The fight against injustice starts with you

Hussain ibn Ali was a 7th century revolutionary leader who made the ultimate sacrifice for social justice in the face of corruption and tyranny. He gave everything he had, including his life, for the honour of those around him.

What makes Hussain ibn Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, a stand-out figure – even-though his story goes back centuries ago – was the fact that he combined his extraordinary leadership skills with virtue and righteousness. Many great leaders become politicians, others businessmen and traders. Hussain’s singular focus was for a better, more equal world.

Let us examine Hussain’s world. Arabia was dominated by an Umayyad dynasty hell-bent on wielding the reins of power. Violence, nepotism and corruption passed without the batting of an eyelid. The cruelty of the regime silenced everyone. The masses had no hope of redemption.

mourning - ashura - ashura day
Hussain ibn Ali is remembered around the world as a symbol of resistance who stood for humanitarian values.

As a true leader, he did not wait for others to rise. He led change himself. He saw a window of opportunity to call for a better life, a land free from the shackles of tyranny. Hussain fought. His family stood firm. And the Umayyad clan duly crumbled.

His stance did not just inspire those around him. For every generation that followed, his story would inspire thousands of people who are hungry for change. Hussain became a truly transformational leader.

Let us now turn our attention to today’s world. Countries have found new and more menacing ways of subduing their peoples. Citizenship cards introduced to sift one race from another; print and TV media utilised to distort facts and blind the public; torture chambers to draw false confessions. Reading the latest news from NGOs and civil liberty groups is a morbid affair.

All too many countries prop up a modern equivalent to the Umayyad dynasty: a dictator grasping the reins of power and the country’s resources, whilst his people starve.

And if that is not bleak enough, then consider that there are currently 53 ongoing internationally recognised armed conflicts, with some of the wealthiest, most powerful nations supplying the means, while simultaneously occupying permanent seats at the UN.

How many of us will have the courage to stand up and say, “I’ll be the one to stop this.” It’s not easy, right? Hussain was a once in a generation – maybe even once in a millennium – leader, and it isn’t easy to mimic his actions.

But remember that he was not alone. He had 72 companions with him. The men and women who refused to leave his side. In the last few hours, he asked them to leave, to save their own lives. They refused, wanting to be part of this epic stand for truth and justice. If we can’t be like Hussain, then at least let us be like his companions.

the day of ashura - karbala - imam hussain
Millions gather annually on The Day of Ashura to mark the anniversary of Hussain’s martyrdom.

Imagine, just imagine, a society which did protest every time it saw nepotism or corruption. Each one of us possesses some skill or another; be it with the pen, an oratory ability or to organise others – or something else. If we were to take it upon ourselves to write an article, make a speech or organise an event in response to a measure to institutionalise xenophobia, distort the media or torture citizens. Imagine! What a refreshing world that would be.

The true miracle of Hussain’s stand was to awaken the sleeping giant, the one who has the real power. The people. Yes, it is the masses, the citizens, who have the power to change, and we can all be part of that.

Hussain learnt a great deal from his grandfather, the Prophet Muhammad. One of the most powerful lessons must be the statement: “The greatest struggle is to speak truth in front of an oppressive ruler.”

Hussain did just that. It made him a great, transformative leader who will go down in the annals of history. Let us each take a leaf out of Hussain’s book and rid our world of injustice and tyranny.

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