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Imam Khomeini (ra) and the Culture of Ashura

Ashura is the inspiration behind the fervent Revolution which is the greatest event of contemporary history, and which took place under the guidance of the great Ashuraic leader of our times, Imam Khomeini (R), for establishing a society based upon the foundations of monotheism and justice.

With the help of its God-given consciousness and the fervor of seeking the truth, become fit for the vicegerency of God on earth, and man`s soul may become a manifestation of the oneness of God and justice.

Ashura is the inspiration behind the fervent Revolution which is the greatest event of contemporary history, and which took place under the guidance of the great Ashuraic leader of our times, Imam Khomeini (R), for establishing a society based upon the foundations of monotheism and justice.

Opportunities for providing a proper understanding of the contents of the Movement of Ashura should be honored, and the presence of scholars and the cultural elite of Iran and the Muslim nations as well as non-Muslim scholars from other countries for understanding, analyzing and contemplating the contents of this event, should be given due regard. Scholarly discussions in this regard could spread and raise the level of knowledge, research and propagation concerning the sublime thoughts of Islam, the Ashura and Imam Khomeini (R). The International

Congress on Imam Khomeini and the Culture of Ashura was held on Khordad 11-12, 1374, corresponding to Muharram 2-3, 1416 and June 1-2, in pursuance of these propitious objectives and a Divine motive.

This book contains the abstracts of the articles selected by the Academic Committee of the Congress for publication in this collection and which is being presented to the knowledgeable and conscientious scholars on the occasion of this honorable academic congregation.

It is to be noted that:

  1. This collection includes abstracts of articles in Persian which had been received by the Academic Committee of the Congress by 1st Urdibehisht 1374 (20th Dhu al-Qa`dah 1415 and Apr11 21 ).
  2. The papers fall into two categories, namely, `The Culture of Ashura` and `Imam and the Ashura`, and have been arranged alphabetically in accordance with the family names of the authors.

Ashura: Reformative Thought as the Basis of a Humane Education and Social Order

Ahmad Aakuchakiyan

Obright perspective of God

To life,

And to death!

We live with you,

We die with you.

Ashura is the embodiment of the highest of sublime human and social values and ideals which has always summoned the people to the understanding of those values and ideals and to commit themselves to them and to live in accordance with them. Ashura is the everlasting scene of manifestation of the bond of life and justice, epic and mission, faith and fortitude, liberality and dignity, belief and jihad, prayer and justice, piety and humanity, objectivity and gnosis in all eras and throughout human history.

The content of the Movement of Husaynid Ashura is an objective manifestation of a guiding model for the revival of religion at the level of thought, spirit and life, as well as for a human education, man-making, and the ordering and reconstruction of society.

Whenever this content is properly expounded with a proper understanding of the current social, cultural, political and economic realities of human life and implemented on the basis of correct principles within the framework of a practical model for the achievement of a desirable religious life, it would lead to the education and ordering of individual and social life.

The culture of Ashura is the sum total of the insights, values and norms derived from the episode of Ashura which expand to constitute an intellectual, spiritual and behavioral model and to form a cultural, social and political model of society.

The analysis of the internal structure of the culture of Ashural guides us to the principle of fromative thought as the basic principle and theoretical basis of philosophical analysis, as well as to the objective of the Movement of Ashura and the formative consequences of this thought in individual and social spheres. On the basis of this view, all the ideals of Ashura can be found and explained in the framework of three principles:

  • First, the principle of reforming thought in the sphere of the understanding of religion, man, and society.
  • Second, the principle of human education.
  • Third, the principle of directing social changes.

The present research, within the scope of this short article, is aimed to propound the author`s viewpoint concerning the culture of Ashura and the said principles. The research consists of a prelude and three sections.

The prelude expounds some select theoretical grounds involved in the analysis of the culture of Ashura.

  • In an epistemological analysis of the episode of Ashura, a special notice is taken, as far as speech comprehensibility and social discernment permit, of the Movement of Ashura.
  • In the analysis of the methodological basis of the research, the application of systems logic in model-making on the basis of an understanding of Ashura and the special characteristics of the method of historical understanding are analyzed to some extent.
  • The culture of Ashura is presented as a cultural model of human and social development and its intellectual content as the essence of the culture of Ashura.

At the conclusion a macro-framework is suggested for the analysis under consideration.

In the First Section reformative thought is examined as the macro-framework for the analysis of the Movement of Ashura and the theoretical basis of the culture of Ashura. In this section, at first, the thought directed at reform is studied in a religious perspective based on Shi`ite Imamate and the reformative mission of Shi`ite Imamate. Then the structure of reform thought as constituted by the ideals of Ashura is examined. In the sphere of reform, the Movement of Imam Husayn ibn Ali(A) is recognized as an agent of reform of religious thought as well as that of social reform. In the domain of reform of religious thought, the two main contributions of the Ashura consist of the purification of religious thought and its rejuvenation directed to the formation of a religious intellectual current on the level of human and social reality. In the domain of social reform, the two principles of legitimacy and effectiveness of a social order have been reviewed.

Education and the reconstruction of social order are two principles based on the formative thought of the culture of Ashura. A reference to the responsibility of the people vis-a-vis the mighty culture of Ashura is a last point dealt with in the first section.

The Second Section is entitled “With Ashura in the field of man-making and human education.” On the basis of the reformative thought derived from the culture of Ashura, the principle of human education is the first educational product of the culture of Ashura. In this section, the teachings of Ashura in the domain of human education are studied. The intellect, spirit and behavior arc considered three dimensions of man`s being and accordingly, the impact of the teachings and ideals of Ashura are examined in these spheres.

From the intellectual aspect, the higher dimensions of human understanding -the knowledge of God, the understanding of man, the world and society- have been examined in the light of Ashura and its ideals.

From the spiritual viewpoint, the value of the educative ideals of Ashura in such spiritual domains as those relating to morality, love, faith and fortitude have been pointed out.

From the behavioral point of view also, some of the teachings of Ashura relating to human conduct in relation to God (behavior relating to worship and devotion), to oneself (ethics), to others (with relatives, with the deprived, and with enemies, from a legal viewpoint) have been analyzed to some extent.

The last point in this section relates to the mystical dimension in the culture of Ashura, which is the innermost and most humane aspect of this culture. It is the stage where the process of man-making reaches the sublimest and the purest station of tawhid. With Ashura, the process of man-making and the development of the individual culminates in the mighty process of the growth and fruition of society and the inner factors of this dynamic process lead to social blossoming.

The Master of the Martyrs (A) and his companions have given embodiment to this model with their speech, conduct and character.

The Third Section is entitled “With Ashura in the field of social leadership.” This section at first refers to the inner content and structure of social thought. The enduring inner relations of social structure and social thought as well as the process of thought in the domain of social reality has been studied to some extent. This introductory study gives the author the opportunity to suggest a macro-model of social thought based on a perspective of the culture of Ashura. The main layers and the inner structure of the said model have been briefly analyzed in this section. At first the theoretical basis of the religious social thought is considered from the viewpoint of the culture of Ashura. Then on the foundations of this basis, a desirable model of social order (a desirable model of society, a desirable political, economic and cultural order) has been suggested. An analysis of the descriptive perspective of Ashura in relation to the conditions of the society contemporaneous with the event of Ashura, together with a desirable model suggested by this Movement, allow us to understand the guidelines presented by the Master of Martyrs in channeling the social changes of his times and those of the subsequent era and generations which face similar macro-social parameters. The episode of Ashura is the very embodiment of this suggested perspective.

Cultural Models in the Movement of Imam Husayn (A)

Ahmad Abedini

In the introduction to this paper, I have indicated that the models that one can derive from the movement of Imam Husayn (A) cannot be limited to political dimensions or to the dimension of struggle for justice. One can also derive other models from this movement, such as the cultural model. From the standpoint of culture, one can derive models that would teach us how to defend the faith and morality. I will focus on some of the statements of Hadrat Sajjad (A) before lbn Ziyad and Yazid. Ibn Ziyad was insistent on providing a fatalistic interpretation of what happened to Imam Husayn (A) and his companions, thereby exonerating the regime and the people involved in the carnage in Karbala. Hadrat Sajjad (A) showed that the killing of these men of God were done by men and that what men do cannot be attributed directly to God. It was due to such exposition on the part of Hadrat Sajjad (A) that the then tyrant ordered that he be executed. Similar defenses of the faith and exposition of fallacy of fatalism or determinism were provided in the meeting of Imam Husayn`s family with Yazid.

In the second part of the paper, I will present models of Islamic chastity and a defense of Islamic code of dress (Hijab) as provided by the family of Imam Husayn (A). For example, upon entering Kufa, the women accepted the scarves that were given to them. But they rejected the bread and dates, even though they were, both adults and children, suffering from hunger. They rejected the food, stating that they could not accept Sadaqah because it was forbidden to give it to the Ahl al-Bayt of the prophet Muhammad (S). Upon entering Damascus, they asked Shimr to allow them to enter from a gate where there would be fewer spectators and that he should send the heads of the martyrs before the caravan of the captives so that people would pay attention to the heads instead of watching the captive women. But Shimr refused to do so. The heads did enter the gate first, because Hadrat Sakinah (A) asked one of the disciples of Prophet Muhammad (S) for it and he paid 400 dinars to the person in charge of the heads of the martyrs to march the heads before the caravan. I will evaluate these events and also a similar event which occurred in the afternoon of Ashura. The captive women were tired, thirsty, wounded and hungry but they did not ask for anything but an Islamic cover. They did not ask from friends and foes to be given a food but they were ready to ask both the friends and foes to provide them with Hijab. I will conclude by asserting that no event or exigency can change the requirement of Hijab and that the category of Islamic code of dress is not susceptible to be changed due to individual or social pressures.

The Role of the Movement of Ashura in the Continuity of the Islamic Revolution

Akbar Abediyan

If we meticulously do research on the Ashura, we will learn about the role of the Ashura in the perpetuation of the Islamic Revolution.

The revolt of Abu`Abd Allah has a special splendor when compared with the sacrifices of other great men. The impressive luminescence of this epic is rooted in the holy blood of Abu`Abd Allah(A) which will remain forever like the red sunrise in the world, inspiring all the free men and women.

His revolt teaches the following lessons:

1.The preference of a bloody death over a life of shame,

  1. The eventual victory of truth over falsehood,
  2. That greatness of man is earned through suffering.
  • These lessons are replicated in the Islamic Revolution. The following are the mainfestations of the lessons provided by the example of Ashura:
  • The great leadership, provided by the progeny of Imam Husayn (A), the late Imam Khomeini (R),
  • The people of Iran and the leadership of Imam Khomeini modeled the revolution after the revolt of Imam Husayn (A) and his companions,
  • The revolutionary resolve and the unity as shown by the people.

The Movement of Ashura in the Eyes of the Ahl al-Sunnah

Abdul Karim Abdullahi

The Ahl al-Sunnah have narrated a large number of traditions relating to the great station of Imam Husayn (A) and the Prophet`s (S) itrah (family). They also consider some verses of the Qur`an to have been revealed in the context of their station. Among the traditions narrated is the tradition (Husayn is from me and I am from him), as well as the traditions narrated by way of exegesis of the verses of Mubahalah, Tat-heer and Mawaddah.

In the traditions of the Aid al-Sunnah, a large number of traditions -which from the point of view of their contents are nuuawatir-e-n2anawi- have been narrated from the Prophet (S) forecasting the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (A) at Karbala and the in*****berence of helping him. In their history books too the factors and causes which existed at the time of Mu`awiyah and Yazid and led to the Revolution of Karbala are also mentioned and the true nature of such governments has been clearly exposed. By way of example, the nature of Mu`awiyah`s belief and his love for power, and the obvious debauchery and lechery of Yazid, can be mentioned, and this led to some muftis and Ulama of Ahl al-Sunnah, like Alusi, Taftazani, Shawkani, etc. to issue an edict proclaiming Yazid a kafir.

In these books the sermons of Imam Husain (A) concerning the need for a revolution and the causes behind the holy uprising of Ashura are mentioned and the objectives of this struggle are alluded to. The letters and messages of Imam Husayn (A) also Comprise a part of these books.

In the part on the effects and consequences of the Movement of Ashura the Ahl al-Sunnah point out to certain interesting instances. Among them are: The necessity of confronting a sinful ruler, the highlighting of the detestable and ugly nature of the Umayyads, the prevalence of a general abhorrence of Yazid`s rule, and the occurrence of revolts and uprisings against the Umayyad rule e.g. the revolt of the people of Madinah. Mukhtar`s uprising and the revolution of Zayd ibn Ali (A).

The Political, Social and Educational Effects of the Revolution of Abu `Abd Allah (A)

Abdur-Rahim Aqiqi-Bakhshayeshi

The political, social and educational effects of the revolt of the Imam Husayn (A) and his sincere and selfless companions are so many that it seems impossible to delve into all aspects of all of these effects.

The analysis of the movement of Ashura is significant from two points of view:

  1. From a historical standpoint, considering the effects of history on the movement itself.
  2. From an educational standpoint, taking into account the fact that it can have heuristic value, teaching lessons of human perfection.

This paper focuses on the second point of view.

The effects which can be studied, from the second point of view are:

  1. The struggle against intellectual and ideological deviation: which seems to be the most important and the most fundamental reason for the revolt staged by Imam Husayn (A)
  2. Safeguarding the divine values such as self-sacrifice (Ithaar), sacrifice, and martyrdom to the point that it will lead to the survival of Islam.
  3. Rejection of the tyrants who have occupied the seats of power that belong to the men of God. The basic premise here is that it is the exclusive right of men of God to occupy the seat of government as well as to legislate and execute the laws.
  4. Freedom of spirit: Imam Husayn’s immortal statement, `Never shall we (he made to accept) disgrace!” is a lesson to all humanity.
  5. Fighting against injustice and struggling for the cause of justice because injustice and tyranny are against the rules of creation and rules of religion.
  6. The establishment of the Islamic Government: The establishment of the Islamic government is the only way to prevent the occurrence of oppression and aggression and also the only way to provide a principled support to Islam and its teachings and to formalize religious and divine rites. The establishment of the Islamic government also helps train the human resources on the basis of Islam and divine rules and regulations. Imam Husayn (A) chose Kufa as the place where he could form the nucleus of his government. He made this decision after taking into account numerous letters of invitation sent to him by the people of Kufa, after reading the do*****ented reports of Moslem Ibn Aqil and counting on the special place of his father, Imam All (A), who ruled over Kufa and Iraq.

There are other effects of this revolt such as the rights of man and the fact that the revolt became a source of inspiration for other revolts that occurred after Ashura.

The Best Methods for Preaching and Explaining the Movement of Ashura and the Ashuraesque Teachings of Imam Khomeini (R)

Majid Amini

Propagation, is the essence of all the religions and the responsibility shouldered by all the divine prophets. In Islam, considering its permanent mission, the propagation must be universal. If the living truth and the noble teaching of this immortal religion are not properly propagated, not only the religion is abandoned, but mankind, too, suffers. The very men who have the potential to grow and blossom, are bogged down in their earthly ignorance and passion, enchained by their pride and sent on the downward spiral to lowliness and misery.

In this regard, we must focus on such issues as the history of propagation, the elements of propagation, propagation in the divine religions, the knowledge of propagation and the tools for propagation in Islam.

To day`s world is the world of communication and the media. But the main problem of man in our time is that he does not find meaning, goal and faith in his life. He is deprived of a moral-ethical system based on reason, Revelation (wahy), and his innate nature (Fitrah). One must address these deficiencies, keeping in mind the goals that the prophets had. One such case is the glorious revolt and the movement called Ashura.

In dealing with these events -especially the events whose agents are the infallible members of Prophet Muhammad`s Household (Ma`sumin)- one should view them from two angles, One is the divine angle and the other the historical angle. At any rate, one of the issues that we need to discuss is the effect of this uprising in the movement of Imam Khomeini (R). One should be cognizant of the fact that Imam Khomeini (R), as the pioneer of the bloody epic of an Ashuraic movement in the contemporary age, stressed the role of mourning and weeping as the political initiative.

Propagation keeps Muharram, and by extension the goals of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn (A), alive. This in turn safeguards Islam. Imam Khomeini (R) used to stress some of the lessons of the revolt by Imam Husayn (A). Among them he used to stress the duty to do what is in*****bent upon the believer to do, which is the most important aspect of the revolt by Abu `Abd Allah (A).

How the World Needs Imam Khomeini’s Ashuresque Culture? & What is Our Responsibility in Fulfilling that Need?

Sima Ashrafpour

Today`s world has faced an unexpected event, one which is at once powerful and definitive. This event is called the Islamic revival. This current of Islamic revival is one of the important results of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The revival could not be explained away by historical, economic and social theories because it is caused by the very features that separate religion and religiosity from other categories.

Islam has a foundation stone whose absence would mean that all efforts to safeguard the Ashuraesque culture of Imam Khomeini (R) would be futile. This foundation stone is the Holy Qur`an. Ashura can only be understood within a Qur`anic framework.

One of the duties of today`s intellectual is to transpose the event of Ashura from its lonely abstraction to the context of history. It is only then that this revolt becomes meaningful. It is only then that it can become a beacon of light for today`s man. It is only then that one can teach the Ashuraesque culture to the people.

The fight of Imam Husayn (A) was not the last fight of righteousness against falsehood because Ashura is a declaration of condemnation of the existing systems built on falsehood, systems that continue to exist even after the martyrdom of Husayn (A).

The Islamic Revolution of Iran is an internal revolution. It is a sort of cleansing of the identitiy which will lead to the replacement of the new identity in place of the old one. The revolution survives because of this new identity, an indentity which must be guarded. The religious and Ashuraesque identity is the actual identity of the revolution. The continuation and survival of this revolution depends on safeguarding this identity. This identity should be manifested in the context of society. The nature of the revolution will define the achievements of the revolution and the mission carried out by its cultural elite. The deep and lasting influence of our revolution among the Muslim masses in the world is, first and foremost, rooted in this fact.

The religious and Ashuraesque thinking should saturate the minds of our generation so that the revolution would survive and Islam would endure.

A Look at the Mourning Ceremonies for Imam Husayn (A)

Sayyid Muhammad Ali Ayazi

The mourning ceremonies, lamentation and singing eulogies because of Imam Husayn (A) are among the greatest symbols of the spiritual and religious life of the devotees of Ahl-al-Bayt (A). Holding of these ceremonies are instrumental in propagating the spirit and philosophy of the uprising of Imam Husayn (A).

Everyday and every year a great and incredible amount of resources arc spent for organizing these sessions. If these resources are not put into use properly, they might do a disservice to the cause of Ashura. Hence, one needs to evaluate and analyze these ceremonies and should come up with a plan of action to reform, improve or reconstruct and re-evaluate the mourning for Imam Husayn (A).

As evidenced by the evolution of the mourning sessions and the reasons for holding mourning sessions during the time of the Imams, the philosophy of mourning for Imam Husayn (A) is in no way separate from the philosophy of his uprising. These sessions teach us to honor the vision, courage and fortitude, to be aware of the existing reality, to save ourselves from darkness and to rise up in order to put an end to oppression. The reforming of these events is meant to return us to these noble and sacred principles. Hence, the mourning for Imam Husayn is done based on the emotional as well as rational foundations. The emotional connection with the event of Ashura and lamenting that sad event, is a reflection of the spiritual connection with that event. The rational connection with Ashura manifests itself in contemplation on the philosophy of the uprising and its aims. Both the emotional and rational connections can keep the epic dimension as well as reform-oriented aspect of Ashura alive.

In order to keep the philosophy of this bloody uprising alive, one must make sure that the event and the interpretations of it are not distorted. Hence, it seems that authoritative books which can be read by the public at large should be introduced to the people. The media bears the great responsibility to educate the people on the event of Ashura. The training sessions for the seminary students and those involved in holding mourning ceremonies are other ways that may help bring about reform in the mourning sessions for the Master of Martyrs (A).

Ashura as Narrated by Ibn Abbar

Ahamd Badkubaye Hazaweh

This article is about the history of Karbala and the heart-rending tragedy of Imam Husayn`s (A) martyrdom as narrated by Ibn Abbar of Spain. Ibn Abbar, who is a noted historian, writer and literary figure of 7th century (H) Spain, has narrated in his book Durar al-simt fi khabar al-sibt the history of the travails of the Ahl al-Bayt, the details of the martyrdom of the grandson of the Prophet (S), and the crimes of the Umayyads, in very fine and artistic prose. Muslim biographers have expressed varied opinions about his being a Shi`ah. Some have said that he was a Sunni who had love for the Ahl al-Bayt, while others have considered him a Shi`ah.

In this article, while providing a brief biography of Ibn Abbar, the facts about his being a Shi`ah and the state of Shi`ism in Spain have been alluded to. Later the book Durar al-simt has been reviewed.

The Qur’an and the Tragedy of Karbala

Muhammad Bagir Behbudi

That which the reader will read in this small article is the result of a research study about the 13th – l8th verses of the Surah Ahqaf. The summary of the article is that, the Noble Qur`an had years before the incidence of Karbala took place discussed this event, and considered the motive behind this tragic uprising to he the reaction which Imam Husayn (A) was supposed to show vis-a-vis the self aggrandizement of the occupants of the Khilafat and the innovations they were introducing in religion. This was to he done in the form of a religious program which was to be a sacrificial jihad i.e. as an act of thanks giving for the title of imamate which God Almighty bestowded upon him (A) and his family, Imam Husain (A) was supposed to start a revivalistic epic by offering himself, his family and friends for martyrdom and through the captivity of his wives, sisters and children, so that all may come to know that the true servants of the Merciful God rise with all they have for resuscitating the religion of God, while the slaves of Satan confront them and commit every kind of crime and injustice for hanging on to power.

Such kinds of forecast arc plenty in the Noble Qur`an, and among them is the Surah Hal Ata as is visible from the context of its first and third parts which declare explicitly that it was revealed in Makkah. Regarding its second part which comprises of verses 5-22 there is the tiding that the Qur`anic school of thought will soon start giving fruit and a family identified as abrar (the good ones) will come into being and it will irrespective of the cir*****stances, seek only the truth and will desire the will of God to such an extent that they will willingly give their iftar to the needy, the orphan and the captive, while their slogan will be :

If we acquaint ourselves better with the expression and context of the Holy Qur`an, we can very clearly witness another forecast and plan in the Sarah Aadiyat. This surah also, in accordance with its nature and pattern of expression, has most surely been revealed in Makkah, and despite this, its first part gives news of an attack by 36 select speedy horsemen, which event occurred years after the Hijrah during the battle of Dhat al-Salasil when in the early morning they attacked the enemies under the command of Ali (A) and totally annihilated them.

Regarding the verses of Surah Ahqaf:

The Noble Qur`an in this part initially praises the believers of the monotheistic creed with the special slogan of monotheism and then extols them for their fortitude in the face of the face of the pressure being exerted by the polytheists and gives them good tidings that they will continue to he the recipients of God`s favors and support, and that finally paradise will be their reward.

A similar verse has been revealed in Fussilat:

The Functions of Ashura

Emaduddin Baqi

For centuries, Ashura has been the subject of theological and at times historical discussions. But it has never been the subject of epistemological or sociological analyses. Aside from the event in 61 H. (which became the fountainhead of a current or a system of rites in the fourteen centuries that Shi`ism has been in existence), this paper focuses on the functions, or in other words, effects, of Ashura. The paper will not deal with research as well as ideological debates about the event of Ashura itself. In other words, I will focus on how the system of rituals and ceremonies which are held as important practices of Shi`ism can have functions and can also lead to the emergence of norms.

Since every phenomenon and tradition can have two types of functions, both visible and invisible, this article will not merely focus on the visible functions of Ashura such as its role in bringing about social cohesion, because such a discussion will be of descriptive nature despite the fact that it will be presented in the form of an analysis. The invisible functions, which are as a rule more important than the visible ones, will be meticulously analyzed. Such analysis will inevitably lead to a more general review of religion and society as well as their connection with Ashura. Since the functions and the exigencies of Ashura in our past history have had a traditional structure, the following questions need to be answered. Should we consider the function and exigencies of Ashura as null and void if the society is to be turned inot a civil society? The question assumes that secularization of the social relations is a natural and inevitable outcome of such civil society.

The Effects of the Culture of Ashura on the Art & Literature of Iran

Ahmad Ahmadi Birjandi

The epic of Karbala is among the immortal epics of the world. Every year as the crescent moon of Muharram appears, the memory of Karbala is revived in a much more vivid manner than the previous years.

The epics of different nations of the world have been inextricably interwoven with the literature and art of these nations. These epics serve as the source of inspiration for powerful national or religious sentiments. The epic of Ashura, considering its aims, is imbued with a sense of holiness and points to the real meaning of humanity.

Early on, it was at the behest of Hadrat Sajjad(A), that Bashir lbn Jadhlam started chanting of elegies (marthiyah) in memory of the martyrs of Karbala. In our literature, at the dawn of Persian poetry in the fourth century, heart-rending, sad songs were composed in memory of Master of the Martyrs, Imam Husayn (A). Kisa`i Marvazi who lived in the fourth century is the first Shi`ite poet that depicted the sad events in Karbala:

“Thai Sire, beheaded; lying on the ground;

(who died) his thirst unquenched; a victim of the rabble.”

Sana`i Ghaznavi (middle fifth century), Qavami Razi (first half of the sixth century), Attar of Nayshabur (sixth century), Sayf-e Farghani (the second half of the seventh century), and many others are all the pioneers in this field. Since then the sad events of Karbala and the sufferings of Husayn (A) have been recounted from generation to generation, in a literature which has become increasingly poignant.

The story of Karbala, and the sad story of the sacrifices and martyrdom of Imam Husayn (A) and his loyal companions form the core of a significant part of Persian literature.

“Once again, what is this flame that has fallen into the world?

Once again, what is this flame of grief sorrow and lamentation:`”

The Effects of the Culture of Ashura on the Performance Arts of Iran

Ya’qoub Ali Borji

The culture of Ashura has had an active presence in all domains of the Iranian art. In this paper, I will focus on the effects of the culture of Ashura on the performance as well as religious arts by canvassing such fields as literature, design, calligraphy, theater, etc. Our people call such arts as Ta `zieyah. Ta `zieyah takes advantage of such powerful elements as poetry, storytelling, the art of oratory and music. If this art is reformed, it can be used as one of the beneficial and effective tools for the propagation of Shi` ism.

In this paper, I will first deal with the historical roots of these performances. In brief, I will concentrate on the evolution of this art since the rule of Safavids, a time in which researchers believe that this art came into existence. I will then refer to some interesting passages in the writings of the world travelers who visited Iran. Then I will turn to the views held by the jurists (Fuqaha) on the issue of Ta`zieyah. The views of such luminaries as Mirzay-e Na`eeni, Mirzay-e Qummi, Shaykh Ja`far Kashcf-ul-Gheta`, Muhammad Kazim Tabtaba`i, Shahrudi, Hakim, Khu`ie and the late Imam Khomeini (R) will be discussed. Then I am going to discuss the critiques of Ta`zieyah. This last section constitutes the most extensive and the most important section of this paper. Actually the discussion is extensive because the criticisms directed at Ta `zieyah could well he directed towards cinema, theater and television.

The criticisms directed at Ta `zieyah have been divided into two parts:

  1. The manner of presentation and the form,
  2. The content and themes,

In the first section, I have dwelt on two important problems:

  1. The problem of men impersonating women and vice versa: can men impersonate women? Wouldn`t this impersonation be regarded as an act of Tashabbuh?
  2. What are the rulings regarding the impersonation as regards men and women?

The jurists have two views regarding the issue of impersonation:

  1. The prohibition of impersonation has been quite well established among the jurists since the time of Muhaqiq to our present era. Here I will discuss the views held by Muhaqiq, Shahid Thani and Muhaqiq of Kark.
  2. The lack of any prohibition regarding impersonation which is known among our contemporary jurists. Here I will discuss the views of Moqaddass Ardebili, Shaykh Yusuf Bahrani, Shaykh Ansari, Muhammad Kazim Yazdi, Hakim and Khu`ie. I have also shown the rationale of both sides, those who believe in prohibition and those who do not.

Those who believe in prohibition have referred to three categories of Hadiths. We have proven that the majority of these Hadiths are weak in terms of their Sanad (do*****ent). Those Hadiths that are based on strong do*****ents are not really supporting the prohibition. Hence, there is no evidence available to warrant the prohibition of impersonation. Even if we assume that impersonation is prohibited, wearing the cloths of the opposite sex for theatrical purposes does not fully qualify as an instance of Tashabbuh. Here I have referred to views held by the late Mirza-ye Qummi, Na`eeni, etc.

  1. The problem of impersonating the infallible Imams and their enemies: In these performances, ordinary people play the role of Imam Husayn (A) and Hadrat Zaynab (A). This has caused some problem. Here we discuss the views of the late Na`eeni, Shaykh Ja`far Kashef-ul-Gheta`, Ayatollah Khui`ie, et al.

By referring to the Holy Qur`an and the Sunnah of the prophet(S), I have proved that Ta`zieyah and the impersonation of the Imams is not an innovation, nor is it an insult. In the section on the problems regarding the content, I have discussed two very important problems:

  • First, the lack of correspondence of most Ta`ziyahs with the historical sources,
  • The problems which relate to the spirit of Ta `ziyahs and their message.

The Culture of Ashura in the Lives & Writing of ahl al-bayt(A)

Mohammad Ali Chenarani

The history of mourning arid weeping for Imam Husayn (A) began from the early days of creation. Adam is reported to have been the first person who wept for the sufferings of Imam Husayn (A) According to the historical sources and books of Hadith, all the divine prophets and messengers, wept for Imam Husayn (A).

The Prophet of Islam (S) had a foreknowledge of what was to happen to his family. He knew beforehand and even informed those around him of all the suffering that his blessed household was to go through such as being killed in the most cruel manner, being taken into captivity and so forth. In many of the Hadiths that are attributed to Prophet Muhammad (S), he prophesied of the martyrdom of his beloved grandson Husayn (A) and mourned and wept for him.

The Shi`ah Imams, too, like their forefather Prophet Muhammad (A), were keen on mourning for Imam Husayn (A) and spared no efforts in keeping the memory of the Master of the Martyrs alive. The descendants of Imam Husayn continued this tradition, by holding open or secret, formal or informal mourning sessions in honor of that Master of the Men of Freedom, in their homes, at every opportunity that arose.

The Ideological Principles & Social Background of the Movement of Ashura

Hajieh Cheraghi

The ideological aspect of the events of Ashura is its most important feature. Among Ashura`s ideological principles, one can mention the principle of exclusive worship of God (Tawhid-e ibadi) and the principle of enjoining the good and prohibiting the evil (al-amr bil-ma`ruf wa al-nahy an al-muunkar). The exclusive worship of Allah is manifested fully in the statement by Imam Husayn (A) (rizan bi qazayik : I fully accept Thy will). The aim of Imam Husayn (A) was to gain the contentment of Allah. He fulfilled his duty and did not hesitate to offer self-sacrifice.

The movement of Ashura and the revolt of Imam Husayn(A) manifests the pinnacle of the duty to enjoin the good and prohibit the evil and shows the limit of sacrifice in fulfilling this mandatory duty. This duty is referred to frequently in the speeches by Imam Husayn (A) and in his conduct. He refuses to sign a covenant with Yazid and revolts in order to save the religion of his maternal grandfather.

The Master of Martyrs (A) is the personification of Jihad and his martyrdom is the manifestation, in action, of the belief in the Day of Judgment. His Ashura reiterates in action, these aspects of his life.

Among the special characteristics of this revolt one can mention the choice of death and martyrdom, as opposed to death and ignominy, and the manifestation of perseverance (Sabr) as the distillation of Ashura. In a society from which the spirit of life has departed and requires a new life, one can revive it with a combination of love and a drive for change, thereby once again filling its veins with vitality.

Islam was about to be destroyed. Yazid had occupied the seat of power. The cries of the people were caged inside their breasts. Someone had to demonstrate the real truth of Islam, and that is exactly what Imam Husayn (A) did.

The Message of Ashura

Islam al-Dabbagh

This article contains two chapters having the following two headings:

1.The doctrinal fundamentals and the socio-political background of the Movement of Ashura.

2.The Movement of Ashura and the station of Imam Husayn (A) after his martyrdom in the Sunni tradition.

In the first chapter, after an introduction, a history of coming to power of a depraved person named Yazid, his all-out effort for acquiring the important Islamic post of Khilafat, his insistence on seeking an oath of allegiance (bay`at) from Imam Husain (A) and the prominent personalities of Madinah, and in contrast, Imam`s (A) insistence on not taking this oath, has been provided.

Then the real basis and the doctrinal points concerning Imam`s leaving Madinah and his using this move as an instrument of propagation against Yazid have been explained, and it has been pointed out that he did not leave Madinah in a State of fear because he travelled on the main road from Madinah to Mecca on which there was a regular traffic of caravans and travellers. Subsequently, the reason for choosing Mecca as an abode after leaving Madinah and the religious, Social and commercial peculiarities of this city have been discussed. As a result, the process of correspondence of the people of Kufa and of prominent personalities coming to meet him (A) started, and became more serious day by day, till finally

Muslim Ibn Aqil was dispatched to Kufa. But why did he(A) think of leaving Mecca after a period of time?

Why Kufa? The social, political and military conditions of this city and its residents, and the reason choosing it are discussed. Why was everyone telling Imam Husayn (A): Do not go to Kufa? Why was Yemen or the desert areas of the Arabian Peninsula not chosen?

The article continues with a discussion about: Did Imam Husayn (A) go towards Kufa with the intention of martyrdom? The different opinions in this regard have been mentioned and the best among them has been chosen on the basis of proofs and cir*****stantial evidence.

Why was the family taken along? is another issue dealt in the article, and the fact that due to the absence of reliable narrators the need for eyewitnesses along with the caravan for narrating the events is highlighted.

The significant points of the journey to Kufa from the viewpoint of sermons, poems, observations, and occurrences related to Ashura, and the alighting at Karabala are mentioned.

The night of Ashura, the fast changes in the enemy camp, fortitude withnessed in the front representing truth and the most important occurrences are discussed.

The concluding events of the day of Ashura and the last words of the Imam (A) to his companions and their reply to him finds mention.

A description of the start of the combat and its most exemplary instances is provided, and the impact of the saddening end of that day on the Umayyad regime and on the wife and children of Yazid and his commanders is highlighted.

The alteration of the historic event of Ashura and its dangers, the causes responsible for it, and the role of the ulama, preachers and speakers who narrate the events of Karbala in strengthening or countering it is emphasized.

The second chapter starts with some observations of Sunni ulama concerning Imam Husayn (A) and Ashura and the exegesis of the four Our`nic verses i.e. the Mubahalah, Tathir, Qurba and Abrar; in their reliable traditions and hooks.

The traditions about the martyrdom of lmam Husain (A) as mentioned in the reference books of the ahl al-sunnah are quoted.

The historical accounts of the Ahl al-Sunnah concerning the place of burila of Imam Husayn`s (A) blessed head are quoted.

Accounts about the burial of some family members of Imam Husayn (A) in Egypt are given.

Later, by way of providing a suitable conclusion to this chapter, an account of the narrations of a great Shi`ah scholar about the miraculous qualities of the place of burial of Imam husain`s(A) head in Cairo is provided.

Eventually a summary and the purpose of this discussion is mentioned in one page. It is noteworthy that we have provided the notes of the article after the concerned text within brackets, and in the second chapter, in view of brevity and the large number of sources used, we have abstained from providing additional notes.

Lessons from the Uprising of Imam Husayn (A)

Hashem al-Dabbagh

We begin evaluating the events of Ashura from the issue of covenant with Yazid. In a private meeting, Walid Ibn `Utbah asks Imam to enter a covenant with Yazid. Imam says he prefers to discuss the matter the next day in public, and he leaves the meeting. After that, he makes his famous statement “We are the family of the prophethood, and the treasure house of the divine mission, and the companions of the angels “. We can learn from this statement that such an Imam will never enter a covenant with the corrupt Yazid.

In another lesson, which the master of Martyrs has taught us, he said, “We are never afraid of death as long as we remain on the right path.” In another lesson, the caravan that will soon be thirsty, does not deny water to its own enemy, and hence shows the height of magnanimity.

Imam Husayn (A) teaches us with his conduct that one must fight, if need be, to one`s martyrdom, wherever righteousness is neglected. In another lesson, Abulfadl al-Abbas (A), when faced with Shimr who offers to give him and his family immunity due to the family relations that exists between Shimr and him, refuses to accept the immunity and chooses to stay with Imam Husayn (A). These characteristics exist in other companions of the Master of Martyrs. His family were the best family and his companions were the best and most loyal companions. Another lesson we can draw from the events of Ashura: The story of Hurr-Ibn-e Yazid Riyahi who chose to shift camps and join the Imam exactly at the time when it became apparent that the Master of the Martyrs and his companions would suffer martyrd0m. Hurr`s choice is a lesson to mankind.

Some of the lessons from the events in Karbala are:

  • The exhortation of Wahab (by his mother) to rush to Imam`s help. This led to Wahab`s martyrdom.
  • Great importance that Imam and his companions attached to Salat in the middle of a fierce battle.
  • Sacrificing the loved ones for the sake of Truth and the religion of Islam.
  • Supporting the religion, as the paramount duty. As Hadrat Abul-Fadl (A) said it, “I will support my religion forever.”
  • Composure, calmness and perseverance in the face of adversity.
  • Emphasis on freedom of spirit in the world, even if those who possess the freedom of spirit do not believe in the Day of Judgment.

But did Imam Husayn reach his end? Did his saga end at all? The Master of Martyrs (A) has not died. He is alive in the hearts of the believers. He is alive along with those who struggle in the path of Allah.

And when Hadrat Zaynab (A) saw the headless body of her brother on the ground, she said: “0, Allah, Accept this sacrifice from us!”

The Epic of Husayn (A) & the Manifestation of Man’s True Nature

Mostafa Delshad Tehrani

The epic of Husayn is the epic of liberation from captivity and striving to reclaim man’s true nature. Today, more than any other time, we need the messages of Karbala and Ashura because man is in an appalling state of captivity in which he has colored everything with materialism and has extended the reign of quantity to include everything.

Karbala and Ashura are meant to liberate. Whoever stepped on the path of Karbala and accepted Ashura, he became liberated, was freed from hell and entered the heaven of freedom.

The Literature of Ashura during the Time of the Imams (A)

Mahmud Reza Eftekharzadeh

By the literature of Ashura, I mean all the Ziyarat, the prayers and Hadiths martyrdom and discussions about Ashura in general. The literature of Ashura (Ziyarat and the prayers) serve as the ideological-theological- philosophical backbone of the I2-lmamite Shi`ism throughout history. Hence paying due attention to them emerges as an urgent necessity.

The literature of Ashura is educational, propagational, guidanceoriented and humane, it aims to support the truth and tell the truth. It has distinct features such as being goal-oriented, rhythmic, universal, and sincere, with an emphasis on repetition, inwardness, and harmony.

In the literature of Ashura, Arabic is an ideological language. It is rich in subtleties and allusions and evokes an ideological-human sense.

The literature of Ashura has influenced other sects in Islam. We come across these influences in the books by lsma`iliya and even the books of the four Sunni schools.

Retrieval of the Message of Ashura in the Contemporary Islamic Movement

Hasan Yousefi Eshkavari

“Retrieval of the message of Ashura in the present Islamic movement” shows how “the spirit”, “the message”, “the role” and “function” of a sad event that occurred in Muharram 61 H. is being revived. We would like to evaluate the mechanism through which the desire for martyrdom and for creating an epic, which emerged in the past one hundred years in the recent Islamic renaissance, has led to great transformations in the thinking and action of the Muslims, especially among the Shi`ahs.

After the death of Uthman two intellectual as well as political camps emerged within the Islamic Ummah.

  • “The camp of Alawi Islam”,
  • “The camp of Non-Alawi Islam” or Shi`ahs of Uthman,

The Alawi Islam was blessed with political, ideological and intellectual consistency whereas the other camp included an incongruous, and vast, spectrum of people.

The Alawi Islam in its struggle reached Karbala where Imam Husayn (A) strove towards such aims as revival of the religion and the authentic Islamic values, purifying the religion from extraneous points, rejection of injustice and discrimination, and revival of Islamic justice, moral courage and piety.

His struggles caused the wall of silence, which had stood for half a century, to crumble, and gave rise to massive uprisings against the dark rule of the House of Umayyads.

In the past centuries, the message of Ashura [a message which included the aims of the uprising of Ashura] was forgotten and in some cases it was changed and distorted. But the process of Shi`ah thought and culture underwent a total transformation in the fourteenth century. It seems that the confrontation with the West and the Western civilization and modernity led to this change. The confrontation heightened the sense of inferiority, which Muslims would feel in relation to the West. It was then that the idea of “returning to Holy Our`an and Islam,” or in a more general sense “return to oneself`, appeared on the scene. This led to the realization, analysis and a rediscovery of the message of Ashura, thereby blowing the spirit of life in the lifeless body of the contemporary period.

The religious, social and intellectual changes that occurred in the latter part of the thirteenth century and the beginning of the fourteenth century, brought about new approaches to, and critical analyses of, the events in Karbala. The religious literature of Iran underwent a major change. New thoughts and political as well as revolutionary ideals entered the religious literature and religious discourse. The event of Ashura was once again analyzed. In the last stages of the retrieval of the message of Ashura before the revolution, in the years preceding the revolution, due to the interpretations by Dr. Ali Shari`ati, Shi`ah revolutionary culture became much more aggressive.

Finally, all these changes leading to the Islamic Revolution of Iran and the distinguished role of Imam Khomeini (R) in the development of the thought and culture of Ashura, brought about the success of the revolution.

The Messages & Achievements of the Ashura Movement

Muhammad Muhammadi Eshtehardi

One of the important aspects of the culture of Ashura, which is one of the constructive aspects of this culture, is the attention paid to the messages and achievements of the movement of Ashura, which has inspired anti-arrogance (anti-Taghuti) movements throughout centuries. It has also inspired many movements striving to gain certain rights, or movements directed toward achieving reforms in the history of Islam as well as in the contemporary world.

The culture of Ashura, has been a powerful source of inspiration and a valuable locus of all hopes. It has been the source of the most elevated and the most constructive inspirations and committed movements. This aspect of the culture of Ashura has yielded its fruits, the very spiritual fruits, which have immensely benefited human beings. In order to further discuss this issue, I will focus on the following:

  • Some Messages from the Movement of Ashura,
  • The Achievements of the Movement of Ashura,
  • The Freedom Movements or Reform Movements Inspired by the Movement of Ashura in the Islamic History
  • The Freedom Movements, Inspired by the Movement of Ashura, in the Present World.

The Relation between Ashura and the Be’that

Maqsud Ferasatkhwah

In the beginning of the seventh century, with the beginning of Prophet Muhammad`s mission (bi`that) and the emergence of Islam, there emerged a fully serious religious reform movement, which aimed to transform the then culture and other social relations of Mecca. This movement invited the people to undertake a deep revision of their religion, to revise their perceptions, to reconsider their conduct and their degenerate and harmful social relations. This movement was critical of the practice of worshipping idols. With its emphasis on morality, spirituality and humanity, the movement proposed that there was a purpose to man`s life on earth. The movement also supported rationality and justice and endorsed the positive customs, traditions and rules.

In the development of this religious reformatory movement, like any other social movement, there were dangers and threats lurking in the background. These threats became serious after the departure of the Prophet Muhammad (S) and finally led to the metamorphosis of the idealistic and monotheistic movement into the system of Caliphate and the “Islamic Empire”. During this metamorphosis, little by little, a “new class” emerged whose greed had gained a psychotic proportion. This overly materialistic and ambitious new class was after a monopolistic control of the wealth of the wealth and, by extension, the political power. The main cause for the emergence of these inequalities were the privileges bestowed by the Second Caliph on those who had a revo1utionary background (such as migration from Mecca to Medinah, participation in battles, etc.). These privileges began to grow in a cancerous manner during the time of the Third Caliph and led to concentration of incredible amounts of wealth in the hands of the few. This process went on until it led to the establishment of the rule of the House of Umayyads. As usual, a conspiracy of silence prevailed over all of these wrongdoings.

Two years before the death of Mu`awiyeh, Husayn Ibn Ali (A) talks to the Islamic personalities in Mina. He says, “I am afraid, with the state of affairs as they are, the Truth may become completely outdated and might be altogether forgotten.” At this time, the revolution`s first generation, except for a few, had fallen into the trap of mercantile pursuits and the second generation had no first hand experience. They lacked a historical memory and were, mainly, disenchanted and disheartened.

In such a situation, the intensive activity of the regime to eliminate Husayn Ibn Ali (A) begins.

On the whole, we see the Umayyad regime as one that is religious but is not elected by the people. It is an autocratic and dictatorial regime, devoid of justice and intolerant toward the opposition. On the other hand, we are witnessing a human being who wants to break down the conspiracy of silence, to cast his “no” vote for the ruling tyrant. He has revolted for the sake of reform, not for ambition. He is a freedom fighter, and rejects the idea of a life in disgrace. He suffers in order to defend the truth and bring about a structural change in the society, and he allows his companions and friends to freely choose their own path.

That is why we believe that the culture of Ashura shines like a jewel on the history of Islam and humanity and that Husayn is the great and sincere teacher of all humanity.


About Ali Teymoori

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