The 40th day commemoration of Imam Husain (peace be upon him) should be a time for us all to reflect on our situation as individuals, as a community and as a Muslim nation. Indeed, we should try our best to attend the 40th day commemoration programs at the Islamic centers.
What's so significant about the 40th day after the massacre of Ashura? Why are the Islamic centers holding commemoration programs for Imam Hussain's (peace be upon him) martyrdom exactly 40 days later?
It turns out that the "40 days later" corresponds to the 20th of Safar, a day which was significant for Ashura survivors of Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them).
When the survivors of the massacre left the capital of the tyrant Yazeed, they headed towards Medina, the city of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family). On the way, the survivors decided to stop at Karbala, the land of martyrdom.
It was as if the desert winds were still whispering the stories of heroic sacrifice, telling the saga of the martyrs who continue to receive sustenance from their Lord. The survivors had just arrived. The dark color of mourning painted their appearance.
Imagine the state of Lady Zainab and Imam Zainul Abideen (peace be upon them) going from grave to grave. These survivors had survived the massacre of Ashura, only to be faced with the barbaric treatment of Yazeed's army, and now they were back where it had all began. If only Abbas and Imam Hussain (peace be upon them) could be heard, what would they be saying?
The battlefield was still stained with the blood of the martyrs; limbs at this side and that. The returning survivors wept and wailed at the graves for three days. They had a fire in their hearts which was never to cool down. They had tears in their eyes which were never to dry up…
The surviving family of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) continued on toward Medina, where the mourning had an entirely different dimension. If only the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) could be heard, what would he be saying?
"Oh people of Yathrib (Medina) there is no place for you in it…
Hussain was killed so let the tears come down!
His body in Karbala is drenched in blood…
And His head, on a spear, is being passed along!"
– Basheer, a companion of Imam Zainul Abideen
The 40th day commemoration of Imam Husain (peace be upon him) should be a time for us all to reflect on our situation as individuals, as a community and as a Muslim nation. Indeed, we should try our best to attend the 40th day commemoration programs at the Islamic centers. However, we should also make an effort to translate our understanding and love of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) into positive, practical change in our lives.