as the Hussaini Brahmins, to raise awareness among the local population about the great sacrifices made by Imam Hussain.

I believe that the everlasting sacrifice of Rahib Dutt proves that peace-loving and God-fearing people are present in every society. Regardless of their religious or geographical affiliations, they stand for safeguarding human values of truth, ethics and integrity.

A large number of Hussaini Brahmins were residing in Lahore at the time of Partition in 1947. Currently, they are settled in different areas of the Subcontinent – including Sindh, Lucknow, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Ajmer Sharif. It is believed that Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt and his late father Sunil Dutt are from the Hussaini Brahmin community.

Many notable Hindu personalities used to show devotion and affection to Imam Hussain openly. Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi, was one of the leading characters during the War of Independence 1857. Being a devotee of Imam Hussain, she preferred to sacrifice her life but never accepted the foreign occupation.

Before the arrival of the British in India, the holy month of Muharram was marked with great solemnity in different Hindu and Muslim states to promote interfaith harmony. Many Hindu poets such as Jai Singh, Mathur Lucknawi and Kunwar Mohinder Singh Bedi also paid tribute to Imam Hussain through their poetry and literature.

Mahatma Gandhi, the founding father of present-day India, is narrated to have state: “My admiration for the noble sacrifice of Imam Hussein as a martyr abounds, because he accepted death and the torture of thrust for himself, for his sons, and for his whole family, but did not submit to unjust authorities.” According to him, if India [or any other country] wants to be a successful country, it must follow in the footsteps of Imam Hussain.

Even today a large number of Hindu followers mourn to show solidarity with Muslims and to recall the sacrifice of Imam Hussain. As I know, the Hindu community in Sindh shares a special bond of respect with Imam Hussain. Every year, the Pakistan Hindu Council arranges ‘sabeels’ in different parts of Karachi. On Ashura Day, local Hindu people wear black and offer volunteer services to guard the Muharram processions.

Every year, we commemorate the great sacrifice of Imam Hussain, but it seems that we are not ready to implement his principles in our practical life. We must understand that the common features in all religions is to support the oppressed, serve humanity and offer sacrifice for noble causes. The real importance lies in the moral character of a person.

Today, we should promise to never compromise on principles and that we will support the truth at any cost.

The writer is a former member of the

National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

He tweets/posts @RVankwani