The Essence of Ziyarat at Karbala

A personal note by Syeda Batool Ali as a guideline for Ziyarat at Karbala

What takes us there? Why go there at all? Who determines our objective? How and when is that achieved?

In 61 AH a Plea for Help was made from the Plains of Kerbala, ‘Hal min nasirin yansuruna …..’. This  historic Call by the Last Prophet’s grandson Hussain, was sent forth in the most emphatic and urgent tone to humanity at large.

Earlier in the day, the Prophet’s great grandson, Ali Akbar, son of Imam Hussain who resembled the Prophet so dearly , was chosen to render ‘azaan e Fajr’. This call for prayer resonating the Prophet’s tone stands out in history for its outreach, not just to friends and foes on the battlefield but was also heard by sister Fatima Sughra in Medina!

The regular ‘muadhin’ of Kerbala was also the muaddin in the time of Imam Ali’s rule in Kufa. However, the ‘azaan e Fajr’ on the fateful morning of 19th Ramadan, 40AH, was by choice delivered by Imam Ali himself and it is recorded that each and every household in Kufa had heard the call and recognized the voice of  Imam Ali. These were historic calls that defied the absence of regular sound systems to leave their mark on posterity.

Many thousand years earlier Prophet  Ibrahim was asked to give a call to humanity asking them and inviting them to the first House of God in Mecca. The propagation of that call and its continued sustenance was undertaken by the Creator of mankind and the Owner of Kaaba itself.

Mankind across the globe is said to have heard and registered Ibrahim’s voice and his call. The soul of humanity in all time frames, responded to this call with ‘Labbaik’. The attendance of yearly Hajj Pilgrimmage is testimony that the call persists and the loud and audible chants of ‘Labbaik’ bear witness to the resounding response to that initial call.

Drawing parallels to the Haj call by Ibrahim, Imam Hussain’s  ‘Istigasa’ at Asr time on Yom e Ashur  in 61 AH remains airborne and unblemished even after thirteen hundred years plus. The ‘Labbaik’ that one hears in Kerbala is as loaded as the one in Mecca in Zilhaj but the difference stands out too. The 10th of Zilhaj marks Eid ul Azha whereas, 10th of Moharram is Supreme Sacrifice day. One signifying relief and the other grief. Hence the response in Kerbala is definitely more heart rending and more passionate.

The question each zair (visitor) must ask is, did he or she hear the call? The subconscious has, but did the conscious self hear it too? We need to fine tune our receivers  to allow reception of the original frequencies. Yes, the frequencies emanating from the call by our wounded Imam lying on the burning sands of ‘maqtal gah’ in Kerbala on Asr e Ashura  in 61 AH.

Why would the Imam seek help from us weaklings when he had so graciously refused help of angels and jinnat who flocked to pledge support at the right time, at the appropriate moment? What possible help can we, separated by years of distance, provide to the excesses suffered in our remote past?

In seeking help our caring Imam is actually opening a window of opportunity for us. We are being led to the door of intercession. Concern is for our future, not his past. Our Imam is playing the role of guidance to perfection. The Prophet of God must have felt proud that his mission of guidance for humanity was so impeccably executed on the plains of Kerbala by his dear Hussain !

In Kerbala, offer ‘pursa’ to the Prophet of God, and to Bibi Fatima, to Maula Ali and to all the Imams including the incumbent Hujjat ibnal Hasan. Offer pursa to ‘shariqatul Hussain’ and follow the path taken by Bibi Zainab to the shrine of Imam Hussain. Offer genuine pursa to the Leader of all Martyrs for all the shuhada —- express regret that you were not present then to be part of the Imam’s team. Now life has given you an opportunity to offer your services even if in retrospect.  Make the pledge for continuing support.

How may that be? This goal is for individuals to decide. The nature and depth and expanse of the offering they can offer.  But one thing is certain that a commitment to stand by ‘haq’ , the truth, is essential. To raise voice against injustice regardless of consequence. In ALL time frames.  Silence is no longer an option. Hence onwards, after Kerbala , injustice is not acceptable. Protest against it!

In Kerbala empathise with the earth that bled, the sky that wept and the martyrs who washed the land pure with their precious blood. Be the air that caressed the fallen martyrs, be the sand that soaked in their blood, be the water that was denied to the infant! Be what it takes to enter into the silence that swept the khema gah as dusk settled in. Ah! Sham e Ghareban!
Spend quality time in Kerbala. Mark your time out there. Live those moments. The original ones. Value them! Cherish them! Dust your hair, your face with the ‘khak’ of Kerbala!

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