When the story of Hussain being killed in a distant age on a faraway plain is conveyed, there is one aspect of his story in particular that touches the hearts of all who hear it. He and his family – including his six month old son – were denied access to water for three days in the heat of the desert before being killed, whilst the River Euphrates flowed just meters from their tents. This single fact condemns his killers as barbaric savages, even before their other atrocities are recounted.
Fast forward 1400 years and we live in an age where we can send messages from one side of the world to another in seconds and send space crafts to Mars but still live happily in a world where one in ten of us – 750 million people – have little or no access to clean water. We condemn those who denied Hussain water, yet make little effort to ensure others don’t face the same tragedy. We applaud Hussain’s humanity and yet fall short in propagating it today.
For those of us who claim to take Hussain as a role model – religious or otherwise – we should take a moment to question our attitudes in relation to his. It’s easy enough to say we support his stand but this was a man who would feed lepers and dine with the poor – a man who watered the horses of the men sent to kill him because he could not bear to see an animal in thirst.
The climax to his stand in Karbala put him in direct opposition to the armies of the Caliph of the time – men who were so bereft of basic humanity that they denied children access to water. The battle was between two polar opposites; one side was overflowing with kindness, the other bereft of all traces thereof.
It would be sobering to hear in which camp the 750 million people denied clean water may think we fall.
Sunday 22 March 2015 is international World Water Day. Below are some of the ways you can play your part and alleviate the suffering of some of the world’s poorest:
World Federation’s Ali Asghar Water Appeal – named in memory of Hussain’s 6 month old son, this initiative by a UK based charity aims to provide well hand pumps in Pakistan: http://www.world-federation.org/news/ali-asghar-water-appealhere.