Hazrat Imam Hussain's Chelum Observed in San Francisco
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Bay Area Shia community gathered outside the San Francisco Civic Center to commemorate the 40th day of the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain which is also known as Arba'een or Chehlum.


The four-hour gathering/rally was organized  by a number of Bay Area organizations including the Saba Center of San Jose, Darul Batul of Fremont and Islamic Center of Zahra of Pleasanton.


According to Reza Sadiq, a prominent community member, about  800 people, including eight priests, participated in the 40th-day commemoration.


The priests gave very knowledgeable speeches about the tragedy of Karbala in 61 Hijra (680 AD). They emphasized that Hazrat Imam Hussain’s message has a universal appeal. The great Imam bequeathed to the Muslim Ummah that fighting unto death is more honorable than living a life based on deceit, falsehood, hypocrisy and compromise on principles.


The Imam’s final address to his companions before the dawn of Ashura is an exhibition of human greatness at its pinnacle. “The enemy is only after my blood. Each of you could benefit from the darkness and escape imminent death”.

Not one left. They all said that they would never deviate from the path of the truth of which the Imam was the leader. Outnumbered, and with the odds heavily stacked against him, the Imam chose not to flee or hide from certain death.


That the Imam remained steadfast in his conviction is a testimony not just to the astounding courage but also to the depth of his character.


Imam Hussein is immortalized for choosing death instead of subjugation to a tyrant. His movement has come to symbolize resistance against tyranny and oppression.

This occasion reminds the faithful of the core message behind Imam Hussain’s martyrdom that is establishing justice and fighting injustice.

"One thing that we can learn from the martyrdom of Imam Hussein is that he stood against injustice in order to show to the world, especially his companions, that they should also stand against injustice and they should never retreat from the ambitions or aspirations," said a speaker.

Karbala was an unprecedented massacre. Seventy-two exemplary warriors, who had been thirsty for over three days, against an army of well over ten thousand. Karbala was more than just a battleground. It was also a history-altering confrontation between belief versus disbelief, virtue versus immorality, justice versus injustice and truth versus falsehood.

Not surprisingly, historian Edward Gibbon, describing the events of Karbala, observed: "In a distant age and climate, the tragic scene of the death of Hussain will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader."

A number of community leaders as well as young school students also spoke on the subject of martyrdom.


The speeches were delivered in Arabic, English, Persian and Urdu languages.


The devotees offered noon prayers led by Maulana Nabi Raza Abidi.


People were carrying huge banners and placards explaining the objective of the Arba'een gathering. A huge black flag symbolized the spirit of sacrifice.

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