Coming from a Western capital city; London; I was always immersed in Muharram whole-heartedly. The month itself was anticipated with lots of preparation in our houses; mosques and other social gatherings coming up to Muharram were all geared towards it.
Many of us are lucky enough to be in these areas all of our lives when Muharram comes, however for others it’s not the case. Studying away from home/ working abroad/ or any other commitments which mean that you can’t be in your hometown during Muharram can come as somewhat of an emotional shock. That being said, with approximately 200 million Shias[i] around the world commemorating the martyrdom of the Grandson of the Holy Prophet (saw) it’s hard to find yourself isolated from a centre or masjid somewhere close to you which is involved in remembering the plight of Imam Hussain (as)…
But what if you can’t? What if you are in an area where there isn’t a gathering or there isn’t a local mosque, what can you do? I have listed a few points which I have found helpful in embedding within yourself that remembrance of Imam Hussain (as) wherever you are.
When the local mosque isn’t in your mother tongue.
Maybe the language in which your local mosque is delivering it’s lectures and latmiyya isn’t your spoken language. You may not understand what they are saying but don’t let this put you off. The message of Imam Hussain (as) and his martyrdom is an international language.
Firstly, try and be thankful that there is that centre commemorating in your vicinity! From personal experience I had none and would wish regardless of the language that there was one close to me. All mosques regardless of their language barriers are open to all cultures and ethnicities. You know the message and tragedies of Karbala yourself, so being in that environment is enough. We are told in some narrations, that Lady Fatemah (sa) comes to the place where the tragedy of Her son is commemorated so try and think that even though you may not see her, she sees you making that effort.
When you don’t have a local mosque commemorating the event.
Firstly, I can empathise with you…it is hard. Especially when you are so used to the daily evening lecture at your local mosque, maybe even two. Then weekends jam packed all day going from one Majaalis from 9am in the morning to your 3rd/4th in the day, by 10pm in the evening, compared to nothing tangible. Yes it is hard, but there a many points and tips which can help you to deal with this situation.
- Internet. There are so many available resources online in regards to watching lectures. Alhamdulillah so many centres support live streaming of their programmes so you can at least watch a speaker live from their centre. Here is a list of live-feed links.
- TV. If you have satellite TV, then there are a multitude of channels which you can watch which have programs commemorating Muharram. For example Hidayat TV, Ahlebait TV, AhlulBayt TV and Safeer TV. All of these channels deliver brilliant programs and lectures which bring you closer to the message of Imam Hussain (as) when you begin to feel distant. The channels I have mentioned are geared towards English and Urdu speaking individuals but here you will find a full list of channels which are available. As previously mentioned, even if you don’t have access to a TV or satellite then you can access all the channels online through your computer.
- Phone/ Tablet. There are so many apps available on both the Android market as well as the App store. There is an app for AhlulBayt TV which is available on both platforms. A good app for going through the aamaal of Ashura is ‘iDuas – Muharram’. It is an easy to use app which goes through the aamaals as well a brief history on the Tragedy of Karbala. I would also recommend that if possible, especially for long journeys downloading lectures onto your phone/ tablet/ laptop is a great idea. This way, you can listen while on the tube or plane or wherever you may be even without an internet connection.
When you don’t have internet.
- Try and find internet. Many areas have free internet connections e.g. libraries/ malls/ cafes. If you get an internet connection try and download some lectures and whatever else you may like e.g. Latmiyya’s/ Nohay etc. If you know you will be going to an area in which may not have internet, then prepare from before. Take a USB stick filled with lectures or download them to your device.
- Read books. Preferably about the tragedy of Karbala; I used to read this as a child and it is a good book which you can read every night as a small Majaalis of your own. If you want to read the historical events of Karbala in greater depths then try and print out the Maqtals so you can read them as a hard copy. Here is a well-known one by Abu Mikhnaf and most widely used by scholars. If you don’t have access at that particular time or can’t find literature on Muharram, the purpose of Imam Hussain (as)’s stance in Karbala was to revive the true essence of Islam which was brought by his Grandfather Mohammad (saw). Hence, gaining knowledge about Islamic rulings is also vital and equally important in taking forward the spirit of Imam Hussain (as). Reading Qur’an which the Imam (as) fought to keep alive, is of utmost importance. As Prophet Mohammad (saw) said as his final advice to us, we have to keep hold of the two weighty things: The Qur’an and His AhlulBayt in order to not go astray.[ii]
Do your bit!
This is your chance to spread the message of Imam Hussain (as) to an area which may not have heard of him before. Give out leaflets which you can get from here/ call your friends around even if they aren’t Muslims and tell them about Imam Hussain (as). Here is an excellent documentary type film called ‘When The Skies Wept Blood’, which tells the story of Karbala and is great for educating individuals who haven’t heard about Karbala before. I would highly recommend it to everyone reading, if you haven’t watched it already! Last but not least, if you feel alone during Muharram or feel as if you are isolated then remember the Imam when he was all alone on the day of Ashura. Imagine and recreate the scene in your head- you may feel alone in your surroundings, but mourning for Imam Hussain (as) who was the most alone on that day after seeing his closest companions and family members massacred in front of him is something which is incomparable and should penetrate into the heart of anyone regardless of what situation they find themselves in… Don’t think that just because the first ten days of Muharram are over, that the mourning, remembrance and commemorating is also over. The journey of the message of Imam Hussain (as) has only just begun, with Imam Zainul Abideen (as), the women and children being taken as captive.
Labbaik Ya Hussain!
Please leave any other helpful tips, websites, apps etc. in the comments section below which you feel could help others!
Some aforementioned Apps
|Android Market||App Store|
|iDuas Muharram||https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ca.ECNetSolutions.iDuasMuharram||AhlulBayt TV||https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/ahlulbayt-tv/id436726128?mt=8|
|Shia Toolkit||https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=anywheresoftware.b4a.SIAToolKit||iDuas Muharram||https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/iduas-muharram/id346415840?mt=8|
|Other Useful Apps||https://play.google.com/store/search?q=imam%20hussain&c=apps&hl=en||Shia Toolkit||https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/shia-isna-asheri-toolkit-siat/id702458202?mt=8|
[i] “Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Muslim Population”. Pew Research Center, 2009. http://www.pewforum.org/2009/10/07/mapping-the-global-muslim-population/ [ii] http://www.al-islam.org/hadith-al-thaqalayn-a-study-of-its-tawatur/some-sahih-versions-hadith : ‘O people! Verily, I am leaving behind two matters (amrayn) among you if you follow them (the two) you will never go astray. These two are: the Book of God and my Ahlul Bayt, my ‘itrah.’, Prophet Mohammad (saw)