Ashura processions and mourning ceremonies are the hallmark of Iranian society these days. In every city , in every street , in many homes ceremonies are held reciting prayers and commemorating the legacy of Imam Hussein. Imam Hussein is known as the "Light of Guidance and the Ship of Salvation", for he chose a dignified death instead of a life of humiliation and submission to oppression.
The commemoration of Ashura has always been inspiring for Muslims and this inspirational role was instrumental during the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. Similarly in Iraq, mourning for Imam Hussein was totally banned during the rule of Saddam since the Baathist regime felt threatened by the vitalizing messages of Imam Hussein. " I do not see death other than salvation and life under oppression dark and useless".
The legacy of Imam Hussein is laden with ethics , even during the battle, his behavior and manners are lessons for humanity. Imam has the chance to close the waterways on the enemy so that thirst would defeat them, but he prevents his army from doing citing the unethical basis of this action. Imam engages in dialogue with the enemy who have come on the orders of the ruler, Yazid to kill Imam and his followers for not accepting his rule and leadership. He invites them to contemplate on their actions , he asks them do you know who I am? Imam is telling them to think twice before they choose on which side they wish to fight. The enemy commander has given them promises he will not be able to fulfill, they have accepted the rule of an oppressor and Imam explains this reality for them. Ashura is not only a historic event but it is a culture of dignity and love.
Today things are very different from what they were even a year ago in Iran. Now 3 decades after the Revolution for the first time serious restrictions are set on the processions and ceremonies of Ashura. Many ceremonies have been banned on the pretext that they belong to the Reformists or the Greens. There have been sporadic, but widespread, protests following the death of Ayatollah Montazeri , now coinciding with processions for Ashura. People marching commemorating Ashura and protesting against the current policies were beaten yesterday in Tehran. Last night, hooligans armed with clubs attacked Jamaran, the home of the late Imam and the center where he delivered his speeches and sermons. Former President Khatami was speaking there when this attacked occured . The audience was attacked with clubs and other Chinese made anti riot gadgets. Large groups of demonstrators gathered out of the center and marched in Niavaran avenue towards Tajrish. They chanted very harsh anti government slogans.
The Greens have called for large demonstrations in all major cities for Ashura, today. The fervor of Ashura is gaining momentum and once again religious values and faith in the Truth are incentives for change. The famous saying that "Everyday is Ashura and Every land is Karbala" refers to the universal and unlimited nature of the message of Imam Hussein, a reference which finds relevance not only in Iran but anywhere in the violence and war stricken world today.