Wrote This To a Friend Who Asked About Muharram

I didn’t forget to write to you, I realized I don’t know what to write.

Love is something inexplicable, even if it stretches back to someone who lived ages ago. But these people aren’t dead, they are very alive. They are “living with their Lord,” and something of them is within us, living and breathing with us. But will we choose them?

We can sit and cry for Imam Husayn all day long, if it doesn’t make us live a Husayni life, what is the point?

Why is Karbala important? Because it is happening inside of us, in every single moment. Within us there is a Yazeed that wants to keep us fat and happy so that we fail to find our Husayn.

Why is Karbala important? Because the people who killed Husayn prayed and fasted and believed in one God

Why is Karbala important? Because hundreds refused to join Imam Husayn because they were too busy with worshipping God.

Why is Karbala important? Because the Prophet came at a time when all of humanity was sleeping. He woke them up, and created a generation of living wakeful aware people. Why did Husayn die? Because the next generation fell back asleep, and only his blood would wake them up.

Why do we keep its memory alive? Because we keep falling back asleep.

Islam didn’t come to just make us successful doctors who do their acts of worship and have lots of kids. Nor did Islam come to make us ascetics who are concerned only with the other world and retire from humanity. We already had other religions for that.

What the Prophet brought was unique, it was a drastic change in the structure of human society. But soon after his death things began returning to the same status quo. The old rites and rituals were simply replaced with Muslim ones.

Husayn reminded us that what his grandfather taught us was to be free and noble; he taught us the heights of what it means to be human.

My Shaykh always taught me that dhikr and worship are what enable us to act in this world for God. The point in this world is to make our action into a living dhikr. Verbal dhikr is the means to strengthen us, but the point in this world is to live as dhikr. To live as dhikr is to live like the Prophet, to live like ‘Ali, to live like Fatima, Hassan, and Husayn. Why the necessity of the example of others after the Prophet? Sayyida Fatima has a poem where she says that the streets of Madinah became strangers after the Prophet. The Prophet established a heaven on earth, and he was king of that heaven. But how do we live when that paradise is lost? How do we live when people do every atrocity in the name of that same Prophet?

Imam Husayn, on his way to Karbala, came across a group of enslaved Christians. He broke their chains and said to them, “My grandfather came to break all chains, not to place new ones around your necks.”

The Prophet, the companions, the ahl al-bayt, are all one reality within you. Its the reality of divine guidance embodied in the flesh: “He was the walking Qur’an.”

When Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn said “Every day is Ashura, every land is Karbala,” he wasn’t just speaking about his ceaseless sorrow, but he was pointing to a spiritual reality. Imam Husayn won his Karbala, but Karbala, the perpetual karb (affliction) and bala (trial) of this world never ends. Every day in every place, we have to choose the Truth above falsehood, starting from within. Only if we aid the Husayn within us will we realize who the Husayns of today’s world are.

All the things Imam Husayn stood up against in Karbala only worsened after his martyrdom. The world is one huge Karbala and every day is Ashura. But who is brave enough to do something about it?

The night before the battle of Karbala, Imam Husayn rode out into the wilderness and yelled out three times, “Is there any helper to help me?”

That call still resonates today, and we remember what he did in order to answer his call in every Karbala and on every Ashura.

Before the battle of Siffin, a companion of Imam Ali said to him, “I wish my cousin was with us.”

Imam ‘Ali asked, “Does he love to be with us?”

The companion responded, “Ardently, but he did not make it in time.”

Imam ‘Ali replied, “Then he is with us, and there are people with us who are still in the loins of men and the wombs of women. Only time will reveal who they are.”

We too can be among them. But only if we live like those lions of God. To be a Muslim is to be free, free in such a way that human beings remember what it means to be human when they see you.

The Prophet once asked his companions, “Do you know what my sorrow is? Do you know where my thoughts have gone? Do you know what I ardently desire?”

They replied, “Tell us of this o Messenger of God”

He replied, “I will tell you if God wills.” Then his breathing became hard, and he cried out, “O how I desire my brothers who are to come…”

The companions replied, “Are we not your brothers o messenger of God?”

He replied, “No you are my companions, but my brothers will come after me…”

May God make us reach a drop from the ocean of that rank, despite our own failing. Many wanted to be with Husayn at Karbala, but were kept by something or another of this world. Only those whose love and loyalty burned their entire being made it.


Rumi says,

“What is being familiar with love other than being separated from the heart’s desire?

Becoming blood, drinking one’s own blood, waiting with the dogs at loyalty’s door.He is one who sacrifices, there is no difference between death, change, and being for him.


So go Muslim, be safe in health, struggle hard to be wise; Because these martyrs don’t shy away from death, they are in love with their own annihilation.


You run from affliction (balaa) and destiny, they fear being without affliction (bi balaa). So fast the day of Ashura because you, you can’t make it to Karbala…”


May Allah allow us to live like Muhammad and his family, and may he allow us to die like Muhammad an his family, so that we may be resurrected with Muhammad and his family, upon them be peace from the beginning of time to the last of days, ameen.




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