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Ashura and Dr. Muhammad Tijani of Tunisia

In his book entitled, “Thumma Ahdaytu” (Then, I was Guided), he says, “My friend Mun‘im and I traveled together to Karbala and there I understood the sufferings of our leader al-Husayn, like the Shi‘ahs do. I understood that Imam al-Husayn is not dead. The people were crowding and pressing together all around his resting place, going round it with grief and anguish the like of which I had never seen before.

They were crying and expressing restlessness as if Imam al-Husayn had just recently been martyred. I heard preachers who were arousing people’s emotions by retelling the tragic event of Karbala. These accounts made the people cry, grieve and wail. No one who hears these accounts can endure it.

On the contrary, he spontaneously loses himself. I too cried. I cried and cried. I cried so much that it seemed as if for years sorrow had accumulated in my throat and it was now exploding out.

After crying, I felt peace like I had never felt before. It seemed as if I was previously one of the enemies of Imam al-Husayn and, in a split second, I had now transformed into one of his friends. I now felt like I was one of the helpers and followers of the man who had sacrificed his life, Imam al-Husayn.

I became calm. It was amazing that, at that very moment, the preacher was narrating and explaining the story of Hurr. Hurr was one of the soldiers who had come with the opposing army to battle Imam al-Husayn, but suddenly, right on the battlefield, he trembled. His friends asked him, ‘What is wrong with you?

Are you afraid to die?’ He answered, ‘I swear upon Allah! I have never feared death, but I see before myself the option to choose either paradise or hell.’ Suddenly, he rode his horse towards al-Husayn and hastened to see him. He was crying as he asked, ‘O son of the Holy Prophet! Is repentance from me acceptable?’

At that very moment, I could not bear it anymore and I threw myself down on the ground crying and wailing. It seemed as though I was replaying the part of Hurr and was pleading with Imam al-Husayn thus, ‘O son of the Holy Prophet! Is repentance from me acceptable? O son of the Holy Prophet! Overlook my sins and pardon me.’

The preacher’s voice had produced such an effect on the listeners that it caused the people’s crying voices to become louder. My friend, who had heard my cries, embraced me while he too cried. He held me the way a mother holds her child, and he was repeating, ‘Ya al-Husayn! Ya al-Husayn!’ (O al-Husayn! O al-Husayn!)

This was the moment that I understood and perceived what real crying was. I felt as if my tears were washing my heart and cleansing my entire body from inside. It was then that I understood the real meaning of the Prophet’s tradition, when he used to say, ‘If you knew what I knew, then you would surely laugh less and cry more.’

I spent the whole of that day in sorrow. My friend wanted to console me, so he brought some cookies for me, but I had lost my appetite entirely. I requested that my friend retell the story of Imam al-Husayn’s martyrdom, because I did not know much about it…”30

Notes:

30. Thumma Ahdaytu (Then, I was Guided), pp. 96-98.

Adapted from: "The Uprising of Ashura and Responses to Doubts" by: "‘Ali Asghar Ridwani"