A reflection by Amirah AbuLughod, CLT Muslim Cohort


The story of Imam Hussain (peace and blessings be upon him) is a story of a faithful few who stood on the ground of Karbala. They stood in opposition to leadership and power structures of tyranny. They stood and fought first with their prayers, then with their words, and lastly with their lives for an ummah (community) that puts human dignity before power and ego.


My heart is heavy in these ten days of sadness — but the sadness I feel isn’t only for the tragedy of Ashura. What burdens my soul are the stories of Ashura right before our eyes today.


The land of Karbala is related to the lands of Native peoples who have been fighting with their prayers, their words, and their lives for human dignity.


I see the land of Karbala and the stance for justice and human dignity in the fields of farmworkers, who are being denied human dignity because of structures of power set in place to benefit a select few in material gain.


I see the land of Karbala, in the life lived by refugees of war torn, occupied, and decimated land from Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia… and too many more.


I see the story of Ashura in every marginalized community praying, speaking up, and fighting with their lives for justice and human dignity.


This Ashura my prayers begin with tears of humble recognition that the fight for justice and human dignity that Imam Hussain embodied are still being fought for today. My prayer is to live out the actions of Ashura — actions of forgiveness — and to choose good over evil. My prayer is for the strength to embody patience and perseverance, and to couple faith and action in all that we do. My prayer is that our community hears the depth and strength of the story of Ashura, the call to work for justice and human dignity. Let us stand up, dry our eyes of sadness and feel empowered to put faith into action.