SHAFAQNA – If Islam has often been slammed for its perceived and alleged mistreatment, and/or dismissal of women as worthy members of society … beyond the role they play at home, it is rather evident looking at the character of Lady Zaynab bint Ali – Imam Hussain’s sister, that women, far from being kept in the shadows, played a central role in anchoring Islam and carrying its message.
I would personally posit – and please bear in mind that such opinion is purely my own, that we owe Lady Zaynab a debt of eternal gratitude as she was instrumental in shaping our traditions.
She was the Revolution of her brother. It was her who carried the message of Ashura upon her back and spoke Justice to Yazid’s court as he taunted her.
It was her struggle, her patience, her resilience and boundless courage that allowed for communities to understand what resistance implies and entails.
It was through the words and actions of a daughter of the prophet that the world was taught pious resistance and strength before injustice.
If Imam Hussain ignited a fire within our souls as his blood fell onto the plain of Karbala, Lady Zaynab anchored our allegiance to the House with her tears … She was the fortress to Imam Hussain’s Movement.
Her cries have risen not just a revolution but a community of believers.
Only those who fail to appreciate Islam’s truest tradition continue to believe women insignificant shadows. Only those who have closed up their heart to AhlulBayt remain blind to women’s positions within Islam … and yet their stories are forever in the Quran; praised for their fortitude, commended for their piety, celebrated for their grace.
It was once said that on the Day of Ashura it is the whole of Islam that came to fight the whole of Tyranny.
Indeed … to this very day that battle rages on.
The Day of Ashura is not bound by time since its relevance remains pertinent to our struggle. If we consider that Time bears no limitation in the eyes of the Divine and that past, present and future are in fact but one in the hands of our Maker, then we must accept that the tragedy of Karbala still is.
Affront against God did not end with the fall of a sword on our Imam’s neck – and so our mourning should be eternal.
It is not that we want to claim righteousness over Islam that we cry Imam Hussain during the month of Muharram, it is because we hunger for the light we were robbed of, and injustice we cannot sooth.
There is no pride in our tears except for the understanding that our path is that set by the Prophet Muhammad.
There is no arrogance in our cries either – only a promise that everything that we are is to the service of our Imams.
Hear in the drums of Muharram an oath of allegiance that no armies, no calamities, no threats, and no falsehood will ever break, tarnish or disappear.
It is the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and Lady Zaynab’s defiance that have animated our hearts and breathed strength in our arms.
We are after all the Shia of Muhammad and Ahlulbayt – we are not of those who reject the oath given!
By Catherine Shakdam for Shafaqna