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Area Muslims Commemorate Life Of Their Imam Husain, Strengthen Resolve For Social Engagement

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Attendees at the 2016 Imam Husain Day commemoration at the Masjid-e-Ali mosque on Cedar Grove Lane.


Hundreds of Muslims gathered Nov. 5 at Masjid-e-Ali Mosque to celebrate the life and mourn the death of one of the most significant prophets in Shi’a Islam, and to renew their commitments to social justice.

More than 14 centuries ago, Husain Ibn Ai and about 70 of his followers were killed in Karbala, in present-day Iraq, after refusing to pledge allegiance to Yazid I, head of the caliphate at the time. Husain objected to what he considered injustices perpetrated by Yazid, and thought that the Caliph’s lifestyle was not in accord with their prophet’s teachings.

Known as Imam Husain, he was the grandson of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.

Speakers at the Nov. 5 event, presented under the theme of “A call for political and social engagement” and sponsored by Message for Peace and StandWithDignity.org, talked about Husain’s influence on leaders in the peace and civil rights movements in this country and around the world, as well as their belief that people of all faith traditions could learn from Husain’s actions.

Also speaking at the event were township Mayor Phil Kramer, who told the crowd that he was “extremely moved” by Husain’s story.

The life and death of Husain, Kramer said, “tells us to stand up for what we believe at any cost.”

Kramer thanked the mosque’s members for welcoming him whenever he visits.

“Whenever I come here, I feel as though I’ve come home,” he said.

Township Councilman Rajiv Prasad (D-At Large) rejected the anti-Muslim image of Islam as a violent religion in his comments.

“The Islam I know is about brotherhood and love and peace and service,” he said. “The Islam I know is where beauty comes from.”

“Husain symbolizes sacrifice,” one of the main speakers, Rosemary Stansfield-Johnson, a professor in the University of Minnesota’s history department, told the crowd.

The massacre at Karbala, she said, “decided the fate of what Islam was, is and will be.”

Any call to political and social involvement, Stansfield-Johnson said, should be “individual and collective.”

The Rev. Robert Moore, executive director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action, spoke of “wicked spiritual forces” taking root in the country.

“We cannot stand silent,” he said. “We need to not only talk the talk of peace, we need to walk the walk.”

“The only way we can overcome the wicked spiritual forces that have arrived is to be unified across the many faith traditions,” he said. “People across the faith spectrum have to stand together, so we can work for peace together and walk the walk together.”

At Karbala, Husain was given two options, said Syed Ammar Nakshwawani, the event’s keynote speaker, “to be killed or humiliated.”

Quoting Husain, Nakshwani said, “I will never be humiliated.”

 

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Copyright 2016 The Franklin Reporter & Advocate

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