“And whoever honors the symbols of God, indeed that is from the piety of hearts.” – The Holy Quran (22:32)
The commemoration of Imam Husayn ibn Ali is a cornerstone to the practice of our faith. He saved our religion from tyranny and the dismal track set by the Umayyads, over a thousand years ago. Still, Imam Husayn’s legacy lives on through our commemoration. It rejuvenates our faith and directs us to the true path of God. We hope to honor this symbol of God every day of our lives – especially in the holy nights of Muharram and Safar.
In Imam Husayn’s sacrifice, he did not merely show us an honorable death; rather, he showed us the significance and sanctity of life. In fact, Husayn’s entire movement was based on two lofty objectives: 1) saving the religion of Islam, and 2) saving lives. “And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved the lives of all mankind…” – The Holy Quran (5:32)
Thus, our position when it comes to the Majalis (i.e. commemoration gatherings) during Muharram is that they are surely to be held; but in the safest possible way by adhering to the strict guidance of our religious and health authorities, to protect people’s lives and the practice of our faith.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) advises that social distancing should be strictly adhered to during our commemoration gatherings, as with other activities at community-based organizations. Social distancing guidelines advise that 6 feet of distance and the use of face masks to reduce the risk of transmission between households.
Centers are who are planning to establish programs should create a COVID-19 Risk Assessment and assign a responsible officer or officers to enforce the precautionary measures in alignment with the guidelines. Any risk assessment should also consider the security of worshippers. This may require involving local partners such as the police.
The leaders of our charities having fiduciary duties to the communities they serve. If you are serving on a Board of Directors/Trustees for a mosque, hussainiya, or any other organization involved in the planning of commemoration gatherings this Muharram – you are legally responsible here. Directors/Trustees must be aware they are legally responsible for the safety of the attendees and must always work for the best interest of the individuals they serve.
What is in the best interest of the individuals our centers and organizations serve? It is to adhere to the Marjaeya’s guidance to commemorate safely and responsibly, without putting oneself and others in harm’s way. If institutional leaders are not able to ensure, to the fullest extent, that all health and safety guidelines are strictly observed in the gatherings they hold, they could be responsible for the negative implications that will follow.
What is the Mainstay Foundation doing amid all these risks to ensure commemoration in a safe and responsible way?
The Foundation is working with centers and organizations across the United States, to provide virtual live streaming to the community to benefit from the Majalis from the safety of their own homes. Tailored programs for children, sisters, and families will be provided. The Foundation is also providing grants to centers that are live streaming their programs and helping them upgrade their streaming technology to provide for a higher quality experience for viewers. For more information on how to qualify for this, click here.
We humbly urge all charities and their leadership to continue commemorating safely and responsibly as advised by both religious and health authorities. We have a great challenge before us, but together we will persevere.
Together, we will safely commemorate, honor the great legacy of our faith tradition, and save lives.
The Board of Trustees
August 13th, 2020