Ashoura: An Islamic rather than a sectarian event

SHAFAQNA- Ashoura can be regarded as a school that balances the Muslim personality, because it manifests all the greatness of its individuals in their relationship with God, and in their high spirituality, in that prophetic attitude with each other and towards their enemies, and in their demonstration of the Islamic concepts, whether on the political level regarding the question of who should become the ruler, or on the religious level in general.

Such concepts became stagnated in the minds of many people so that they could no longer give them clarity in seeing reality, something that could be repeated at any time, in many forms. This is because history repeats itself with regard to the continuous struggle between truth and falsehood, which makes the commemoration of Ashoura a responsibility in terms of following the role model, a springboard from which to advance, and a wealth of values from which to benefit. This is why the Imams of Ahl El-Beit (a.s.) wanted Ashoura to continue for all time, so as to become the prophetic tree that provides fruit to bring benefit to all of man’s essentials. People have added a lot of traditions to Ashoura, and over time many of its elements have lost their dynamism and, at various stages, they turned into mere rituals that fail to encourage the consciousness to rise against injustice. In some places, it has even become the practice to torture oneself, and to neglect one’s humanity, and some people have seized it as an opportunity to instigate sectarian disputes, to vent historical grudges and so on, which contradicts the sacredness of the event and its sacred individual, and does not conform to the Islamic attitude that approaches everything from a standpoint of purity and faithfulness.

Ashoura, and likewise the emotions, to confirm its Islamic identity that calls all Islamic sects to benefit from its lessons in the present and the future, so that Muslims rally around al-Hussein (a.s.) as an Imam and symbol of Islamic unity in both stance and act. His eminence rejects any kind of diminishment of this great event, including the forms that simply commemorate and do not conform to its sacredness, that contradict the Shariah and tarnish the pure Islamic image of Ahl El-Beit (a.s.) in the eyes of people.

Ashoura is not sectarian

The Islamic Quranic fundamentals emphasize that responsibility for the past lies with those who lived in it and made it, both in its positive and negative outcomes.

These are God’s words: “This is a people that have passed away; they shall have what they earned and you shall have what you earn, and you shall not be called upon to answer for what they did.” (2:141)

Historic glory will not, thus, be our glory, in the dynamic meaning of glory, but rather the glory of those who made it, and we – at the same time – have to abstain from blaming others for history’s negative twists and turns as a way of allotting responsibility to this party or that party, as if one of them follows a historic group which was engaged in struggle with another group that the other follows.

On this basis, the Shiites of the present are not responsible for the negative acts that were witnessed within the circle of past Shiite? Sunni disputes, nor should they hold contemporary Sunnis responsible for what befell the Shiites at the hands of those who were Sunnis in the past. Rather, the Shiites and the Sunnis today live in one era and they are responsible for what they themselves do in it; at the same time each of them will continue to have their viewpoints in understanding Islam and how to act accordingly, and what to view as sacred or holy, about which everyone can engage in dialogue.

In this matter, we would like to point to the reasonable way that the Holy Quran emphasizes how to manage disputes, which is based on agreeing on the common points and engaging in dialogue about the disputable points. This will make Ashoura an act of awareness, not an act performed through fervor, because that is when a person understands where he stands and how the atmosphere around him and the political situations that are active and effective. Fervor, on the other hand, makes you enthuse without control of your position, will or stance. That said, we do need enthusiasm and some fervor, to shout slogans and cry out, but before that we must understand why we enthuse, cry and shout.

A reasonable person must think of the outcome of words before saying them, and think of the goals of a deed before starting it, and refrain from entering into disputes via cursing and swearing, in order to give vent to anger or to pursue a grudge. The question here is: when the Shiites erupt in anger and verbally abuse the Sunnis’ sacred persons, can this possibly make the Sunni convert to Shiism? And when the Sunnis erupt in anger and attacks Shiites’ sacred persons, will they be acting along Islamic lines in thought and belief?

God almighty showed us how to treat the sacred things of any group of people: “Revile not those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance; thus have We made alluring to each people its own doings” (6:108), since if you revile (verbally abuse) the sacred things and persons of others they will react by reviling your sacred things and persons.


source : Inspired by “Ashoura, an Islamic Perspective” by His Eminence Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra)

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