Ashura is a word that has come to describe an everlasting struggle. When Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and his companions (peace be upon them) on Ashura, they are not simply mourning for their loss as a Muslim nation. Yes! The Muslim world did lose the Imam of its time on the plains of Karbala. But when Muslims commemorate Ashura, it is far greater than the strife of a few heroic souls in a specific period of time.
During Ashura, on the sandy plains of Karbala, the forces of justice rose to challenge the infestation of injustice. When Muslims cry, "Oh Hussain!" they do not simply call out to the Infallible Imam of the year 680 AD. Rather, they cry out a universal call for justice. When Muslims repeat, "Hayhaat Minna-Th-Thilla!" (Away With Disgrace!), their souls burst with a surge of power against oppression and falsehood.
Imam Hussain not only sacrificed himself, but his family as well. Imam Hussain told his family and companions on the last night before the bloody massacre: "Those people (the army of Yazeed) only want to fight me. And this night has come upon you all, so take the night as your ride and leave this place…."
None of the family members or companions left. Instead, many of them chanted things like: "Oh son of the Messenger of God! We would never leave you! Even if I were to be killed, cut into pieces, then brought back to life – and that were to be done to me several times – I would never leave you!"
Why were they so willing to sacrifice? Islam, which is the path of true submission to the will of God – in all the principles of truth, justice, and love – was at the verge of annihilation during the time of Imam Hussain.
The Imam knew this and told the people before he left to Karbala: "I have not left my home to seek power or to cause mischief. I have not left my home to cause corruption or to do injustice. Rather, I have left my home to demand reform in the nation of my grandfather, the Messenger of God."
When Muslims commemorate Ashura, they are not commemorating an event that concerns only Muslims. Ashura holds a universal call to justice. Ashura must be commemorated every year as a message of hope to all the oppressed.
When a tear trickles down a person's cheek, the person is crying for the tragedy of Ashura, but even more so, that person is crying for the tragedies in this world of injustice. When Muslims speak of Imam Hussain and the rest of the martyrs, they speak of the epitome of sacrifice.
When Muslims speak of the women and children who were led as prisoners throughout the deserts, they speak of the dignity of women and children as well. When they speak of Lady Zayneb (peace be upon her), they refer to the one who held the torch of freedom from oppression after the massacre.
Every day there is oppression and injustice. Every land on Earth is a battlefield between justice and injustice.
Hence, there should be no hesitation to chant with full comprehension,
"Every Day Is Ashura! Every Land Is Karbala!"