Politics and Economies of Emotions: Identity (Shite), Religious Nationalism and Globalization

Maynter socials

Farhan Raza

 ……Destiny of Islam becomes alive after every living Karbla‚ (Dr. Mohammad Iqbal)

‚Think not of those who are slain in the way of Allah as Dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the Presence of their Lord’ (3: 169), as it has been cited in different chapters about martyrdom in the Holy Quran. The term martyrdom means that the believers who sacrifice their lives in the holy war or in the name of the Lord/ God/ Allah on the battlefield fighting against evil/chaos/Infidels and further believed that they do not die the mortal death but rather enter paradise directly and after such deaths of the believers, their families are being congratulated publicly and entitled to special honors, rewards and compensatory benefits by the Islamic state. The incident of the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain, (the grandson of the prophet Mohammad p.b.u.h) on the 10th Moharram (the first month of Islamic Calender) in 61 A.H/680 C.E. in Karbla, Iraq has always been of great interest is historical theologians and political historians of Islam. The researcher has gone through almost his whole life as a participant observer to the aspects of Mourning and Ritual related to this incredibaly sorrowful and sad incident of the Islamic history. That is being annually commemorated during the first ten days of the Moharram (1st month of the Islamic calendar), though some scholars also include the 12th of Moharram in the mourning of Moharram Rituals especially in south Asia like in the sub-continent countries. This essay emphasis on the conventional research and a bit empirical as researcher’s role being the Insider. This paper will discuss about the role of sacrifice, mourning, rituals and identity issues concerning religious nationalism and the use of the politics of emotions in the times of globalization, further leading to the geopolitical and the economic strategies with reference to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Wahabism), the other Muslim states like Pakistan, Iran (Shittism) etc. and a short reference to the importance of Bait-ul-Moqadas, Jerusalem, Isreal in the Muslim world.

Historical Background of Martyrdom (Shahadat) of Hazrat Imam Hussain:

The religious schism appeared just after the death of the prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) in 632 A.D. and divided the Muslim nation into Shitte and Sunni sects of Islam. First on the issue of precession to Caliphate to the prophet. The term Shia refers to the Followers, Partisans or Supporters etc.Sunni‘s believe in the Caliphate of the Friends of prophet but Shitte‘s have faith in the precession of Immams, starting from the cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Hazrat Imam Ali and his sons and so on. So Shia‘s are the supporters of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib and the family of the prophet (Ahle-Bait) whom were his wifes and the only daughter Fatima (s.e) and then her family.The Shia’s refer Imam Hossain as the Lord of martyrs and also according to the Koranic revelation the Lord of the Youth of Paradise in the after life. Later Shitte’s were also redivided into the sections of Twelve Imamies, Eight Imammis (Boories), Six Immamies or Agha Khanis (suoth Asia) and Alavids of Syria.

The tragedy begins with the martyrdom/Shahadat and the mutilation of Hazrat Imam Hossain (the grandson of the prophet Mohammad p.b.u.h.), his family and friends on the hands of Yazid, Caliph/ King and the son of Hazrat Moawiah- the fourth Sunni Ommayad Caliph/ King after the death of the prophet. Here we need to know what is meant by the term Martyrdom/ Shahadat in Islam, Christianity and Judism. The best example in the Jewish history of martyrdom is the incident of Masada, Israel in the 1st century of the Common Era (C.E.) on the hands of the Roman empire. St.Thomas Aquinas mused the merit of martyrdom as an aspect of his analysis of the virtue of courage (Freamon, 2003: 310-312).

In 680 C.E. just fifty years after the death of the prophet, his grandson Hazrat Imam Hussain along with his family and 72 followers was killed and humiliated by Sunni forces lead by the governor of Kufa Ibn-e-Zayad, the illecit brother of Hazrat Moawiah on the bidding of his nephew Yazid, the son of Moawiah and the ruling Caliph/King of Islamic state in Damascus, Syria. Moawiah has taken away the Caliphate from Hazrat Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib twenty years before and made Damascus as the capital of Muslim caliphate from Kufa, Iraq. During the reign of Hazrat Moawiah, Hazrat Imam Hussain has spent his time quietly in Madina, (in the present KSA: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) waiting Hazrat Moawiah to die. Hazrat Moawiah persuaded everyone in his court and also the remaining friends of the prophet to accept Yazid as his successor to the Caliphate/Monarch though he has grave concerns about the loyalty of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his followers. He personally was well aware of the evil character of Yazid as a womanizer (the first man in the Islamic history who even attempted to rape his own sister Atika daughter of Hazrat Moawiah), an open drinker of alcohol, cruel and corrupt etc. but he advised him on the death bed to take oath of loyalty from Hazrat Imam Hussain at any cost to strengthen his rule. Hazrat Moawiah died in April 680 C.E. though it is worth notable about the enemity between the tribes of the Omayyads (Hazrat Moawiah)and the tribe of the Qoresh (the prophet), a small section of the tribe Hashims from generations. From centuries the Hashims were the High Priests of the House of Lord (Allah) in Mecca and also in a way the most influential tribe in the pre-islam arabia and from the direct lineage of the prophet Hazrat Esmael (a.s), (the son of the prophet Hazrat Abraham (a.s) from his arabian wife Hazrate Hajera (s.e.). The Omayyads were always at worse with the Hashims overtly or covertly. Even during the invasion of Mecca by the prophet and his followers, the mother of Yazid, ‘Hinda/Hind’ had eaten the Liver of his beloved uncle Hazrat Hamza based on the generational hatred and enemity to the Qoresh, the tribe of the prophet, though after the quest prophet gave the immunity to the enemy soldiers, saying…. if they take refuge in the house of Hazrat Abu Sofian, the father of Hazrat Moawiah to pacify the dispute but the same tribal enemity surfaced again in the form of the martyrdom of the prophet’s grandson Hazrat Imam Hussain and his family as a potential threat to the future monarchy of the Ommayds.

Just after the reincarnation of Yazid to Caliphate/Islamic Monarch, the opposition surfaced in Kufa, Iraq and the residents of Kufa invited Hazrat Imam Hossain to lead the repellants against Yazid. hazrat Imam Hussain first denied but then accepted the offer after receiving the Estekhara/Oracle from God (Allah), even in spite of the clear political and military majority of the Yazidi forces. He told his advisors that the matter has been decided by God so it does‘nt matter if he follows their advice or not. Hazrat Imam Hussain set forth to Kufa on the 2nd last day of the pilgrimage (in the month of Zilhadj, the12th month of the Islamic Calendar) from the holy House of Allah (Lord) ‚Kaaba‚ though he never reached Kufa. He and his followers, approximately 100 individuals including women, children and soldiers set their camps at Karbla near the river Euphrates (present day Iraq), almost on the distance of one day’s journey to Kufa but were besieged by the tens of thousands of Yazidi forces leaded by the governor of Kufa, Ibn-e-Zayyad. This besiege ended on the 10th day of Moharram (presently commemorated with traditional Rituals as Ashura) resulting in massacre and killings of Hazrat Imam Hossain and his 72 followers including his infant son Asghar Ibn Hussain, the left overs like women, children and the eldest sick son Hazrat Sajjad alias Zain al Abidain of Hazrat Imam Hossain were enslaved and later taken over to the court of Yazid in Damascus, Syria.

They have been nominated as rebels to the public, hiding their true identity as the family of the prophet Mohammad (p.b.u.h) for the fear of revolt and public disgrace from common Muslims by the authorities in Damascus. But just before the start of the war, Hazrat Imam Hossain addressed his followers and also the Yazidi forces that I did’nt come here to fight or for some political agenda. I am here just to save the message of Allah, justice and the helpless same like my grandfather the prophet Mohammad (p.b.u.h). Before going to the battlefield Hazrat Imam Hossain prayed to Allah and addressed Him…………. ‚O Lord, I came here to honor thy message of justice and eternal peace and will sacrifice my family and thy followers for thee. Thee are well aware of my intentions and likelihood. I pray thy to guide the lost nation of my grandfather and thy prophet Mohammad (p.b.u.h)‚.

For Hazrat Imam Hossain martyrdom/shahadat was the only possible choice left in the face of public oppression and tyranny of the corrupt and egoistic Yazid thats why he sacrificed himself, his family and followers to honor the message of Allah (God). Hazrat Imam Hossain and his 72 followers were murdered and their bodies were mutilated by the Yazidi Horsemen and the Head of Hazrat Imam Hossain was served in a tray to Yazid in his court at Damascus, Syria and the veiled noble women from his family were being unveiled and disgraced publicly in the streets of Damascus as with false defination of being Traitors and Rebels to show the extreme Sovereignity and power politics.

The Rituals of Moharram:

In Islamic history the tragic incident of the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hossain and his family and followers has a real deep impact and credibility for the believers of justice, sacrifice, human dignity and the freedom of speech. This event is being commemorated through a series of rituals every year in the first ten days of Moharam reaching to the climax on 10th of Moharam/Ashura rituals. In the words of Jonathan Z. Smith ‚Ritual is a means of performing the way the things ought to be in cosnscious tension to the way things are in such a way that this ritualized perfection is recollected in the ordinary, uncontrolled course of things‚ (Corrigan, 2008). ‘The Rituals are cultural devices that facilitate the preservation of a social system and give the meaning to understand the contradictory aspects of human existence. Rituals pattern our life and its cycle providing discipline and strength to the said community’ (Kollar, 1989 ; Turner, 1969). The power and the characteristics of rituals are enfolded in the use of symbols through public performances. These rituals which comprises from public lectures ‚Majlis‘, to passion plays like chest beating ‚Matam‘ and self-flagellation ‚Zangir-zani‘ are not just public performances but also have hidden meanings attached to the very emotions of loss, memory, grief, dignity, integrity and sacrifice (Aghaie, 2004).

Since the tragedy of Karbla, a variety of rituals have been developed also according to the region and culture of the said communities but five of them are more common everywhere in the world like the Religious Visit/Ziarat of the tomb of Hazrat Imam Hossain especially on the 10th of Moharam, the public mourning processions/Jaloos, public Lectures/Majlis- the story telling about the incidents of the battle of Karbala and its aftermath for the family and followers of Hazrat Imam Hossain, the representation of the battle of Karbala in the form of a Play/Tashbih and Self-flagellation/Zangirzani (Nakash, 1993). Among these major rituals are also the minor ones like Lamentation sermons/Nohakhani/ Marsiah both by men and women, chest or head beating/Matam and sometimes the young shia males beating their chests with holding Razor blades within their fingers or cutting their head with sharp Knifes (practiced in south Asia) or with Swords/Tatbir (practiced in Lebonan and Iraq) in the memory of the bloodshed of Hazrat Imam Hossain and other Martyers (Chelkowski, 2005). After the Iranian Revolution in 1978-79 and the later the Shitte governed IR. of Iran give way to the Shitte Identity internationally and the Shitte alliances in Pakistan and India as a defense mechanism for the regional Shitte interests in confrontation to the Wahabi Sunnis of Saudi Arabia and the neighboring GCC states.

The commemoration of the Ashura rituals start with the Drumming on the evening of the last day of the 12th month Zilhadj because in Islamic Calendar night comes first and the day later, so the 1st Moharram starts on the evening of the last day of Zilhadj. Though now drumming is not very much common in the urban areas but still it is popular in the rural areas of Pakistan, India and Trinidad. The main purpose of Drumming is the message to the enemies that we are ready for the war and which also has a historical aspect too. Other than the 1st Moharram, on the Jaloos/Public Processions drumming is only done by Sunni-Braelvis or Hindus throughout the ten days of Ashura especially in the southern province Sindh of Pakistan, India and also in Trinidad & Tobago with special names like ‘Hassan, Karbala’ or the carnival names like ‘Conan or Rock & Roll’. It is believed in all around the world that the battle drums evoke the emotions of excitement and bravery to face all the odds and brutality of the enemy forces (Gustav, 1999). Then every night public Lectures/ Majalis are being held at different Imam Bargahs/Public manifestation Halls or grounds in which Shia theologians or Zakirs/Narraters throw light on the reason of the journey of Hazrat Imam Hussain to Karbala, his character and Miracles/Fazails attached to Hazrat Imam Hussain and his family. They also describe the difficulties and miseries of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his followers which they had faced on the hands of the Yazidi forces to increase the excitement of the passions like lamentations and weeping among the spectators/ listeners and whom ever of these lecturers incites more excitement is considered more respectful and talented or knowledgeable by the masses especially in south Punjab, Pakistan. These Majalis reach to their height by 6th Moharram when the first Jaloos/Public Procession is being commemorated in the day time along with the Tazias-replicas of the tomb of Hazrat Imam Hossain and his family members (produced not only in Iran, Pakistan and India but also in Trinidad which is a kind of transit of Objects/Images came with the Indian labour migrants in 1917 in Trinidad) as Svasek (2007: 5) argues; ‘transit records the location or movement of objects over time and across social and geographic boundries and transition refers to related changes in the meaning, value and efficacy of these objects‚ (Svasek and Skrbis, 2007; pp. 377), the Allams/ War Flags and featuring the Horse/ Zuljinah of Hazrat Imam Hussain.

On the night of 6th Moharram, the symbolic marriage rituals of Hazrat Imam Kasim, the son Hazrat Imam Hassan (the elder brother of Hazrat Imam Hossain), like Henna-celebration is being commemorated by women reciting the lamenting sermons on the streets in the form of small processions to memories the sorrowful young death of Hazrat Imam Kasim who was quickly married before he died in the battle along with singing Lullibies to the death of the infant Hazrat Imam Ali Asghar, the son of Hazrat Imam Hussain, in a way intensifying the mother’s love on the loss/death of her infant son. These processions are the arenas for aesthetic elaboration not only of sound but also of visual and commercial aspects. The Shia’s all over the world dress themselves in Black mourning dresses during the month of Moharam and especially in these first ten days. In rural Pakistan and India, women put off their jewllery and colorful clothes. Only in case of the newly wedded women, they are being permitted to wear green colour dresses with very light jewlery like ear-rings.

Then on the evening of the 7th Moharram, the wedding bed of Hazrat Imam Ali Akbar, the son of Hazrat Imam Hossain is being set and the Oil lamps are lighted to make wishes to Imamms and their families with the promises to presenting Gifts/Nazars, if the wishes are being fulfilled till the next Moharram. On the day of 7th Moharram, Hazrat Imam Hossain and his followers including children were deprived of water, the commemoraters start drinking less water, walking bare-footed and bare-headed. Some also perform the rituals of enchaining them as prisoners. At the same time, Public lectures/Majalis are always part of all these ritual commemorations accompanied with NohaKhawan/Lamentation singing groups whom prepare themselves with new lyrics the whole year. In older times, these public Lecturers/Zakirs /Zakiras (Female Lectureres) and Lamentation singers used to sing and lecture for the sake of piety and good will to the cause of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his followers but in present times, it is also another very commercial and economically strong aspects of these commemorations and Ashura rituals. On the evenings of 8th and 9th Moharram, small Boats are being memorialized to symbloize the War ships but these rituals are mostly performed only in the areas close to rivers or oceans which also shows the cultural and social influence of the community life. The 10th of Moharram/Ashura is being celebrated with full religious fervour and lamentations including the special rituals of the night of Ashura like the special prayers/Aamale Shab-e-Ashura (the night of Ashura) in the public commemoration grounds/Public halls/Imam Bargahs. The morning prayer starts with the calling/Aazan of Hazrat Imam Ali Akbar, followed by the special public lecture particularly about the events of 10th of Moharam and the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain and the all of his 72 male followers till the sunset of this day in battlefield of Karbala and their bravery, dignity, integrity and sacrificial death on the way of Allah and Islam. Most of the Shia’s spent this whole night out of their homes in public lectures or processions whom walk throughout the night on the streets of the area singing Lamentation sermons/Nohas/Marsias but few who go to their homes on this night, again return to the processions. On this day, many adults and mature people do fasting till the evening as a tribute to the memory of the thurst and hunger of Hazrat Imam Hussain, his followers and young children. The women also perform special prayers of the day/Aamale Rooz-e-Ashura leaded by some clergy woman or Zakira in the walled public places. The next event is again the public lectures with full and intensive speeches about the life and sacrifices of the prophet (p.b.u.h), Hazrat Imam Hussain and his followers and his family, making it examplary for the present day muslim nation. It leads to public processions along with Tazias-replica tombs, Alams-war flags, Breast beating, Self-flagellations and Fasting which ends in the evening with the ending Public lectures/Majalis/Shame-Ghariban, the evening of the deprived and robbed Ones about the aftermath of the battle of Karbala, masacre and mutilation of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his followers bodies, looting of the Tents/ Khayams of the family and women and children by the Yazidi forces in Karbala, Iraq. Mostly these public lectures are being given in almost complete darkness to memorialise the insult, miseries and disgrace of the noble women from the family of the prophet (p.b.u.h) and Hazrat Imam Hussain and his followers. Throughout these ten days, not only Shias but also other Sunnis except Wahabis arrange public eating fests, water, soft-drinks and milk drinking stalls and especially on the evening of 10th Moharram for the fasters. Public Charity and Sadeqa- the Islamic charity for poor are being given to the needy, the widows, the orphans and the elderly sick and poor Muslims. In present times, alongwith the rituals and public commemorations of the tragic incident of the Islamic history, Moharram also has the element of social cohesion and capitalism. Just before the start of Moharram, the Textile industries introduce their special Moharram products, Water and Beverage industries even Coca Cola give special Moharram packages and also Inter-state or Inter city transport, Tourism and Hotel industries come forward with special offers and Moharram packages.

Emotional analysis of the tragedy of Karbla with reference to Shitte Identity, Religious Nationalism and Globalization:

The evening of the 10th Moharram leads to one of the very sacred nights in the Islamic calendar for many Muslims especially Shias. By recalling the events of this grave tragedy of Muslim history, the grief strikes the heart of every listner and a wave of the memoires of the life and sacrifices of Hazrat Imam Hossain, his family and the followers makes everyone sad and sympathetic towards them. There were three main causes which compelled Hazrat Imam Hussain to rise against the tyrant Yazidi rule. First, Pressure for allegiance to Yazid and Second, the presence of conscience and freedom of speech against corruption and chaos. And the third, the basic principal of Faith‚ enjoying the Good and forbidding the evil. After the death of the prophet (p.b.u.h), Hazrat Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib was being seen as a saviour and a man of guidance to the Muslim nation and then his sons and so on. When Yazid decalred himself as Caliph/King of the Islamic state, muslims were in constant fear of his cruelty and immoral ways of living. They looked towards the family of the prophet as the sheeps look towards the Shepherd during the attack of wolf. Even though some of the advisors of Hazrat Imam Hossain tried to convince him from confronting with Yazid but he replied that the survival of the message of Allah is in our sacrifice. So he took the responsibility of a saviour and the guide of Ommah/Muslim nation. That is why the commemoration of Ashura is not just for lamenting or crying and weeping but rather to learn and reflect the life, character and principles of Islam practised by Hazrat Imam Hussain. The sacrifice of Hazrat Imam Hussain gives the lesson to enjoin Good and forbid evil. As it is being explained in the holy Koran………… ‚And bid your family to prayer and be steadfast in its maintenance. We do not ask any provision of you. It is We who provide for you and the outcome will be in favor of the God-concious’ (20:132).

Drumming by the mourners in Ashura processions and before the start of Moharram is like evoking the similar spirit of power, royal symbolism and passions of the battle of Karbala as it may have happened at that time. Though music is forbidden in Islam but reading or reciting of Lamentation sermons/Noha poetry/Marsiah as ritualistic activity in a special rythmic tone to enhance the state of Passion/ Josh is quite widely accepted in all the Shia communities. It is based on time and space as the times of sadness like Ashura or the death of the prophet or the times of happiness as the birth of the prophet & the Immams. The mourners distinguish between these feelings of passion from feelings of sadness which depend on the religious community, practices, location and also the said events. In the public Lectures/Majales, Shia theologians or Zakirs/Zakiras/Narraters memorize the reason of the journey of Hazrat Imam Hossain to Karbala, his character and Miracles/Fazails attached to Hazrat Imam Hossain and his family. They also describe about the difficulties and miseries of Hazrat Imam Hossain and his followers faced on the hands of the Yazidi forces to increase the excitement of the passions like lamentations and weeping among the spectators/listeners which really makes people remind the similarities between their own past traumas and miseries .‘The sensation of Pain is deeply affected by memories:one can feel pain when reminded of past Trauma by an encounter with another. Or if one has a pain one might search one’s memories for whether one has had it before, differentiating the strange from familiar‚ (Ahmed, 2004: 25). In the symbolic marriage rituals of Moharram, the evident phenomenon is the loss of normality, family and common emotions of love, excitement and enjoyment like Henna-celebration or the decoration of the wedding-bed etc. which becomes more intensive by the recitation of the lamenting songs on the streets in the form of small processions to memories the sorrowful young deaths during the Ashura days or the singing of Lullibies to the death of the infant and children, in a way intensifying the mother’s love on the loss/death of her infant son. As Kai Erikson suggests, ‚collective trauma involves a blow to the basic tissues of social life that damages the bonds attaching people together‚ (Ahmed, 2004: 34). And it arouses the feelings of love, deprivation and sympathy for Hazrat Imam Hossain and his followers but the passions like anger, revenge and hatred towards tyrant Yazidi forces in mourners of Ashura though Immams had always advised for tolerance and patience for common good. ‚Love is narrated as the emotion that energies the work of such groups ; it is out of Love that the group seeks to defend the nation against others whose presence then becomes defined as the origin of hate‘. ‚ Symbioses and a loving relation always precede hate. There can, in fact be, no hatred until there has been long-continued frustration and disappointment‚ (Ahmed, 2004: 50,123 ). The essential components which differentiate Humans from animals are three: the power to reason, free-will and the sense of honor. Hazrat Imam Hassan, the elder brother of Hazrat Imam Hussain said, ‚if you seek Honor without kinsmen or awe without power then take yourself away from the humiliation of disobeying God to the Honor of obeying Him‚. Hazrat Imam Hossain expressed before leaving for his journey to Kufa that……‚They have given me only two options; fighting or humiliation and I would never choose Humiliation‚ again he said‚ I see death as nothing but happiness and living under tyrant as nothing but affliction‚ So in the messages of Hazrat Imam Hossain it was quite clear that he preferred the honor and dignity upon disgrace and humiliation. That is why Shias idealize the personality and teachings of Hazrat Imam Hossain by mourning and weeping in his memory. ‚Mourning and grief become an expression of Love; love announces itself most passionately when faced with the loss oft he object. Love has an intimate relation to grief not only through how the subject responds to the lost object but also by what the losses get admitted as losses in the first place‚ (Ahmed, 2004:130).

When Hazrat Imam Hossain and his follower‘s dead-bodies were being disgraced and mutilated and as these accounts are being explained in Majalis in Ashura, it not only arouse the emotions of hated Others but also the Fear of insecurity and identity issues within the Shia community being a minority in the Islamic world, if Shias are following the sayings of Hazrat Imam Hussain where they see themselves standing, close to the partisans of Caliphate or close to Immams because the followers of Imamms were also being persecuted throughout the Islamic history on the hands of the Ommayad, the Abbasyd dynasties etc. ‚Fear is understood as a safer instrument of power than love given its link to punishment; fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails‚ (Ahmed, 2004: 71). The Shitte’s all over the world dress themselves in Black mourning dresses during the month of Moharam and especially in these first ten days and in rural Pakistan and India women put off their Jewllery and colorful clothes because from centuries the Black colour has always been taken as the symbol of sorrow and sacred like the Black covering of the House of Lord in Macca, Saudi Arabia or the black robes of the Christian and Jewish clergy. On the day of 7th Moharram, Hazrat Imam Hossain and his followers including children were deprived of water, the commemoraters start drinking less water to examplify the element of Sacrifice in the sufferings of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his followers. Some also perform the rituals of enchaining themselves as the prisoners for being enslaved and deprived of individual freedom and liberty. It is being believed that the eyes that shed tears in the mourning and the grief of Hazrat Imam Hussain will not face more pain during the process of dieing. Tears are believed to be the purifiers of soul and the source of ritual efficacy with their symbolism of flooding and washing. The 20th century Persian Koranic commentator Maybudi had written: ‚Wash the heart with the water of regret and grief so that you may reach the greatest purification‚ . ‚In Shittism, to weep for Imam Hussain is like weeping for the world; this weeping that must be learned, cultivated and drawn forth as an act of paradigmatic submission by all‚ (Patton and Hawley, 2005). Tears are being taken as chain in Shitte peotry that binds the mourners and those they mourn. Weeping in the Majalis/Public Lectures for the murder of Hazrat Imam Hossain is both emotional and also ceremonial and is not just limited to female gender.

Identity, in Erikson’s work, is seen as an anxiety-controlling mechanism reinforcing a sense of trust, predictability and control in reaction to disruptive change by reestablishing a previous identity or formulating a new one (Kinwall, 2004).

Though after the Iranian Revolution in 1978-79, the Shitte identity has appeared as much more secured by the affects of Shitte politics on international stage by Iranian government and also by its foreign allies like Hizbollah in Lebanon and at some extent also in Pakistan from time to time in the form of Shitte Prime Minsters and the Presidents of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Even though the discourses of Bahrain and Syrian politics and antishitte organizations in Pakistan has raised the question of security, stability and continuity in shitte population around the Islamic world. The construction and reconstruction of historical symbols, myths and chosen traumas supply alternative beliefs to everyday insecurity. And those who engaged themselves in the resistance politics start feeling at loss as expressed by a real or imagined past. ‘Religion like the nation is not just there in any objective sense of the term but must be rediscovered, reinvented and reconceptualized every time it is called upon to answer to ontological insecurity. Though all the major religions have fixed texts ‚ but they don’t have fixed beliefs,only the fixed interpretations of those beliefs‚ (Kinwall, 2004: 760). Same is in the case of some of the sunni or shia ethnic/regional communities (south Asia) have to come out of the hate concept of the Sunni (Other) and Shia (Self) and Vice Versa because there is no more Caliphate or visible Islamic Monarch in the world. The power of traditional community based on the same belief of Imamate lies in the ability to provide a unified story of chosen traumas or chosen glories which is at times being emphsised by the moderate shia religious scholars for the common welfare of the Muslim nation.

‚Nationalism…..a reference to the feelings of attachment and pride that a nation has in itself‚ (Kacowicz, 1998). In the opinion of Bendict Anderson: ,Nation is an imagined political community—and imagined as both inherently limited and Sovereign. It is the need of Human beings to have a sense of belonging and nationhood anywhere in time and spaceNationalism in itself is an international Ideology which can be used to promote and defend culture and way of life’ (Godfrey, 2008). That the researcher personally have experienced many times as an Insider in the Shitte community, not only in Pakistan but also in Iran and again here in Austria with the converted Shitte Muslims. Being in the community of fellow believers not only gives an individual, the feelings of being at ‚Home‘ but also gives the sensation of Belonging and security. Then it was again surprisingly interesting to watch and listen the Moharram rituals like Lamentation sermons/ Nohas in German language, the assimilation of 11th Moharram with St. Martin’s Day, 11th November (who was the patron saint of victimized women, children and poor) in the form of Paper Lanterns from St. Martin’s Day tradition into the historical tradition of Caravans in Arabia & else where through the embeddness of Austrian norms and traditions into Islamic traditions and norms. It maybe taken as an effort to establish the Austrian-Muslim (Shitte) Identity building process. Identity may be an imaginary aspect of humans but it is Identity which connects the individual to the collective, establishes the relations whose nature is political and which is known as ‘identity politics‘ and through the shaping of ‘I and we, the individual and the community shape and reshape each other which also involves the processes of inclusion and exclusion in the broader sense.

Nationalism is not an outdated Ideology in the present Global times and society, more and more people are living the transnational life. Benedict Anderson in his work on imagined communities (1991) documents the key moments of Identity construction are the times during which cultural (language), social factors (capitalism, print technology) convene in a particular historical moment, effectively remaking collective images of the national self. Like in Austria, the Iranians or Pakistani Shitte community is commemoarting Moharram in their own cultural style and also try to train their children traditionaly for the Fear of losing their Pakistani or Iranian Identity and Culture. Transnational migration is also the result of globalization which results sometimes at some places in racial, religious and cultural tensions. The long distance nationalism or Transnationalism can also be more affectively observed in the small religious or ethnic diaspora groups and communities. The most influential idea behind nationalism thus came tobe the notion of individual self as a united, self-sufficient and self-contained entity…….‘A Universal Self‚.

Some people see globalization as destroyer to the heritage and cultures of different ethnic, social or religious groups around the world. In this time of Globalization when the world is shrinking every other day, we still see the same dreaming of the majority sect i.e. Sunni individual dominance in the Islamic world. Though both cliques Sunni and Shitte also have an inside geopolitical and economic agenda by exploiting the emotions of Love, Respect and Sacredness of the common Muslim. For example, from centuries the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and presently also the Turkey wants to hold the seat of Islamic Leadership by evoking the Religious Emotions into Religious Nationalism: by capitalizing the House of Lord (Allah) in Macca and the tomb of the prophet Mohammad (p.b.u.h) in Madina other than just relying on their Fossil and Mineral resources. According to majority of Islamic religious theologians, one time Hajj to Mecca is obligatory for every Muslim whereas Umrah can be performed more than once in the whole life span. And roughly, it cost from almost 800 US $ to 7,000 US $ pro individual Muslim to travel and stay in KSA and around 2.5 million Muslims perform Hajj (it can only be performed in the month of Zilhadj, the 12th month of the Islamic Calendar) and Umrah (it is same like Hajj, but can be performed at any time of the Islamic Calendar) every year. And now the Saudi government has introduced a new law for the pilgrims that they cannot cook by themselves, all these pilgrims have to buy food from Saudi Food companies to bloster Saudi Food chains, during the month of ‚Hajj or Pilgrimage’. Along with the Businesses, the Muslim Clergy is also playing the game of economizing the emotions through more often pilgrimage, more piety to Allah which has no religious base in reality. Though there are also other sacred Shrines in the Islamic world ranging from the tombs of the prophets to the Shrines of Ahle-Bait, Immams (the family of the prophet and Imammas), Sahabah (friends of the prophet) and the Sufis in India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Turkey etc. alongwith the Jerusalem Mosque (Bait-ul-Moqads) in Isreal which has the second Sacred status like the House of Lord in Macca. Same politics and ecnomising of emotions can also be observed in case of IR. of Iran, whose Shitte clergy inwardly projects the religious tourism to the shrines of the family of Imam Hossain and his grandsons/ granddaughters, is almost equal to Haj/Pilgrim. At the same time, many Shittes especially in south Asia, see Iran as the present Holy Seat of Shitte Islam and the future Islamic Caliphate.

One of the reasons of the confrontation, starting from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria etc. is denial to diplomatic relations with the state of Israel, at some extent based on economic gains through Religious Tourism which most of these states want to turn completely to themselves whereas some of the Muslim states like Oman, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan and even Turkey etc. already have diplomatic relations with Israel. As for now, by the ending of 2020, many other Muslim states like Sudan, UAE, Bahrain and Morocco have established diplomatic relations with Israel and the Muslims from these states have started visiting Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem in Israel (Palestine). In this present time of Innovation, Technology and Virtuality, the fear of the Other and the influence of the Other in matters of Economy, Culture and Identity has already reduced to Individual Self, Virtual gatherings (Conferrences) and further to the City states. The long consisting issue of the freedom of Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem and the Palestine are losing their consistant importance mainly for two reasons; One to counter Iranian and Turkish geopolitical influence in the region, more and more regional states are coming closer to the technologically advance and millitarily strong state of Israel. And the second, with diplomatic and economic relations with Israel, all these Muslim states are convinced to influence Isreal religiopolitically and economically as their Muslim residents (Tourism) can easily visit Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Though it may minimize the religio and geopolitical influence of the states like of Iran, KSA: Kingdom of Saudia Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan.

This essay has tried to describe about One of the most tragic and important events of the Islamic history, the battle of Karbla and the Martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain, the grandson of the prophet Mohammad (p.b.u.h) and his family, his followers with refrence to tribal feuds and the power play of sovereignty. It has been tried to explain the real meaning of the commemoration of Moharram Rituals and weeping for Hazrat Imam Hussain and his companions. The researcher tried to highlight the role of emotions like Sacrifice, Honour, Dignity, Fear, Hostility, Suppression and Freedom of Speech with its full significance and the negative impact of this tyranny into the division of Muslim nation/Ommah into Shitte and Sunni Islam and the disintegration of the Muslim Empire into states, and the regional blocks like OIC, ECO, GCC etc.

This essay describes how the rituals are being celebrated with reference to daily cultural practices and also transnationalism, being changed and modified in their performance and meanings. The researcher explains about the economic aspects of the Moharram/Ashura rituals and how the link between poor and rich or between powerful and suppressed is emotionally being exploited. How this Shitte-Sunni power politics is affecting the individual identity issues with reference to relgious nationalism and globalization. As Kinwall has said ‘Globalization is not a new phenomenon, it involved changes in terms of scale, speed and cognition’. The recent pandemic of COVID19 has shown that the fabric of International community cannot protected without the collective efforts for justice, equality, peace, security and the health of the world. The essay explains not just the Shitte faction of Islam, its ritual practices but also about the Shitte- Sunni regional power politics with reference to identity, religious nationalism and the affects of globalization.


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the present Article republished by consent of Farhan Raza

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