Imam Khomeini, the Revivalist of Ashura Culture

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Imam Khomeini, the Revivalist of Ashura Culture

Imam Khomeini’s movement which had started on the evening of Ashura in 1342 AHS reached its highest point at the month of Muharram in 1358 AHS. Imam’s historical massage for the Islamic revolution manifested itself in the slogan of “the blood’s triumph over the sword.”

By Dr. Hamid Ansari

The event of Ashura and its significant achievements are considered to be the fountainhead of many fundamental changes in the Islamic history. These achievements, however, are not limited to the time of that event. The martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS) along with his faithful companions on the 10thof Muharram 61 AH, created one of the most heart-breaking scenes and brought on the course of human history such a change whose profound impact after about thirteen centuries is still being felt. In fact, with the passage of time not only this event has not been consigned to oblivion, but also its immense values are day by day increasing in all dimensions among the Islamic Ummah.

Imam Hussein (AS), the highest of martyrs, rose up against the corruption in government of Yazid who claimed to be the caliph of Muslims at that time. In the era of Bani Umayyad, those who were to follow the succession to the caliphate after the death of Prophet Muhammad (SA), had caused a decline in religion by distorting the pure tents of Islam and denial of the divine revelation; it was as if they were again at the age of Jahiliyah (ignorance).

The most significant achievements of Imam Hussein’s martyrdom are: separating the truth from the falsehood; revealing the ill-nature of the successors to the caliphate; and demonstrating the real face of Islam and its pure and genuine teachings.

The followers of prophet Muhammad (SA) and his household, afterwards, while shouting Ya Lesarat ul-Hussain (vengeance for the blood of Hussein), revolted against the cruelty and oppression of Bani Umayyad rulers and organized many rebellious movements such as: the revolt by Tawabin in Kufa; the Medina Uprising; the uprising of Mokhtar Saghafi, the revolt of Ibn-e Ash'ath against Hajjaj, etc. The religious and cultural background during the course of these movements was, of course, provided by the infallible Imams for whom, preserving the teachings and culture of Ashura was of a high significance. On the whole, after a fair historical assessment of the situation, we can say that: preserving the religious values; giving continuity to the Islamic reformist movements; and survival of the Shia Muslims are all condensed in understanding the concept of Ashura.

Those rulers of the Islamic states who lived in terror of developing the culture of Ashura, made serious attempts to distort the truth of the event by employing a number of unbelievers. Following the emergence of new colonialism the Islamic states lost their unity and the revolutionary spirit of the movement was nearly replaced with superstitions, distortion and innovation. In other words, holding uninspired mourning ceremonies took the place of realizing the massage of Ashura in the life of Muslims, to the extent that this spiritual movement was interpreted as a traditional custom held for the Imam, just to weep and cry. We can observe some of these customs during the reign of the Pahlavi Dynasty in Iran.

In this historical situation Imam Khomeini (s) delivered an inspiring speech on the evening of Ashura in 1342 AHS which resulted in the 15th of Khordad Bloody Uprising. Imam Khomeini’s movement was undoubtedly under the influence of Ashura and in fact as a consequence of it. The impact of Ashura and its culture on the words and practical behavior of Imam Khomeini is completely obvious as there is a strong connection between Imam Khomeini’s movement with this Shia school of thought. Even the majority of Islamic events have their roots in the happenings of Ashura.

Imam Khomeini’s movement which had started on the evening of Ashura in 1342 AHS reached its highest point at the month of Muharram in 1358 AHS. Imam’s historical massage for the Islamic revolution manifested itself in the slogan of “the blood’s triumph over the sword.” Mass demonstrations on the occasion of Ashura and Tasu’a across the country defeated the regime of Shah and its American supporter In 1357 AHS. Thenceforth, every year defenders of the Islamic revolution attend the mourning ceremonies at this month to promote the culture of sacrifice and preserve the spirit of bravery. During the eight-year war and defending our territory against the intruders, the Imam was a role model for the combatants as a big battalion was named after His Eminence. Even the name of Imam and some of his faithful companions was used as the cryptonym (a code name) for military operations.

In our review of the imposed war, if we exclude the culture of sacrifice and martyrdom, a profound devotion of the combatants to Imam Hussein (AS), and the philosophy of the blood’s triumph over the sword, we won’t have much to say. The school of Ashura not only had an impact on the combatants during the “Sacred Defense”, but also led the revolutionary people to victory in their struggles against a regime, which had the full support of the world powers. Today, we owe a great deal to Imam Khomeini for developing the culture of sacrifice and martyrdom as well as preserving the values such as resistance and striving in the way of God. As the foundation and victory of the Islamic Revolution are identified with the culture of Ashura, Imam Khomeini is also known as the revivalist of this culture, which had been exposed to superstitious influences and distorted ideas.