Ashura: A Time For Direct Action

Ashura: A Time For Direct Action

This article originally appeared on Shia News on 10th of Muharam 1423 (25 March 2002)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Islam is a revolution. Islam is not a safety-net for the masses, to keep tucked away as spiritual insurance in the event that iniquitous come to face the consequences of their deeds. Islam is an active, vibrant way of life; the Din. Islam is not a religion for those content to listen to a speech that pats them on the back and allows them to feel contented until their nagging conscious deteriorates the callous placed over their heart. Islam is not for those with such a covering over their hearts, enjoying them so much ease at living a life of inaction and complicity in the face of a world ridden with injustice. Islam is a revolution.

Those who are Muslim are called in the Qur’an and Ahadith the “Shi`ah,” the “Partisans” of Muhammad and his Family, the Ahl al-Bayt. Those who are Muslims are ones who “Submit” to the Will of Allah, even in the face of dire oppression and seemingly terrible consequences. For the Muslim, Faith, Love and Servitude of Allah are the primary goals of living one’s live. Concern is given to personal comfort, safety and the like. However, when faced with the Islamic obligation to “oppose evil and enjoin what is right” then it becomes the moral imperative of all Muslims to take a stand in the face of the opposition, no matter how uneven the odds may seem.

For unlike the kaffirun, we as Muslims, have a Power on our side that not even all the forces and legions of Shaiytan could muster any true competition against. Allah is the best of Knowers and the best of Planners. Enacting the Will of Allah does not always guarantee comfort, safety or ease in this world, but it promises us fulfillment of our Master’s wishes, and Paradise in the Hereafter. If Allah chooses that we should die in the hands of the infidels, or that we should be imprisoned in the cages of Babylon, then this is Allah’s Plan, and by it we shall be saved. And through this, the whole world shall be elevated – in time – to a state of Islam. For the Muslim, there is no doubt as to the Reality of this.


There is no god save Allah, there is no religion save Islam, there are no believers save the Partisans of Allah, Hu’s Prophets, and the Ahl al-Bayt. This is affirmed by both Sunni and Shi`ah Ahadith. To be of Allah’s “Partisans” or “Shi`ah” means to be an active “Participant” in the revolution of Islam. Islam is not Faith for the bystanders who would wish to sit by and cheer on the Mujahidun. Islam is a revolution.

It is a testimony to the craftiness of the deceiver (Iblis) that throughout the past 1,400 years we have seen the rise and fall of so many kaffirun masquerading in the name of Islam, while carrying out the most grievous oppressions in the name of our Holy Faith. From the time of the betrayal of Imam Ali – when even some well meaning Muslims were turned to the fire of their nafs – to Mu’awiyya, the Khawarij, and the Umayyads all the way to the Salafi/Wahabi acts of terror perpetrated against our own Muslim brethren and sistren, Shaiytan has throughout these centuries elected his emissaries of kufr to wage internal war within the Ummah to degrade it and pervert the Qur’an to say what their itching ears want to hear.

Shi`ah Islam – the Only Islam that Allah or Hu’s Messengers ever spoke of – takes the Path of Truth, the Path that sometimes brings us face to face with the oppressor, and demands that we bring an end to his reign of terror, or we die as Shuhaha (Martyrs/Witnesses) in our attempts. And Allah will bear Witness to the Truth through our shed blood.

For even as the letter “Mim” is as a seed, a single sperm cell, so too through the Seed of Musa , Muhammad, Mahdi and Masih shall the blood of the martyrs – from the Righteous Abel, to Yahya, to Ali, to Husayn to the Mujahidun of today and into the reign of Imam Al-Mahdi – be poured over the Seal of the planted Seed of Islam. And in this very generation, we will see the fulfillment of the rule of Imam Al-Mahdi as that Seed breaks forth through the Seal placed over it by Muhammad , and blossoms into a Tree of Life, nourished and fertilized by the blood of those slain in the name of Truth and Justice.

“The history of Islam follows a strange path; a path in which gangsters and ruffians from the Arab, Persian, Turk, Tartar and Mongol dynasties all enjoyed the right to the leadership of the Moslem community and to the Khalifah of the Prophet of Islam, to the exclusion of the family of the Prophet and the rightful A’immah of Islam. And Shi’ism begins with a “No”; a “No” which opposes the path chosen by history, and rebels against history. It rebels against a history which, in the name of the Qur’an, Kings and Caesars, follows the path of ignorance, and in the name of tradition, sacrifices those brought up in the house of the Qur’an and the Traditions!

“Shi’ites do not accept the path chosen by history. They deny the leaders who ruled the muslims throughout history and deceived the majority of the people through their succession to the Prophet, and then by their supposed support of Islam and fight against paganism. Shi’ites turn their backs on the opulent mosques and magnificent palaces of the Khalifats of Islam and turn to the lonely, mud house of Fatima. Shi`ites, who represent the oppressed, justice-seeking class in the Khalifatate system, find in this house whatever and whoever they have been seeking.” – Dr. `Ali Shariati, world renowned Sociologist and follower of Shi`ah Islam.

Notes: Taken from the book: “Red Shi’ism vs.Black Shi’ism”


In the month of Muharram 61 AH (approximately, the 20 of October 680 AD), an event took place in Iraq at a place known as Karbala on the bank of the river Euphrates. A large army which had been mobilized by the Umayyad regime besieged a group of Shi`ah numbering less than a hundred and put them under pressure to pay allegiance to the Khalifat of the time and submit to his authority. The small group resisted and a severe battle took place in which they were all killed.

The leader of the small band of men who were martyred in Karbala was Husayn , son of Ali bin Abi Talib and grandson of the Holy Prophet Muhammad , the Seal of the Prophets. Husayn was the son of Fatima the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad . The Holy Prophet Muhammad once said regarding his grandson: “Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn. May Allah love whoever loves Husayn.”

Notes: Ibn Majah: Sunan, Hadith 144.

As well: “[Hasan and Husayn are] the chief youths of Paradise.”

Notes: Ibn Maja, Sunan, Vol. 1, p.44, No. 118.

And: “He who has loved Hasan and Husayn has loved me and he who has hated them has hated me.”

Notes: Ibn Maja, Sunan, Vol. 1, p. 51, No. 143.

With the passing away of his brother Hasan in 50 AH, Husayn became the leader of the Ahl al-Bayt, and consequently the third Imam of the Muslims. He respected the agreement of peace signed by Hasan and Mu’awiyya, and, despite the urging of his followers, he did not undertake any activity that threatened the peace with the undeserving Mu’awiyya. Rather he continued with the responsibility of looking after the religious needs of the people and was recognized for his knowledge, piety and generosity. An example of the depth of his perception can be seen in his beautiful du’a on the day of Arafat, wherein he begins by explaining the qualities of Allah, saying:

“(Oh Allah) How could an argument be given about Your Existence by a being whose total and complete existence is in need of you? When did you ever disappear so that you might need an evidence and logic to lead (the people) towards You? And when did You ever become away and distant so that your signs and effects made the people get in touch with you? Blind be the eye which does not see You (whereas) You are observing him. What did the one who missed You find? And what does the one who finds You lack? Certainly, the one who got pleased and inclined toward other than You, came to nothingness (failed).”

Kaffir Yazid was the son of kaffir Mu’awiyya and grandson of kaffir Abu Sufyan – the arch-enemy of the Prophet Muhammad. Mas’udi writes that Yazid was a pleasure-seeking person, given to drunkenness and filthy living. Small wonder that Husayn’s response to Yazid’s governor, when asked to pay allegiance to Yazid was, “We are the household of the Prophethood, the source of Messengership, the descending-place of the Angels, through us Allah had began (showering Hu’s favours) and with us Hu has perfected (Hu’s favours), whereas Yazid is a sinful person, a drunkard, the killer of innocent people and one who openly indulges in sinful acts. A person like me can never pledge allegiance to a person like him…”

Notes: Sayyid ibn Ta’us: Maqtalu’l Husayn, pp.10-11

The revolution of Husayn was an Islamic movement spearheaded by one of the greatest leaders of Islam. The principles and laws of Islam demanded that Husayn act to warn the Ummah of the evil situation which it was in, and to stand in the way of the deviating ruler. As Husayn himself remarked when he left Madina for the last time, “I am not rising (against Yazid) as an insolent or an arrogant person, or a mischief-monger or tyrant. I have risen (against Yazid) as I seek to reform the Ummah of my grandfather. I wish to bid the good and forbid the evil.”

Notes: Al-Khatid al-Khuwarazmi: Maqtalu’l Husayn, vol.1, p.88

Husayn was warned not to go to Karbala and face kaffir Yazid. Western historians have considered his moved to continue on, in spite of that warning, to be of the gravest political folly. Yet few apart from the Shi`ah have recognized the motivation of his actions, and noted the preciseness with which they were carried out. In this is the Message of Ashura…


Husayn was killed on the battlefield as he did Sajdah. His head was removed from his body on the plains of Karbala, mounted on a spear, and paraded through villages and towns as it was taken to Damascus and presented at the feet of Yazid. To the kaffirun he looked, and looks, like a fool. This is because to the temporal-minded man his actions of self-less devotion to the cause of Allah seem fruitless since he gained nothing physically, and lost everything of this world on account of devotion and service to Allah.

However, it is more than abundantly clear that Husayn was aware of the dangers that he would certainly encounter in Karbala. Clearly Husayn had in mind a certain strategy to bring about a revolution in the consciousness of the Ummah. It is clear that Husayn did not try to organize military support, nor to even fully exploit the military strength which was already available to him. In fact he specifically asked his supporters to abandon him as he headed for Kufa.

All of Imam Husayn’s actions demonstrate that he was fully aware of the reality that mere military conquests are temporal victories that do nothing to change the hearts or consciousness of mankind. In time another power will be mustered of greater strength and it will topple the empire before it. Truthfully, in the rising and falling of nations are many signs for those who reflect.

If Husayn would have accepted the iniquitous manner of Yazid’s lifestyle then this would not merely have been an acceptance of values and norms contrary to the Din of Islam, it would have detrimentally impacted the Ummah for all time to come. Yazid’s manner of living would have come to prevail and be accepted by Muslims who would have thusly reverted to the wickedness of those who Muhammad came to and reformed. It would have, in short, undone what Muhammad and the A’immah before Husayn had done.

Husayn was no ordinary man. Like the other A’immah and the 14 Infalibles, he was endowed with a perception clearer than those not of his station. An average man would have turned away when warned. He would not have risked being killed in the manner that Husayn was killed. At the very least, even if the man were a courageous man, he would have taken the advice of his uncle Ibn Abbas and left his family and newborn child behind. Yet Imam Husayn’s vision was clear and he strove onward with his family accompanying him.

Aware of the nature of the tyrannical kaffirun pitted against him, Husayn knew that upon his own martyrdom, his family would be captured and taken as prisoners of war, from Kufa to Damascus. This caravan of Muhammad’s own flesh and blood in captivity would publicize the message of Husayn’s martyrdom, and ultimately of the path to Hell which the Ummah was being led down by the Umayyads.

Just as Imam Husayn knew, these things came to pass. As he begged the infidels to spare his infant son, and to permit his son some water to drink (as both women and children among Husayn’s people were being deprived of such resources by the Umayyads), these demons shot an arrow through the throat of his son, the great grandchild of the Prophet Muhammad. Husan fought diligently against this horde of devils, but his strength and perseverance was overcome by the shear mass of them. Eventually he was dealt a final blow, and decapitated along with the others among him. Their heads were then placed upon spears and paraded in a procession as the oppressors returned from their battle.

Among the captives taken were Zaynab the sister of Husayn and `Ali ibn Husayn , the only surviving son of Imam Husayn. As prisoners of war, they were taunted and were it not for Zaynab who protected the young `Ali ibn Husyan , then `Ali too would have been killed then and there. As it was, the head of Husayn was struck on the lips with the cane of `Ubaydu’llah. Some of those witnessing the scene were intensely moved by this disrespect and satanic moral indifference. One is recorded as speaking up to say “Remove your cane from those lips, for, by Allah, many times have I seen the lips of the Prophet of Allah on those lips.”

Notes: Al-Mufid, Al-Irshad, pp. 227-8 (Tr. Pp. 364-5) Also quoted in Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 45, p. 116. Some Shi`ah histories have a similar episode occurring when the head of Husayn reaches Damascus and is hit by Yazid.

Just how badly the Ummah would have been effected if Imam Husayn had not made this momentous sacrifice is difficult for one to gauge. For the very simple fact that his efforts were ultimately successful, we can only know that the Ummah would have deteriorated and become rotten with corruption far sooner than had. As it is, the Prophet Muhammad has told us that Islam would deteriorate after the 12 A’immah, and specifically would resemble Islam in name only by this current era.

For example, in Sahih Muslim, Jabir says, “I heard the Prophet say, ‘Islam will always be dear until twelve Khalifatun and successors.” Then he said something which I did not understand. I asked my father and he said, ‘The Prophet said, “They are all from the Quraysh.”

Notes: Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-amanah, bab al-mal tih ‘l-quraysh

“The Rasul Allah said: “There will come a time for my people when there will remain nothing of the Qur’an except its outward from and nothing of Islam except its name and they will call themselves by this name even though they are the people furthest from it. Their mosques will be full of people but they will be empty of right guidance. The religious leaders (fuqaha) of that day will be the most evil religious leaders under the heavens; sedition and dissension will go out from them and to them will it return.” – The Prophet Muhammad

Notes: Ibn Babuya, Thaqab al-Amal, quoted in Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar (old ed.), Vol. 13. p. 152


Imam Husayn is regarded as “chief of the martyrs.” There is no doubt that the tragedy of Karbala, was a criminal and satanic act on behalf of the murderers. However when we reflect upon the nature and action taken by Imam Husayn at Karbala, then we realize that he represents a conscious confrontation and a courageous resistance for righteousness, for Truth and Justice. The whole Ummah had failed to stand up to kaffir Yazid. They had succumbed to his will, and deviation and regression towards the pre-Islamic ways of Arabia were increasing.

Inaction in this situation would have meant the end of Islam. Thus Husayn took upon himself the responsibility of the whole Ummah. The greatest tragedy of Ashura is that one who stood up for the noblest of causes, the defense of Islam, was cut down in so cruel a manner. It is for this reason that the sacrifice of Husayn is commemorated annually throughout the Muslim world on Ashura. For all Shi`ah this is, without a doubt, a time of mourning. Allama Iqbal says in his Baqiyat:

“I am one who weeps at the plight of the Martyr of Karbala. Won’t the reward be given to me by the Keeper of Kauser?” – Imam Ali

The commemoration of Ashura on the 10th of Muharram every year serves to remind us of the sacrifices of the Ahl al-Bayt, but as well, to remind us of those who stood by and did nothing as the ways of kufr continuously encroached upon the path that was paved by the Prophets and A’immah before their day.

Many spend the time of Ashura in a state of weeping and inflicting injuries upon themselves, as an act of empathy with the wounds of Imam Husayn . But this is not the nature of Islam. Islam is a revolution. There is no need to weep for the dead who have passed on from the oppressions of this world. The tears that we should shed are that some, even most, stood idly by as these atrocities were carried out. Even today, so many Muslims are oppressed throughout the world and next to no one intervenes through taking DIRECT ACTION against the oppressive forces.

“Shi’ites take their slogans from the embodiment of the tribulations and hopes of the masses of the oppressed. Aware of the rulers, and in rebellion against them, they cry out:-
‘Seek the leadership of `Ali and flee from the leadership of cruelty.
‘Choose Imamate, and stamp ‘cancelled,’ ‘disbelief’ and ‘dispossession’ upon the forehead of the Khalifatate.
‘Choose justice, and overthrow the system of paradox and discrimination in ownership.'” – Dr. `Ali Shariati

Notes: Taken from the book: Red Shi’ism vs.Black Shi’ism

Shi`ah Islam is characterized, if by nothing else, by the fact that we as Shi`ah do not hold that the majority is incapable of going astray. Even if there was only one single believer upon the face of the Earth, and the rest of the masses were kaffirun masquerading as Muslims, then Shi`ah Islam holds that this one individual would alone be following true Islam.

It is this revolutionary notion that endangers the status quo. This is a status quo of both western forces of the Dajjal, and also of so-called “Islamic” complicity. This is not a difficult reality for the Shi`ah of Islam to see in the face of masjid after masjid being erected at the hands of Wahabi and Salafi kaffirun. The kaffirun seek complicity. Islam is the primary target of the Dajjal, not only because it is the Truth, but also because it is an active revolutionary Truth, that will not back down or cower in the face of oppression and global deceit. Islam is the enemy of the Dajjal because so many within it extol the virtues embodied and promulgated by the Holy Imam Husayn .

In the face of so much oppression of Muslims and non-Muslims alike, in the face of liars and infidels in the seats of ruling power of the Ummah, in the face of lies, slandering, and blasphemies against the Ahl al-Bayt and their Shi`ah, in the face of the fulfillment of Prophecies relating to the era of ad-Dajjal’s reign and the immanence of Al-Mahdi’s Rise, so many Shi`ah brethren and sistren are still content with the “black Shi`ism” of excessive mourning, and of inflicting injury upon themselves and their children! This is madness! Ashura is a time of mourning, and more importantly a time of mobilization against the ruling oppressive powers of the global empire of Dajjal. Ashura is a time of “Red Shi`ism,” the Shi`ism of the martyrs! Ashura is a time when we should make certain that we are among those who take a stand and fight along with the A’immah. For the day of the Imam’s Rise is only as far away as we allow it to be.

“If our Shi`ah would be firm on their promises wholeheartedly, our meeting would not be delayed”. – Imam Al-Mahdi

“Sahl Ibn al-Hasan al-Khurasani who was one of the followers of Ahlul- Bayt in Khurasan (a province in Iran) came to Medina to meet Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq. Sahl al-Khurasani said: “O son of the Messenger of Allah! You are of the A’immah of Ahl al-Bayt. What prevents you from getting your right (i.e., the rule) while you find more than one hundred thousand Shi`ah who are ready to fight for you?” The Imam asked him to sit down, and then ordered to turn on the oven that was in the house. After the oven became very hot and turned red, the Imam said: “O Khurasani step into the oven and sit in it.” The Khurasani said: “My master, O son of the Messenger of Allah! Do not punish me by fire and make it easy for me.” At this time, Harun al-Makki entered the room, and after the greetings exchanged, the Imam told him to put down his shoes and to sit down inside the oven. He did so and the Imam started talking to Sahl about Khurasan as if nothing has happened. After some time, the Imam said: “O Khurasani stand up and look inside the oven.” Sahl looked into the oven and saw Harun sitting cross-legged inside the fire. Then Imam al-Sadiq asked Harun to come out of oven and he came out healthy with no burn or injury. At this time, the Imam asked Sahl: “How many individuals do you know in Khurasan like this man?” Sahl replied: “By Allah, not even one.” The Imam confirmed his saying and said, “We do not rise at this time when we do not even have five helpers (like him). We know better about the proper time.”

Notes: Bihar al-Anwar, v47, p123, Hadith #172; also in Manaqib by Ibn Shahr Ashub

Even in Imam Sadiq’s day there were not even 5 of such Shi`ah which we necessary for his Rise. The Ahl al-Bayt tell us that for Imam Al-Mahdi to Rise there must be 313 of such Shi`ah. This is a fundamental necessity. We, Brothers and Sisters, are all that is delaying the return of Al-Mahdi. So let us gather our senses and our numbers. Let us reflect upon the meaning of Ashura, and let us finally stand up and wage this Jihad al-Akbar. Instead of cutting our own flesh on Ashura, let us cut the flesh of the wicked. Instead of beating ourselves, let us come together and beat those tyrants who murder without facing consequences of their actions in this world. And let us know, that like the Holy Imam Husayn before us, if we are caught in this Jihad then we will fight until we can fight no more, and when we die we will die a glorious death that took with it the strongholds of iniquity in this world, and secured our reward in Paradise.

“Remember Ashura, to humiliate the ruling group who call themselves the inheritors of the traditions of the Prophet, for the remembrance of it will prove that they are the inheritors of the killers and murderers of the Prophet’s family. It will show you a path of action, and provide an answer to the recurring question “What should be done?”. It will help you to decide on the best agenda for the struggle against the rule of tyranny. It will avoid allegiance to cruelty. It will provide a pattern for the unbroken continuity of history. It will declare an unending struggle between the inheritors of Adam and the inheritors of the devil. Ashura reminds us of the teaching of the eternal fact that the present version of Islam (in 1972), is a criminal Islam in the dress of tradition, and that the real Islam is the hidden Islam, hidden in the red cloak of martyrdom.” – Dr. `Ali Shariati

Notes: Taken from the book: Red Shi’ism vs.Black Shi`ism