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September 10, 2019

Day of the brave


September 10, 2019

As we mark Ashura, one of the holiest days on the Muslim calendar, we are all compelled as Muslims, regardless of sect or intricacies of belief, to remember the sheer heroism of Imam Hussain and his brave companions – including his sister Bibi Zainab – who fought alongside him. The occasion is a reminder of the fight against oppression, injustice and brutality, and an example in courage and valour which has rarely if ever been equalled. The events of Karbala may have occurred many thousands of years ago but they are relevant even today – perhaps more relevant than ever before. We need men and women of strength and determination to stand up against the horrors we see in today’s world, where the powerful dominate those unable to defend themselves and terrible acts of violence occur on a regular basis.

We seem to have become indifferent to injustice. If the horror we see on a daily basis does not move us, what will? It is difficult to fight an entire society and indeed also other societies around us which refuse to accept the notions of social justice or equality for all. But we must not despair; we must consider the stand Imam Hussain and his companions took, proving that extraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary measures.

These measures are what we all recall on Ashura. The stories told so poignantly at the majaalis held across the country are still important. They help people release pent-up emotions and express pain that they must otherwise bear in a society which is indifferent and from which empathy has virtually vanished. It is unfortunate that today Ashura has become an occasion where the police are seen at every corner and near every Imambargah. The attacks on Muharram processions in the past, in almost every big city in the country, are a reminder that today there is no safety even on holy occasions.. At a time when there is growing global conflict between Muslims of different sects, and between powerful and brutal states and oppressed people, in our own country we must build the bridges of peace. For centuries in the Subcontinent, Muharram brought people together. It is a pity that extremist clerics have attempted to end this. The struggle today must be to battle against such trends and ensure that the month and particularly Ashura is observed with dignity and respect for all.

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