What Karbala teaches me is that justice is a principle that transcends labels as injustice and oppression can come from within and from without.
Virtually every prophet (Peace be upon them) mentioned in the Qur’an faced social rejection from the dominant culture when challenging oppression. In fact, we can say that the prophets (Peace be upon them) were social revolutionaries. Ibrahim (Peace be upon him) challenged the economy of idolatry in his society and had confrontation with Nimrod. Musa and Harun (Peace be upon them) showed resistance to Pharaoh’s slavery society. ‘Isa (Peace be upon him) challenged the status quo among the Jews and their complicity with the Roman occupation of Palestine, and Prophet Muhammad (Prayers and peace be upon him and his family) confronted systematic oppression in the Hijaz.
As Ibrahim, Musa, Harun (Peace be upon them) and Prophet Muhammad (Prayers and peace be upon him and his family) confronted injustice from people, who primarily did not claim to be upon monotheism, ‘Isa (Peace be upon him) faced primary resistance from those who were of his tribal background, the Children of Israel that also claimed monotheism. As with ‘Isa (Peace be upon him), Imam Al-Husayn (Prayers be upon him) led resistance against Yazid, who claimed the creed of Islam and monotheism.
The wine-drinking, non-prayer guarding Yazid, who usurped the wealth of the Muslim nation was a real person, yet he symbolizes a disease past his person. There have been many Yazids since the actual Yazid. There was the Umawi khalifah Hisham bin Abdil Malik who presided over the beheading of Zayd bin Zaynil Abideen Ali (Peace be upon them), there was the Abbasi khalifah Abu Ja’far Al-Mansur who was behind the murder of Muhammad bin Abdillah bin Al-Hasan Al-Muthanna (Peace be upon them) as well as the beating of Malik bin Anas (May Allah’s mercy be upon him), imam of the Maliki school of thought. And there continues to be Arab kings and other tyrants in Muslim lands, who play the role of Yazid by repressing intellectualism, maintaining systems of nepotism and patronage and supporting extremists, who kill fellow Muslims. To oppress fellow Muslims in such a manner because they are not from one’s own tribe, political party or school of thought is the Yazdi methodology.
Every land where there is pain and affliction is Karbala, every oppressor is Yazid and all who challenge injustice are like the companions of Imam Al-Husayn (Prayers be upon him). As we look at the siege on Gaza by Zionist criminals during this Muharram, let us not forget that we have a duty to challenge our community’s inner Yazids.