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‘No’ to desecration of Qur'an: From Lebanon’s Sayyida Khawla shrine on Ashura

By Hiba Morad

The tenth of Muharram this year, the day of Ashura, is a day to pay homage to Imam Hussein (AS), pledge allegiance to the Imam of our time Imam Mahdi, and defend our holy book the Qur'an; tens of the people attending the Ashura procession at the Sayyida Khawla shrine in Lebanon’s Baalbeck told Press TV website.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets across Lebanon in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Nabatieh, Sour, and Baalbeck on Saturday, to commemorate Ashura and pay respect to Imam Hussein (AS).

The crowds in Baalbeck were carrying flags that held the names of Imam Hussein (AS), his companions and family members, chanting slogans in support of Islam, Imam Hussein (AS) and fighting injustice. Also, some were holding Holy Qur'ans in their hands to protest the latest wave of desecrations that took place against the holy book.

Paying tribute at the shrine of Imam Hussein’s (AS) daughter

Sayyed Hassan, one of the volunteers who works at the Sayyida Khawla shrine told Press TV website that the number of people participating in the processions every year is on the rise.

“The people from different areas across Lebanon who attend the ceremonies of Ashura each year are on the rise. Sayyida Khawla is dear to the hearts of the people. Thousands come in pilgrimage to this shrine every Ashura, many who walk on foot from their towns to Baalbeck to pay allegiance to Imam Hussein (AS), light candles and pray,” he said.

He also said that the number of Ashura “mawkibs” has increased as well, providing services and food to the pilgrims.

“Providing services to lovers of Imam Hussein (AS) is considered a pious act of devotion and source of divine blessing as the pilgrimage itself,” he explained.

Sumaya, who lives abroad and came for the summer vacation, said, for her part, that “participating in the Ashura procession is an important act that delivers the message to the world that “Every day is Karbala and every day is Ashura.”

She explained that the story of Karbala, which teaches values that can turn the world into a better place, should be a school for all human beings regardless of their background, religion, race or age.

“To me, it is a school that teaches us not to accept humiliation, keep our minds open, have a deeper understanding of everything around us, support the truth, being loyal and honest, and the list goes on.”

No to injustice

Nour and her two sisters were standing with the scouts holding flags and slogans on Ashura that read “Labaikiya Zainab”, literally meaning “I am here, Oh Zainab”.

Shouting in defense of the Holy Qur'an with her sisters and friends, the 16-year-old lady told Press TV website that she is attending to renew her pledge to Imam Hussein (AS) and his household and show the world that she is ready to defend Islam and Islamic beliefs.

“I came here today from Beirut to tell the Israelis injustice and occupation will stop. I am here to tell the US government it cannot rule forever. I am here to tell all those who do unjust that they will be resisted and defeated. Our religion and our Imam Hussein (AS) taught us to be merciful but also to be the people who resist oppression and this is what we insist on today.”

Her sister said there could be no better place in her opinion to pay pledge to Imam Hussein (AS) that the shrine of his daughter.

The shrine of Sayyida Khawla, the daughter of Imam Hussein (AS) and great granddaughter of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), is a religious attraction which greets you at the southern entrance of Baalbeck, known as the city of the sun, which was built during the period of the Roman rule.

The shrine, located right next to the Roman ruins in the city which is considered as one of the largest sanctuaries in the Roman Empire, was built after historical research which proved that Imam Hussein’s (AS) little daughter Khawla died and was buried there. Her sister Saffiya is also buried in the same city.

According to historians, the women and children of Imam Hussein (AS) were held captives and loaded onto camels with neither saddle nor shade and were moved towards Kufa. During the journey from Karbala to Kufa, and from Kufa to Damascus, Imam Hussein’s (AS) sister Zaynabbint Ali told the Muslim world about the various atrocities committed in Karbala.

The captives were later held in Damascus for a year and some of them died in grief. They were later dragged and tortured through different cities in Lebanon, reaching Baalbek-Ras al-Ein, the place where Imam Hussien’s (AS) mosque was built and later reconstructed in 680 AD and 61 Hegira and Sayyida Khawla shrine erected.

For the love of Imam Hussein

Ahmad is an engineer who has been helping in preparing food for the pilgrims for three years in a row now. The 32-year-old man, a father of two little girls, was distributing the food he and his family members had cooked an hour earlier.

Asked why he chooses to do this, he told Press TV website that his love of Imam Hussein (AS) and the lessons of humanity he teaches us is the main drive to coming and participating every year

“I come each year to serve visitors of the shrine and provide them with food and beverages. Ashura is about social justice, humane values, and fighting oppression. This year, we are here to also say loudly that we are ready to sacrifice our lives and souls for the sake of Islam,” he said. 

Shia Muslims hold mourning ceremonies during the first 10 days of Muharram to remember Imam Hussein (AS), a grandson of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him), and his 72 companions, who were martyred in the Battle of Karbala, in southern Iraq, in 680 AD after fighting courageously for justice against the much larger army of the Umayyad caliph, Yazid.

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