Karbala: The school of resistance and freedom

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By: Irfan Ali Najar

Contemplating on the philosophy of Karbala is conspicuously the preparation for the red death like the philosophy of Socrates that made him drink the hemlock. Approaching Karbala theoretically is profoundly a deconstructing thought for breaking the chains of power and hegemony freeing people from the corrupt regimes. Karbala conceptualizes every complex matter that overtly and covertly affects mankind in general. It stands for every voice which is being muzzled. Karbala defines the ethic of resistance (qiyam) against oppression that shows how it is incompatible towards the structures of power.

The historical event of Karbala made an unending success over power composed of deceit, falsehood, cruelty and tyranny. The uprising of Hussain Ibn Ali (as) created counter history and founded counter discourse to defy and expose the black history imposed by the class composing Yazid like people. People at the time, when Yazid claimed himself as the caliph of Ummah, were deprived of dignity and honor because they were reduced into docile bodies by the system of tyranny. Hussain Ibn Ali (as) as an epitome of freedom sacrificed himself at the altar of freedom to revive the tradition of living free.

Ashura as the quintessential account of history carved out the unique standards for the whole humanity to live a dignified free life. From spiritual to social, political to metaphysical, gnosis to resistance Karbala encompasses everything because it is a complete civilization in itself. One cannot find balanced and perfect school of thought better than Karbala in the breadth and length of human history as it proved the ultimate standard of protest and patience. Both these phenomenon together reveal the character of Hussain Ibn Ali (as). A broad day No was the rallying cry of Hussain ibn Ali (as) which represents the whole ethic of protest against illegitimate system of Yazid ibn Muawiyah. Karbala teaches how to pronounce loudly on the face of tyrants, oppressors, dictators and all other cruel rulers. It is an academy of change and revolution condemning the status quo and stagnation. Karbala is supposed to make the comfortable uncomfortable and the calm people agitated. This presents the purpose in large framework where seeds are to be sown in the bosom of oppressed. Karbala shrinks the space for any individual compromise or collective surrender.

The uprising of Karbala is the reflection of values and spiritual politics where tyranny is not tolerated but revolted. Karbala is not a single event of history but a continuous mission marching on the earth till all illegitimate rulers, corrupt leaders and oppressors would disappear. This is the potential of Ashura which continues to resonate in every oppressed nation by giving the speculative meaning of their sufferings.

Karbala is the identity of all oppressed people who are under oppression fighting for their rights and survival. It strengthens the faith of resistance and patience. Karbala rescues people from humiliation and leads them towards the heights of dignity and freedom. This is an open invitation of martyrdom as Dr Ali Shariati has outlined that all generations are invited to give up their lives in the struggle if they cannot kill their oppressors. It indicates martyrdom is the last option when everything is controlled by oppressor as Yazid did and Imam Hussain (as) has only death through which he crumbled the face of Yazid and exposed his tyranny to the world.

Karbala is everywhere where oppression, injustice, deceit and cruelty prevail. This highlights the ubiquitous nature of Karbala . Karbala is the name of every nation which is occupied and oppressed. The present age Karbalas from Kashmir to Palestine to Yemen to Nigeria to Myanmar to Iraq to Syria to Afghanistan where  innocent people are being butchered, houses being bombarded, cities destroyed and countrysides ruined are perfectly in the course of uprising . The whole oppression and tyranny in these nations bring the event of Karbala before the eyes where people contextualizing their pain in the frame of Ashura inspiring them to fight for justice and propelling them to be firm and adamant against the Yazids of the time.

The uprising of Karbala could mould all the genuine movements of world over if properly preached and understood. It has a natural appeal to unite all oppressed people for greater mobilization. It would act as a magnetic pole pulling the downtrodden people to a definite cause and breakthrough. The more it is observed across the world the more it infuses the spirit of resistance to stand against structural oppression, racism, economic loot, injustice and inequality. Karbala could end present political uncertainties in all Muslim lands by inducing martial spirits and resistance in truer form. Karbala is not a sect-centric thing but it cuts all binary divides among Muslims and reduces the gaps and differences.

The writer is a student of Political Science and can be mailed at [email protected]

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