This is a picture of the front of my house. Every year, we try to make this very small commitment to ensure these symbols of grief grace our home until after Arba’een.
This year has been tough. I have really been struggling with a lot of elements in my life and honestly and embarrassingly admit that I was having a tough time ‘connecting’ and getting into ‘the zone’…’Dunya’ has truly ensnared me from all angles.
Yesterday, already a few days into the Ashra, the symbols still weren’t up and I had essentially given up and decided to skip the ritual this year. I just didn’t have it in me…after work, after pick ups and drop offs, etc I was thoroughly exhausted, not feeling ‘it’ and was barely even making it to mosque awake; there was just no time or importance for this.
As I was driving between work and pick ups and drop offs, my mom called. We chatted for a bit and she asked if I had put up the banners. I embarrassingly said no and told her I was going to skip it this year; it was too late anyways.
In the way that Mothers do, she listened to my reasons and my state of mind, then gently advised in the way only she can, ‘Beta, do whatever you need to do, do whatever you can, but don’t ever leave Husayn a.s. He never left you’
It struck a chord, so I dutifully went to find all the banners and began cleaning them off and putting them up. It was done…but I still didn’t feel a sense of fulfillment. After all, I wasn’t ‘connected’.
That fulfillment came today. I had slept in and missed my morning meeting, so was ‘stuck’ working from home…if I had began driving to work when I got up I would have missed any subsequent conference calls. They day had not even begun and I was already behind the proverbial ‘8 ball’…Great.
Just around Zuhr time, I heard a gentle knock at the door. I opened it to find a small elderly lady who was struggling to stay standing, leaning on her cane. She stood there with tears streaming down her face, pointing to the banners, saying ‘Husayn, Husayn!’
I was stunned, I’ve never seen her before, and I couldn’t understand what she was saying, but I knew I had to let her in. I led her in and took her upstairs to the namaz room, where, upon seeing the Alam of Abul Fadhl, made her way quickly over to it, grasped it and began to wail in Farsi. She had put all her entire weight and strength completely upon Abul Fadhl…but the Alam remained standing; unwavering
All I saw in her eyes was focus, faith and determination…I couldn’t understand anything she was saying but yet I knew in my heart exactly what she was saying. It was the language of love, sacrifice, doubtless, unquestionable faith, of wilayah…and it was the most beautiful dialogue between a servant and her Master that I had ever witnessed.
I stood there watching her, crying like a child as she moved from the alam, to the turbahs, to the tasbihs, to the banners, touching each item, holding it to her heart, murmuring words of yearning and grief and then doing it all over again…for well over an hour.
Here I was, with everything at my disposal, complaining that I couldn’t ‘connect’ and look how Imam guided her, His servant, who had NOTHING, to the connection she was yearning for! This lady was an absolute inspiration and ignitor of ‘connection’.
Truly Imam is generous, truly His ways are not understood!
This has to have been one of the most humbling and eye opening experiences of my life.
In my very broken Farsi (and the help of Google translate) I was able to learn from her that she moved here 6 months ago and is staying with distant relatives who do not commemorate the Tragedy or know where the mosques are as they do not practice. She has been yearning for Husayn a.s. But doesn’t know where majalis are being held. She was yearning for Husayn and Husayn Himself came to her Alhamdulillah.
We parted ways, both with tears streaming down our faces…united only by the Love for Husayn. We consistently hear, during these nights about the ‘Universality’ of Husayn…how Husayn belongs not only to us but to everyone. I have believed that Husayns’ legacy is such, that he has no need for us to advocate for him. This event has truly proved that for me. It has let me see that his intervention is nothing but divine. His unique connection to Allah swt has already cemented his legacy and how it will be spread in a divine manner…these affairs are truly not ours to manage.
Thank you Mom Shamim Haji for persuading me to keep my dying flame alive. InshaAllah May we all develop such love and yearning for Husayn a.s. in our hearts as this beautiful visitor of mine today has ‘Ya Husayn’
Writes Zainab Somani