It’s strange at times from where we obtain our inspiration. It can be from a moving image, a story we’ve heard, a line from Shakespeare, or, as I found today, from movies such as The Fault in Our Stars.
The character of Augustus Waters, riddled with cancer and living the last of his days, (spoiler alert, for those of you that haven’t read it yet) lives in fear of oblivion. His biggest fear is not death itself but rather the very thought of being forgotten by those around him. I think this is something that is inherently ingrained in every fibre of our being; we want to be remembered in the world. We crave the immortality that we mere mortals can only ever dream about.
Now you’re wondering, what could this possibly have to do with Muharrum? Every year, we commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (as), but for what reasons? Bravery, selfishness, courage, faith, sacrifice, justice, truth, fighting against tyranny, oppression and rejuvenating Islam, to name but a few. Despite all this, and the mountains of moral, ethical and Islamic questions that we are reminded of each year, I think the one that has always had me thinking is this:
How is it that a man from Arabia, living some 1400 years ago, managed to be immortalised and remembered every single year? How is his memory still alive? What’s so special about him?
Hadith and history books have suggested that, (quite ironically, and makes me smile sadly every time) the story of the Imam’s tragic martyrdom was first commemorated in the very palace of the man who wanted him dead. With the reinforcement and persistent encouragement of Imam Ali Ibn al Hussain, Zaynul Abideen (as) to his respective followers, the story was kept alive and passed on to us, as we know it today. In practicality, this is how his memory remains alive. However, how is it that he cheated death and remained immortal, despite dying one of the most horrific and inhumane of deaths that mankind has witnessed or heard of to this date?
Above all, how can we emulate his actions to be immortalised?
I know you’re thinking, “I’m not infallible so that can never be a possibility.” I genuinely believe that it can be and is possible.
Be kind, for in your kindness to others, our actions and the gratitude from the receiver of them remain alive till the end of time and in the hereafter.
Give charity, for in your smallest of contributions, you are helping to sustain someone who is more in need of your help than you can ever imagine.
Speak nicely, for a kind word not only soothes the heart but will be the way by which you are remembered by people.
Do something of worth, whether it be helping someone or contributing to any given group in actions or money. Make yourself useful to those around you and I swear to you, it will never be forgotten.
Be firm in your beliefs and morals, for if you’re not, you stand for nothing. If you are a firm believer in what is right, you can never be swayed regardless of what you are threatened with.
Stand for something; stand against tyranny and injustice, be it for one of your brothers in faith or your brothers in humanity.
Be brave, even if you feel the world is standing against you and also trust yourself to be brave in all you do. Valour isn’t just about being proactive physically, but to be brave in standing for all of the above and more.
Be sincere, in all your actions. Whether you’re helping out or trying to do a piece of work, put in all your effort and energy for it will not be forgotten.
The list is literally endless, but we do not need to own much for us to become immortal. Simple actions of kindness carried out with sincerity go far, whether you’re of faith or none at all.
Though the tragedy of Karbala and the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (as) and 72 of his closest family and friends are of the greatest stories to learn from, the ways we can implement them are infinite. Through infinitesimal actions that we may deem to be small and of no significance, we elevate our status and emulate one of the most inspiring people known to mankind.
It’s true. Death is but a deceit, for the immortality of Husain will echo till the end of time.