Friday, February 11, 2005

From Ali Shariati

Yes, for every revolution, there are two visages: blood and the message. Husayn and his companions undertook the first mission, that of blood. The second mission is to bear the message to the whole world, to be the eloquent tongue of this flowing blood and these resting bodies among the walking dead. The mission of conveying the message begins today. Its responsibility rests on the fine shoulders of Zaynab, a woman from whom mankind is to learn virtue. The mission of Zaynab is more difficult and heavier than that of her brother. Those who have the courage to choose their own death have simply made a great choice. But the responsibility of those who survive is heavy and difficult. Zaynab has survived. The caravan of the captives follows behind her. The ranks of the enemy, as far as the eye can see, are in front of her. The responsibility of conveying her brother's message rests solely upon her shoulders. Leaving behind a red garden of shahadat and the perfume of roses, spreading from her skirts, she enters the city of crime. the capital of power, the center of oppression and execution.

With peace and pride, she victoriously announces to the power and cruelty of the slave-agents and executioners, to the remnants of colonialism and dictatorship: "Thank God for all the generosity and glory which He has bestowed upon our family. The honor of prophethood and the honor of shahadat." Zaynab bears the responsibility of announcing the message of the alive but silent shuhada. She has survived the shuhada and it is she who must be the tongue for those whose tongue has been cut off by the sword of the executioner.

If blood does not have a message, it remains mute in history. If the message of blood does not reach all generations, it is as if the executioner has imprisoned the shahid in the castle of one age and one time. If Zaynab does not convey the message of Karbala to history, Karbala remains as a mere historical event; and thus the ones who need this message will be deprived of it. Thus no one will be able to hear the message of those who spoke to the generations with their blood. It is for this reason that the mission of Zaynab is heavy and difficult. The mission of Zaynab is the conveying of a message to all humanity, to all those who weep for Husayn's death, to all those who bow down faithfully to Husayn, to all those who believe the message of Husayn that, "Life is nothing except belief and jihad." The message of Zaynab is as follows:
Oh, all of you who have a covenant with this family, who believe in the message of Muhammad, think and choose. In every age and generation, in whatever land you may be, you must learn to listen to the message of the shuhada of Karbala who said, 'Those can live well who can die well.'
Oh you who believe in the message of monotheism and in the Qur'an, as well as in the way of Ali and his family, and you who will follow us, the message of our family to mankind is the art of living well and dying well. Everyone dies just as he lives.

The message of Husayn to mankind is this:
If you are men of religion, then [live your] religion. If you do not follow a religion, then human freedom has placed a responsibility on your shoulders. As a religious person or a freedom-loving person, be the witness of your time and the shahid of truth and falsehood in your age.

The eyes of the shuhada are upon us. They are conscious, alive, and present. They are the paradigms, the witnesses of truth and falsehood, and the witnesses of the destiny of mankind.

And shahid has all these meanings.

For every revolution, there are two visages: blood and message.

Anyone who has accepted the responsibility of accepting the truth, and anyone who knows the meaning of the responsibility of being Shi'ite, of being a freedom-lover, knows he has to choose in the eternal battle of history, everywhere and in every land. All battlefields are Karbala, all months are Muharram, all days are Ashura? One has to choose either the blood or the message, to be either Husayn or Zaynab, either to die like him or survive like her, if he does not choose to be absent from the battlefield.

... There is much to be said, but how can one sufficiently explain the miracle that Husayn has performed and Zaynab has completed. What I want to say is a long story, but I can summarize it as the mission of Zaynab after the shahadat: those who died committed a Husayn-like act. Those who survive must perform a Zaynab-like act. Otherwise, they are the followers of Yazid.

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