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From Tweets to Streets: Emulating Hussain’s Real-World Activism in the Digital Age

Today July 28 marks Ashura, a day steeped in deep reverence and sorrow, recalling the noble stand of Hussain ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

He bravely confronted the oppressive ruler Yazid, for his unchecked corruption and tyranny. It was a pivotal moment that echoes through the corridors of time, a clarion call for the pursuit of justice and the will to rise against oppression, wherever it may take root.  

Fearless, Hussain raised his voice against an oppressive despot, even when the odds were overwhelmingly stacked against him. His conviction to save Islam was so profound, yet he paid the ultimate price: his life and the lives of his loved ones. His courage and commitment for justice echoes across the centuries, resonating with us even today.

Hussain’s fight wasn’t waged in some intangible cyberspace—it was grounded, it was real. He rolled up his sleeves and dug into the messy, complex battleground of societal change. He didn’t just speak truth to power—he stood against it, he challenged it, and he changed the course of history. In Hussain’s era, his brave stand against inequality and injustice sent shockwaves throughout society and is a source of inspiration for many leaders around the world. With everyday hashtags making waves, protests sweeping the globe, and climate strikes shaking the foundations of ‘business as usual’, Hussain’s rallying cry is more resonant than ever. 

In the era of online activism, where keyboard warriors can start a campaign with the click of a button, the tale of Karbala holds a mirror to these efforts. It’s a stark reminder that while social media activism is a powerful tool, it’s just that—a tool. It’s not the work itself. The real work, the hard graft, needs to be done out here in the world, not just up there in the cloud. Hashtags can spread the word, but hands-on work spreads the change. 

In order to carry out true change, tweets must be transformed into talks, posts into protests, likes into action. After all, the fight for justice isn’t fought on a keyboard—it is fought in the hearts and minds of people, in the streets, in communities, and societies. The ten nights of Muharram culminating in Ashura are not about a story that happened 1400 years ago, but a masterclass on social responsibility that sends a resounding message across the globe. It is a time where hearts are ignited to take a stand against oppression, injustice and tyranny, in our homes and outside of them. And it is this activism that connects the hearts to faith. 

No matter how stacked the odds, no matter how formidable the opposition, every human being has the power to effect change no matter how miniscule. All it takes is the courage to stand up for what is right, the will to speak out, and the determination to take action, just as Hussain did. 

We are reminded today of the Uighurs, who, in the shadows of the towering Chinese mountains, fight silently for their dignity. We remember the Rohingya, expelled from their ancestral homes in Myanmar, drifting in an ocean of despair, yearning for a beacon of hope. We remember the Palestinians, whose land bears the scars of conflict, yet their spirit remains indomitable. We think of the Shia Muslims in persecuted in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Parachinar. We reflect on the plight of Muslims in India, grappling with prejudice in a country that lauds its diversity. And it’s not just about Muslims. We also think of Christians in Pakistan, who are often marginalized and face discrimination, for their faith in a land that should equally belong to them. And countless more. 

In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King said,

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

We are all in this together, and the story of Karbala serves as a timeless blueprint for change. The courage of Hussain, his family and friends that stood against over 30,000 soldiers is not just a wake-up call, it is a rallying cry—a call to arms in our everyday battle for justice and social responsibility against the tyrannical constructs of our time. More importantly, it is a stark reminder that changing the world isn’t about one massive gesture, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight—it’s about countless little acts of bravery, sincerity and working within.

Let the memory of Ashura serve not just as a day of remembrance, but as a call to action, a call to stand up against injustice wherever we find it, and however difficult that fight may be.

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