The news has been bad all day. Maybe as many as 150 dead in terrorist attacks against the celebrations of the first Shiite parade and festivities honoring Ashura (Ashoura) after a 30 year moratorium, the most important holy day on the Shiite Muslim calendar. In Pakistan, about 40 more are dead in another attack during their celebrations. What a way to honor such a holy day for millions of people.
Yet, the day itself is in honor of murder. Ashoura or Ashura is important for several reasons, among them, it honors the murder of Imam Hussein, grandson of Muhammad, the prophet. He was killed along with 72 other fighters in what is referred to as a one-sided battle – an uprising to defeat the “tyrannical rule of a powerful Sunni”, Caliph Yazid, in about 680 AD. The massacre was in the town now known as Karbala. According to Muslim experts, Imam Hussein refused to allow Muslims to be dominated by what he claimed was a “corrupt authority”. For many Muslims, this struggle against tyranny is a symbol for freedom fighters, or terrorists, whichever name is cast upon them.
This is also the month of Muharram, according to the Islamic calendar, one of four sacred months in the year. During this month, they honor the Prophet emigration from Mecca to Medina, which is considered the beginning of the Muslim calendar. Ashura is also considered the day that God saved Moses and the Jews from the bondage of Egypt, and Muslims are supposed to pray for the Jews and honor the descendants of those who escaped tyranny in Egypt, lending even more importance to the day and the symbolism being combined with the martyrdom of Imam Hussein in his attempt to reject “bondage” and tyranny.
To honor this most holy of days, there are parades, prayers in the mosques, singing, dancing, and even displays of sword play, reliving the battle Hussein fought theatrically. In some cases, many Shiites honor the day with self-flagellation, though it is frowned upon as “unofficial”. But for all, fasting for one or both of the two day celebration is traditional, as with most holy days in Islam.
The month of Muharram is honored by good deeds and an adherence to non-violence, according to the Qur’an (Koran): “engaging in battle is regarded as unlawful, except in defense against aggression or in retaliation for violations by enemy forces.” So, it is Islamic law that there be no fighting. No killing. But then again, who pays attention to details.
Okay, let’s get it straight. I’m not a Muslim or an expert in any way, shape or form. I got this information from web pages, especially Belief.net which is a fascinating multi-religious informational center with open discussions and lots of resources. What I am about to say may sound like religious bashing, but it is only one perspective spoken by an outsider who still believes in some of her rights to free speech.
Now that the hold harmless and lack-of-liability speech is over, what kind of crock is going on in the Middle East today? Folks, this month is your second most holy time of the year and you are forbidden to be fighting and blowing people up…okay, unless in self-defense. Ah, the loop hole. I get it. Always a loop hole.
But you are killing your own people!
Ah, here comes the other loop hole and the main topic of interest that I would like to address in this confusing issue.
For months now, people have been getting killed in Iraq, a country that should be doing the “do a little dance, make a little love – we’re free tonight” dance. After the first PR move by a few Iraqis who pushed over the statue of Saddam Hussein on international television, probably at the instigation of the US soldiers, there hasn’t been any dancing in the streets. A few yellings and anti-welcome protests, but no cheering, support groups, posters, marches, parties, or even a festival to say “thank you for relieving us from the tyrant!” Holidays and festivals that have been forbidden for more than twenty years are free to happen, and open to all. And at this time, during this particular holiday, couldn’t they reach somewhere into their black hearts and say “hey, the US just saved us from the tyrant who kept us living in fear – a corrupt, evil, tyrannical tyrant” – don’t they see the similarity?
Of course not! They’ve replaced one tyrant with another, as far as most of them are concerned. Besides, it’s the fault of the US that there are terrorist attacks in Iraq. Right? It isn’t Iraqis attacking Iraqis, after all. It’s foreigners attacking Iraqis. It’s the fault of the US that these attacks continue. It is the fault of the US that the borders around Iraq isn’t more secure and protected, stopping these foreigners from coming into the country bringing weapons and violence with them. It’s all the fault of America.
Did I miss something in the translation here? I just want to make sure I get this right. In fact, according to the Iraqi Shiite cleric Sistani, he totally blames US for failing to secure borders.
I’ve been living in a state of terrorism for almost four years now. I feel I have a right – okay, an opinion – about this particular topic. This I know well. Terrorists don’t “come” from somewhere else. And they don’t come alone. They might be from across the border, but they didn’t get familiar with locations, key points, places, and times to do their evil deeds by growing up and living all by their little selves with their little families hundreds or thousands of miles away. They ain’t walking around going “who should I blow up today in this strange and foreign country.” They get help. Suicide bombers and bomb planters don’t walk into their local WalMart and buy a bomb off the shelves. In fact, most people don’t even know how to make a bomb other than mixing ammonia and bleach together or lighting some gasoline in a bottle. The kind of bombs they are using come with an education. People who make the bombs are educated on how to make them, and the people who deliver the bombs to the suicide bombers and bomb planters know how to behave around the bombs and treat them nice and outfit the bombers so they will explode along with the bombs. And the suicide bombers themselves have to be educated on how to do the blowing up, and how not to blow themselves up too soon or too late. All of this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. People help attackers and bombers.
And what is this shit about Iraqis not killing Iraqis? Are you all a bunch of compassionate, supportive, and community loving souls working together for the benefit of everyone involved? Hell, no! Shiites hate Ba’aths who all hate Kurds and those lowly Marsh Arabs who just want to return to their little spot of swamp and be left alone. Everybody hates everybody and everybody has an opinion and their opinion is different from the others and they have the facts, history, and violence to back it up. And the beating goes on. I’m so sick of all this “Iraqis don’t kill Iraqis” crap. Be real.
Just as in Afghanistan where Afghans killed Afghans under Taliban control, each pushing and shoving for his piece of the control pie not caring if they were killing or punishing their own friends, families and neighbors, Iraqis kill Iraqis to get control in their fashion. It’s the tribal mentality at work. Iraqis, look at your former leader and the leaders you’ve had in the past. Hussein killed his people. You all supported and continued to support whatever evil policy he took to kill other Iraqis. He whipped you all up to believe that the Kurds deserved killing. He grabbed Marsh Arabs and destroyed their traditions and lifestyle and made them practically slaves, and you all looked down on them. Shiites were prosecuted frequently as the Ba’aths took more and more control. Saddam made you hate your fellow Iraqi when it pleased him to control you. There are a lot of Iraqis who hate other Iraqis not because they are Iraqis but because they come with subtitles based on beliefs and geographic location. Use whatever excuse you want, it’s the truth and you all know it. Patriotism be damned. You are just looking for someone else to blame.
On a day when you celebrate the martyrdom of a Hussein, you have dozens of new martyrs who died in vane for a cause unknown, but probably called freedom fighting against tyranny. This was no honorable battle in which these martyrs died. They weren’t armed. They weren’t prepared. They were completely defenseless, reveling in their holiest celebrations. And they were struck down by pigs. Brutal, faceless, cold blooded pigs who are probably dancing in their streets, wherever their dark, evil alleys maybe. Their justification is probably religious, a twisted way of honoring the holiday and honoring a martyr who lost the fight. Maybe they wanted to “win” in his honor when he couldn’t.
I pray Iraqis see the light. I do hope they see what brutality was done today. I hope they see the truth behind that brutality. On one of the holiest days in one of the holiest months, where non-violence is the rule of Islamic law, I hope they see that foreigners and the US are not to blame for this. In fact, stop blaming. Imam Hussein, in my imagination culled from the information I read, stood tall and went up against all the odds to defend his beliefs, right or wrong. He went forward with a sword – but in today’s world, the word is the sword. Stand tall and fight against all who do you wrong. Work together to be one people, united by a unified belief system that says violence is not a solution – it is only a procrastination of the truth. Mohammed proclaimed this as one of four months of peace. In a land where violence rules the cultural traditions of the people, Mohammed knew that peace had to be forced upon his people from time to time, to remind them of what they really should be fighting for. If others don’t honor it, let those who truly serve their God honor it, in spite of those who defy the Prophet.
See the hypocrisy in the evil doers action and stand firm for peace. Obey the law and do not retaliate. Research. Find the evil among you which permits these actions to continue. Let everyone become a spy for the good of all of Iraq, turning in those who dare to use violence for their cause. They are the ones who are defying God’s laws. And let the defenseless dead become the true martyrs – honoring their lives with peace and not war.
Tel Aviv, Israel