Category Archives: Community

October 16

Shereen Yousuf : Decolonial Practice of Majalis and its Potential for Communal Healing

What better way to defy systems that de-humanizes us, than through the human act of shedding of tears which allows us to move out of despair, and into the realm of hope? Furthermore, this healing serves a vital tool for resistance. Narrating these stories in a manner that induces grief additionally connects us with principles such as “death with dignity is better than a life of humiliation” as Imam Husayn (as) once said, — without divorcing them from Allah (swt). In fact, our form of memorializing tragedy elevates our tears to the realm of the divine by marking them as an act in devotion to Allah (swt).

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October 04

David Coolidge : Memories of a Majlis

On Judgement Day, we will viscerally realize that God can show us every moment of our life. May the accounting of my failures never happen, by the Mercy of the Most Merciful. When I realize this, I become more aware of how quickly time slips past, and how much we lose. I wish I could recall every moment of these majalis, and every moment of my ziyara to Iraq that it inspired. But I cannot. I cannot even remember every moment of the majlis that I just attended.

October 19

Zehra Naqvi : What Disunity Costs Our Ummah

We are all in it together. This Muharram, reflecting on our shared past has actually made me look to the future and reflect on the legacy our umaah will leave behind for future generations. History will tell whether our legacy will be one of unity or divisiveness. There are many good people committed to doing this work, and I pray that all of us commit to do right by all of our communities, very much in the spirit of the Quran, Prophet Muhammad, and his family.

November 21

Karbala: A Caravan of Mercy

One of the most beautiful and salient aspects of Muḥarram is that it serves each member of the Muslim community in its own way. By its enduring nature, the tragedy of Karbalā’ is the impetus for profound change for all who approach it with a humble heart. Paradoxically however, the sheer magnitude of what can be gained from these nights forces us to limit the articulation of what Muḥarram means within the framework of our own pedantic vision. In other words, Karbalā’ is for many people, many things. For some it serves as motivation for socio-political justice; for others it may be a template for noble character traits. And while the message of Karbalā’ is universal, our internalization of it is often colored by internal and external factors. The various circumstances of our lives cause us to engage with Karbalā’ and derive benefit from this ocean of beauty in our own unique way. Especially since the Islamic Revolution in Iran, it has even become common place to attach temporal political movements and the oppression of various Shi’i groups with the likeness of the movement of Ashūra. However, as Imām al-Ḥussain (as) had sacrificed his life and the lives of those closest to him for Allah (swt), the Ultimate All-Encompassing Reality, the movement of Ashūra is no less than a reflection of that Universal Reality. To articulate the reasons for and the benefits of Muḥarram outside of the words of the Aḥl al-Bayt (as) would simply be attempts at grasping only the particulars.

November 07

Imam Hussain (as): Language, Perception and Reality

In other words, while we understand Imām al-Ḥussain (as) through words, slogans, and adjectives, they only serve as a medium through which to understand his essential character and mission. The words themselves are not the reality. As a result, we must understand each word that we use to describe him or Islam in general in context. Otherwise, if we continue to use words like justice, peace, and humanity, without questioning the mental concepts they produce and the current forces that are shaping their meanings and colloquial use, we may internalize our faith through false notions.

calligraphy by Irfan Haider Mirza October 31

Muslim Community In America?

Most young Shii have likely heard stories about how, decades prior, their immigrant parents or community members used to hold majalis in their homes. They would do this with the few other Shia families of which they were aware. People would drive long distances to sit in someone’s house gathered round a television set or radio to listen to a pre-recorded lecture. This, as they often will recall, was the beginning of the establishment of the Shii community in America. It was through this mutual love of the Ahlul Bayt , epitomized by the sacrifice of Imam al-Ḥussain (as) families were brought together yearly and the very first Shia communities were developed. And as immigrants gradually accepted the permanence of their migration, they began to organize and pool together resources in order to plan for what they envisioned as the next logical step: the creation of Islamic centers.