Badilisha Lugha: Swahili

Karbala: From a Spiritual to a Political Interpretation

Rasul Jafariyan

The uprising of Karbala as a religious and sacred jihad and a revolutionary
political movement is the most durable movement in Shi'ah political history.
This revolutionary movement was launched for reviving the laws of Islam, for
rectifing religious and political deviations and for replacing the Umayyad
regime with the Alawi Imami government...
Throughout the arguments about
Ashura, the factors responsible for a spiritual interpretation need to be
identified so that a proper analysis can be accomplished.
One of the facets
of the incidence of Karbala is its emotional dimension. and this speedily made
room for itself in the Shi'ah society. But it has to be noted that by relying on
this dimension a direct political interpretation is not possible. On the other
hand, attributing a legal proof to the peace concluded by Imam Hasan (A) and
particularizing the uprising of Imam Husain (A) to his own individual self, and
not generalizing it, are also responsible for reducing the scope of a political
interpretation of Karbala and increasing the scope of a spiritual
In the special conditions prevailing after Ashura, the Imams
(A) gave basis importance to cultural aspects, and later on, its impact on the
Imamiyyah Shi'ahs was that they used to give no credence to the prevailing
political set up. As a result, the Shi'ahs, despite their possessing a profound
political background gradually inclined towards a gnostic interpretation, and at
the same time, the meaning of the term wilayat inatead of finding application in
the political sense was used in the domain of metaphysics, and the discussion on
imamate was handed over to theology (Kalam), although the role of the Ghali's in
this regard was also significant.
Eventually the Imams (A) are identified as
political figures and are even considered among the heads of the Sufis. It
should not be forgotten that the Safavis too had a sufi beginning and their
government retained that sufi despite the struggle of the fuqaha remained
unchanged for a length of time and never totally disappeared.
Among the other
factors which encourage an apolitical interpretation of Karbala is the
classification of the manifest (zahir) and esoteric (batin) and their
differentiation from each other. This classification has been accepted by a
large number of Shi'ah mutakallimin (theologians) and is even today a
contentious topic.
As alluded to earlier, although the Safavi impact in
popularizing Shi'ism was really significant, the Safavis themselves viewed it
from an apolitical stand point. Despite this, Shi'ism during their period, and
even later, became more social, and this was due to its closer contact and
presence in the political sphere. But during the Qajar period, the government
disliked the involvement of the Shi'ah ulama in politics and this led to their
being distanced from it, and during the Mashruteh (constitutional Movement) this
lack of political experience caused serious problems for them.
After the
month of Shahrivar 1320 (Sept, 1941) and specially the change which took place
in the 1940s, the political stagnation among the Shi'ahs ended, and finally the
comprehensive concept of wilayat-e-faqih was elucidated by Imam Khomeini

The Philosophy of Recurrence of Mourning Ceremonies for Imam Husayn (A)

Muhammad Ibrahim Jannati

mourning ceremonies for Imam Husayn(A) is among the most important rituals and
has many religious, moral and socio-political benefits. Thus throughout history,
the enemies have been against holding such ceremonies by the Shi'ahs. These
ceremonies have special and unique features, among them one can mention the fact
that they portray a struggle against falsehood. They also help keep the religion
alive through an emotional identification with an event, thereby strengthening
the morale of the followers of the Master of Martyrs. In the mourning ceremonies
held for Imam Husayn, one should avoid recounting stories that have no basis in
reality. Only then these ceremonies can foster a spirit of struggle, sacrifice
and martyrdom. Only then these ceremonies can serve as a model for enjoining the
good and prohibiting the evil. A few points need to be observed in holding
mourning ceremonies for Imam Husayn (A):
• The ceremonies must comply with
logic and rationality as well as authoritative religious rulings.
• The
ceremonies must explicate the aims of the uprising by Imam Husayn (A).
• The
ceremonies should not contain any act which might be against the rules of
• The ceremonies should stick to retelling the historical
One of the tools which can portray the event of Ashura in an artistic
fashion is the passion play or Ta'zieyah which can be the best tool if it
follows artistic methods and if it avoids going
against logic and reason, or
the actual events. Of course, Ta'zieyah needs to conform to the following
•Its lyrics should be rational.
Ta'zieyah must be based on
•It must conform to the rules of religion.
•It must be adapted to
conform to the modern mentality of today's human communities.
One of the
practices that is against religious rules in some of the mourning ceremonies is
Qameh-Zani, (drawing blood through cutting one's scalp with a machete), a
practice which is against reason and against the manner practiced by the Imams.
This practice in no way can be considered among the authentic religious
Now all the conscious orators and writers should correctly state the
aims of Ashura and should elucidate for the people what arc the inappropriate
conducts practiced on, and wrong notions held about, Ashura.

The Messages and Achievements of the Movement of Ashura, and the Movements Inspired
by It in the History of Islam and the Contemporary World

Sayyid Muhammad Mahdi Ja'fari

Why has the movement of Ashura become so prevalent? The answer to this question lies
in the special characteristics found in the movement itself. The most essential
element of this movement was its struggle for truth, which has caused it to be
This movement has had diverse achievements, among them
•Awakening the people who have yet to become conscious
the forces that are dormant within
•Shaking the foundation of
•Teaching not only "how to live", but also "how to
•Teaching lessons in" martyrdom" as the best way for exposing
•Teaching how to reform the oppressive and corrupt
•Teaching the revolutionary function of "memory" and those who
•Keeping the religion of Islam alive
•Providing proper guidelines
to all revolutions.

The evaluation of sources and documents for Research on the Movement of Ashura:
The Case of the Maqtal al-Husayn of Abu Mikhnaf

Hojjatollah Joudaki Abu
Mikhnafs Maqtal al-Husayn includes the events that occurred between the death of
Mu'awiyah in the year 60 H. and the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (A) and the
captivity of his family in the year 61 H.
This Maqtal, written two
generations after the events in Karbala, is the oldest extant Maqtal
Abu Mikhnaf's Maqtal has 112 long and short reports.
reports are as long as one sentence and some are a few pages.
Abu Mikhnaf's
sources are of three types:
1. General and well-known historical events
Eyewitnessed reports on Karbala
3. Second-hand reports from the eyewithnesses
who were there on Ashura.
Most of the reports are of this type.

The institutionalization of the culture of Ashura

Sayyid Alireza Kebari

Our Islamic nation has lived with the culture of Ashura and Shi'ism and has become
familiar with the models provided by Ashura and Shi'ism. Therefore, the nation
brought about the Islamic revolution in the name of Allah in order to revive the
divine values. The leadership of the movement was with the Master of the Martyrs
(A) and his true descendant (The late Imam Khomeini R.) who had designed the
Islamic Revolution to overthrow the phoney system of monarchy. The late Imam
Khomeini (R) based the revolution on the models of the revolt of Imam Husayn (A)
and the divine ideals. Hence, by optimal utilization of the old institution of
the culture of Ashura, he was able to lead the Islamic Revolution to victory, an
institution whose efficacy was developed from the time of Hadrat Adam (A) all
the way through the Seal of the Prophethood (Prophet Muhammad S) and the Shi'ite
Imams (A) The reformers and the God-seeking people, keeping in mind the memory
of Ashura, had generalized the extent of the activity of this institution to all
the vital phases of the society, the individual and the cultural pillars.
this paper, I will focus on the social function of the institution of Ashura
which has been a source of life, vitality and dynamism in the history of
Shi'ism. In addition to the influence of the culture of Ashura on the persian
literature and on the idioms, parables, customs and traditions of the Islamic
Iran, attention will be paid to two issues: the Islamic Revolution and the Front
(The war front of the Iraqi-Imposed war) as the results of this institution, the
very results that are the source of pride.

Ashuraesque Management:The Best Model for Development Management

Sulayman Khakban

In today's world, the development management is considered among the most important
and the most sophisticated fields of the study of management because development
management encompasses planning, organizing, hiring human resources, leadership
and monitoring of a social system. Here, the model of management is indeed a
function of the model of development. It can be a secular one or one based on
divine precepts. Considering that development is the process which involves the
process of thinking and acting of the indivisuals, directed towards achievement
of a pre-determined goal or goals, Ashura portrays, in the best and most
expressive manner, these two viewpoints:
The materialistic viewpoint and the
divine viewpoint. Hence, one cannot claim that one has designed a model of
development based on spirituality but, in the process of management, adopt the
ways of the kings. Ashura is, therefore, a historical call to expose the evil
and corrupt models of development and materialistic management in their attempt
to suppress the divine values. In other words, Ashura shows the ends and the
strategy of development.
If we look at Ashura from the standpoint of science
of management, the colossal and indescribable power of leadership in the area of
"motivation" becomes apparent. The case of Ashura's motivation is such that it
has gone beyond time and space. This motivation is such that the word Ashura
means the event plus the motivation. "Ashura" elicits deep emotional as well as
intellectual responses. Imam Husayn had succeeded in
creating the highest
type of motivation among his companion. Similarly, the late Imam Khomeini (R),
tapping into the powerful energy inside the people, used this Ashuraesque
motivation in motivating millions of people.
Ashuraesque motivation plays the
most important role in the continuation of the revolution. "Seeking comfort" and
"living a life in pursuit of luxury" are the two important signs of "reaction"
and "regression to the values of Jahiliyyah". If the Ashuraeaque mitivation dies
within us, it will divorce us from our ideals and true values.
Now the people
and officials have two ways before them:
Either live in an Ashuraesque manner
and die in an Ashuraesque manner or sink in the morass of luxurious palaces, and
no longer move forward.

The Essence of Imam Husayn's Uprising and the Distortions and Wrong Conclusions Concerning it:
Their Root Causes and Ways of Countering Them

Muhammad Ali Khamseh and Hamid Barqi

The third Shi'ah Imam Hadrat Husain Ibn Ali(A) is the second fruit of the blessed
nuptial bond of Ali (A) and the honorable daughter of the Noble Prophet (s). He
was born on 3rd Sha'ban of the 4th Hijri and was named, like his elder brother,
by the Prophet(S). He grew up in the loving bosom of the Noble Prophet (S) and
his honorable mother Hadrat Fatimah (A), and the Prophet (S) said about him and
his brother Hasan ibn Ali (A):
My two children, Hasan and Husain are the
leaders (imams) of my Ummah irrespective of their controlling the reigns of
power or not.
The most important incidence in the life of the Third Imam (A)
is his struggle, sacrifice and martyrdom along with his children and companions
in Karbala: an event which shook the mind and conscience of the people and
caused the other events to be put into oblivion, and which still continues to
exist and remain unforgettable in the annals of history.
The Hussayni
uprising is a conscious revolution from the point of view of Imam Husain (A) as
well as his family and companions. It is an Islamic Revolution and not an
explosion, and is a multi-dimensional movement in which various factors are
involved. These factors are: The factor of seeking allegiance (bay'at), the
factor of invitation of the people of Kufa, and the factor of amr bil-ma'ruf and
nahy anil-munkar (commanding good and forbidding evil). Each of these factors
cast a specific duty upon Imam Husain (A), and he in turn reacted to all of
them. But these three factors are not of the same importance, and each, within
its own limits, adds value to the movement of Imam Husain (A).
This Divine
Resurrection had some remarkable consequences such as falling from grace of the
ruling clique, the occurrence of revolts and uprisings, and laying the
foundation of the path of martyrdom.
The fact that numerous factors were
involved in Imam Husain's (A) uprising has resulted in this event, which from
the historical viewpoint does not involve any lengthy detail, becoming very
complicated from the angle of exposition and fathoming its essence. This has led
to its misuse, and distortions, both of word and meaning, that have taken place
regarding the historical event of Karbala. Two types of factors, both general
and particular, have been responsible for these distortions. Among them are:
ulterior motives and enmity of the enemies, the sense of the myth present in
man, and the inability to properly grasp the philosophy and purpose of Imam
Husain's (A) uprising.
Accordingly, our duty vis-a-vis these distortions is
to identify and counter them, and it is the responsibility of ulama and Islamic
thinkers - while countering these distortions and destroying their myth, to
enlighten the general public about the historical facts pertaining to it.

The Shi'i Imams and the Movement of Ashura

Sayyid Ahmad Khatami

"Revitalizing Ashura and its culture" was among the methods that the Imams (A) chose to ensure
the survival of the school of the Prophet (S). Among these methods one can
mention the fact that they exhorted the Shi'ahs to:
•make pilgrimage to
Imam's Shrine, or recite his Ziyarat,
•compose poems in his
•organize mourning ceremonies,
•lament over his
•prostrate on his Torbat
Making pilgrimage to the shrine of
Hadrat Imam Husayn (A) or reciting his Ziyarat is, in effect, an oath of
allegiance to him.
The potency of the Ziyarat of Imam Husayn was such that
the enemies of Ahl-al-Bayt alwaysopposed the visit to his shrine and on
different occasions took measures to destroy it.
Imam's zyarat includes the
•introduction of Imam's personality,
•his role in reviving
•the nature of Ashura,
•the nature of his enemies
•homage to his
loyal companions.
On the other hand, since poetry is one of the
manifestations of the subtle side of the man's spirit, it can play an important
role in propagating the message. The medium of poetry has been emphatically used
for stating the message of Ashura. Hence, the committed Shi'ah poets have so far
composed thousands of poems which have helped keep the memory of Imam Husayn's
movement alive.
It has also been recommended that mourning ceremonies be held
in memory of Imam Husayn (A). These ceremonies have been instrumental in
reviving the path of Ahl al-Bayt who are the symbols of Islam. The red flags of
Ashura that herald the dawning of the day of vengeance of the oppressed are put
up in these ceremonies.
Among other methods, one can mention the fact that
the Imams stressed the significance of lamentation in the mourning for Imam
Husayn (A). Tears are the distillation of the most sacred, and the purest form,
of human emotions. Crying for the Master of Martyrs shows the depth of devotion
and love for that martyred beloved.
By prostrating on the Torbat of Imam
Husayn (A), one is honoring freedom of spirit, love of God, self-sacrifice and
renunciation in the path of religion. Torbat of Imam Husayn (A) calls us to
compassion, mercy, kindness and love.

A Brief Outline of the Plan for Compilation of an Encyclopedia of Imam Husayn (A) and Ashura

Baha'aI-Din Khurramshahi
The compilation of reference works, especially encyclopedias, is something which is considered important nowadays. Furtunately in Iran a greater significance has
come to be attached to the compilation and publication of encyclopedias during
the last decade, and at the present about twenty different encyclopedias are in
different stages of compilation or publication.
The advantage of reference
works lies in their ability to provide concise, correct and well documented
information on specialized topics. On the other hand, the biographies of great
men of science and religion and particularly the biographies of the Ma'sumeen,
may peace be upon them, is of greater interest to us as Shi'ite Muslims.
Moreover, the revolutionary role of Imam Husain in the moral and intellectual
revival of Islam and crystallization of Shi'ih ideals is of a singular
In the modern era all revolutionaries have tried to lead and
spiritually mobilize the people by taking recourse to the uprising of Imam
Husain and offering a simple interpretation of it. This is quite manifest in the
case of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. On this basis, the compilation and
publication of an encyclopedia of Imam Husain and Ashura would meet the
intellectual, religious social and cultural need of Iranian Muslims as well as
other Muslims and Shi'is of the world.
Such an encyclopedia can either be
compiled on a subject-wise basis or in the form of articles arranged
alphabetically. Some of the main subject titles of this encyclopedia can be
briefly referred to as follows:
2. A brief outline of the
history of Islam, the seerah of the Prophet and biographies of Imam All and the
Prophet's family (A).
3. A biography of Imam Husain (A) from birth until the
ninth of Muharram of the year 61 H.
4.The references to Imam Husain (A) in
the Noble Qur'an.
5.Imam Husain (A) as narrated in the Hadiths.
About 60
of such main topics, each of them with scores of entries under it, could be

An Investigation into the Famous Motto:"Life Is But Ideal and the Fight for That Ideal"

Inayatullah Majidi

The phrase "Life is But Ideal and the Fight for That Ideal" has been turned into a motto. Different groups with differing ideological orientations have used this motto. We must determine whether this statement, which has been attributed to Imam Husayn (A) truly belongs to him or not. Also, we need to see if the meaning behind this sentence is in accordance with Islamic principles and beliefs.
Some believe that this sentence is not truly attributed to any specific person. Some contend that there is not any evidence for attributing
this sentence to Imam Husayn (A). Some are of the opinion that this statement is
definitely not a statement by Imam. Finally some have suggested that this
statement belongs to one of the Egyptian writers.
What is really certain is
that this statement lacks historical documentation and could not possibly belong
to the Imam (A). In fact, the statement is one of the two parts of the following

"In life, stand and fight for your belief (for) life is
but belief and struggling (for its sake)"
which has been attributed to Shawqi, the Egyptian poet.
Regarding the compatibility of this (verse) with
the Islamic principles, there are two opinions:
1.Considering the meaning of
the term "jihad" (struggle), the person to whom this statement is attributed
must have meant the Monotheistic belief' by mentioning 'belief' and must have
meant "religious struggle' by Jihad.
2.Considering the lexical meaning of the
words "belier (Aqidah) and "struggle" (Jihad), what is meant here is the belief
and struggle in their general sense, not in a specific ideological sense. But in
Islam, the meaning of life is summarized in believing in the One God and the
striving (Jihad) purely for gaining His approval, to the exclusion of all others
and their approvals. This pure endeavor is considered "holy".

The Culture of Ashura

Rajab Ali Mazlumi

The question regarding the "culture of Ashura" should be asked from those who
painfully witnessed what happened to the men of Ashura. Those who have just
heard about Ashura are not the right persons to answer this question because
they never experienced it first hand.
Those who were in the battlefield, saw
themselves annihilated in the personality of Husayn (A) and kept
There were also those who asked what went on with Husayn (A); they
asked this question without being at all afraid of being killed or being sent to
Never staying silent, never content in their silence, and never happy
with the status quo, these people lamented over the separation from the beloved
Husayn (A).
These people, who were left out of the scene of Karbala, were
always ready to accept all manners of punishment, in every place and in every
time, they cried Out...
And thus the committed literature and poetry of
Ashura was born.

The Epic of Ashura in the Persian Poetry

Ali Mir-Ansari

There have been few studies on the reflection of the epic of Ashura in the Persian
poetry from the middle part of the fourth century H. to the ninth century H.
According to the extant documents from the fourth century, the Shi'ah poets who
composed their poems in Persian were the first to pay homage to the Master of
Martyrs in their poetry. Kisa'i Marvazi is among the top poets in this
After Kisa'i in the fifth century, such poets as Nasir Khosrow have
had a keen interest in Imam Husayn (A) and have written on such topics as the
status of Imam Husayn (A) as Imam and his martyrdom.
In the sixth century,
great poets turned their attention to the epic of Ashura. These poets were Amir
Mo'ezzi, Sana'ie Ghaznavi, Qavami Razi, Anvari Abivardi and Khaqani Shirvani.
Some of these poets such as Abivardi and Khaqani are the luminaries in the
firmament of the Persian literature whose Qasidahs are unparalleled. Among these
poets one sees two Shi'ah poets from Ray: Qavami and Abul-Mafakher Razi.
In the seventh century, usually the poets with gravitation towards mysticism such
as Mowlavi, Sa'di and especially Attar referred to Ashura and the martyrdom of
Imam Husayn (A).
In the eighth century such poets as Awhadi Maraghi, Salman
Savoji and Khajou-ye Kermani have written on Ashura. The reference to Ashura in
Persian poetry of the poets just mentioned comes in five forms:
reference: In Qasidahs as an allusion
2.As an appeal: In asking Prophet
Muhammad (S),
Imams (A) and other great men of religion to intercede before
God on behalf of the sinners.
3.Account of Sorrows: A somewhat emotional
poetry on Karbala, but one which is less emotional than an elegy.
elegy: In parts of a long Qasideh or in a Mathnawi.
5.Long elegy: We know of
only four long and independent elegies that were composed in this
five-hundred-year-long period, i.e. from the fourth to the ninth century H. The
first one belongs to Qavami Razi, a Shi'ah poet. The other three belong to
Salman Savoji, Awhadi Maraghi and Sayf Farghani who were Sunni. Of course, there
are some doubts as to whether Salman Savoji was a Sunni. At any rate, the Shi'ah
poets, were the pioneers in the field of composing elegies for Imam Husayn (A).