Friday, November 23, 2012

Ali Asqar: For the World's Children

The greatest tragedy that occurs during war is the targeting  and victimization of  children. According to UNICEF  reports hundreds of thousands of children have been killed during war during the past decades, many more have been disabled, orphaned and psychologically traumatized . Millions have lost their homes.
I can never forget a tragic photo of children killed during an aerial  attack by the Saddam regime on a school in Dezful,  in southern Iran, dating back to 1983.  Only in the past decade, thousands of children have been killed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Syria and in parts of Africa, during armed conflict and war. Many children were killed in the recent attack on Gaza when their homes were demolished by Israeli missiles.
During the mourning ceremonies of Muharram, accounts of the tragedy in Karbala (which occurred in the year 60 of the Hejira) are recited. One of the most shocking scenes, is the martyrdom of Ali Asqar, the youngest among the family of Imam Hussein.
Imam Hussein the grandson of the Prophet, comes under pressure by the ruling Ommayid establishment to pledge allegiance to Yazid, the brutal Khalifa. Yet he has come to invite the people of Kufa to return to the authentic teachings of Islam. As Imam Hussein endeavors to avoid the battle, he asks the enemy to let them go back to Medina. But Ibn Sad, the commander of Yazid forces has orders to force Imam to submit or to face the battle. Imam Hussein cannot surrender,  he has risen in face of oppression and tyranny. Hussein has a mission to save the face of Islam and to revive the tradition of the Prophet (SA). Along with his family and companions, he camps in Neinava, a region in present day Iraq. The enemy forces bring the camp under siege preventing them from accessing water. In the dry deserts of Karbala, the women and children are exhausted by the heat and by thirst. Mothers have no milk to feed their infants. Thirst has overwhelmed the caravan and the youngest among them Ali Asghar is restless. Imam Hussein brings the child forward and asks the enemy for water to quench the thirst of the 6 month baby. Yet before he finishes speaking, an arrow from the enemy has slit the little throat of Ali...
Ali Asghar is the child martyr of Karbala. His tragic martyrdom signifies the sufferings that the family of the Prophet face to protect the Religion and also the brutality of the selfish and ignorant followers of Yazid who call themselves Muslims, but have relinquished their humanity in the face of  worldly temptations of the ruling power.
Every year on the eighth of Muharram, ceremonies are held in Iran and other Muslim countries to commemorate the martyrdom of Ali Asghar. Mothers attend with their infants and they pray for the health and prosperity of their child. They dress the children in green Arabic outfits .

Ali Asghar is a legend for humanity . When children are still killed in war and armed conflict, when residential areas are attacked and demolished during war, we need to remind humanity that the struggle for justice, for righteousness and peace must continue...

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