Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) did not give allegiance to Yazid.
This is the generic message that most of us have been taught as kids, whether at Sunday school, at our own homes, or even at those Muharram classes for kids during the first 10 nights. Then we go on to learn, "Every day is Ashura, and every land is Karbala."
Really? How can that be? But Imam Hussein is not being martyred every day. Lady Zeinab and Lady Sakina (peace be upon them) are not being beaten and deprived of their Hijabs every day. Yazid is not usurping the rights of Islam every day. Or is he?
When it comes to Islam, be it historical events or the thought-provoking laws of jurisprudence, there is more to understand and learn than what the eye sees or what the ear hears.
When Imam Hussein called out Hal min nasirin yansurna ("Is there anyone to help us?") he was quite aware that his family members were no more. As we all should know by now, this call was being made to us.
And we all should also know by now, Islam is a religion for all times and all ages, until the end of time. So what is the wisdom behind our dear Imam Jafar Sadiq (peace be upon him) saying, "Every day is Ashura, and every land is Karbala"?
If every day is Ashura, this means there are "Husseins" being killed for the sake of Islam every day. Be it because of their beards or Hijabs, it is happening. There are "Zeinabs" and "Sakinas" being deprived of their basic human rights every day – take a look at what is happening in Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, and all over the world.
Some may think this is all international political affairs, and that this has nothing to do with Ashura and the triumph of Karbala. To those people I ask, was the Imam asking for help in vain?
So what are we, so-called "Husseinis", doing about it? What have we sacrificed so far? Have we sacrificed a few digits in our paychecks to make a stand against corporations that fund the brutal killings and occupation of our dear brothers and sisters in Palestine and Iraq? Have we sacrificed some of our traditions for the sake of inviting more people to Islam, so they too can love the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) and be drawn to Islam? Have we sacrificed a few hours from our jobs to attend Friday prayers in our centers, in order to show that Muslims are dedicated to their religion?
Insha'Allah we have. And we will sacrifice more. Because nothing will add up to a father sacrificing his six-month-old baby for the love of a God we do not thank enough.
When will we sacrifice our money, social status, fear of being deported, fear of being jobless, fear of being looked at, fear of being a Muslim, for ourselves, and for our God who is the Supplier of all of those things in this world and the next?
It is our duty to answer the call of Imam Hussein, to stand up against those Yazids of our time who do exist. If there were no Yazids in our time, then Islam would be perfect, and all followers of Ahl-ul- Bayt would be ready and prepared to accept our Imam of Our Time (may Allah hasten his reappearance). But unfortunately, our hearts and eyes are closed to see it. We are living with no confidence of our religion, and not trust in our Creator.
We don't need to shake hands with Yazids when we have a God who is holding the universe in His.