Kufa–o–Kashmir –o– Karbala                   

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“Qul u Yum i Aashura, Qul Arzi Karbala”.

 

“Every day is Aashura and Every land is Karbala” is not only historical in context, but relevant forever in the world of conflicts and wars. Beginning from our own Kashmir where we have been under cage for the last 100 days. For us, Kashmir seems Karbala and everyday seems the Aashoora with 100 in the graves, 15000 lying half dead and more than 1000 turned blind. Is it not the Karbala for each and every one of us?

 For us ‘Karbala’ never passes away. Its sun never sets in the horizon of history. Its anguish can never be effaced from the “Conscience of the Freemen or Aazadi ye Fiqr” by the collective conspiracy of tyrants.

At Karbala clouds of blood rained and generations of martyrs and revolutionaries took root and sprouted. The sounds of the fearless voice of Imam Hussain (AS) still echoes in the Valley of Al – Tafoof – ringing in the ears of time. It is a hurricane that chafes and shakes the tyrants. It is a volcano of blood, jolting the thrones of the despots. It awakens free conscience and stirs within human the spirit of revolution and jihad. His voice is still echoing in the ears of humankind:

“By Allah, I will never give you my hand like a man who has been humiliated, nor will I flee like a slave.”

It is because of the majestic attributes, his ingenious personality, and his lofty social rank that Imam Hussain (AS) was destined to become a dynamic, active force in Human History and his life a brilliant testament leaving an indelible mark on all generations. 

“Honour enshrined the visage of Hussain in the heart of every Freedom – loving individual who knows humanity’s real worth and the merit of principles and values.” 

Why no Hussain in Kashmir?

The person of Hussain bin Ali (as) is a symbol, a school and a distinctly unique, political and religious revolutionary movement in the history of human civilization. He can be a propelling force and a seminal element in events throughout human history, particularly in the present context in world, like in Kashmir. If we take Imam Hussain (AS) as an example, that has remained vividly alive for generations through centuries, his uprising, movement and ideals will have a deep impact on the conscience and awareness of our people.

When we study Karbala we observe it was social, political and religious factors that made Imam Hussain (AS) rise to challenge Yazid. A key factor was the violation of the principles of Humanity. The main principles Imam Hussain (AS) desired to keep alive were:

Paying due attention to the public opinion, and regularly consulting it in the conduct of affairs.

Law and Principles stand above everyone. They are the key standard according to which the ruler is evaluated. The legality of his position and his right to the exercise of power is similarly estimated.

Establishment of justice and equality between all the people, regardless of social status in the sphere of rights and obligations.

Assuring the leader is both efficient and righteous so that he can discharge his responsibilities.

Equity in economic distribution ought to be firmly instituted.

The right of criticizing, advising, guiding and discussing the policies of the leaders should be respected and institutionalized.

In contemporary times, we witness the deteriorating political, socio – economic and cultural moralities in the world in general and the Kashmir in particular and it clearly is recognised that the general policy of the authorities do not jibe with human principles. We are aware of our numerous and painful afflictions, but lack  a personality like Imam Hussain (AS) – being the duly sanctioned leader and central figure  – capable of restoring ‘value based society’. 

Imam Hussain rose. His revolt is rich in lessons and divinely inspired attitudes. He embodied the sacrifice of Self, Money, Family, Social Status and the Challenges to Terror and Cruelty. He patiently transversed hundreds of miles moving day and night. The ‘epic protest’ he engendered came at the most critical political juncture. In fact, the Prophet’s grandson had vowed to sacrifice himself. Eventually he was martyred along with his sons, most of his household and all his companions. The bodies were mutilated and their heads were carried from Karbala to Kufa and finally to Damascus. The womenfolk were taken prisoners and marched across the deserts. He himself was expecting all that, but did not budge an inch. If we look into our social history in Kashmir, do we have any one like Imam Hussain (AS) who is exemplary like him and has stood against the oppression that Kashmiris have been struggling for centuries together? Unfortunately none!

Uprising like Karbala, led by one of the noblest personality in the entire history, is certainly one which is uniquely distinguished as a ‘movement abounding with spiritual, moral and religious ideals’. Due to the importance of this personality, we are honoured to present this concise, well documented “Book of Hussainy Movement” – standing unequalled in its greatness and fills the pages upon pages of history. Kashmiri society, unfortunately, has not produced a single person in history who can be categorized among the followers of such ideals. If we study our own leaders in Kashmir that have represented us in different times, we do not find a single one who matches even a single Hussainy character. Imam explicitly stipulates that the leader must abide by the Principles of Justice and Equity. He should hold the laws and will of masses in the highest esteem. He should refrain from ruling oppressively and misappropriating his post as a way to gain wealth, luxury and a monopoly of property and privileges. 

In Kashmir, today or in past, obviously we see none fit to lead. Our leaders are libertine, whose key focus is on making mischief and many other practices which are against the Human Ethics. Entire societies agree upon the fact that leadership ought not to be granted to anyone who lacks the ability of being an exemplary leader in his deeds, morals and understanding the importance of Divine Laws. He must also be politically efficient. Imam Hussain has summed up the cause behind his refusal in giving pledge of allegiance to Yazid: 

 “. . . Yazid is a corrupt man, who imbibes wine, puts to death the Soul which Allah forbids to be harmed and declares his debauchery in public. A man like me would never give pledge of all allegiance to Him . . .”

 

Kufan Character – Mass of Betrayals!

History gives us the glimpse of Kufa and its society.  The streets and alleys of the city of Kufa appeared virtually abandoned. Terror loomed there. Agents were in pursuit of the deputy of Hussain (AS) – Muslim. Ubaidullah Bin Ziyad could not leave Muslim Bin Akeel (AS) alive, because he was the one who had come to Kufa to challenge his authority and now opportunity came to avenge himself against him. Imam Hussain (AS) received the letter from Muslim in which there was clear description of the political circumstances in Kufa, and encouraging news regarding public opinion. Imam Hussain (AS) viewed question of state, politics, the Ummah, leadership and Imamate from the perspective of Holy Quran. As opposed to that, Yazid viewed these Questions from his ‘Castle Of Oppression’. Reviewing the Imam’s letters, arguments, sermons and correspondence (not dealt in this essay); along with the social, economic and political circumstances of the time, we can deduce the following realities or character of the Kufan society:

Oppression and monopoly of power on the part of Ummayyad was a fact. A distinct political class had taken shape. A tribal based party came into being which the Ummayyad group was. It monopolized power, wealth, and administration, whereas the majority of the people were deprived of these instruments, so much that the State became the private property of the Ummayyad.

Murders, terror and shedding of blood prevailed.

The Ummah’s wealth was wastefully spent. The majority of the government officials were lacking in the qualifications to discharge their duties.

Behavioural deviation became a social phenomenon. Corruption crept steadily into public life and its symptoms appeared in both individual and group.

Law took a leave.

A group of people assigned with distorting the traditions of the Prophet and forgiving new, false traditions appeared. Dialectic groups such as the“Fatalists” were formed to find suitable pretexts.

 

If we compare our Kashmir with those Kufans, we would get a sketch of our own social fabric. While studying history of social structure of Kufa and Kashmir we see similar chaos among general masses.  We have induced immoralities and corruption of all dimensions throughout the society. Alcoholism and Drug addiction has spread like ‘cultural epidemic’. Rape, theft and murders have been a phenomenon by the ‘powerful people’.  Lawlessness has been a part of our social failure. Social security has never been in existence. ‘Institutions of Social Causes’ have been turned into the ‘Institutions of Suppression’. History is witness that anyone who dared to turn against the oppressive occupiers would be eliminated by harsh methods and even assassinations and executions of such people was ‘under-ground’ fact. ‘Cultural Infusion’ has been always done through capital and other mediums. The economy has been monopoly of few. In Kashmir the historians have recorded that individuals were the possessors of great wealth and few had been taking advantage of the ‘influences’ and then outset of conflict literally piled up their money. The weaker class has always felt the brunt and always loss the fundamental rights of basic living and the appallingly widespread poverty among their ranks. Grabbing land illegally, at ‘individual or state level’ and exploiting resources for their benefits is well recorded. Individually also on one hand people perform Qurbani on Eid or Niyaz on Ashoora from the earnings which are corrupt. Is it not the Kufan trait?

 

Alas! As historians and writers ink the events, we come to see how Kufans gave Imam Hussain (AS) the ‘pledge of fealty and broke their vows’ and failed Him. At political level, our society is in utmost confusion – a Kufan character. Studies of both the masses of Kufa and Kashmir show, both their leaders and outstanding citizens, characteristically initially show enthusiastically declaring their support for the great uprisings. Then, we see how despair and frustration appears to penetrate the souls of the masses and its leaders. For example, the participation in the elections for the so called “false administrative affairs” on one hand and then raising voice against the oppression of the same elected regime can be called nothing beyond “exhibition of same Kufan Character” which that society showed while inviting Imam Hussain (AS) to raise against Yazid. 

In Kashmir people have always been put in depression at every level of political, social, cultural and economical setup. History also conveys to us figures, and, accounts attesting the gap that yawned between people and divine values. The recent promotion of prohibited practices like promoting alcohol and then forbidding cow slaughter, by the State, is itself a reflection of the Kufan character. We observe how the oppressors in different times have at different levels addressed the masses, promising the obedient abundant rewards and threatening the opponents and dissidents with severe punishment. They delegated agents to spy and report the names of the opposition activists and were busily asserting the authority by ‘brandishing the club in the face of the citizenry’.

In Kufa, Damascus and Karbala the pulpits were the medium of propaganda against Imam Hussain (AS) and his uprising and calling them “baghis or militia”. World over either in Mid East, Palestine or in Kashmir today the newsrooms and news channels are performing same function by siding with oppressive regimes and weakening  the ability and resolve of the people who rise up fighting tyranny, autocracy, despotism and treachery.

On 7th of Muharram, 61 AH, the Yazid’s Army moved alongside the River Tigris and blocked the path to the water to Imam Hussain’s camp, so as to make them “Die of Thirst”. The day which poets describe as:

“. . .  they were guests in the barren desert, wherein they camped without food. 

                They tasted no water till they gathered, at sword point, to quench Death’s thirst . . .

 . . . the sun was eclipsed by the brightly blazing Suns that were their bodies . . 

 By His martyrdom, you dropped the pillars of religion and banners of faith were forsaken.

They killed Him, though they knew He was the Son of the Apostle Of Allah (SAW) . . .”      

At present, aside from the gruesome violence and crime against humanity, oppressive regimes, like Yazid, are playing up in the world to block the water and making it a weapon to suppress voices of the oppressed masses. The recent attack on the Indus Water Treaty, Brahmaputra River Distribution and the cutting of the Cauvery waters are such “Acts of Inhumanity”.

Ask anyone who has studied the Karbala and Imam Hussain; it is the Yazidi trait to stop the true followers of any faith from performing their religious rituals.  In Kashmir, we see repetition of Karbala. The successive governments have not been allowing mourning processions especially 8th and 10th Muharram in Srinagar city. Now authorities in power have surpassed even Yazid by banning even the celebrations of Eid e Azha this year. This Zil Hajjah, as world Muslims were performing Hajj, we were even barred from offering Namaz e Eid. It may be recorded in history that it is now three months we have not been allowed to offer Friday prayers at the central mosques in Kashmir, like the Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid. How could these occasions, when one surrenders sacrificing the Self before Allah, create any law and order problem. It is not good on part of state government not to allow the processions to be carried from Abi Guzar, Guru Bazar and Shaheed Gunj on 8th and 10th Muharram. It is also condemnable in strong words by not allowing Friday prayers at the Central Jamia Masjid. One doesn’t understand, why the followers who assemble to commemorate the occasions of highest spiritual essence of Eid and Aashura are mercilessly beaten, though there has been no report till now of any violation of law and order by the mourners.

Notwithstanding the compulsions of the government, the constitution has conferred the right to freedom of professing and propagating a faith one chooses. This is a fundamental right and cannot be infringed the way it is done in this neglected land. This includes right to take out processions on important occasions like mourning processions on funerals and burials. The recent heart breaking and chilling episode of a father, who due to oppressive curbs was not allowed to get the Kafan (shroud) for his “Stillborn baby” in the old Srinagar city, is our Karbala. The event is Karbala for us as Yazidi army did not even spared Ali Asghar (AS) – a six month baby who was martyred in the fathers lap. Don’t we see same is done to our people who are ruthlessly bitten and killed? The mourners are even booked under the Unlawful Activities Act. Unfortunately the state government believes that commemorating mourning ceremonies are threat to state security and thus unlawful. 

An in-depth study of our society will maintain the deteriorating situation generated the motivations to lead to the revolt against injustice and inhuman acts by successive oppressive occupations. 

 

Conclusion.

Karbala, contrary to the popular perception, is not merely a grief-centric ritual. It is a philosophy, a concept, and a movement, that will always have contemporary significance. Even 1400 years on, it has not lost their significance, but on the contrary has become even more highly disciplined and powerful. 

As our Kashmir is witnessing the ‘Year of Tragedy’ – time when the people in general and the women and children in particular are suffering most under the oppression of the occupiers. In these tragic times, if we flip the pages of history and research through the documentation of the tragedy of Karbala, we see how groups of all ages, participated in the uprising – from a six month toddler Hazrat Ali Asghar (AS) to the age-old companions of Imam Hussain (AS), even the ill Imam Zainul Abideen (AS). How women and children witnessed one of the worst gruesome crimes, by Yazid, ever recorded in the history of mankind. It is Karbala which can pave a direction for us to strengthen ourselves against any form of injustice and orderlessness within a society.  We should seek the lessons from this tragic event, and introspect, and ask ourselves do we really follow the path for which Imam Hussain gave everything. This day provides us an opportunity to surrender before Allah, like Imam Hussain (AS) did, and seek forgiveness for all of us and ask him to bless us a leader like Imam Hussain (AS) who will stand up against all tyranny and oppression and lead us to Freedom not only political, social or cultural but“Freedom of Conscience or Aazadi ye Fiqr ” .

Like Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) and Imams of the household, our leader should be the example and the vanguard in his behaviour and ethical commitment. His ‘practical political behaviour’ must be a genuine personification of the political jurisprudence based on Human Ethics. Never should be the “Ends Justify the Means” his policy, when dealing with masses, or with their adversaries and opponents. Islam views politics as being based on the ethical and spiritual grounds. He should choose to abide by His principles of self discipline and political morality.

   As we have continuously sat in sessions for remembering Imam Hussain (AS), a “Literary School took shape and a Hussainy Tradition evolved”. It nurtures the tragedy and revives it, and, relates it perpetually to successive generations like the one we are struggling under an oppressor. Imam Hussain (AS) kindled the flame of revolt and advocated the “Rights of the Oppressed”. Imam Hussain (AS) remains forever – a Slogan for the Revolutionaries, a Lighthouse for the Free and A Source of Struggle and Liberation. Lets me end saying, Chi Kufa o Kashmir o Karbala, as poet beautifully says: 

 

 

“. . . Insaan Ko Baidaar Tou Ho Laine Dou

                      Har Qoum Pukaraighi Hamare Hai Hussain . . .”

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