You called out,
deserted on the sands of Karbala,
with the shameless swords of the traitors glinting with malice before you,
you called out,
Is there anyone to help me?
That day the answer for you was silence.
That day your companions could not jump to your side.
That day Abbas could not respond with his sword held high.
That day they lay still on the plains of Karbala
with the East wind blowing dust over their bodies
and you looked out into the face of evil,
the Prophet betrayed, and you alone.
I wish I could say today your call has been answered.
I wish I could say today the millions of us are there with you in the plains of Karbala,
that we call out with a resounding answer that echoes over the world,
trembles mountain ranges and weakens the knees of any oppressor,
shatters the pillars of any tyrant
strikes hope in to eyes of the oppressed,
and lightens the world with our love for you,
an answer that holds the ferocity of Abbas as he thundered towards Furat,
and answer that has the daring fury of Zaynab as she slammed Yazid in his court
an answer that has the urgent and basic love that moved Ali Asghar to fall off his craddle.
an answer that mimics the fierce loyalty of the shuhada that lay
in the battlefield that day and you were alone.
You were alone.
But not again, I wish to say. It would not happen again.
The streets shrouded in black,
the handkerchiefs weighty with tears,
the hearts that cry out for you
the compassion, the pain,
the sorrow that wrings out from every bosom-
all an ardent reply to your call,
that we are here, that we care.
I long to say that this time your army will not be seventy-two.
This time masses of millions will march along you.
The glint of our combined swords will light the world.
The proof of our loyalty the tears that we have wept
and these black shrouds on our backs.
This time around, you will not be alone Imam,
We have answered your call, I hunger to say.
But today I still hear your call.
It echoes from the orphans of Iraq,
It comes resoundingly from the tyrannized in Palestine,
from the helpless in Africa,
the terrorized in Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, India
From every land, in every language your call,
Is there anyone to help me
stalks and haunts the world.
It goes unheard, ignored, abused,
but so defiantly loud in the pale eyes of the child
who whimpers at the gun pointed at him.
Does your despair not simmer in the eyes of the child
who’s only view of the world is from behind barbed wires?
Can I not hear the choking sobs of Umm Rabab
When a mother buries her child in Gaza under the rain of bombs?
Can I not hear the weeping of Sukayna on the headless body of her father
when a girl screams as her father blows up into smithereens?
Can I not hear the wails of Al Atash, Al Atash
coming from the refugee tents set up in my country?
Can I not hear the screams in the desert night when the tents burnt to ashes
coming from the family that watches, terrified as their neighborhood is bulldozed by army
In the desperate eyes of each and every single one of them,
I can hear them echoing your call,
your call to me
Is there anyone to help me?
Are they abandoned like you on the battlefield?
The graves of today’s martyrs are fresh, moist with blood,
their Yazids still stand, spitting out lies to the world.
How could I say every day is not Ashura?
How could I say every land is not Karbala?
I wish to so much to say to you
to somehow be able to meet your eyes and tell you
that we are not like the cowardly backstabbing Kufans
that we are not like the stone hearted Yazidis
that we are answering your call,
that we are there to help you
but today, when I look out into the world
and the clamour of oppression deafens me
I tremble to say I still hear a silence.
I hear a silence that echoes the hush of the desert on the day of Ashura,
a silence which is a blessing for a Yazid
a silence that stifles any hope,
a silence that brings the end so much closer,
a silence that is oppression
the silence you were met with.
It is that silence that I hear still today…