The Public Face of Revolutionary Islam

The Public Face of Revolutionary Islam
Here are some images of the “new terrorists” propaganda system in the making. Can you imagine the global headlines that Daniel Pipes, the Jewish Islamophobe propagandist of the West, would give to these images of self-flagellating blood-letting in Muharram during the remembrance of the Memory of Karbala (while forgetting the Categorical Imperative of Karbala) by the Shia devotees of Imam Hussein, aided and abetted by the Valih-e-faqih, and assorted marja-e-taqlid Ayatollahs from Qom to Najaf, who tacitly encourage this barbaric display of Shia faith by silently condoning it, not issuing categorical injunctions against it, when Dr. Pipes has most imaginatively already captioned “militant Islam” and “radical Islam” as: “It's Not a Clash of Civilizations, It's a Clash between the Civilized World and Barbarians? Is this what Shiaism is all about --- is a question that is even asked by the majority of the Sunni Muslims worldwide, never mind the world's public.

Convince people that: “It's Not a Clash of Civilizations, It's a Clash between the Civilized World and Barbarians, and you can get them to commit atrocities!
Caption Ashura Child1 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption Ashura Child2 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption Ashura Child3 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption Ashura Child4 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption Ashura Child5 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption Ashura Child6 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption Ashura Child7 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption Ashura Child8 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption Ashura Child9 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption Ashura Child10 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption Ashura Children1 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption Ashura 2016 Children2 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption Ashura Woman1 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption Ashura Woman2 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption Ashura Man1 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption Ashura Man2 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption Ashura 2016 Man3 (Source: from the web, please check in the image property for any copyright information)
Caption-1 The extremes to which the Shia devotees of Imam Hussein go to commiserate with the martyrs of Karbala as the fast-path to heaven. These self-inflicted wounds heal sooner than most people uninitiated into this ritual might think. This display of faith and love for Imam Hussein is virtually risk free, as people return to work with at best minor discomfort for several days, and it's business as usual. It is, evidently, still a lot easier to break blood from one's own head, to soak in one's own blood once or twice a year in remembrance of what the tyrant Yazid's army did to Imam Hussein and his family in 61 A.H., than to stand up to the systems of oppression in one's own time. Especially when such display of devotion, tears and self-flagellation, elegiac poetry with narrative reenactment, and walking for miles, often barefoot, in long processions to commemorate the event of 61 A.H., even when there be threat to one's life due to crackdown by authorities inimical to such remembrance, is thought as the fast-path to Heaven. It is almost universally believed by the Shia laity, regardless of which nation and culture they might live in, that Imam Hussein would intercede on behalf of his devotees on the Day of Judgment if they shed tears for his misery. This belief is so strongly held that it has become the predominant religious ethos of Shiadom.
Shedding such tears of devotion is also virtually risk free, while interfering with the imperatives of villainous power is always hazardous in totalitarian systems. Even in supposed liberal systems, such as democracy, the corruption of power is only disguised. Despite the electorate, imperialism and hegemony, endless warfare and police states, continue to thrive at the expense of the lesser peoples. To say “NO” to the tyrant of the day, to say “NO” to his imperialism and injustices, as Imam Hussein and his womenfolk and children and handful of companions did, is to lose one's livelihood, or worse, be shot dead for dissent, when not incarcerated and tortured. This of course happens only when one acquires the courage of Imam Hussein to say “NO” to rulers and to their systems of corruption. But for the simpleton Shia laity, instead of commemorating Imam Hussein's unflinching act of categorical imperative, which the Imam had most elegantly summed up for the benefit of all times in his now famous sentence: “a man like me does not give oath of fealty to a man like Yazid”, the devotees have been culturally trained to commemorate what the bad guys did to the Imam. Not what the Imam did to the bad guys by taking his stance!
What Imam Hussein and his family suffered, surely remained unparalleled throughout most of mankind's history when battles were fought on horseback and with swords outside of civilian centers. Until indiscriminate aerial bombardment of civilian centers became the preferred military doctrine of the West in our modernity. What happens from Palestine to Syria to Iraq to Libya to Pakistan to Afghanistan to Yemen today, or what happened to Hamburg and Dresden and Tokyo and Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, is not all that physically different from what happened to the family of Imam Hussein. Is it really worse to die from the sword of Yazid's army with parched throats in the middle of 120 degrees heat in the sweltering desert of Mesopotamia, than from an atom bomb, or daisy cutter, or in a napalm fire-bomb inferno?
Therefore, it follows that it is not the despicable and inhuman style of martyrdom per se inflicted upon the noble Imam and his noble children which is the point to ponder and remember and commemorate. They, after all, died courageously in battle with sword in hand, by choice. Why are manufactured tears extracted from the devotees for what was a courageous self-sacrifice, a choice that was deliberately made by the Imam? Why was that choice made by the Imam? It is solely that act of the Imam and his entourage as a categorical imperative, to stand up to Yazid, to be the exemplar of the meaning of Islam, to say “NO” to the corruption and reign of terror of vile power, to say “NO” to one's own “banality of evil”, which is the point of Karbala –– as heinous and barbaric, and naturally tear-jerking as the method of murdering the grandchildren of the Prophet of Islam was.
The Imam clearly anticipated his fate. It was not a surprise to him, as his letters and conversations throughout his several months long journey reveal. And yet, the Imam willingly chose that path which he knew for sure would lead to certain death. On top of it, the Imam took his womenfolk and children, knowing for sure that there was certain death at the end of the road. Why did the Imam take that path –– which today, to astute political minds whose only imperative is to rule, would appear foolish and insane?
The principal lesson to be learned, remembered, and acted upon, from the Imam's stance that brought him to Karbala in a long journey throughout which he invited Muslims to join him in the mission, and for which he offered what is considered the supreme sacrifice, was his categorical imperative, a fundamental teaching of Islam.
That teaching has mainly become relegated to elegiac poetry and religious theses. The Muslims have been taught for centuries to practice mainly the shell of Islam. That has resulted in ignoring its fruit, which is almost always thrown away by all Muslims, each according to their own shared ethos. The Deen-ul-Haq, the Religion of Justice, to even enter whose fold first begins with “NO”, has been transformed into the religion of idiotic rituals which border on barbarism and superstition in Shiadom. In the modern day and age, this self-flagellation and blood-letting appears to be a throw-back to the Dark Ages, the age of Jahiliya before the dawn of Islam, when people did all sorts of insane rituals thinking their gods favored it.
This dysfunction among the Shia Muslims has been aided and abetted throughout the past fourteen centuries by the clergy class and their thoughtless story tellers who have misguided and misdirected this spontaneous devotion of the people to the Ahlul Bayt. That has ensured that the tyrants remain free to do as they please. No tyrant, no system of oppression, and no bastard, has ever even had a butterfly stomach with this display of blood passion by Imam Hussein's followers, let alone fear for his or her power. Something has gone terribly awry with Muslims. An inheritance so profound, an emotional attachment so unparalleled and global, that the devotees, no matter where they live, in which time and in which space, shy not from shedding their own blood in remembrance, generation after generation, and century after century, and yet, still oppressed everywhere. More images of extremes in blood-letting self-flagellation during A'shura 2016 are here. (Images gathered from various news reports on the web, please check in the JPG image property for any copyright information of the original source)
Caption-2 Can anyone guess what Islamophobes would caption this display of “revolutionary Islam” to frighten the Western audiences: 'It's Not a Clash of Civilizations, It's a Clash between the Civilized World and Barbarians'! The latter headline has already been employed by the Jewish reformer of Islam, Dr. Daniel Pipes, to awaken the Western public against the curse of the Taleban's and the Al-Qaeeda's version of “Islam” reaching them. Extending the narrative to “Revolutionary Islam” is just around the corner. Getting the two absurdities to wage an endless war in the name of “Islam” that will snowball into a Shia-Sunni world war, with the Western audience disdainfully against both barbarians, and the Western states along with their Eastern vassals, arming both sides just as during the eight year long Iran-Iraq war, is the obvious game-theorized scenario on the grand chessboard. Once brought to the Russian-roulette table, it cannot be averted. The time for its prevention is before the fait accompli is cast – and all provocations are being brought to bear on this very scenario, only the most recent of which is: Saudi Arabia's grand mufti says Iranians are 'not Muslims'.
Caption-3 This barbaric ritual in Shiadom, of splitting open one's head and drawing blood from various parts of the body with swords and knives to mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussein and his family at Karbala in the year 61 A.H., has neither anything to do with the Religion of Islam, nor with the principal Message of Karbala: “Qullo yomin A'shura, Qullo Ardin Karbala”, and nor with basic human dignity and decency. Where Imam Hussein exemplified human dignity by freeing it from man's tyranny for all times, Shiadom enslaved it back again in superstitions and behavior control systems. The Shia clergy, by staying mute dumb and blind to this barbaric public practice of the Shia devotees, have demonstrated for centuries their own real qibla of allegiance: the god of public opinion before which they too bow like the vulgar politicians. Here is a lukewarm condemnation of this practice by the Valih-e-Faqih-e-Muslimeen of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, falling way short of a categorical religious and legal injunction banning it:
It is wrongful that some people hit themselves on the head with daggers to break blood. What are they in search of? How can this be considered an act of mourning? Of course light drumming on the head with one’s own hand is a distinctive sign of mourning. You have seen it several times when people are stricken by grief, they hit own their chests or heads. This is a typical symbol of distress for mourning. But when have you ever seen a person, who is grief stricken by the loss of a dear loved one, take a dagger to their own head in order to draw blood? How can this be a form of mourning?
Tatbir [Qame Zani] is also a fabricated tradition. It is among issues that do not belong to the Islamic religion and undoubtedly God is not pleased with such a practice. Scholars among the last few centuries did not have the opportunity to speak out and declare it as an unlawful or wrongful act. However, today is the day of Islamic establishment and the day for the manifestation of Islam. We should not go along with actions that may introduce a small group of irrational, superstitious individuals to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, to be represented as the bulwark of the noble Islamic society--the society that loves the progeny of the prophet (pbuh) and has the honor to carry the names of the Imam of our Time (may our souls be sacrificed for him), Imam Hussain Ibn Ali (as) and Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (as).
The more I thought about it (tatbir), the more I truly realized I cannot overlook my responsibility of informing our dear people on Tatbir, which is certainly an act of wrongdoing built upon heresy. Do not practice it, I do not approve. If someone does anything to display their desire to practice Tatbir, I will be deeply disappointed in them. I am declaring this solemnly. This is certainly an unlawful action, one which Imam Hussain (as) would not be pleased with, as practiced today. I cannot fathom who would and based on what evidence would they establish such peculiar and wrongful traditions in Islamic societies and within our revolutionary society?
Tatbir is one of those concerns which not only lacks logical reasoning, but is also the nearest of things to superstition. Why do some promote such things? This is a great danger, which has to be carefully tended to within the world of religion and religious insight by the guardians of the faith.” --- Ayatollah Khamenei, June 07, 1994
Imagine the thought experiment if you will, that you are taking an undergraduate class in media studies under Dr. Joseph Goebbels of the Third Reich --- come up with an emotionally tickling caption for these images of the bloody ritual of A'shura that would effectively rally the Western public to fight “revolutionary Islam” with an equal or greater zeal than they have thus far waged “united we stand” against “militant Islam”.
An authoritative account of the Misrepresentations and Distortions in the popular A'shura narratives heralded from the ubiquitous Shia pulpit itself is given in the series of four lectures delivered in 1969 by the notable Shia Iranian scholar Allama Murtaza Mutahhari. While ably capturing both the psychological motivations and the misrepresentations and distortions made by latter day Shia pulpits from Qom to Najaf, and from Karbala to India with reference to the sacred penmanship of the pious scribes of history, the learned and honest Iranian scholar notably failed to address the hagiographic distortions in that sacred historical penmanship itself. A reportage of the seminal events of Karbala compiled generations after the fact, in a primitive tribal society by a partisan people not much different than those occupying the pious pulpits today, but which is treated as sacrosanct! Most revealingly, whatever is written in those earliest historical narratives is treated as gospel truth by even the highest authorities of the Shia pulpit in exactly the same way as the Sunni pulpits treat their own hagiographic narratives of early Muslim history.
What recuses that early reportage of Muslim history from the same type of rigorous intellectual examination for the same kinds of psychological motivations, misrepresentations and distortions, made by the same kind of fertile imaginations and fallible pens incestuously reinforcing their own shared ethos both wittingly and unwittingly? See Introduction to Muslim Historiography in my book Hijacking the Holy Qur'an and Islam, for elaboration upon this concept of taking recorded history with a forensic measure, rather than an absolute or literal one. Making history sacred has many more uses than mere academic scholarship. It lies at the very heart of mass behavior control. Novelist George Orwell most perceptively captured the utility of the control of the narrative – what is penned ab initio, as well as what is made sacred posthumously: “Who controls the past controls the future; Who controls the present controls the past”.
Postscript Categorical Imperative of Karbala
Instead of making history sacrosanct, as Muslims remember the events of Karbala in every Muharram-ul Haram as the fastpath to Heaven, and as the wasilah for fulfillment of prayers, we might also endeavor to study the Categorical Imperative birth-panged in Karbala by the exemplification of deen-ul-haq. We might ask why the religion of Islam in the Holy Qur'an is called deen-ul-haq, if not to endeavor to create heaven right here in this world for everyone by establishing justice for everyone, and ask how, if not by breaking all bonds of servitude to fellow man. We might ask how that lofty categorical imperative of Islam got morphed into the selfish individual goal of seeking Heaven in Afterlife while leaving the tyrants in this world alone. Karbala exemplified that principal teaching of the religion of Islam as deen-ul-haq for all time and space. While no Muslim denies that fact, Karbala has become relegated to an isolated act of history for history. And the rest of Islam's preaching for establishing justice is left to Eschatology!
Instead of making the history of Karbala sacred for extracting individual tears by imaginative narratives, Muslims might examine our own age and era in the mirror of the history of Karbala. Instead of beating one's own chest in unstoppable tears and feeling having given justice to the memory of the martyrs of Karbala, we might offer our chests to the tyrants of our own time as the categorical imperative of Karbala.
That is the real face of Shiadom which has remain occulted for centuries. The public face of Shiadom instead of becoming an expression of the categorical imperatives of Islam, has exclusively become an expression of sorrow for the fate of the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet of Islam, often with absurd rituals which in this day and age seem to be a throwback to barbarianism.
Just as Muslims have not understood the message of Karbala and have become engrossed in memorializing it in rituals as a religious element despite fourteen centuries of rehearsals, Muslims have also not understood the religion of Islam and become engrossed in its rituals. The evidence for this statement is obvious and quite empirical --- just look around us, fourteen centuries of Islam with full mosques on every street corner, millions performing Haj each year, million feeding the poor, and still living in bondage to despotic rulers and empires with almost a fifth or sixth of the world population living in hunger and deprivation! It is as if no Prophets ever came to enlighten mankind.
The people of the world understanding Karbala in all its dimensions frees not just Muslims from bondage to fellow man, but the entire world from tyranny of fellow man.
Karbala is the singular recipe of moral resistance. It is also the mirror of history to understand our own times for our own banality of evil ---- for the same sociological principles remain in play again and again that determine the rise and fall of civilizations.
History, all history, is only a mirror of learning, and the fount of wisdom, when it is responsibly used to navigate for a better tomorrow. But, obviously, not when the mirror is held to the blind!
This is the lamentable tragedy of man. History has become the manipulative tool of choice for behavior control in virtually all societies. Narratives of history are used to instill false beliefs, draw specious or misdirected lessons, and to implant and perpetuate myths and ideologies. Once these narratives become part of culture and its intellectual tradition, the social norms that result from cultural ethos automatically determines the aggregate public behavior. This is the principal reason for the existence of Shias and Sunnis, mainly their differing views of the same history of Islam! Otherwise, both should have the same beliefs and practices and understanding of Islam because our Holy Book, the Holy Qur'an, and our Holy Prophet, and his Ahlul Bayt, are one and the same! Unfortunately, each has been breast fed their preferred narrative of history in such a way that for both, tyrants, rulers and empires have come and gone over the past fourteen centuries but nothing has disturbed their ritual piety! And nothing disturbs it today either.
Only when the public understands this subversion of their mind in which they are voluntarily made to pay homage to their rulers as virtue, made to agree to tyrannical rule with either apathy or willingness, Machiavellianly kept busy in pious rituals, awarded peace prizes to look the other way, all by writing a history that suits the rulers, or a particular agenda, and socializing the public mind into that narrative as “their holy truth”, can we ever begin to free ourselves from its web of control.
This is why history is a dual edged sword. In the hands of compassionate wisdom, it charts the course of action in the present to avoid the same pitfalls. In the hands of Machiavelli, it permits villainy to rule endlessly.
Come visit Karbala afresh. While the tender heart will surely forever lament the barbarianism visited upon the martyrs of Karbala, let's begin the journey of the mind afresh by recalling not what Yazid did to Imam Hussein and the Ahlul Bayt, but by comprehending what Imam Hussein and the Ahlul Bayt did to Yazid!
Karbala was not an accident of history. It was the result of a decision made by Imam Hussein. If the martyrs of Karbala made a choice to be there to offer their lives in ransom to rebirth the message of Islam as the forgotten deen-ul-haq, then, surely, as obvious as the sun is bright on a cloudless afternoon, they do not want centuries of tears of their devotees in response to Imam Hussein's perennial call in Karbala: “Hull min nasiroon yan soor na”. The noble Imam wanted then, and for every age and for every time, only nasiroons, helpers, aiders and abettor, for the mission of enacting justice, for standing up for what's right, decent, moral, unequivocally demonstrating for all times that no sacrifice can be too great to stand up to tyranny.
This is rather obvious, even to the innocent child when she asks the puzzling question that why did Imam Hussein take a six month old baby with him to a mission as hard as standing up to the evil Yazid who had inherited the pulpit of Islam as its caliph within just fifty years after the death of the Prophet of Islam, when other noble and pious Muslims in the multitude of millions at the time chose not to accompany Imam Hussein? That child's question opens the Pandora's box of questions ---- and as the legend promises, when you dig down to the very bottom, all mystery is revealed.
But this is never obvious when the sanctimonious pulpit has hijacked Karbala in the service of empire, when the indoctrinated public mind gathers around it to remember the event in rituals of tears and with hopes for salvation. It is never obvious when pretentious piety comes to occupy the public mind year after year, generation after generation, centuries after centuries. It is never obvious when paid professionals are engaged to extract the public's tears as an act of piety. And it is never obvious when emotions take over the ability to reason from an event of history that touches the heart to its very core. Books have been filled with the narratives of Karbala but few teach its categorical imperative as the singular duty imposed by the religion of Islam upon its followers. The failure to recognize commonsense, in fact, its total absence among the laity when remembering the horrors of Karbala and its aftermath, and virtually its total absence among the clergy who rehearse Karbala as a profession, who earn their livelihood and their scholarship from the blood of Karbala, is the tragedy not just of Shiadom, but of Islam and all Muslims.
Karbala is a uniting force for Muslims, nay all humanity, if people can only realize its full significance. Unlike abstract theological principles like the Biblical Golden Rule never put into practice so as to ever become exemplary for all peoples, Karbala is a real exemplary event that defined a real categorical imperative enacted by the courage of Imam Hussein. It can attract all humanity if some among us don't despoil its name with strange behaviors and superstitions. It is the singular categorical imperative to create a just world ---- not by endlessly talking about it in utopian platitudes and moral clichés as virtually all religions and utopian philosophies do, but by fighting for it in the style of Karbala in practice!
In a just world, by definition, all peoples of all persuasions can find space for themselves, each according to their own beliefs, traditions and culture. All high minded theories like the Golden Rule easily become a practical categorical imperative and put into practice by all in a just society, but only in a just society where all abide by the same rules enacted by the fiat of just laws in which no one takes undue advantage of another. That can only transpire when tyrants, their special interests, and their systems of oppression to keep the people in bondage of one kind or another, are defeated, and perpetually kept defeated. This is the straightforward meaning of Every day is Ashura, every place is Karbala ---- for indeed, tyranny is everywhere, and will continue to rise its head everywhere, in every era, and therefore, by the logic of freedom and liberty being a desirable virtue for all (unless one asserts that living in bondage to the ubermensch is virtue), its antidote must also arise in every place, in every era.
Mankind to this day knows of no other exemplary resistance against tyranny among any peoples and civilizations that parallels Karbala. One does not even have to believe in the religion of Islam, or God, to be inspired by the resistance of Imam Hussein and his family members in Karbala!
It is high time this travesty in understanding Karbala is recognized by the public themselves and its holy narratives liberated from artificial sacrosanctness and antediluvian superstitions which have now become enshrined in the public face of Shiadom. The world public today cannot accept this, let alone be attracted to it as a categorical imperative of moral existence!
So come revisit Karbala as the timeless categorical imperative of Islam gifted to all humanity, on how to rise up to systems of oppression without yourself becoming a barbarian in the process. Watch Islamophobes and their Machiavellian concoctions like “militant Islam” scurry for cover.

Last updated A'shura 1438 A.H., October 12, 2016 2693
Postscript Categorical Imperative of Karbala added 8th Muharram-ul Haram 1439 AH, Friday September 29, 2017 4514

The Public Face of Shiadom's Islam

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