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Ashoura; an Islamic rather than a sectarian event

15/06/2013 A.D 6/8/1434 H

Inspired by “Ashoura, an Islamic Perspective” by His Eminence Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra)

Ashoura can be regarded as a school that balances theMuslim personality, because it manifests all the greatness of its individuals in their relationship with God, and in their high spirituality, in that prophetic attitude with each other and towards their enemies, and in their demonstration of the Islamic concepts, whether on the political level regarding the question of who should become the ruler, or on the religious level in general.

Such concepts became stagnated in the minds of many people so that they could no longer give them clarity in seeing reality, something that could be repeated at any time, in many forms. This is because history repeats itself with regard to the continuous struggle between truth and falsehood, which makes the commemoration of Ashoura a responsibility in terms of following the role model, a springboard from which to advance, and a wealth of values from which to benefit. This is why the Imams of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) wanted Ashoura to continue for all time, so as to become the prophetic tree that provides fruit to bring benefit to all of man’s essentials. People have added a lot of traditions to Ashoura, and over time many of its elements have lost their dynamism and, at various stages, they turned into mere rituals that fail to encourage the consciousness to rise against injustice. In some places, it has even become the practice to torture oneself, and to neglect one’s humanity, and some people have seized it as an opportunity to instigate sectarian disputes, to vent historical grudges and so on, which contradicts the sacredness of the event and its sacred individual, and does not conform to the Islamic attitude that approaches everything from a standpoint of purity and faithfulness.

On this basis, his eminence the grand scholar Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlullah started ? and for more than fifty years has continued ? to highlight the thought of

Ashoura, and likewise the emotions, to confirm its Islamic identity that calls all Islamic sects to benefit from its lessons in the present and the future, so that Muslims rally around al-Hussein (a.s.) as an Imam and symbol of Islamic unity in both stance and act. His eminence rejects any kind of diminishment of this great event, including the forms that simply commemorate and do not conform to its sacredness, that contradict the Shariaand tarnish the pure Islamic image of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) in the eyes of people.

Ashoura is not sectarian.

The Islamic Quranic fundamentals emphasize thatresponsibility for the past lies with those who lived in itand made it, both in its positive and negative outcomes.

These are God’s words: “This is a people that havepassed away; they shall have what they earned andyou shall have what you earn, and you shall not becalled upon to answer for what they did.”(2:141)

Historic glory will not, thus, be our glory, in the dynamicmeaning of glory, but rather the glory of those who madeit, and we – at the same time – have to abstain fromblaming others for history’s negative twists and turns asa way of allotting responsibility to this party or thatparty, as if one of them follows a historic group whichwas engaged in struggle with another group that theother follows.

On this basis, the Shiites of the present are notresponsible for the negative acts that were witnessedwithin the circle of past Shiite? Sunni disputes, norshould they hold contemporary Sunnis responsible forwhat befell the Shiites at the hands of those who wereSunnis in the past. Rather, the Shiites and the Sunnistoday live in one era and they are responsible for whatthey themselves do in it; at the same time each of themwill continue to have their viewpoints in understandingIslam and how to act accordingly, and what to view assacred or holy, about which everyone can engage indialogue.

In this matter, we would like to point to thereasonable way that the Holy Quran emphasizes howto manage disputes, which is based on agreeing on thecommon points and engaging in dialogue about thedisputable points. This will make Ashoura an act ofawareness, not an act performed through fervor,because that is when a person understands where hestands and how the atmosphere around him and thepolitical situations that are active and effective.Fervor, on the other hand, makes you enthuse withoutcontrol of your position, will or stance. That said, wedo need enthusiasm and some fervor, to shout slogansand cry out, but before that we must understand whywe enthuse, cry and shout.

A reasonable person must think of the outcome ofwords before saying them, and think of the goals of adeed before starting it, and refrain from entering intodisputes via cursing and swearing, in order to givevent to anger or to pursue a grudge. The questionhere is: when the Shiites erupt in anger and verballyabuse the Sunnis’ sacred persons, can this possiblymake the Sunni convert to Shiism? And when theSunnis erupt in anger and attacks Shiites’ sacredpersons, will they be acting along Islamic lines inthought and belief?

God almighty showed us how to treat the sacredthings of any group of people: “Revile not thosewhom they call upon besides Allah, lest they out ofspite revile Allah in their ignorance; thus have Wemade alluring to each people its own doings”(6:108),since if you revile (verbally abuse) the sacred thingsand persons of others they will react by reviling yoursacred things and persons.

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