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The Psychological Situation of the Shi'ite Muslim

From the time of Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan, the Shi'ite Muslim has endured different kinds of persecution, harassment and terrorization. He has been pursued by the authorities and has seldom felt secure. These authorities have waged war against the resources of life when they have failed to annihilate him and impede his freedom. In the best of circumstances he was a second-class citizen. All of this was because of one of his doctrinal views, namely the Imamate, and because of his legal tendency in terms of his following the Imams of the Holy Family, for they were the guides in the law of Islam.

The tragic situation for the Shi'ite has continued for long periods. Out of this situation, under which generations after generations have lived and died, a man has emerged who carries, in the depths of his being, a feeling of sorrow and a spirit of revolution. This situation has made him keep close to his historical symbols, in the vanguard of which is the revolution of Imam al-Husayn, in particular, and the history of the Imams, in general.

The attitude of most of the authorities, which govern in the Islamic world, has strengthened this psychological situation, across the centuries, to keep the memory of Imam al-Husayn alive or to make a pilgrimage (ziyara) to his grave. These authorities have persisted in making public their disapproval of these practices which the Shi'ite has continued to carry out. They have put obstacles before his freedom to carry these practices out. Their attitude has varied between complete prohibition, under penalty of death, imprisonment or confiscation for anyone who practices any intellectual, cultural, artistic and remembrance activity connected with al-Husayn's revolution, and between laying down legal limits on the freedom of movement and expression in this field.

In the coming chapters we will see how this attitude, which was opposed to any expression of the existence of al-Husayn's revolution in popular consciousness, was an established policy of many of the governments in many of the Islamic countries.

The ruling authorities, who adhered to this or that attitude against keeping the memory of al-Husayn alive in the popular consciousness of the Shi'ite, were transformed into symbols of repression and persecution which were heirs of the Umayyads and became an extension of the Umayyad entity in authority, which used to execute its plans and policies against al-Husayn and the policy of al-Husayn. This feeling in the Shi'ite impelled him even more to keep close to the symbol of al-Husayn, in doctrine, in religious law, in society and in politics.

As we shall see, these basic factors were the essential great influence on the existence of the revolution of al-Husayn. We will become acquainted with the extent of the participation of each one of them, when we study, in the following chapters, the revolution of al-Husayn in popular consciousness in the following manifestations: (i) the pilgrimage (ziyara), (ii) the poetry of lament for al-Husayn, (iii) the gatherings of remembrance, and (iv) the phenomenon of weeping.

Adapted from the book: "The Revolution of al-Husayn (a.s.)" by: "Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi Shams al-Din"

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