SeriesYouth: Life's Manifest Spring

Motherhood in Muharram, A Reflection

Sacrificing the Self for the Sake of Child

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Like most other people, I eagerly await the beginning of the blessed nights of Muharram. Though the majalis are typically filled with sadness, tears, and heavy reflection, it is through those same moments of sadness, tears, and intense intrinsic self-awareness that I have found to gain the most insight. My great anticipation for the month has not waned throughout the years. However, my participation in Muharram has greatly been altered since becoming a mother.

Before, it was easy to get lost in a lecture busily jotting down notes and filling endless pages each year of thought provoking points shared by the aalim (scholar). I actively strove to learn something new from the pulpit. How time changes everything!

Today, I’m lucky if I am able to participate in the traditional latm at the end of the program. Due to having young children, listening to a lecture with full attentiveness is impossible. That is why sneaking in the hall towards the end and listening to the eulogizer reciting the tragedy of Karbala is so essential. Essential not just for me, but for my children as well.

Seeing young children beat their chests while following along with the melodic recitations of the heart wrenching recollections of Karbala is not simply “cute”, as many will comment–it is revolutionary.

Luscious gardens of roses have been carefully tilled with loving dedication of mothers in Yemen, Afghanistan, and Iraq, only to be eradicated with the push of a button. Leaving drones to decide who dies and lives despite the mother’s sacrifices. Where that happens, I see the seeds that sprout here in rebellion of these injustices in our centers.

The seeds of Imam al-Husayn’s revolution have already been planted in the hearts of our children. That is at the crux of motherhood in Muharram–it never was about the mothers, for mothers are not so without the children that have given them that position. It is about the entrusted souls that we aim to cultivate in this holy month. Mothers cannot achieve success in the upbringing of their children without some level of sacrifice, especially in this holy month.

So, while I find myself feeling overwhelmed and disconnected during the majalis, I have found the solution to all those issues through the acts of Imam al-Husayn (as). Mothers must, whether at a very minute or grandiose level, sacrifice like our Imam did. Sacrificing our peace of mind, our physical energy, and at times, even sleep for the child’s benefit. While this sacrifice is not limited to any month or day of the year, it is felt especially strong and perhaps, even burdensome, in Muharram.  Our sacrifices are not for vain, it is for our young seedlings to take root and grow. With time’s allowance, their souls will bear the fruits of our hard work. The difference is that despite us not being in the time of Karbala, we are in a time even more necessary for sacrifice: the occultation of Imam Mahdi (aj), the Husayn of our time.

Should we need any more reminders, we can always take a moment to pause to and reflect on Karbala. What greater sacrifice is there besides the tragedy of Karbala? Not one child, nor one sister, nor brother, nor mother, nor father, nor aunt, nor uncle, was spared from the tragedies of that fateful day. Let us remember our end goal, which is the obedience of Allah (swt) and look at the endless examples of Karbala to be given guidance.

We have been given the means to Allah (swt). Whether the means be sitting in the majalis of Aba Abdallah (as) or chasing our toddlers in the hallways of that same majalis, these are all a pathway to the our salvation. We, as mothers, have the ability to lay the foundation for the coming of our time’s Husayn. More importantly, the role we play today in our children’s development will God-willing prevent the coming of another Karbala. Isn’t it time we looked at our role as that vital during this month?

History will indeed be repeated and the story of Karbala will give us a chance for both victory, redemption, and success, or failure, loss, and shame. What side do we want to be on? What side do we want our children to be on? Shouldn’t we like to be on the side of our beloved Imam (aj)?

Then one by one each companion of the Imam went and died until Dhuhr time when Saeed ibn Abullah al Bijilly came forward and informed the Imam that it was prayer time for Dhuhr. Battle was raging, arrows were coming towards the Imam’s camp, how could they have formed lines for prayers.

But they stood in single foil to perform their last prayers while two companions of the Imam, Saeed and Zohair stood in front of this line to hold back all the arrows that were coming towards them. Once the Imam finished the last words of the prayers, these two soldiers died of exhaustion. The last of the companions of the Imam died and only the relatives remained.

First to go was Imam’s son, ‘Ali Akbar, who fought bravely but thirst for three days was the most important factor in the fall of these martyrs. He was also killed and then Imam’s nephew, Qasim, went and was killed. Then four of his brothers, Osman, Jafar, Abullah and Abbas were killed. Imam then brought his six-month-old son ‘Ali Asghar. He brought him in his arms under the shade of his cloak. He told the audience, “this baby has not done any harm to you. He is thirsty, give him some water.”

The Commander of Yazid’s army ordered Hurmula who was the best marksman to kill the baby. Hurmula pulled the bow and the arrow killed the baby instantly. Imam brought the baby near the camp, informed his mother of the martyrdom of the baby. He then buried the baby in the sand. Afterwards Imam himself went for battle.



Editor’s note: Islamic Insights is honored to host the “Youth: Life’s Manifest Spring” column by guest contributors and our editorial staff. The column will focus on issues relevant to youth, approximately between the ages of 16 and 35. If you are interested in contributing a relevant piece, please review our submission guidelines here to be eligible to submit. For past articles in the column see here.

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