Art of Ashura, Symbolic and Epic (2)
Art acts as media in the ceremonies of Ashura. Ashura is manifested in various branches of art. In the modern painting in Iran the art of Ashura can be clearly seen especially in a branch of it called Saqqa Khaneh. In addition to painters, other contemporary artists have tried to use signs and motifs in their works that symbolize Ashura and Imam Hussein (AS).
It is interesting that today, Muslim artists of different countries, including Iran, have applied modern technologies and methods to create novel works on Ashura and the movement of Imam Hussein (AS). They have made efforts to depict the essence of Imam Hussein's ideal, namely, to fight oppression, tyranny and corruption in a bid to establish justice through the divine rule. Throughout history, especially for the recent centuries, the art of Ashura has been blended with the Iranian culture to the extent that almost every artist feels sort of indebted to Imam Hussein and his unmatched movement; hence they try to create a work or works as a sign of paying homage to the Chief of Martyrs.
Ta'zieh is one of the forms of art which is mostly dedicated to Imam Hussein's uprising and the events before and after it. Ta'zieh is an elegiac theater consisting of various elements such as poem, music, act, ambiance, decoration, and so on. Ever since its emergence, it has attracted the attention of Iranian and foreign researchers.
Obviously, religious rituals and traditions are not held for merely commemoration of the past events. They are rather held for glorification of the personalities and events to act as the light of guidance for the new generation to make the correct decision and move in critical junctures.
A very spectacular aspect of the arts of Ashura is that everyone can take part in these arts in one way or another. This takes its roots in the fact that the events before and after Ashura are replete with the presence of every age group and gender as Imam Hussein had taken with himself his family, relatives and companions. Therefore, it is common that young children, elderly men and women participate in holding different ceremonies and rituals. Everybody feels owing to Imam Hussein (AS) and try to show their allegiance to him.
Ashura and Karbala unite and connect the faithful in all parts of the world. Hence, whenever there is a ceremony on Imam Hussein (AS), the mood and climate is the same. People from different countries gather in one place to hold ceremonies in commemoration of Hussein and they shed tears for the pains that had been inflicted on him, his kin and kith and companions. Everyone in these gatherings thinks of the same thing and feels somehow attached to the lofty cause of the Prophet's younger grandson. Just like the Hajj pilgrimage, in which no privilege is taken into consideration and everyone looks the same as all wear simple white robes, the culture of Imam Hussein gathers people from all walks of life and every nation and ethnicity under his camp. Thus, all worldly privileges, positions and ranks lose their significance. In view of this, it is very common to see individuals of high social status to engage in apparently low-status activities such as giving cool water to the mourners of Hussein and washing the dishes of the food distributed to the mourners.
The splendor of Imam Hussein (AS) overcomes every splendor and pomp. The light of Hussein eclipses other lights and everyone feels sort of humble before him. The name of Hussein transcends beyond ages and places in spite of the efforts of enemies to erase his name from the memory of history. In the past the enemies of Islam went to the extent that they razed to the ground the luminous tomb of Imam Hussein but the love of Hussein became hotter in the hearts of Muslims and non-Muslims. Today, the enemies of Islam and humanity have changed their methods of countering the clear path of Hussein through propaganda campaign to distort the unmatched path and personality of this infallible leader of mankind. But as God has vouchsafed in the Qur'an the enemies want to extinguish God's light whereas God desires to complete his light even though the polytheists and disbelievers do not like it. Hussein is God's light and nobody can extinguish it.