This is a guest post by Durriya Badani.

Ek Husain na gam si va, koi gam na dikhave.” (“May you know no other grief than the grief of Husain.”)

An exquisitely simple, yet deeply profound prayer for mumineen by Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS, the same wish uttered by his father, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA and his father before him.

We hear this simple statement so often, and so as the days of Ashura and the remembrance of Imam Husain come closer, I wanted to take a moment to reflect and ask, why do we grieve? Why do we mourn? Why must we remember? Is there a purpose for our grief? In particular, what is the purpose of our grief for Imam Husain?

Though Aqa Moula wishes for us otherwise, many of us have come to know grief personally, intimately. For myself, a tragic death claimed the life of someone I love, and since that time Grief entered my life permanently. Grief has been a constant companion, my friend – the one I would much rather do without, but who refuses to leave me. Some days she is quiet and still, other days outspoken and demanding attention. Some days she consumes me. There are days I embrace her, and other days I ignore her. Most days we fight. However, she has been with me for some years now and though painful, it is through her – my companion Grief that I am always reminded that I lost something precious, that I am changed, that who I was before is not who I am now.

My own loss taught me not simply of the nature of grief, but of its significance – its ability to heal, to cleanse, and powerfully to transform. Yet, this loss is only a personal loss, one which cannot be measured against the depth of the collective loss of Imam Husain. And Imam Husain was not an ordinary man, nor his death an ordinary death. Our Dai, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, uses the words of his beloved father to remind us “Husain to Husain che.”. Imam Husain’s uniqueness permeates each detail of his childhood, his upbringing, his family, and most importantly his death, details which are lovingly recounted during the much anticipated days of Ashara. And as they are recounted, we grieve, we mourn, we cry, we do matam, and we are transformed.

Throughout his life Imam Husain was exceptional, but with his death, Imam Husain made our lives exceptional. He transformed us. His selfless sacrifice and infinite sabr (patience) is best exemplified in his final moments where despite his countless wounds, Imam Husain finds the strength to perform his final sajda – thus ensuring with his Dua that generations and generations of mumineen will flourish.

We grieve Imam Husain SA to honor, to remember, and to pay tribute. For Imam Husain, our grief for his death should rightly be our ever constant companion, for it is his enduring sacrifice and sabr that serves as the core of who we are as mumineen. Yet, our beloved Moula only asks us to embrace this grief for the nine days of Ashara alone. Nine days in which every niyyat, word and action should be enveloped in the grief of Imam Husain. Nine days after which we emerge enlightened and guided, rejuvenated and recharged, cleansed and transformed.

Surely, we can respond to our Dai’s call. Surely, we can answer, surely we can say wholeheartedly to our Moula, Labbaik Ya Dai Allah Labbaik!

Amate Syedna,
Durriya Shk. Zoher Ghadiali (Badani)

Durriya Badani serves as Director of Near East and South Asia at the Global Initiative for Civil Society and Conflict at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL.

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