Zahir Ebrahim | Project Humanbeingsfirst.org
Here are some images of the “new terrorists” propaganda system in the making. Can you imagine the global headlines that Daniel Pipes, the Jewish Islamophobe propagandist of the West, would give to these images of self-flagellating blood-letting in Muharram during the remembrance of the Memory of Karbala (while forgetting the Categorical Imperative of Karbala) by the Shia devotees of Imam Hussein, aided and abetted by the Valih-e-faqih, and assorted marja-e-taqlid Ayatollahs from Qom to Najaf, who tacitly encourage this barbaric display of Shia faith by silently condoning it, not issuing categorical injunctions against it, when Dr. Pipes has most imaginatively already captioned “militant Islam” and “radical Islam” as: “It's Not a Clash of Civilizations, It's a Clash between the Civilized World and Barbarians”? Is this what Shiaism is all about --- is a question that is even asked by the majority of the Sunni Muslims worldwide, never mind the world's public.
The public face of “Revolutionary Islam”
Is this face of Shiadom's Islam the “revolutionary” teachings of Islam?
Is this face of Shiadom's Islam the “revolutionary” teachings of Islam?
Convince people that: “It's Not a Clash of Civilizations, It's a Clash between the Civilized World and Barbarians”, and you can get them to commit atrocities!
Imagine the thought experiment if you will, that you are taking an undergraduate class in media studies under Dr. Joseph Goebbels of the Third Reich --- come up with an emotionally tickling caption for these images of the bloody ritual of A'shura that would effectively rally the Western public to fight “revolutionary Islam” with an equal or greater zeal than they have thus far waged “united we stand” against “militant Islam”.
An authoritative account of the Misrepresentations and Distortions in the popular A'shura narratives heralded from the ubiquitous Shia pulpit itself is given in the series of four lectures delivered in 1969 by the notable Shia Iranian scholar Allama Murtaza Mutahhari. While ably capturing both the psychological motivations and the misrepresentations and distortions made by latter day Shia pulpits from Qom to Najaf, and from Karbala to India with reference to the sacred penmanship of the pious scribes of history, the learned and honest Iranian scholar notably failed to address the hagiographic distortions in that sacred historical penmanship itself. A reportage of the seminal events of Karbala compiled generations after the fact, in a primitive tribal society by a partisan people not much different than those occupying the pious pulpits today, but which is treated as sacrosanct! Most revealingly, whatever is written in those earliest historical narratives is treated as gospel truth by even the highest authorities of the Shia pulpit in exactly the same way as the Sunni pulpits treat their own hagiographic narratives of early Muslim history.
What recuses that early reportage of Muslim history from the same type of rigorous intellectual examination for the same kinds of psychological motivations, misrepresentations and distortions, made by the same kind of fertile imaginations and fallible pens incestuously reinforcing their own shared ethos both wittingly and unwittingly? See Introduction to Muslim Historiography in my book Hijacking the Holy Qur'an and Islam, for elaboration upon this concept of taking recorded history with a forensic measure, rather than an absolute or literal one. Making history sacred has many more uses than mere academic scholarship. It lies at the very heart of mass behavior control. Novelist George Orwell most perceptively captured the utility of the control of the narrative – what is penned ab initio, as well as what is made sacred posthumously: “Who controls the past controls the future; Who controls the present controls the past”.
Instead of making history sacrosanct, as Muslims remember the events of Karbala in every Muharram-ul Haram as the fastpath to Heaven, and as the wasilah for fulfillment of prayers, we might also endeavor to study the Categorical Imperative birth-panged in Karbala by the exemplification of deen-ul-haq. We might ask why the religion of Islam in the Holy Qur'an is called deen-ul-haq, if not to endeavor to create heaven right here in this world for everyone by establishing justice for everyone, and ask how, if not by breaking all bonds of servitude to fellow man. We might ask how that lofty categorical imperative of Islam got morphed into the selfish individual goal of seeking Heaven in Afterlife while leaving the tyrants in this world alone. Karbala exemplified that principal teaching of the religion of Islam as deen-ul-haq for all time and space. While no Muslim denies that fact, Karbala has become relegated to an isolated act of history for history. And the rest of Islam's preaching for establishing justice is left to Eschatology!
Instead of making the history of Karbala sacred for extracting individual tears by imaginative narratives, Muslims might examine our own age and era in the mirror of the history of Karbala. Instead of beating one's own chest in unstoppable tears and feeling having given justice to the memory of the martyrs of Karbala, we might offer our chests to the tyrants of our own time as the categorical imperative of Karbala.
That is the real face of Shiadom which has remain occulted for centuries. The public face of Shiadom instead of becoming an expression of the categorical imperatives of Islam, has exclusively become an expression of sorrow for the fate of the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet of Islam, often with absurd rituals which in this day and age seem to be a throwback to barbarianism.
Just as Muslims have not understood the message of Karbala and have become engrossed in memorializing it in rituals as a religious element despite fourteen centuries of rehearsals, Muslims have also not understood the religion of Islam and become engrossed in its rituals. The evidence for this statement is obvious and quite empirical --- just look around us, fourteen centuries of Islam with full mosques on every street corner, millions performing Haj each year, million feeding the poor, and still living in bondage to despotic rulers and empires with almost a fifth or sixth of the world population living in hunger and deprivation! It is as if no Prophets ever came to enlighten mankind.
The people of the world understanding Karbala in all its dimensions frees not just Muslims from bondage to fellow man, but the entire world from tyranny of fellow man.
Karbala is the singular recipe of moral resistance. It is also the mirror of history to understand our own times for our own banality of evil ---- for the same sociological principles remain in play again and again that determine the rise and fall of civilizations.
History, all history, is only a mirror of learning, and the fount of wisdom, when it is responsibly used to navigate for a better tomorrow. But, obviously, not when the mirror is held to the blind!
This is the lamentable tragedy of man. History has become the manipulative tool of choice for behavior control in virtually all societies. Narratives of history are used to instill false beliefs, draw specious or misdirected lessons, and to implant and perpetuate myths and ideologies. Once these narratives become part of culture and its intellectual tradition, the social norms that result from cultural ethos automatically determines the aggregate public behavior. This is the principal reason for the existence of Shias and Sunnis, mainly their differing views of the same history of Islam! Otherwise, both should have the same beliefs and practices and understanding of Islam because our Holy Book, the Holy Qur'an, and our Holy Prophet, and his Ahlul Bayt, are one and the same! Unfortunately, each has been breast fed their preferred narrative of history in such a way that for both, tyrants, rulers and empires have come and gone over the past fourteen centuries but nothing has disturbed their ritual piety! And nothing disturbs it today either.
Only when the public understands this subversion of their mind in which they are voluntarily made to pay homage to their rulers as virtue, made to agree to tyrannical rule with either apathy or willingness, Machiavellianly kept busy in pious rituals, awarded peace prizes to look the other way, all by writing a history that suits the rulers, or a particular agenda, and socializing the public mind into that narrative as “their holy truth”, can we ever begin to free ourselves from its web of control.
This is why history is a dual edged sword. In the hands of compassionate wisdom, it charts the course of action in the present to avoid the same pitfalls. In the hands of Machiavelli, it permits villainy to rule endlessly.
Come visit Karbala afresh. While the tender heart will surely forever lament the barbarianism visited upon the martyrs of Karbala, let's begin the journey of the mind afresh by recalling not what Yazid did to Imam Hussein and the Ahlul Bayt, but by comprehending what Imam Hussein and the Ahlul Bayt did to Yazid!
Karbala was not an accident of history. It was the result of a decision made by Imam Hussein. If the martyrs of Karbala made a choice to be there to offer their lives in ransom to rebirth the message of Islam as the forgotten deen-ul-haq, then, surely, as obvious as the sun is bright on a cloudless afternoon, they do not want centuries of tears of their devotees in response to Imam Hussein's perennial call in Karbala: “Hull min nasiroon yan soor na”. The noble Imam wanted then, and for every age and for every time, only nasiroons, helpers, aiders and abettor, for the mission of enacting justice, for standing up for what's right, decent, moral, unequivocally demonstrating for all times that no sacrifice can be too great to stand up to tyranny.
This is rather obvious, even to the innocent child when she asks the puzzling question that why did Imam Hussein take a six month old baby with him to a mission as hard as standing up to the evil Yazid who had inherited the pulpit of Islam as its caliph within just fifty years after the death of the Prophet of Islam, when other noble and pious Muslims in the multitude of millions at the time chose not to accompany Imam Hussein? That child's question opens the Pandora's box of questions ---- and as the legend promises, when you dig down to the very bottom, all mystery is revealed.
But this is never obvious when the sanctimonious pulpit has hijacked Karbala in the service of empire, when the indoctrinated public mind gathers around it to remember the event in rituals of tears and with hopes for salvation. It is never obvious when pretentious piety comes to occupy the public mind year after year, generation after generation, centuries after centuries. It is never obvious when paid professionals are engaged to extract the public's tears as an act of piety. And it is never obvious when emotions take over the ability to reason from an event of history that touches the heart to its very core. Books have been filled with the narratives of Karbala but few teach its categorical imperative as the singular duty imposed by the religion of Islam upon its followers. The failure to recognize commonsense, in fact, its total absence among the laity when remembering the horrors of Karbala and its aftermath, and virtually its total absence among the clergy who rehearse Karbala as a profession, who earn their livelihood and their scholarship from the blood of Karbala, is the tragedy not just of Shiadom, but of Islam and all Muslims.
Karbala is a uniting force for Muslims, nay all humanity, if people can only realize its full significance. Unlike abstract theological principles like the Biblical Golden Rule never put into practice so as to ever become exemplary for all peoples, Karbala is a real exemplary event that defined a real categorical imperative enacted by the courage of Imam Hussein. It can attract all humanity if some among us don't despoil its name with strange behaviors and superstitions. It is the singular categorical imperative to create a just world ---- not by endlessly talking about it in utopian platitudes and moral clichés as virtually all religions and utopian philosophies do, but by fighting for it in the style of Karbala in practice!
In a just world, by definition, all peoples of all persuasions can find space for themselves, each according to their own beliefs, traditions and culture. All high minded theories like the Golden Rule easily become a practical categorical imperative and put into practice by all in a just society, but only in a just society where all abide by the same rules enacted by the fiat of just laws in which no one takes undue advantage of another. That can only transpire when tyrants, their special interests, and their systems of oppression to keep the people in bondage of one kind or another, are defeated, and perpetually kept defeated. This is the straightforward meaning of Every day is Ashura, every place is Karbala ---- for indeed, tyranny is everywhere, and will continue to rise its head everywhere, in every era, and therefore, by the logic of freedom and liberty being a desirable virtue for all (unless one asserts that living in bondage to the ubermensch is virtue), its antidote must also arise in every place, in every era.
Mankind to this day knows of no other exemplary resistance against tyranny among any peoples and civilizations that parallels Karbala. One does not even have to believe in the religion of Islam, or God, to be inspired by the resistance of Imam Hussein and his family members in Karbala!
It is high time this travesty in understanding Karbala is recognized by the public themselves and its holy narratives liberated from artificial sacrosanctness and antediluvian superstitions which have now become enshrined in the public face of Shiadom. The world public today cannot accept this, let alone be attracted to it as a categorical imperative of moral existence!
So come revisit Karbala as the timeless categorical imperative of Islam gifted to all humanity, on how to rise up to systems of oppression without yourself becoming a barbarian in the process. Watch Islamophobes and their Machiavellian concoctions like “militant Islam” scurry for cover.
Excerpted From 2013 Report: The Rise of Revolutionary Islam in Pakistan – A Report on Behavior Control
For the mystery of Karbala see 2016 Open Letter: Open Letter: The ma'ajjra of Karbala - What is it all about 1377 years later?
Also see 2017 Open Letter: Categorical Imperative and Karbala – Open Letter to Muslims and Non Muslims
Faith-Politico URL: http://faith-humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/p/the-public-face-of-revolutionary-islam.html
Print URL: http://print-humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-public-face-of-shiadoms-islam.html
On Islam URL: http://islam-humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-public-face-of-shiadoms-islam.html
Last updated A'shura 1438 A.H., October 12, 2016 2693
Postscript Categorical Imperative of Karbala added 8th Muharram-ul Haram 1439 AH, Friday September 29, 2017 4514
The Public Face of Shiadom's Islam