To Be a Shia.

Most of you probably would not even read further after reading the title. Some of you will disagree with me. To clarify, I’m not a religious scholar. My knowledge of my religion is merely that of a common man, maybe even less.

Then why, one may ask, am I writing about this? The only reason I can think of is that maybe it’s high time someone did.

Going about our daily lives, we are asked a lot of odd questions. Odd for us, that is. Of course, the person asking is merely trying to increase his/her knowledge. Over a period of time, one thing that I have realized is that a lot of people find it strange that commemorating the events of Muharram are so important to a Shia. Most people think Muharram is just another excuse to make new clothes. Yes, new, black clothes. Others think that it is just another “festival”, say like Eid, only sad. Hardly anyone knows the history behind Ashura and the logic behind everything that is done during the holy month of Muharram; with the increasingly insecure conditions, people are wondering why these activities are not simply carried out within the four walls of our own houses. Surely, Allah still accepts those?

You see, it is not just about ‘commemorating’ the events. Like every Muslim would agree with me, there is nothing more important in the world than to save the name of Islam. We get offended by the slightest things when they are against our religion. For example, the video that was released earlier this year provoked so many Muslims, and they retaliated, too (albeit violently, but still). Then how can we even think of not going against the enemies of Islam? How can we think that simply because our lives are in danger, we should stop practicing Islam, stop spreading the message of Islam, and curtail it to our homes? It is highly important to do whatever one can to preserve the message of Islam, even if it means sacrificing one’s life for it.

Shias believe that there is absolutely nothing more important than to preserve, protect and carry on the message of Imam Hussain (A.S). Now, one may ask, what was his message? The answer to this question is simple, yet it may surprise most of you. His message was not any different from the message brought by the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) to his followers.

Then why, one must ask, does there seem to be such a great divide among the Muslims themselves? The answer to this question, too, is also very simple.

A simple lack of logical explanations has led to this. Before anyone jumps on me for even daring to say this, I would like to explain. Long talks with friends, relatives, acquaintances have led me to this conclusion. When people generally hear the word ‘Shia’, they think people who wear black clothes, mourn the first 10 days of Muharram (when they stop listening to songs, watching movies, socializing), do maatam, take out rallies and attend Majalis. They do not think about why maatam is done, but it fascinates some, irritates some and offends some. They do not understand the reason behind attending these Majalis and they do not understand that they are not any different from other religious gatherings.

Lack of explanations is exactly what has led people to conclude that being a Shia suddenly makes one a non-Muslim, when, ironically, being a Shia is the closest thing to being a Muslim. They believe in Allah, all of his Prophets, especially Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H). They believe in all the articles of faith and read the same Quran as everyone else. They follow the teachings of the Holy Prophet and try to mold their lives accordingly, too. How does that make them any different from anyone else?

Take a moment out to think.

The rest of this is dedicated to people who call themselves Shia. Not being a great Muslim myself, I do not have the right to say this to any of you. However, it was actually what inspired me to write this, and so it is only fair to share it with you all.

Practice what you preach. We all have heard it a million times and know what it means. Every year for two whole months we sit in various Majalis, listen to great teachings of the Prophets and the Imams, take in a new thing or two, but still, continue to live our lives like we did before the month of Muharram. This is why no one believes when we speak up for Imam Hussain (A.S), defending his honor, and Islam’s name. This is why people think that what we do are not religious acts, but just customs, a ritual, a festival.

This is why people find it hard to believe what we believe in. If our lives were like what we preached, then everyone would believe what you said. And as it is very rightly said, there is no hiding the truth.


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