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Ashoura and Grief in the Islamic Rhetoric

Date: 04/10/2018 A.D - H

By H. E. Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah (ra).

We believe that grief, just like joy, is a deep human state in the human being, and not only a mere emotional feeling that man consumes whether in moments of grief or in moments of joy. On the contrary, moments of sadnessrepresent  a humanistic function that has to do with opening up on the issue that produced them or on the cause itself, because one needs to benefit from his sadness to emphasize his position towards the issues associated with his emotional sadness.

 That is what we notice, when we observe that man did not limit his sadness to an inner psychological feeling.Rather he tried, throughout history, to express his grief either by tears or by screaming or by suggestive words and some violent actions such as pulling his hair and hitting his chest and scratching his face,each  in accordance with his national traditions.

Man’s need to express his grief emanates from his need to benefit, knowingly or unknowingly, from his emotion to make people sympathize with him and attain their help or to stress the deepness of his relation with the person he is mourning.

Mourning or grief also affects man, especially when the relation with the one who is mourned is familial or personal or when he is a holy person such as a prophet, an Imam, a religious scholar or a political or social figure. Moreover,those who manipulate the active grief and its effect on the people’s life would use the various expressions of grief to emphasize a certain position or to produce a new reality, or confront the one that took part in creating thetragedy.

That is why, we believe that those who are active in the public domain, especially the Islamists, should benefit from the grief that is associated with the general mentality of the people, whether in the past or the present, that is the grief over a holy person or a horrific tragedy, by studying the backgrounds and the horizons or the goals and the great causes that it might inspire.If we find out that the elements and means of expression of this grief could yield big results in serving a certain cause, then it would represent a positivity, since it simplifiesthe means and methods we need to tie the masses to this or that cause. In this case, emotions represent the shortest way to reach these results. But we should be careful in the way we benefit from the elements of the tragedy, for although they have certain positive aspects, they might be exploited in a negative way to further complicate other issues, especially those that have to do with the struggles the Islamic reality witnessed.

Certain elements might be associated with the sectarian sense on the one hand and the revolutionary sense on the other. That is why we ought to be very careful and isolate these elements away from the sectarian sense and link them to the general lines of Islam, so that the martyr whom the tragedy revolves on becomes a symbol of the great course, while the other party  would represent a symbol of the negative aspects in the Islamic reality.. 

  For example: when we talk about the battle between Al-Hussein(a.s.)and the army of Yazid, we have to emphasize in the beginning  that there is nothing Islamic about the latter  whether at the level of the doctrine , the sect or the Islamic just rule , and that the Umayyad are not a sacred family  in such a way that focusing on their negative points constitutes an offence against the general Islamic feelings or principles .On the other hand, we have,  when talking about the personality of Al-Hussein,to study it from the point of view of his leadership qualities and the nature of the spiritual values he represents and the issues he raised  that surpass him and opens up on the Islamic reality in general. Hussein (a.s.) is not merely someone we love or thegrandson of the Messenger (p.  ).  His cause is the cause of someone who raised the great Islamic causes of the entire Islamic realitythat we still hold in the present and future as he did in the past.

When we study the social and political environment of the cause as well as its big religious lines, we notice that it is an Islamic cause, which all Muslims can aspire toit issues in a positive manner.  In this way, the Husseini cause will not be a Shii cause in which the Shia would deal with in an emotional way that further fuels their psychological complex from the other Muslim party, who might react in a way that further reasserts his rejection to it. Then their (the other party ) fanaticism might lead them to look for positive points in the stances and personality of Yazid, to the extent that some of their historians said that Al-Hussein was killed by his grandfather’s sword , or that he was merely a rebel who divided the Muslims. And the whole thing would turn into an issue of dispute between the Shia and Sunnah.

We emphasize the significance of benefiting from the emotion of grief, because it can enrich our experience and link between the past and the present in a complementary way. It also embodies a great humanitarian issue, since it shows that the man who rebels against a tragedy in the past and those who perpetrated it could be motivated to rebel against those who are making the tragedy of the present. Thus this grief would have a humanistic aspect, since it would turn into an action that prevents new similar tragedies. This is what we can live and inspire in Ashoura, when we focus on its great humanistic elements such as the right and falsehood, dignity and humility and just or unjust rule…

Taken from the book :Khitab  al-IslamieenWalMustakbal (The Rhetoric of the Islamists and the Future)

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