The martyrdom of Imam Husain (RA) remains a telling episode in the history of Islam. It is so because what transpired on the tenth day of Muharram in Karbala was tragedy on an unprecedented scale, to a point where Muslims across the world look upon the battle between Imam Husain's forces and his enemies as a defining moment in a war between truth and falsehood. On the surface, the battle in Karbala may have been a struggle for power, and yet it is the deeper dimensions of the Karbala tragedy that are recalled on Ashura.
Those dimensions relate to the moves made by Mua'wiyah to have power entrenched in his hands or within his immediate circle of family and friends. It was this sinister move on his part to hold on to authority, indeed to promote the likes of Yezid, that could not but lead to the epic battle that was to ensue eventually at Karbala. The enduring sadness for Muslims all over the world, all these centuries after Husain's martyrdom, is that the struggle in Karbala had to end in unmitigated suffering for the grandson of the Prophet of Islam. Where Islam had during and after the time of the Prophet established itself as a new faith of peace and decent social order, where it was expected that Yezid and his forces would wage a war based on ethics and principles, it was heart-wrenching to witness the sordid levels to which Imam Husain's enemies let the battle sink. The Imam was martyred and so were the rest of his family. It was a dark chapter in the history of a religion which had come into being as a force for good, for compassion and for justice.
Today, it is remembrance of the original ideals of Islam that makes Muslims in Bangladesh and elsewhere pause and reflect. The core message today, as it was in the early days of Islam, is that the faith Muslims practise with such fervour and with such liberalism everywhere has no room for violence. Ashura is much more than a recalling of the sacrifices of Imam Husain (RA) and his followers. It is also a sending out of the message that violence and terrorism are anathema to Islam, that Islam is a belief which combines practical realism with spiritual enlightenment.