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" Azadari - The philosophy of the uprising of Imam Hussain a.s & the importance and purpose

The Need of Majlis e aza

Some individuals think that Majlis is just a mere tradition and custom coming from their ancestors. Some children say that without choice, they have to attend the Majlis because of their parents peer pressure. Brothers and Sisters! Majlis is a religious responsibility for all. There was a time before, when Sunnis used to organize Majlises. They used to give Niyaz and even till today they contribute to the expenses of Azadari but unfortunately a category of individuals came and unnecessarily created disputes between the Muslims and dragged people away from such an important institution.

The Wisdom behind Majalis e aza

Majlis e aza is not a tradition because a tradition is something that is left by ancestors. Ancestral traditions are not initiated by religion and consequently these memorial ceremonies are not customs left by our elders or ancestors. The Holy month of Ramadan is not a tradition and is a month of reviving the Quran, which results in the revival of Islam and the honor and salvation of the Muslims. In the same manner, the month of Muharram is not a tradition; it is the time of reviving the message of the Ahlulbait (AS), which will result in the revival of the Ideology of the Prophet (PBUH) and the reformation of Ummah which is the path to eternal success. People organizing, reciting and attending Majlises should take care that the sanctity of this congregation should be preserved. No slogan should be raised from the floor which results in the demolishment of sacredness. The orator sitting on the pulpit should not smear any sanctuaries because if a Muslim is slighted from the pulpit, the sacredness of Muharram will become trampled.

Intelligence (Hosh) is a must with fermentation (Josh)

Most Muslims today become fermented and fervent very quickly but this state diminishes rapidly. Our ferment and fervour is temporary and thus fades away quickly. Example: The stand taken by the Muslim Ummah to defend the sanctity of the Prophet (SAW) in response to the blasphemy committed was out of rapture; however this stand lasted only one day, hence showing it was temporary. The very next day, all protests cooled down and everyone became relaxed. This quality of fermentation (Josh) and becoming raptured is important but requires intelligence (Hosh) and guidance. An individual must understand how to use this fermentation in the correct manner. In order to start any movement, having fervour and rapture (Jazba) is a must but it must be adjoined with sense and intellect. If it is alone, the spirit will diminish in no time and one may become ignorant of the enemy. This will result in building friendships and ties with the enemy which is exactly our situation today.

Since when has the series of Blasphemy started?

In this era, the greatest blasphemy was done in America where a movie humiliating the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was produced. This vulgar act had an effect on the feelings of Muslims who in response stood up for some time and then again returned back to their normal conditions. This series of profanity has not begun in the last two years; instead it started at the time of the Prophet (SAW) when he was in Mecca. In Mecca the work of a certain group of people known as the Quraysh, was only to humiliate the Prophet (SAW). These people of ignorance dishonored the Prophet (SAW) in every manner they could and even the Quran narrates their despicable behavior on various occasions.

The series of blasphemy began from that time. Another category of people who respected and defended the Prophet and his Sanctity, also originated from Mecca (both groups started since then). History clearly mentions that when the Prophet (SAW) came and announced His message of Prophethood, only 3 people presented themselves in submission to Him. One was elder to the Prophet in relation, his uncle Abu Talib (AS), one was a lady, Prophets (SAW) wife, Lady Khadija (SA) and one was a young boy of just 12 years, Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS). These 3 immediately accepted his Prophecy without even asking him to show a miracle. Why? Because they knew that the trustworthy Prophet (SAW) does not require any proof to testify his words. Hence from that very day, both, the humiliating and the respecting force became active.

Profanity done by the Quraysh

The Quran mentions, the Quraysh initially called the Prophet a magician (Sa’hir), then a crazy man (Majnoon) and finally poet (Sha’ir). They propagated that he does not receive any revelation (Wahi) and thus he presents his imagination as religion. The Quran instantly defended his Prophecy by saying that he is not a poet, nor a magician; instead He is a Wali’ who is sent by Allah (SWT) to guide the Ummah and save it from destruction. The Quran says that His knowledge is in the hands of Allah and He (SAW) does not speak by himself. He speaks only when Wahi (revelation) is descended upon him. It is in this way that Allah (SWT) preserved the honor of his Messenger.

What made Imam Husain (AS) leave Medina?

Sacrilege of religious values had reached its peak and consequently the spirit of preserving the sanctity of religion made Imam (AS) leave Medina. Today some people comment that God forbid Majlis is heresy and a self-made innovation (bid’at) disregarding the fact that these majlises have a great message hidden within them. It is these mourning sessions which have preserved the sanctity of the Ahlulbait (AS). In the battles of Badr, Uhud, Khaibar, and Khandaq, the enemies of Islam disrespected the Prophet (PBUH). An example to highlight this is in the battle of Khandaq, when Amr ibn Abdavad challenged the Prophet by asking him to send someone to fight him in a disrespectful manner; The Prophet (PBUH) asked his companions: Who is ready to reply this person disrespecting me in the worst of manners? At that time only Imam Ali (AS) stood up to defend the Prophet and His Religion. The same person who supported and preserved the sanctity of the Prophet since Mecca, offered himself.

Can a believer be alien when religious values are being trampled?

Whenever anyone would disrespect Religion, the Ahlulbait (AS) never remained silent and took a stand. Even after the Prophet passing, the blasphemy of Religion continued. Individuals stayed unconcerned and were involved in their daily routines, but Imam Husain (AS) stood up to defend the Religion and questioned people who were silent over the situation:

ألا ترون الحق لا يعمل به

His words can be interpreted as such that he was asking the people whether they could not see or have they turned blind? Do they not see Haqq (truth) getting subjugated and trampled and evil is becoming spread and followed? The Imam asked them if they could not see the open blasphemy. Imam Husain (AS) is reported to have said: ‘O men! Verily the Prophet of Islam has said, ‘If someone sees a cruel ruler who disregards his duty and acts among the people sinfully and aggressively, and that person does not do anything, in action or speech, to change the situation – then, it would be right for God [on the day of Judgment] to place such an indifferent person alongside the tyrant ruler!”

Why did Imam Husain (AS) intend for Mecca?

It was important for the Imam (AS) to let the Muslim world know about his rejection of Yazid. During the days when there were no newspapers, radios, or TVs, Imam Husain (AS) decided to use the medium of pilgrims to convey His message. There is no doubt that He left Medina because his life was in danger, and that he chose Mecca because it is considered by the Qur’an as a refuge and a place of asylum for everyone. But one should not ignore the fact that Mecca was also the center of Hajj. The annual pilgrimage availed itself as an opportunity for Imam (AS) to meet people from different parts of the Muslim world and inform them about his views concerning Yazid. On their return, the pilgrims would surely mention this very significant news to their own people. Mecca was the cream of religion and only Religious people, who had Faith, would go for Hajj. Imam thought that these Religious people might have a feeling for Religion, and hence told them the situation, highlighting the continuous blasphemy of Yazid. He considered informing them about how the values of Islam are being shattered and how Yazid is mocking Islamic law.

Examples of how Yazid (LA) was trampling the Sacred Values

Yazid (LA) was a despot, a disgrace and filth. This can be seen on many occasions. E.g. when someone would tell him things like his aunt is his Mahram (having blood relationship) and thus he cannot have affairs with her, he would reply: “These are all man made talks and thus have no significance.” In front of him, the companions of the Prophet would be standing and he would ask his monkey whether he was right or wrong! When the monkey would do any action, Yazid would say: “Look! Even the monkey is testifying and agreeing to what I am saying.” In this way he used to abuse and mock the Prophets (SAW) Religion and people because of fear, never raised their voices and silently witnessed the insult of Holy Values. He used to drink openly without any hesitation. When he would get intoxicated, he would say that there is no Quran, no Prophet, no revelation, and no nothing.

People who have Haram in their stomachs disregard the Ahlulbait (AS)

People saw the values of Religion being trampled upon but had no reaction and with their heads down, remained silent. Imam Husain (AS) kept asking them the reason for their heedlessness. On the day of A’shura, when Imam Husain (AS) was about to give a sermon, Umar e Saa’d (LA) instructed his force not to listen to him. He told them to create noise by hitting their swords on their shields, so that the voice of Imam (AS) does not reach the army of Yazid (LA). When the Imam started speaking, they cut him off on three occasions. Then the Imam (AS) told them that: “I know why you do not want to listen to me. It is because there is haram in your stomach.” It is indeed a reality that whosoever has haram in his stomach cannot understand the words of Mohammed (PBUH) and his Holy Progeny (AS). Imam clearly told them that because Yazid (LA) had fed them with so much haram, both their hearts and ears had become veiled and so did not allow them to hear even a word of truth.

Imam (AS) changed his Ehra’m into Coffin in order to preserve the Religion

Imam (AS) told the people of Mecca that even if others were unconcerned about Religion, they must pay heed and support the Imam (AS). He said to them that as they had come to the House of Allah and were raising the slogans of “Labbaik Allah”, they were ready to strive on the path of Allah (SWT). Imam (AS) told them that the Religion of Allah (SWT) is in danger and asked them to accompany him. He explained to them that this is the time to save Hajj and not to perform Hajj! It was not the time to circumambulate around the Ka’bah; it was the time to save the honor of the Ka’bah. But they did not respond to the Imam (AS) and continued their Hajj rituals. Imam (AS) all alone with his household (which had small Children and Ladies) head to Karbala in order to save the dignity of Religion. Even the Kufis who had written letters to the Imam did not support him at that point.

Yazid won the battle but he lost the war!

In the supreme sacrifice of Karbala, Imam Husain (AS) not only gave his own life, but also those of his sons, brothers, relatives, and friends. He and his small group of followers chose an honorable death over a life of disgrace under a tyrant like Yazid. Yazid won the battle but he lost the war because he did not achieve his objective in obtaining an oath of allegiance from the Imam (AS). On the other hand, Imam Husain (AS), even in death, achieved his goal of awakening the slumbering conscience of the Muslim Ummah. The martyrdom of our Holy Imam (AS) echoed out to the people that they cannot stay indifferent when people like Yazid become their Rulers.

The Islamic Revolution of Iran is a fruit of Karbala

Imam Khomeini (RA), the great leader of this era, has taught people how to walk on the path of Imam Husain (AS). He says: “If the Holiest of beings like Imam Husain (AS) can get sacrificed for the sake of Religion, then what price and value does any other blood have that they should not get sacrificed on this path?” In other words, everybody should be ready to sacrifice themselves on the path of Husain. Imam (AS) was asked to surrender to Yazid and as a result, he would have been left in peace and comfort. However the Imam (AS) was willing to have his head cut off but in no circumstances was he ready to bend his neck in front of a tyrant who was suppressing Islam. After the event of Karbala, the level of oppression increased even more. However Lady Zainab (SA) by her character proved that even she, like her brother, was not ready to accept any blasphemy towards Religion. She never accepted any disrespect to the Quran and Religion as her household was the defender of Quran, Religion and all Islamic values.

Continuing the path of Imam Husain (AS) is real Azadari

Imam Khomeini (RA) continued the mission of Imam Husain (AS) by bringing an Islamic Revolution in Iran and asked the whole world to step on this Holy path. Walking on the path of Imam is known as “AZADARI.” We have these mourning sessions for keeping the spirit of Karbala alive and to revive the values of Ashura. We should not take this institution lightly as it has a great mission. Today, what little respect we see towards religion is because of this Azadari.

What is Azadari in short?

Azadari is not a custom, ritual, tradition or a name given to a place where people assemble. It is a name given to two things:

1) Razm e Husaini (The Husaini Combat); and 2) Azm e Zainabi (The Zainabi Courage)

Razm e Husaini is battling against Yazidiyyat and sacrificing one’s life. Azm e Zainabi is the courage, patience, bravery after the sacrifice and the spirit of spreading the message of the martyrs to the whole world. This movement requires action , not slumber and crying on your loss. Before attending a Majlis, one should have the spirit that he is leaving his house for the sake of walking on the path of Zainab (SA) as she was the first Azada’r. Even if the conditions are hazardous (particularly in Pakistan) and there is danger in coming to Majlises, we should never step back because stepping on the path of danger is recognized as Zainabi Courage. The route of Lady Zainab was full of peril from Medina to Shaa’m but her bravery was incomparable to the threats imposed on her.

Walking on the path of Lady Zainab (SA) demands courage

Walking on the path of danger demands Zainabi courage. We must not stop our children from going to Majlises even if there is threat; instead we should even take our new born children along with us. What will happen to the maximum? The children might get martyred or the kids might become orphans. This is exactly the path of Husain (AS) and Zainab (SA) which saves and guards religion. Remaining at home due to fear is Kufiyyat and not Zainabiyyat!

What is Zainabiyyat?

The more the danger increases, the more the spirit and bravery increases; the more the terror and fright increases, the more the courage and audacity increases. We must remain gallant even if we get arrested on the name of Husain (AS). We should not fear, even if the biggest rank of police summons us. Our Lady Zainab (SA) in her legacy has trained us the method of responding to such disgraced people with firmness and steadfastness. Lady Zainab (SA) shuddered Ubaydallah (LA) and Yazid (LA) by her sermons. She told Yazid (LA) that she had come into the courtyard to take him out from his state of intoxication. She told him that it was his false perception to consider himself honorable as he was sitting on the throne whilst regarding the caravan of the Ahlulbait (AS) dishonorable as they were tied in ropes. She said that like a lion, that has become tied up in ropes stays a lion, a disgraceful person, even if he sits on the throne remains dishonored. In todays’ world the Shias exactly need the same spirit. In this era, Majlis and Azadari have preserved the honor of Islam, Quran and Ahlulbait (AS). We should remember that the purpose of Azadari cannot be different from the purpose of the sacrifice of Imam Husain (AS).

Productive results of Majlis e Aza

If in the Majlises, Karbala is interpreted in the right prospective, then Yazid and all those on his path will always be considered the accursed (Yazidis). As a result, Imam Husain (AS) will be considered the doyen of martyrs and Yazid will be regarded the nastiest and ill-fated of individuals. Till the time Husainiyyat is alive, no effort can remove the dirty spots on the face of Yazidiyyat. The struggle and sacrifice of Imam Husain (AS) and the movement of Lady Zainab (SA) have achieved such a great standard that purity can never ever reach anywhere close to Yazid (LA).

Azadari in the vision of Imam Khomeini (RA)

“The life of a nation lies in Azadari. Imam Husain (AS) granted salvation to Islam, and protected its eminence from being trampled, by kissing martyrdom. Holding Majalis-e-aza to commemorate his martyrdom is the cause for the everlastingness & immortality of Islam. Those who oppose these Majalis, oppose Islam. They are totally unaware of Islam’s reality. It is his Azadari which has given protection to Islam until today. Seena zani (beating chest), lamentation & cries are the very secrets of our success. Those who object to Azadari do not know that when one weeps for Imam Hussein (as), he pledges to keep the mission alive. ‘Our Youth have been told that you are a nation of weepers; those who tell them this are in fact very much frightened by our tears. The tears which roll down our cheeks for the oppressed & suppressed, each droplet is a challenge to the tyrant. We must keep this up, for this is one of the signs of faith. Let no one in the name of modern thinking & intellectualism deceive you into believing that weeping & mourning over the tragedy of Karbala is useless.”- Will of Imam Khomeini (RA)


On the whole, the institution of Azadari has been the backbone of Shiasm in educating its members about their Religion. The immense sympathy which a Shia feels towards the martyrs of Karbala works as a magnet in pulling him or her to the Majlis and other ceremonies of Azadari. The psychological and emotional attachment which the Shias have towards the Azadari of Imam Husain (AS) is a very precious and valuable tool to implement the purpose of Azadari outlined above. The organizers, the audience, and, above all, the speakers need to focus on the purpose of Azadari. Our majalis, our nawha, our marsiya, and our matam should all be moving us intellectually, spiritually and emotionally towards the outlined purpose. Only then will we be able to achieve the maximum out of the institution of Azadari, and to fulfill our pledge to Imam Husain (AS) that `had we been in Karbala with you, we would have sacrificed our lives also’.

When humanity wakes up from its slumber, every nation will cry out: Husain is ours!

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