Just as Allah (SWT) designated Karbala to be a holy place, so was the month of Muharram designated as the month of martyrdom for the Master of Martyrs and father of liberty - Imam Hussain (peace be upon him).
Muslims all over the world will be welcoming this month, wholeheartedly, as they live the moral values of their Imam Hussain (a.s.) and learn from his Prophetic lessons.
Reliving the Ashoura of Imam Hussain (a.s.) is reliving the symbols of religion and renewing the Ummah's allegiance to its Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.w.) and his pure household (a.s.). Thus we should broaden our commemorations of this event to include all factions of society and boost our input to fit the aspirations of Imam Hussain (a.s.) and his lofty status.
Time has shown that our people deeply believe in these symbols, diligently commemorating them. The efforts of tyrants to prevent these commemorations only added to our peoples' resolve to continue and evolve - such that we see great improvements every year, bringing forth its fruit all the time. The world witnessed the first occasion (Arbaeen), after Allah (SWT) removed the nightmare of oppression and enemy of moral values, when millions of our devout people in Iraq, headed for the holy city of Karbala - expressing their allegiance to Imam Hussain (a.s.) and the Islamic and humane values which he embodied and shed his blood for. This event was covered by world media channels and left nations astonished, surprised and baffled.
In the years to follow, Hussaini roots and traditions were relived under terrifying circumstances, challenging the criminals' bullets and their explosives to prove that neither danger nor criminals will ever deter the people from endearing Hussaini traditions and processions and declaring their allegiance to Ahlul Bayt (a.s.).
As Zaynab Al-Kubra, daughter of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (as) declared when addressing the oppressor of her time: "So scheme whatever you wish to scheme, and carry out your plots, and intensify your efforts, for, by Allah you shall never be able to obliterate our mention, nor will you ever be able to kill the revelation [that was revealed to us], nor will you ever exalt to our position, nor will your shame ever be washed away."
While we welcome the blessed commemorations of Ashoura we remind Momineen (may Allah bless them) of the following matters:
1- Majalis should be varied to include lectures, eulogy and speakers on beneficial topics, such as relevant Tafseer, common and much needed Ahkam Shar'iyah and educational and moral concepts. To illustrate the Prophet's virtues and that of his pure household (a.s.) in a way to convey to the listener their lofty status and leadership qualities, for they are the interpreters of Allah's revelation and the school of Islam. Besides this, one must avoid narrations based on weak references which will tarnish their reputation and alienate the listener, i.e. events and stories which are no more than legends and myths. Stating what might hurt the beliefs and feelings of other Muslims, degrading their symbols without a reliable explanation and references from their own books - so there will be no excuse for them to be prejudice against the followers of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.).
We also urge those in service of the Majalis of Imam Hussain (a.s.) to include in their programs poetry and culture in the Arabic language, in both the literary and colloquial forms to illustrate the literary power of the poets of (Taf) the land of Karbala, whose poetry is considered to be the finest of its kind and in harmony with sensible Arab emotions and taste - cultivating the literary spirit in the listener and particularly in teenagers. In the meantime we must not forget to convey the persecution they suffered, the killings and suppression which they faced for the sake of Islamic principles and beliefs, as he (a.s.) said: "Tell our Shias what happened to us."
2- Hussaini processions should be sincere and purely for the sake of Allah (SWT) and to seek nearness to Him. The slogans must be for Imam Hussain (a.s.) only, distant from political matters and/or in favour of a person or a group and must be distant from practices that discredit the event and damage the reputation of the faith and religion.
3- Religious Payments and 'Nudhooraat' and service from individuals and others alike should cover all aspects of this event, catering for the needs of those attending, such as: caring for their families who are unable to participate fully, providing transport and services for everyone, ensuring that adequate supplies of rations and medical care are available. Welcoming and lodging them in Karbala and all such matters related to their well being, in addition to educational and religious services such as lectures, books and audio-visual material.
4- Our Sunni brothers participating in this event have a special right. We must welcome them, respect and serve them well because they are the guests of Imam Hussain (a.s.). We must honour and thank them, as Imam Hussain (a.s.) is for all Muslims and for all humanity regardless of their religion. People of the book [the Abrahamic religions] have their own special place and respect because many of them got used to attending the Majalis and processions of this sad occasion all over the world. We therefore need to care for them and inform them of the character of Imam Hussain (a.s.) and the reasons behind his movement - through booklets containing the required information in different languages.
5- These days the media covers daily global events, particularly events attended by millions of people in our beloved Iraq. Momineen must be aware that all their processions and homage will be shown and heard around the world. Momineen must therefore be good ambassadors for Imam Hussain and his household (a.s.) through their manners, actions and the way they fashion themselves.
Imam Redha (a.s.) said: "Blessed is he who relives our tradition" and he was asked; "How does one revive your tradition?"
Imam Redha (a.s.) said: "To learn our knowledge and teach it to the people for if people knew the goodness of our words they would follow us."
We ask Allah (SWT) the Almighty, the Omnipotent to grant us all success to relive this great occasion which is one of Islam's symbols. Success is from Allah (SWT).
Imam Ali (a.s.) Foundation - London
Liaison Office of Grand Ayatullah Sayyid Seestani (long may he live)
7 Muharram 1434 AH