One of the most sacred days in the Shia Muslim calendar was commemorated Nov. 9, as area Shia gathered at the Masjid-e-Ali Mosque on Cedar Grove Lane to remember the martyred grandson of the Prophet Mohammad.
The day featured poetry and lectures on the legacy of the killing of Husain Ibn Ai and about 70 of his followers and family by forces sent by Yazid I, after Husain refused to pledge allegiance to Yazid.
Known as Imam Husain, he is considered by Shia Muslims as the third of 12 Imams, or leaders.
The first 10 days of the Arabic new year are devoted to Husain, with the 10th day – also known as Ashura – recognized as they date of his killing. This year, that fell on Nov. 4.
Husain Day is a day Shia Muslims “reignite our soul,” said Dr. S. Manzoor Rizvi, one of the event’s organizers. “This is like fresh air for everybody. It is a cause for us, to live with honesty, live with truthfulness and live with righteousness.”
The event featured several speakers, including Hasnain Walji from the Hussaini Islamic Center in Pico Rivera, Cal., who spoke about the legacy of Husain, and Diane D’Souza of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., who spoke about the actions of Husain’s sister, Zaynab, after his killing.
“Essentially this is all about social justice,” Walji said. “It reminds us of standing up for the right, standing up for truth. Whenever there’s injustice being done to Muslims or non-Muslims, we must stand up to it.”
It is because of Husain’s sister Zaynab that the stories of his death are known, D’Souza said.
“She spoke truth to power in the courts of the governor, in the courts of the Caliph at that time to confront, and to protect those who were still alive.”
“For the community, Zaynab is a person who shows us another face of what bravery and courage looks like,” D’Souza said. “For men to be martyrs is what bravery and courage loos like, and for women to speak truth to power and to carry on after these terrible things have happened is part of the woman’s role.”
The event was sponsored by Payam-E-Amn and StandWithDignity.org.