Oncha Rahe Apna Alam
Har Qalb Par Chaate Chalo
Duniya Ko Batlaate Chalo
Aik Aik Mahazir Zulm Ki
Tasveer Dikh Late Chalo
Har Dil Mein Bhar Do Sheh Ka Gham
Our flag must remain high
Move forth winning over every heart
Move forth telling the world
Of each and every incident of oppression
Move forth showing them the image
Fill every heart with the grief of Husayn
There is a unique set of values which Husayni youth are brought up. In the sub-continent, these values have been weaved into the azadari culture which renews these values every year. As we move away from the sub-continent and establish our lives in our new homelands, we are faced with the challenge of passing on these values to our children and sometimes to our brothers and sisters who may start to forget them.
This article is inspired by some recent discussions surrounding spending money on tabarruk taking place in our community. One position is that we should spend less money on tabarruk so that we may spend the remaining amount on feeding the poor, while the other position maintains that such concessions should not be made in the case of tabarruk. By shedding light on two values which are weaved into this eulogy, this article hopes to help the reader find a solution that they are agreeable to.
The first value that this verse teaches us is in the first line and in every line. It speaks to us in imperative tense commanding us to do these things. This means that we as Husaynis are not just attendees or participants in these majaalis. We are the organizers and the ones who bear the responsibility of promoting this noble cause. We will keep doing it until we have filled every heart with the love of Imam Husayn (as) and even then we will keep doing it. It is our responsibility to make sure we invite everyone to our majaalis. It is our responsibility to make sure these majaalis are successful. It is our responsibility to make sure these majaalis are done in such a way that the attendees find value in them, want to come back to them and most importantly learn something from them which may inspire them to become like us some day. We are a community that was born to promote the purpose of Imam Husayn (as).
The second value this verse teaches us is in the main line itself. What does the poet mean by, “Oncha rahe apna alam?” (Our flag must remain high). One way of understanding it is that the poet is saying when it comes to promoting the message of Imam Husayn (a), one should take pride in competition. This is another value that we have been brought up with; that is, when it comes to doing good, competing to be the best is a good thing. One could make the argument in such a situation that perhaps such a tall alam (flag) is not necessary and that is we chose to carry a shorter alam we would be able to save some money and potentially put it to a good cause somewhere else. The fallacy in this argument is that it fails to recognize the good that the alam is not simply a cultural symbol. It is a weapon that allows us to promote the message of Imam Husayn (as).
Having established that our purpose in life is to promote the message of Imam Husayn (a) and that competing to be the foremost in doing azadari is a good thing, we now come back to our topic. Our naive friends that ask these questions about tabarruk are most likely not asking out of malicious intent. When we are organizing a majlis, we know that everyone that attends that majlis is not at the same level of faith, but we still invite them. Some of them may still see themselves as participants and attendees while we see ourselves as organizers. Some of them may not even see the value of the message as we do. We invite them because we know what the eulogy tells us later on in another verse, “Mazloom ki aavaaz hai, dil mein utar ti jaayegi.” (The voice of an oppressed, will reach into the depths of the hearts) We know that attending these majaalis and hearing about the oppression of Imam Husayn (as) will win over their hearts and soon they too will turn.
Does this mean that we should not feed the poor? Absolutely not. Showing mercy towards those less fortunate is one of the messages of Imam Husayn (a). Someone explained it to me this way; when you feed the poor you are doing one good and when you give tabarruk after a majlis you are doing one good, but what is stopping you from doing both? There are many poor people in this world who do not know the message of Imam Husayn (as). Establish a forum where you invite those that are less fortunate and tell them the message of Imam Husayn (as) and the values this family has taught the world, and then pass out tabarruk in the name of Imam Husayn (as).