Ashura Greetings – 10th of Muharram 1437 A.H.
by Stephen Suleyman Schwartz
The 10th of Muharram is a time of sad reflection and atonement of sin for Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims in the Balkans, Turkey and Central Asia, and many spiritual Sufis.
It commemorates the death at the battle of Karbala in 680 CE of Imam Husayn, may Allah be well-pleased with him, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
At Karbala, Imam Husayn and his small band of followers were slain by the powerful supporters of the Umayyad caliphate. The martyrs led by Husayn called for an end to tyrannical rule by the Umayyads.
Today, Ashura has multiple dimensions in the real world.
In Iraq, Shias, Sufis, and traditional, conventional, spiritual, and conservative Muslims suffer the oppression of the spurious "Islamic State" (ISIS). At the same time, in Syria, they are victims of ISIS and of the dictatorship of Bashar Al-Assad.
In the Balkans, Muslims watch as refugees from the Middle East are herded from border to border, apparently with no solution in sight for their misery.
In Turkey, adherents of the Alevi religious minority are victims of discrimination and fear as they face new authoritarian pressure from the Islamist party of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Justice and Development Party or AKP.
The rest of the world ignores these tragedies, as the Umayyads so long ago turned aside from the bloodshed at Karbala. In the struggle of Muslims for justice, one may truly say "Ashura is every day."
On this Ashura, we pray for an end to inequality, prejudice, corruption, and terrorism in the global Muslim community, or ummah, as well as better relations with members of other religious communities.
Stephen Suleyman Schwartz
Center for Islamic Pluralism