Issue 284, Friday 28 December 2012 - 14 Safar 1434
Innovative social action inspired by Imam Husayn
By Aishah Ali
Innovative social action and counteracting Islamophobia was the focus of talks held by the Al Khoei foundation in London on November 27. Various individuals and community leaders presented their projects of action which help contribute towards countering social problems affecting the British community.
Senior Minister of State at the Foreign Office, Baroness Warsi, spoke about how faith inspires people to contribute positively towards society. She explained that this now has to go beyond “conversation and personal worship” and “has to be about how we practice that faith together by going out and providing for our community.”
Hosted in Muharram, the first month on the Islamic calendar, the event linked the importance of it to the topic under discussion. The first ten days of Muharram are significant to many Muslims around the world, particularly the tenth day known as Ashura, as they commemorate the martyrdom of the Prophet’s grandson, Imam Husayn during the battle of Karbala in the year 680.
On a personal note, Minister for Faith and Communities, Warsi, explained that faith had inspired her as she grew up as she faced the challenges of racism, “Having fought those challenges in relation to race I didn’t want to have those challenges and those fights all over again in relation to religion” after the events on September 11. She said that although the Government has begun dealing with the “surge of Islamophobia” there is also a need “to know the extent, the depth and breadth, of this problem.”
Ayatullah Sayyid Milani said that Muslims should connect themselves “culturally to understand the message of Ashura” and to “stand for the principles of justice and freedom.” He explained that there is a need to work for the “theology of social action” by “not only spreading the culture, and not only promoting the teaching of the Prophet of Islam and his household, but to try to act upon that and make something work in the society.”
Sayyeda Rubab Rizvi, from Imam Husayn Council, said that Karbala is a story of women empowerment, yet “women in today’s Islam do not have any role in politics.” During the time of Prophet Muhammad “women were political ambassadors of Islam” she added.
Young individuals spoke on how they had begun assisting people in need through various projects. Hussain Al Hilli of SOAS Ahlulbayt Islamic Society has organised events for donating blood and feeding the homeless that are “part of and parcel of projects of the bigger picture” he said. “This bigger picture I guess is trying to achieve greatness and that greatness has been inspired by figures such as Husayn in history” he explained.
He added that “the basis of the principles that came out in the battle of Karbala was to stand by the people, to help out the people, and remain dedicated to the greater cause.”