As millions of pilgrims converged upon Karbala, southern Iraq this week to observe ‘Arbaeen’ or ‘Chehlum’ – the 40th day after the massacre of Imam Hussain (RA) and his followers more than 1,400 years ago, the event carried multiple lessons that have served Muslims worldwide from centuries past to this day. The observance takes place across Pakistan today [Saturday] with gatherings of mourners planned in numerous urban and rural centres.
Together, these events are a powerful reminder of the aftermath of the resistance by Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) grandson Imam Hussain (RA) who refused to accept allegiance to Yazid ibne Muawiya, the Damascus-based caliph of the time. So powerful was Yazid’s yearning for an overkill to suppress Imam Hussain and his followers that he dispatched anywhere between 30,000 and 70,000 soldiers for an encounter with a handful of opponents no more than 72, according to different historical accounts. And yet, the defiance shown by Imam Hussain (RA) and his small group of followers remained unwavering.
But the carnage on that day just did not end the clash between two vastly opposed individuals and their followers, each armed with a radically different view of the world. In brief, the encounter at Karbala far from a military battle was instead a conflict between vastly opposed ideas.
As Mohamed Ali Albodari wrote in ‘Understanding Karbala’ – abridged and adapted from the original work by The Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Saeed Al-Hakeem: “He [Imam Hussain] wanted to draw a clear example of a righteous statesman, so that the public can see the villainous and deviant nature of the others by comparison. He aimed to create a clear and unequivocal distinction between the true teachings of the Prophet [PBUH] and the fabrications that had been popularized by the chieftains before and after him. In this he was successful”.
The same division of ideas was successfully put on full display even after the massacre at Karbala. Bibi Zainab (RA), the younger sister of Imam Hussain (RA) took up the mantle of leadership of the women, children and a sole surviving adult male, Imam Zainul Abideen (RA), a son of Imam Hussain who was too frail to go into battle. In brief, she is still remembered as the heroine of that monumental tragedy.
They were all seized after the encounter, their tents were burnt, they were kept in inhuman conditions and forcibly taken first to Kufa and then to Yazid’s court in Damascus. Along the way, many infants and young children fell from their camels and died instantly. To this day, there are no reliable historical accounts of exactly how many of the victims from Karbala began their journey and the numbers who survived.
The prisoners of Karbala along the way were introduced as family members of dissidents who fought the army of Yazid and were killed in battle. Indeed that was a powerful display of disinformation and censorship at its worst in the early days of Islam.
And yet, the credit for the powerful remembrance to this day must go to Bibi Zainab (RA). Her eloquence, displayed repeatedly during the journey from Karbala onwards has been widely characterized as a shining example of her determination to not only spread the message of her brother Imam Hussain (RA) but also to stand up as the de facto leader of the survivors of Karbala. Bibi Zainab has been widely celebrated in poetry and literature across languages as a pivotal figure in the journeys to and from Karbala.
Father Christopher Paul Clohessy, a South African Catholic missionary in his widely acclaimed title; ‘Half of my heart – the Narrative of Zainab, Daughter of Imam Ali (RA)’ commended Bibi Zainab (RA) when he wrote; “In her decisive role as spokesperson for her brother’s cause, she became the first to drive the adversity of Karbala into perpetuity by moving her brother’s creed and conviction off the battlefield and into the palaces of Kufa and Damascus, not only completing Imam Hussain’s [RA] ‘jihad’ [holy war] but becoming the agent through whom Karbala would become undying”.
Clohessy has gained respect for his research on Islam, notably also with a title dedicated to Bibi Fatima (RA), the daughter of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). He provides a vivid account of the central role of Bibi Zainab (RA) in the story of Karbala.
To this day, the sermon of Bibi Zainab (RA) in Yazid’s court stands out as a unique example of a captive ignoring the very likely risk to their own life and bluntly rebuking their captor in an open court. Clohessy acclaims Bibi Zainab (RA) for the long-term impact of her words on her immediate surroundings and well beyond: “Zainab [RA] meets the needs of the hour, advancing her brother’s principles and so altering the course of history, assuring devotees that they can face the future with strength, courage and wisdom”.
The all-too-powerful impact of the tragedy of Karbala was witnessed yet again this week as anywhere between 15 million and 25 million pilgrims, according to different accounts, passed through the city. Exactly how such a massive buildup is absorbed in a city with a size that can only take far fewer remains an unresolved mystery.
The final convergence of pilgrims upon Karbala on ‘Arbaeen’ was preceded by many setting out on foot from the holy city of ‘Najaf’, walking a 100-km distance along a road that becomes increasingly alive around the commemorations of Karbala. There are roadside volunteers who are eager to offer foot massages free of charge while affluent businessmen host well-stocked rest and eating places every half a kilometre. Unlike challenges in daily lives for Iraq’s mainstream population, makeshift medical camps along the route readily serve any pilgrim in need.
The most powerful message that continues to resonate from Karbala to this very day is just one: that truth and righteousness indeed prevail, irrespective of the passage of time.
PM Kakar says Israel following path of pharaohs
- Premier asks ECO member states to rally behind Palestinians.
- Terms Israel’s incessant, lethal bombardments “deplorable act”.
- Issue must be addressed via UNSC and OIC resolutions, he says.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar Thursday strongly condemned Israel’s war on Gaza, particularly the elimination of Palestinian children, likening it to the “pharaohs” who killed children on the advent of Prophet Moses’ birth.
Demanding for Israel’s offensive to be stopped immediately, the premier said: “Unfortunately, the people who claim to be the followers of [Prophet] Moses are following the path of pharaohs.”
PM Kakar’s condemnation came during the 16th Economic Cooperation Organisation Summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where he was delivering a speech before participants of member countries.
He insisted all ECO member states immediately rally behind Palestinians, stop the cessation of violence and encourage the humanitarian corridor to help the “unfortunate” and “defenceless” people of Palestine.
Condemning Israel for its atrocities on the residents of Gaza, PM Kakar said: “The incessant and lethal bombardments of Gaza by the Israeli forces is a deplorable act, which calls for international condemnation. This issue needs to be addressed in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) resolutions.”
The prime minister urged all the ECO member states to push for a ceasefire in Gaza, support the call for the provision of humanitarian assistance and rally efforts to hold Israel to account.
He also spoke about the plight of Kashmiris residing in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
“The Kashmir issue should be resolved according to the resolutions of the United Nations,” the premier stated.
PM Kakar acknowledges Afghanistan’s regional role
He said Pakistan seeks to work closely with the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) member states towards the shared goal towards building a peaceful, prosperous and interconnected Afghanistan.
PM Kakar acknowledged Afghanistan’s critical role in regional connectivity.
“Connectivity projects CASA-1000, Trans-Afghan railway, Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI) and others are not merely economic projects, they are also strategic investments in our shared future,” he said.
Therefore, the premier added, Pakistan looks forward to working with other ECO states for a peaceful, prosperous and interconnected Afghanistan.
Highlighting a major development in the investment landscape of Pakistan, the premier said: “The government has established a Special Investment Facilitation Council that will serve as a single window platform for multi-domain cooperation in five key sections including agriculture, defence production, information technology, energy and mining.”
He said that all state institutions involved in trade and investment are brought together under the SIFC umbrella.
“This body has the mandate to give directions to any government institutions and ensure policy continuation and execution,” Kakar said, addressing the summit attendees.
He emphasised that there are vast opportunities for investment in various sectors in Pakistan
The ECO region, the prime minister said, is blessed with natural resources, geographical contiguity, enterprising people and cultural heritage that is conserved as a basis to expand trade and economic integration in this area.
“Nevertheless, despite our enormous potential and infinite resources, we have a share of only 2% in global trade and 8% in intra-regional trade,” he said.
He maintained that development in the region is possible only through commercial activities in the region and trade corridors between ECO countries will play an important role.
“There is a need for more border and trade corridors in the ECO region,” he said.
Punjab forms committee to probe PTI allegations of women prisoners’ mistreatment
- CM Mohsin Naqvi forms two-member committee.
- Body comprises of DC Lahore and SSP Investigation.
- Officers will visit Kot Lakhpat jail today.
LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi Monday formed a two-member committee to investigate allegations levelled by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of mistreatment of its female supporters in prisons who were arrested after the May 9 vandalism.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan had claimed that the party supporters were being “molested and harassed” and urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial to intervene ad take notice of the matter.
Thousands of PTI workers who have been arrested in connection with the May 9 violence also include women, while CM Naqvi had initially claimed that women have been dealt with in line with the law he has now formed a committee to probe the issue.
According to details available with Geo News, the two-member committee — comprising Deputy Commissioner (DC) Lahore Rafia Haider and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Investigation Anoosh Masood — will visit the Kot Lakhpat jail and will speak to the prisoners.
Earlier, CM Naqvi had said the PTI was resorting to propaganda regarding women being mistreated in prisons.
He had revealed that 32 women were arrested and only 11 of them are still in jail now. The chief minister added that it is his government’s duty to ensure that “mothers and sisters remain safe”.
Moreover, speaking to Geo News SSP Masood rejected all claims regarding the “inappropriate treatment” of female prisoners.
She reiterated that a team comprising of female police officers goes for the arrests of women suspects/accused who are then kept under custody in a women’s police station where all the staff members are females.
The SSP further added that no male staff member is allowed to go there where women prisoners are kept.
A day earlier, PTI chief Khan shared a montage on his Twitter handle showing how female workers were treated during the protests held across the country on May 9 after his arrest from the premises of the Islamabad High Court.
“Never have women been humiliated for using their constitutional right to protest peacefully in any democracy let alone in one that is Muslim,” the former prime minister wrote.
He claimed that this was a planned campaign to depoliticise women in the country.
“The clampdown and terror campaign against women is being done so that their men would discourage their political participation.
“And now there are increasing reports coming that some of the women are being molested and harassed in jail,” he wrote.
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