Date :Thursday, October 4th, 2018 | Time : 20:12 |ID: 73205 | Print

Challenging the Tyranny of the Status Quo – Husayn Ibn Ali (as) /Exclusive for Shafaqna


Challenging The Tyranny of the Status Quo – Husayn Ibn Ali (as)
Open Discussions in association with Gulf Cultural Club hosted a seminar on the lessons on martyrdom and change from the Karbala epic entitled ‘Challenging the tyranny of the status quo’ this week at Abrar House in London. Speakers at the well attended  event included : Dr Sheikh Saeed Bahmanpour (Scholar), Cannon Dr Andrew Smith (Director of Interfaith Relations and Danjuma Bihari (Community Griot).
The event hosts asserted that “one of the greatest challenges of reformists is to stand up to the cultural, religious or political ailments of their societies. The status quo is often so rigid that people with a religious mission would be frustrated as they face the social diseases inflated by evil forces; consumerism, materialism, immorality, dictatorship and exploitation. But they have a duty to fulfil.” Chairman Shabbir Razvi added that Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad, sacrificed himself and 72 of his family members and supporters when he challenged the status quo that had developed under the Umayyad dynastical rule. They were all martyred on 10th Muharram 61 AH (680AD).”
Sheikh Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour, a leading UK based religious cleric and a popular speaker addressed the meeting too. Currently he is the director of interfaith relations at the Islamic Centre of England and a lecturer of Islamic Studies at the Islamic College for Advanced Studies He completed his religious studies in Qum, Iran before he was invited to Cambridge University to teach as a visiting lecturer in the Faculty of Oriental Studies In 1999.
Dr Bahmanpour pointed to Imam Husayn’s patience in addressing the status quo during the time of leadership of his brother Imam Hasan (as) ; wherein he did not rise up against the growing Ummayad oppression of the rebel Governor – Muawiya, with whom a provisional peace treaty had been agreed. Saeed Bahmanpour argued that “in rejecting an oppressive status quo Imam Husayn was mindful of the leadership and seniority of his brother and the importance of not violating the Holy Household of the Prophets true Islamic principles in order to challenge the injustice of the unjust.”
He added that “Imam Husayn did not rise for martyrdom even during the reign of Muawiya upon taking on the mantle of Imamate after the martyrdom of his brother. Why? Because he was not prepared to break a treaty nor mobilize an army of tens of thousands to shed the blood of masses on a huge scale for what would still might have been perceived as merely a thirst for worldly power. Rather he rise for truth when the Ummayad tyranny had exposed itself absolutely with the illegal appointment of Yazid son of Muawiya as a hereditary ruler, a man totally outside the moral Islamic framework and who represented the violation of treaty.”
Canon Dr. Andrew Smith is the Director of Interfaith Relations for the Bishop of Birmingham. In 2014, at the Bishop of Birmingham’s request, Andrew set up ‘The Birmingham Conversations’ dialogue process which involved people from six different faiths discussing ‘How faith is lived in modern society’. He acknowledged the commitment of Christ to challenging the status quo of his time too, an act for which he too was persecuted. Christian history is also littered with the sacrifice of martyrs, thrown to the lions in Roman amphitheatres, which formed the bedrock for the rise of Christianity.He also responded affirmitavely to questions from the floor which asked him if Christians should oppose British government arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other despots. This in his opinion was a necessary practical challenge to the current immoral status quo of the UK establishment.
Danjuma Bihari,a community scholar, historian, anthropologist and public speaker also spoke at the event. A Windrush activist, a compulsive reader and an advocate for cultural heritage awareness and education Danjuma argued for a broadening of the definition of the term ‘martyrdom’ to include those who fought and died for justice and not just those who died for their faith.
Shabbir Razavi concluded that ” To stand up for freedom, justice, human rights and pluralism is a task that only great people will undertake. Yet everyone is capable of challenging the status quo with the aim of changing the lives of people and granting them free choice, dignity and spirituality.” He said “This is the mission of people of religion today and would best serve the legacy of Imam Al Husayn (as).”
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