The 2011 year commences with interesting and shocking changes in the political arena, begging the mind to reflect upon its underlying significance and contemplate where the future will take us. In just one month the world has witnessed turmoil erupting from the Middle Eastern region of the globe, which has known to be quite complacent and submissive to its leadership. Over the past scores of years, many tyrant rulers and dictator leaders of the Middle East have increased in their arrogance, ignorance, and oppression against their own people. They continue to look after their own interest and work for themselves instead of working for their people. It is no secret that many of these puppet governments report to a higher senior management, succumbing to all their evil intentions to take control over the global economy, distort Islam (if not destroy it), and become the superpower that will take over the world. The injustice and oppression committed against the weak has reached its peak, and the poverty-stricken areas are incomparable in number to the handful of wealthy individuals who have hoarded power and money for themselves.
What happens when one is treated in an inhumane manner and their requests and complaints are ignored repeatedly, meeting nothing but deaf ears? The turbulence began in Tunis and continued to Yemen, and the volcano has finally erupted in Egypt. The chains of injustice and bondage of discrimination had enslaved people across the globe who are simply looking for a morsel of bread and a cup of water to place on their dinner table at the end of the day. They are yearning to provide their kids a decent education and to see them earn respectable jobs that offer them the wages equivalent to their efforts. They are hoping for an opportunity to grow and develop socially, economically and intellectually. They are simply asking for their human right to live a respectable life in which they are treated equally, and recognized for their efforts in their communities. They are demanding their right to vote in a fair election and to voice their opinions in a free, democratic country.
The cry of the intellect calls for all those who observe such injustice to stand up and fight the oppression. We have observed injustice filling every corner of the globe, but do we not see active and consistent resistance against it? It took many years of swallowing injustice and oppression by the Tunisians, Yemenis and Egyptians to finally come out onto the streets and say “NO to oppression, NO to injustice, NO to human indignity!” It is natural for one to question why the people are protesting now and which button was pushed which made them finally rise against their dictator.
Certainly it is the button of Allah which He willed by His divine wisdom for the tyrant regime to come to its end, even if after a long time. This is His Sunnah and you will not find a change in His way, as mentioned in verse (33:62). When analyzing the political events happening in the past month or so, it is advisable not to focus too much on the minute details of how and why. One should not merely focus on the scenario while forgetting the scenarist. Rather, we should ask ourselves, who made this revolt possible and what absolute power exists which willed for change to come by His command? The events we witness today only beg our tongues and hearts to thank and glorify Him for His absolute wisdom and infinite power.
In fact, the revolts happening today were only made possible after the great example of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) who stood against the tyrant leader of his time and sacrificed all he had for the sake of the Truth. Along the same lines, 30 years ago, the call from Imam Khomeini echoed in the world to stand up for your rights, yet few paid any attention. In a speech given in 1980, Imam Khomeini addressed Egypt with these words of advice: “I am hopeful that other countries will pay attention; will follow the Iranian nation. Egypt, do not be satisfied with your oppressive government which states that it will destroy anyone who uses the name of Islam. Know that Islam is in danger in Egypt. It is obligatory for Egyptian men and women to rise… and destroy this government who has announced that it is at war with Islam.” (Saheefah-e-Imam, v.15, p.318)
Today, thirty years later – after humiliation, disgrace and degradation have reached its climax – the people have finally woken up from their slumber. If they only heeded to the words of Imam Khomeini they would have earned self-respect and honor. This is analogous to the time of Imam Ali’s (peace be upon him) caliphate in which the nation deprived him of his divine right of successorship, and it was only after swallowing three unjust leaders after the Prophet’s demise that the Muslim nation finally realized (to a certain extent) his true value, running to him and pleading him to accept the Caliphate after they failed to support him earlier.
After tasting so much oppression and cruelty over the years, the Egyptians have at last decided to stand and regain the honor which they sold a long time ago. What is essential now is for the call for reform to be directed under proper leadership, as without an appropriate and strong leadership that promotes independent thinking, freedom, human rights and honor, there will undoubtedly be chaos, which may lead to endless turmoil in the region.
We are reminded by these current events of the people of Kufa, who failed to stand up against the injustice of the Yazidi regime; those who gave away their swords even though their hearts knew the Truth. History reveals thousands of letters were sent to Imam Hussain by the people of Kufa, inviting him to give their pledge of allegiance to him. However, the tyrannical government of Yazid and the heartless nature of Ibn Ziyad instilled terror in the people’s hearts, leading them to turn back on their promises. Now imagine what would have happened if each of them united together and joined a million man march in the streets of Kufa, under the proper leadership of Hazrat Muslim ibn Aqeel to defy the totalitarian administration that was ruling the nation! What effect would that unified protest have had on the morale of the tyrant ruler Ibn Ziyad? Would that sense of solidarity not shake his throne and lead to its collapse?
Imam Hussain vowed to stand up against the oppressive and unjust regime of his time, and it is important for us to make a distinction between the message of Imam Hussain and his mission. His message to all of mankind is to stand up against the tyrant rulers and the oppressors everywhere and every time, no matter how powerful or arrogant they are. As for his mission, it was to challenge the tyrant and speak on behalf of the oppressed, and sacrifice everything to accomplish this goal, even if it meant the end of his life and suffering inflicted upon his family and friends.
Hence, when we sympathize with the story of Karbala, we should also be sympathizing with our unfortunate brothers and sisters in humanity who are out there today helpless, their muffled cries for help suppressed. We should pay attention to the current events happening and the cruelty and subjugation that has affected thousands of people across the globe, whether Muslim or non-Muslim. Our hearts should feel the pain of those who have suffered losses of loved ones. Our tears should be shed for the loads of corpses that are buried everyday for the simple crime of saying “no” to injustice.
Surely, in every time there is an example of Hussain who represents truth and justice, and there is also an example of Yazid who represents falsehood and tyranny. To fully appreciate the mission of Imam Hussain, it follows logically and practically that we must support the leaders of truth of our time. Likewise, to fully condemn Yazid and his oppressive regime, we must also express our disgust and opposition to all those who oppose human justice, dignity and values which are simple rights for every human being. After all, the Holy Prophet has said, “He who approves and accepts the deed and action of a group of people will then share them in their consequence, whether good or bad.”
As supporters and lovers of Imam Hussain who believe in him as our leader and mourn the greatest tragedy of tragedies, we must carry on his mission and propagate his message to future generations and as far and wide as we can. We were not there in Karbala to support the truth embodied in Imam Hussain, yet we claim to wish we were. Today we have the opportunity to offer our full support, to the best of our abilities, to help the oppressed whose voices has been suppressed by the choking hands of tyrant regimes. After the revolution of Imam Hussain against oppression, the door became wide open for all oppression to be opposed and eradicated regardless of what it takes.
The revolution of the Islamic republic emerged from that fountain of courage that exemplified itself in Karbala. We are to forever be reminded of the words of Ayatollah Khamanei: “The revolution has taught us that any group of people can have its own voice and individual position in the most important universal matters.”