In the footsteps of Al-Husayn
By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota
“Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn”
–Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings.
A bomb went off in the capital of Somalia killing over 276 people and injuring 300.
People are understandably in total shock and grief as the tragedy is described as the worst massacre in the past 27 years.
The country was in a civil war since 1991. No group has taken responsibility, but the government blames Al Shabab.
This tragedy touched us right here in Minnesota, as some Somali-Minnesotans were killed in the blast. Locally, families are grieving the loss of Minnesotans. One such person is Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow, a Somali-Minnesotan who died in the recent blast in Somalia on Saturday, October 14, 2017, a few hours after he arrived at his hotel.
He died planning a better life for his family and motherland, but God had another plan. May God accept him as a martyr or witness in this holy month of Muharram.
The local Muslim community is raising funds for his family and funeral expenses. If you would like to contribute, click here.
As I listen to the stories of survivors, one struggles on how to comfort people in shock and trauma after such events. One is left wondering how people can comprehend such acts of violence appear of benefit to anyone. I feel the best we can do is comfort the grieving families and offer charity to those in need.
I cannot offer much in political expertise on the situation, and I am not an expert on Somali-affairs.
I do feel it helps for us to share the stories of our righteous leaders, those identified by name by Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings.
We are about to complete the month of Muharram, a sacred holy month. About two weeks ago, we celebrated the day of Ashura, a day where Moses, upon him peace, and his people were saved from the Pharaoh.
There are times when we do need to stand up to abuse of power, but these historical events teach us how it is done – and pave the way for those who perceive they are marginalized in the political process or any power-sharing.
During the Exodus, Moses and Aaron, upon them peace, with the Israelites fled from the Pharaoh and witnessed his crushing defeat with his soldiers. The other is the courageous stand of Imam al-Husayn, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings, against the tyrannical Yazid, the ruler at the time.
Before Gandhi or Martin Luther King, al-Husayn led a non-violent revolution against political and religious tyranny.
Imam al-Husayn did not sacrifice innocent civilians for a political cause or power sharing. He fought with valor and courage and sacrificed his life and that of his own family for the elevation of truth. He refused to compromise his values and faith and refused to accept the new ruler.
He stood up for the elevation of truth, not seeking power. Truth does not shine in a climate of civil unrest and chaos.
He was willing to sacrifice and indeed he did sacrifice his life and that of his family for what he believed in.
How was this sacrifice done?
There were no calls for the killing of his political opponents. He did not need to kill or silence those in power. Rather he promoted the truth, by calling for reform and dialogue as truth has an argument and that argument rests on a solid foundation. Truth seeks a platform to be heard.
As Moses, upon him peace, said to the Pharaoh, the meeting is on the “Day of Festival” where people are all present and the Sun is at its zenith. Truth seeks clarity and a platform. Al-Husayn continued to call for a dialogue even during the battle where his own children and companions were killed. He never called for the killing or armed combat against the ruler or his soldiers, much less the killing of civilians to send a political message.
He engaged in civil disobedience and called for dialogue, not combat. He did not ask for people from the outside to come and bomb his homeland and remove the tyrannical ruler, neither did Moses, upon him peace.
Al-Husayn did not terrorize or kill civilians to gain power.
He had truth on his side, and he presented that truth openly and transparently before the tyrannical ruler. Likewise, with Moses, upon him peace.
Although he was killed along with family members and companions, his message won and was elevated over all the tyranny of Yazid and his soldiers.
He sacrificed his life to elevate the truth and the truth was elevated in the hearts and minds of Muslims after his death to this very day.
We need to remind each other of these stories so youth who are misled into groups that call for chaos and upheaval take heed and immediately leave such groups or demand an end to terror for a political cause. Chaos and terror do not elevate the truth but bury it along with the deaths of many civilians.
Fedwa Wazwaz is a Palestinian-American born in Jerusalem, Palestine and raised in the US. She was the chair of the Interfaith Relations at Islamic Center of Minnesota. She has completed training in restorative justice at the University’s Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking. She was a 2008-2009 policy fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. She is a public speaker and writer and lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.
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