Revisiting contemporary times in light of Karbala

He was destined to make a spiritual flight from his seemingly lavish life with Yazid towards the life of piety under supervision of Imam Hussain (a.s.)
Revisiting contemporary times in light of Karbala
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One of the bravest personalities in the Karbala history was Hazrat Hurr Al-Riyahi (a.s) who was initially the general of the Umayyad army and the known honored warrior of Kufa. History made him the first high-rank official to confront Imam Hussain (a.s) and his small caravan on the way to Kufa. Hurr was directed to take Imam Hussain (a.s) towards the barren land called Karbala. Hurr was a brave warrior in the army of Yazid who rose up to a high-ranking general due to his professional efficiency. Even though Hurr was a serious military commander, it was seen that his behavior with the Imam Hussain (a.s) was reverential and kind. The divine scheme had something else in store for him. He was destined to make a spiritual flight from his seemingly lavish life with Yazid towards the life of piety under supervision of Imam Hussain (a.s). Despite his high stature and background, Hurr could not control his peace of mind and soul. Confronting Imam Hussain (a.s) was a prick to his conscience and he started fighting the hardest inward battle between truth and falsehood.

A fine demarcation line between hell and heaven was clearly appearing before his eyes. After intensive soul searching insight dawned upon him, he walked bare footed towards the camp of Imam Hussain (a.s), where he was welcomed with open arms without questioning. The path preferred by Hurr at the last hour changed his fate forever leaving his finite life of luxury for heavenly immortality. So was the expression of truth upon Hurr and such was the speed with which he rushed to the divine light that his name got symbolized as the hope in repentance and its instant acceptance that leads to eternal salvation despite adverse life history before. His soul was in search of the divine path which was shown by none else than Imam Hussain (a.s) himself. After his martyrdom, Imam Hussain (a.s) sat beside his body, wiped off the blood on his radiant face and exclaimed with a deep sigh: “You are truly hurr (a freeman), like the way your mother has named you, you are a freeman both in this world and in the hereafter.”

The story of Hurr reveals the infinite possibilities in the human spirit – that howsoever we are drenched in sins and slaveries, time is always relevant to come back towards the divine call. So, we – as all Muslims – should read the divine message on the sands of Karbala that it all depends upon our willpower and thought; which way we select to go. It is exclusively upon us to be the Hurrs of our ages in the diverse battles of life. Divine help is the additional grace but the first step is always ours. Almighty Allah has created mankind as free and endorsed them to chalk out their way towards righteousness without any external force or pressure. We are required to set ourselves firm in the sacred roots and nourish our soul from there.

Karbala clearly displayed two contradictory groups: one that chose worldly desires and the other group who preferred death over humiliation. Hurr would have never seen the light of righteousness if Hazrat Imam Hussain (a.s) had not given him the second chance; despite being from the enemy camp Hazrat Imam Hussain (a.s) accorded unpunctuated faith in him without any trace of suspicioun. Imam Hussain (a.s) handled Hurr with love and kindness. This story has a great implication on our contemporary times, because we target the delinquent in person not his problem behavior, even if he mends his behavior we still look at him with an eye of suspicion and treat to him like an untouchable.

A drug addict in my neighborhood returned home normal after medical intervention; I invited him to my home for lunch. During this brief interaction tears rolled down his face, he told me that he greeted a senior respectable person on his return from Haj, but Haji sahib did not greet back and refused to shake hands with him. Now talking of the contemporary times you see a teenager walking on the streets who was viral on the social media for committing a crime a few years ago, how would you react? Any ordinary person’s first reaction may be to avoid the person and feel scared. The societal perception of ex-delinquents usually is that they are a threat to the population’s safety. It is hard to accept ex-delinquents into society again as some people may think it is unfair for lawbreakers to roam freely.

A 19-year-old teenager was being beaten by a mob for stealing money from a mosque before he was sent to the police station. An FIR was lodged against him. The news being viral on social media with people posting negative comments without knowing the background story. It was later revealed by the teen’s lawyer that he did so to buy medicine for his grandfather as no one else offered to help him when he reached out. The teen who now lives with his grandfather in his 70s is also the eldest of three siblings whose parents have been divorced. A few days after the original sentence, The High Court revised his sentence to replace it with compulsory community service at the mosque for 120 hours over a period of six months. Upon learning this issue, this question then came to my mind — do ex-delinquents deserve a second chance?

In the case of the teenager mentioned, I do think he deserves a second chance because his intention was to save his poor family’s desperate condition and didn’t mean to harm anyone. In my opinion, if past delinquents no longer display violent tendencies, show genuine remorse, or if they acted in self-defense, they definitely deserve a second chance, but this of course depends on the nature of their crimes. For petty crimes, like a teenager shoplifting from a store, trespassing, etc, I think these delinquents do deserve a second chance if they are willing to be rehabilitated and/or if they had a good reason for committing the offence. By giving these past delinquents a new beginning, we help them to reintegrate with society. I feel like many people would disagree with me but I believe there is a better way to teach them a lesson instead of punishing them. To help them get back on their feet, they could be rehabilitated through therapy sessions or support groups. Instead of punishments, they could give back to society by doing supervised community work. Communities can create a safe space for the marginalized and provide assistance to those in need so that they don’t turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms or crimes.

I have a friend who runs a motor workshop, I recommended him a boy from my neighborhood who was initially a drug addict but now normal. My friend allowed him to work there and after six months he proved to be best trainer. In Malaysia, there are communities for ex-convicts to reach out to and gain support such as the Malaysian Care Organization. It’s important for them to know that it’s not too late to change their lives. And it starts with us lending a helping hand. Commemorating the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussain (A.S.) should renew our faith and belief.

To conclude most youth in our society have different role models like film stars; these role models serve no purpose in uplifting their character. Young boys and girls should make their role model Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA). Once they do so the vices that some of our youth are indulging in, like immoral behavior, drug addiction and so on will disappear from our social map. Our youth should offer five times prayer regularly with utmost dedication and sincerity. Allah Almighty says in Surah Taha verse No. 132 “And enjoin prayer upon your family and adhere thou steadily unto it”. This verse clearly reveals that we should be punctual in our Salat and also we should persuade others for it. Let’s make a firm resolution this Muharam that we will not skip any of our obligatory prayers and we will influence others to do the same.

Dr Showkat Rashid Wani, Senior Coordinator, Directorate of Distance Education, University of Kashmir

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