Very rarely do I get on my “religion” soapbox.  But, Muharram is one of those times. In simple terms, Muharram is the name of the first month of the Islamic calendar. But for Shia muslims, it is not a time for celebration or fireworks or parties. It is a somber occasion. A time of reflection, mourning, and tears. It is the month where we remove ourselves from the clutches of the world. Where we forget about our jobs, our families, our own selves. A time where we remember the sacrifices of the Family of Our Prophet (saw).

It is  one of the few occasions where people cast aside their prejudices. Where it doesn’t matter, if you’re Shia, if you’re muslim, if you’re Christian, or Jewish,  or white, or Arab, Hindu or Atheist. If you’re in Karbala, Iraq, you will be given food, water, medical assistance. All FREE. People will be fighting (figuratively) to give food and water, and accommodations to you. Just because you’re a visitor to the shrine of our Imam (as). Who you are, what  you are, during those ten days doesn’t matter. Because anyone who sheds a tear for Hussain (as), we become their slave.

The unfortunate thing is when we exit from the days of Muharram. When we leave the plains of Karbala, our worldly desires and prejudices once again take root. If a non muslim, or even if a Sunni muslim, were to come to your door and ask for food, most people would slam the door in their face. We forget the lessons of Hussain (as) the minute the tears dry on our faces.

We forget that our teachers, the Ahlul Bayt (as), the people we take Islam from, didn’t discriminate. If a person in need knocked on Their door, They gave to that person. In our and whenever I say our I mean Shia, traditions, it is said Imam Zainul Abideen (as), (who is the Son of Imam Hussain (as) who was martyred in Karbala) was distributing grains and flour in Medina during a time of famine. A man came to Imam Zainul Abideen (as) and said, “May I have some grain?”. Imam (as) said to him (la), “Of course.” The man says, “You don’t recognize me?” Imam (as) says, “How can I forget the face of the man who killed My Father, Hussain (as)?”

These are our teachers. This is the real Islam. Where even if the killer of your father  knocks on your door and has a need, you give to him. If you want to gain paradise, you don’t slaughter anyone. You  give food to the hungry. Water to the thirsty. Shelter to the homeless. Comfort to the orphan. This is why I am a Shia muslim. And I hate even to have to use the word muslim but I’m forced to use it so people  will understand. My goal is to be a true Shia which btw all that means is follower. It isn’t anything radical. It is my goal to be a Shia of Ali (as). A Shia of Ali (as) doesn’t oppress. Doesn’t discriminate. Doesn’t bad mouth. Gives to anyone in need. Respects and protects other religions, races, ethnicities, sexes, people in general. Basically if you’re a human breathing on this planet, it is obligatory for us to stand up for your rights and beliefs, even if they differ from ours.

It saddens me today that people associate the name of Islam with terrorism. But I don’t blame people one little bit. I blame us Shia. We carry the flag of Hussain (as) and we remain silent. We allow the voice of hypocrisy and ignorance to shout louder than we shout. If people today are afraid of muslims and curse Our Prophet (saw), then it is because we have failed in delivering the message of Imam Hussain (as). It is because we don’t carry the flag of Hussain (as) 365 days a year.

During the first ten days of Muharram, we may not work. We attend gatherings every day. We cry the loudest. We hit our chests in grief the hardest, but the minute the masaib (sorrowful recitations) stops, we dry our tears and we forget.

I wish people knew the Islam I know. The Islam that doesn’t oppress. The Islam that says if you oppress someone, anyone, muslim, Jewish, Christain, Atheist, or Alien, then you  so called muslim become a kafir (infidel/disbeliever). Oppressing someone doesn’t necessarily mean that you beat them or abuse them. Say for example, your child gets into an argument with another child. You instantly take the side of your child. Without hearing both sides. Without knowing 100% if your child did something wrong. You have oppressed the other child. You have become an oppressor and unless you gain the forgiveness of that child and repent, you can die a kafir.

And don’t think I’m some big great pious person. I am so not. I don’t pray five times a day. To be honest, I don’t remember the last time I actually did a daily prayer. I don’t fast during Ramadan. I have never performed Hajj. I don’t pay allegiance to any scholar (which is another post for another day). I don’t read Quran. I don’t do any of the things you probably associate with being Islam or muslim. But I do try to live my life in a way that constantly gives Islam a good name because when you see me you instantly know I’m muslim. The big green scarf on my head is the only thing that I probably do.

I’m kind to people. I smile at them before they smile at me (and if you know me, then you know how much of an introvert and socially awkward I am so for me to smile or say hi to anyone is so far out of my comfort zone). Because to me those little things are way more important than if I stand up and sit down 25 times a day. I can pray on the prayer mat all I want, but if I’m rude to people, it won’t matter. Whatever good I earned on the prayer mat will be demolished by the one angry word I say to someone who cuts me off in the super market. Not a muslim who cuts me off. But the PERSON. This is the Islam I know. And it makes me so angry that we, Shias, don’t make our voices louder. I know I know I keep saying that, but if there’s one thing you take from this big long rambling stream of consciousness. Please know, Islam is much more than what some goatfuckers (oh yea btw I have a bit of a swearing problem too) who need to be eradicated from the face of the planet have made it into. If this ramble has confused the utter shit out of you or you just have a question in general, feel free to contact me on FB  I’m always open to discussion or answering someone’s questions. I have no intention of converting anyone. And that’s not what this post is about.