Today is the first night of Muharram - the start of a new Islamic year.
We do not greet it with merry-making, nor celebrate it by holding parties. Our hearts are filled with sadness and grief because we remember those martyrs who were killed in Karbala’.
For the next twelve days and nights, we hold Majaalis al-Husayn to mourn the death of Imam Husayn, his family and companions.
The word 'majaalis' means seatings where people gather and sit.
In Majaalis of Muharram, we recall the events of the martydom of Imam Husayn, his family and companions, and the hardship and suffering of those in his family who survived the tragedy of Karbala’.
The first Majlis al-Husayn was started by his sister, Bibi Zainab, as soon as they were set free by Yazid. Since then all the Imams and Shi'as have continued the Majaalis al-Husayn regularly.
To thank Imam Husayn, his family and companions for the great sacrifice in Karbala’ for saving us and Islam. We hold these Majaalis because we love our Imam and feel sad to hear about his hardship and suffering in Karbala’, and also to comfort and please Bibi Fatimah - Imam Husayn's mother.
Bibi Fatimah comes to Majaalis al-Husayn. Though we cannot see her, she prays for us and our families' safety. She collects our tears when we cry for Imam Husayn and his family. On the Day of Judgement she will return all those tears we have shed for her family. These tears will protect us from the Fire of Hell.
I would like you to think about what I have just said.
Examine your deeds and see if they are good enough for you to face Bibi Fatimah on the Day of Judgement. If you are not praying your wajib Salat (Prayer) regularly, how would you be able to face Bibi Fatimah on the Day of Judgement?
You have come to the Majaalis al-Husayn because you are thankful for what Husayn did to save your religion. You cry and do matam for Husayn because you love him. If you really love someone then you surely want to please him.
How can you please Husayn if you are not praying Salaat regularly?
Majaalis al-Husayn will continue till the Day of Judgement.
It is not because of us. We are the only means through which Allah (S.W.T.) keeps Husayn's great sacrifice alive. Husayn died saving Allah's religion and Allah (S.W.T.) has promised to keep alive Husayn's name and his great sacrifice, till the Day of Judgement.
Majaalis al-Husayn! Matam al-Husayn!
Enemies of Islam can never stop majaalis and matam, even if they try thousands of times to do so.
On the 1st of Muharram, Imam Husayn's caravan had reached just outside Karbala’. They pitched their tents for the night.
Husayn and his sister, Zainab, were standing talking outside Husayn's tent.
Together they both sighted the moon of 1st of Muharram.
Tears flowed from Husayn's eyes.
Zainab grew worried and asked her brother:
“My dearest brother Husayn, why are there tears in your eyes?”
“Zainab! My sister Zainab! Please pray for me that I keep my promise to Allah (S.W.T.). Pray, my sister, that I succeed in completing my mission to save Islam. Zainab! Pray for me that I do not hesitate in giving up my life for Islam.”
Husayn was not crying because he was worried about dying. Husayn did not ask his sister to pray to Allah (S.W.T.) to save his life. All he was concerned about was saving us and Islam.
Bibi Zainab's eyes were filled with tears when she heard what Husayn asked her to do.
“My beloved sister Zainab! Don't cry! You will have to perform a greater duty after my death. Be brave and patient!”
Bibi Zainab went to her tent. ‘Ali Akbar joined his father, Husayn.
“My son, ‘Ali Akbar! I saw a dream last night. I saw a group of people heading for a place where death was waiting for them. I saw them all killed, one-by-one.”
“Father! I know these people. Those people are us. But, tell me father, are we on the right path?”
“Yes, my son Akbar, yes We are on the right path.”
“Then let us not worry? Father, if we are on the right path, then let us die happily. We should continue our journey and greet our death with a smile.”
“I am proud of you, my son Akbar!”