Seeking the Karbala withinIt has been two or three years since I've attended a Muharram talk/majalis in Urdu. For the past couple of years, I've had a Shia masjid just minutes from where I live, and they've had a wonderful resident scholar who gave talks in English.
This year, the masjid close to me has their program in a language I don't quite understand, and so I've been going to an Urdu majalis. And, I must say - these talks have been very insightful. The topics have been about journeying within, knowing one's self, and based on a saying attributed to Imam Ali: "Do you consider yourself to be a small body? While the great cosmos is contained in you?"
Not only do we have this cosmos contained within, we also have this spirit of Allah that was blown within us - what incredibly amazing beings we humans are! And truly, how sad - that we can be so cruel towards ourselves.
We experience such grief, and feel such a deep loss when we listen to how the Imam, his family, and companions were treated in Karbala.
But what about Yazeed - why was he such an abject person, so as to inflict such cruelty? Perhaps the answer lies in that first part of Imam Ali's hadith: "Do you consider yourself to be a small body?" - Perhaps Yazeed only saw this "small body," had not even the slightest knowledge about the spirit, or ruh.
The alim/scholar tonight mentioned how this ruh yearns for Allah, and can never be satisfied with this world (dunya).
As Maulana Rumi says in the mathnawi - the song of the reed's separation:
"Now listen to the reed-flute's deep lament
About the heartache being apart has meant:
'Since from the reed-bed they uprooted me
My song's expressed each human's agony..."
Perhaps, while we all have this ruh, this entire cosmos within, we must also listen. Without listening - all that appears is the body.
What do we listen to? Maulana Rumi says, listen to the deep lament --- perhaps, for those more psychologically inclined, a more contemporary word might be: conscience.
A person who refuses to listen to that "inner voice" "inner conscience" "that lamenting reed flute" --- perhaps, then such a person has no qualms about becoming a Yazeed. And what a terrible terrible state that would be!
How do we begin to listen to that part of ourselves that yearns for Allah? This is the work of "knowing one's self" - knowing that we have this ruh within. The scholar made an observation about the work of Irfan, or self-knowledge within the context of the ahle bayt, that what we have are the duas, or "prayer manuals" such as dua Kumayl, and the "Psalms of Islam." These help us towards a relationship with Allah, in a way that we can listen to that yearning within.
And inshallah, we might also find that space within that will help us through all of our fears that Leila and Sayoko talked about earlier in this blog. And, towards where we might find the strength of Imam Hussein, his family, and all his companions in Karbala.