In an interview with Muslim Press, Muslim poet Jonathan Azaziah says, “This year’s Arbaeen march, as well as the marches of the previous two years, can be considered the largest peaceful protest against Daesh, Takfirism generally, Zionism and Imperialism on the face of the planet.”
Read the full text of the interview:
Muslim Press: Millions of Shia Muslims have defied ISIS terror attacks by visiting the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS) in Arbaeen. How do you see this event?
Jonathan Azaziah: I see it in an ultra-straightforward manner: It’s the most beautiful thing in the world! You have more than 20 million human beings, mostly Shi’a Muslims of course, but also Sunnis, Sufis, Christians of all stripes, Shabakis, Ezadis and even a handful of Hindus, traveling to the holy sands of Karbala to renew their commitment to the person of Imam Hussein (A.S.), the original revolutionary; the primordial defier of tyranny; the master of martyrs and the grandsire of resistance. Ever since Aba Abdallah (A.S.) achieved victory through his sacrifice on Youm al-Ashoura in 680 A.D. (61 A.H.), a divide has existed in the world that can accurately be described as the Husseini-Yazidi split. Those who stand with justice are the partisans of Imam Hussein (A.S.) and those who stand against what is right are the partisans of the degenerate despot Yazid (L.A.) Anyone who would attempt to harm the former–i.e. these beautiful people, these souls of remarkable spirituality who love Imam Hussein (A.S.) more than they love anything–are agents of evil. And of course, from the modern geopolitical perspective, this year’s Arbaeen march, as well as the marches of the previous two years, can be considered the largest peaceful protest against Daesh, Takfirism generally, Zionism and Imperialism on the face of the planet. Yet this dazzling event remains largely under the radar among Western audiences on the one hand due to extraordinarily limited (essentially nonexistent) media coverage and primarily unknown to Arab-Islamic audiences outside of the Shi’a school of thought on the other hand because of the slanted, shameful, sectarian “reportage” from the likes of brutal dictatorships Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
MP: Arbaeen is known as the largest annual gathering throughout the world. How is it possible to hold such large gathering with ISIS in the region?
JA: We can thank the moujahideen of the Iraqi Resistance for that. Men from Shi’a Islamic Liberationist groups like Kata’ib Hizbullah, Harakat Hizbullah al-Nujaba, Asa’ib Ahlul Haqq, Kata’ib Sayyed al-Shouhada and the Imam Ali (A.S.) Brigade, all of whom confronted the American-British-Zionist occupation in the past, worked day and night, around the clock, to ensure that the tens of millions of pilgrims would be safe and sound. The failure of the Iraqi security establishment vis-a-vis preventing car bombs and suicide attacks in and around the capital of Baghdad is well-known, and considering much of the Iraqi army and other security forces are presently busy in the operation to free Mosul from Daesh, the warriors of the Iraqi Mouqawamah stepped in to fill the void. And because of their dauntless, steadfast stance in confronting the enemy, the cowardly terrorists from ISIS didn’t get anywhere near the holy shrines of Imam Hussein (A.S.) and Abou Fadhl al-Abbas (A.S.) in Karbala, nor the shrine of Imam Ali (A.S.) in Kufa. The pilgrims, and all of humanity, owe these courageous men everything.
MP: What message do (Shia) Muslims want to convey through their march?
JA: The aim here is three-fold: 1) International, i.e. showing the world, which has been brainwashed in the most terrible way by the Zionist media, that Islam is not terrorism, barbarism and sectarianism, but peace, love, justice, resistance and brotherhood. That Islam heals and unifies, it doesn’t maim and destroy. Indeed, the intent is to redraw the images in the minds of global onlookers about what Islam is and how it looks when the Sunnah of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.W.) is followed and the purity of his Holy Household (A.S.) is embraced. 2) National, i.e. showing Daesh and its backers that in spite of all the atrocities they commit and chaos they disseminate, Iraqis will not stop living their lives and they will not close their doors to their fellow lovers of Imam Hussein (A.S.)–we (Iraqis) are after all known as the most generous people on Earth! And the pilgrims themselves are showing solidarity with Iraqis, letting us know that we are not alone in our struggles and they have our backs just like we have theirs. 3) Religious, i.e. adhering to the obligation every Husseini has to Aba Abdallah (A.S.) and standing up for him and his martyrdom every Ashoura and every Arbaeen no matter what. If the Imam (A.S.) could march into Karbala with only 72 of his companions and family members in the face of an army comprised of more than 30,000, why shouldn’t 20 million some odd Shi’a march into Karbala for Arbaeen in the face of a few thousand terrorists? Hayhat minna zilla (Us, humiliated?! Never, ever!) is an eternal motto for a reason!
MP: What should all Muslims do in order to be united against common enemies, such as ISIS and the mastermind behind it?
JA: Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Khomeini’s famous quote comes to mind, “We Muslims are busy bickering about whether to fold or unfold our arms during Salat whilst the enemy is devising ways of cutting them off.” Our differences, be they political, historical or jurisprudential, ultimately aren’t relevant. Because the enemy, and by enemy I don’t merely mean Daesh but the US-Zionist Empire which spawned the Takfiri bacteria to begin with, kills us all the same regardless of school of thought, ethnic background, national origin or anything else. We all follow the same Prophet (S.A.W.W.), we pray the same prayers, we read the same Holy Qur’an, pay the same Zakat, do the same fasting on Ramadan and the same celebrating on Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. We must cling to these truths for dear life and remember in the depths of our very being when the enemy approaches with its malicious plots of division and sedition. Islam is what will bind us and lead us to triumph over those who seek our destruction.
MP: What’s your take on the fight against ISIS in Iraq? Has it been successful during the last year?
JA: The battle is going exceptionally well, hence why Iraqi forces were able to launch the operation to liberate Mosul to begin with. The victories in Diyala, Salahuddine (including Tikrit), Jaref as-Sakher, Amerli, Al-Anbar (including Ramadi and Fallujah), Baghdad and its outskirts and other areas, all paved the way for this moment. I wrote a piece called “Mosul’s Murky Maze: Walking The Line Between Iraqi Liberation And American Political Theater” which deals with the intricacies of the operation of Iraq’s second city, so I will not regurgitate that here, though I do encourage your readers to take the time to read it. What I will say is that this fight to cleanse Iraq of all traces of Daesh is progressing forward rapidly IN SPITE of the American regime, not because of it, nor because of its assistance which has been criminally negligent at best and deliberately incompetent at worst. Washington does not want to see ISIS stomped out from Iraq because it is a strategic asset of Zio-Imperialism in our region. The Iraqi army however and the Iraqi Mouqawamah, especially the groups mentioned above, are pouring in their blood, sweat and tears into the Mosul operation and they will not be hindered by any US scheme. Iraqi Resistance fighters have already encircled Tal Afar, thus cutting off all roads connecting Mosul to Raqqa and trapping Daesh like flies in a bug-zapper, and the Iraqi military is advancing into Mosul’s depths from three different directions. The end of ISIS’s reign is near and so is a new day for Iraq–a day of peace, prosperity, rebuilding and sovereignty, without any Wahhabi, ‘Israeli’ or American interloper in sight. Insha’ALLAH khair ya Rab.