By the time you read these lines, it will be the eve of Ashura. Yes, one more Ashura is about to pass. It is a pity that the main concern we have for Ashura is not to commemorate the martyrdom of the Imam, but that there should not be anybody killed. There is an atmosphere of martyrdom surrounding the Islamic New Year which prevents any celebration. I mean, barely do we come off marking the martyrdom of Hazrat Umar on 1 Muharram (which marks a markedly sad start to the Islamic New Year), that we go on to marking the martyrdom of Imam Hussain on Ashura. We should not forget that one of the freedoms for which we are waging the War on Terror is supposed to be so that we can celebrate the New Year in style. And not the Islamic New Year, but the real New Year, which will be arriving in less than a month. Because the War on Terror is being fought on a solar calendar against those who follow a lunar calendar, the slippage is already visible. The time will come when Muharram, and Ashura, will arrive in summer. But not this year. Now we can compare the celebration of the New Years. Muslims in this part of this world have been used to another New Year celebration, that of the Persian New Year, Nauroze. It seems that Muslims have always had to import New Year celebrations, because there is no Islamic tradition of marking its New Year. Perhaps because we havent been able to ram our celebrations of a solar event into New Year celebrations, as has happened with the Christian New Year. The tradition of celebrating at all started because of the winter solstice, which meant the lengthening of days. Since Muslims had a lunar calendar, the year could start at any season, the solstices or the equinoxes, or neither. (Remember, Nauroze marked the start of a solar year.) One thing that amazes me is that on the night of December 31 /January 1, we have a perfect storm of rudeness, rudeness being apparently necessary in any form of celebration. You know, letting of crackers in peoples faces, Indian songs played at the full volume of boom boxes and so on. To prove that we are not really fundamentalists, the same rudeness is on display on Eid Miladun Nabi. I suppose this rudeness is related to the rudeness shown when we have fairs on Eid festivals. Speaking of rudeness, it seems that former Law Minister started Ashura celebrations early this year, with his press conference on Friday, which was something I didnt expect him as lawyer to risk doing. The lawyers of my acquaintance are most particular about being cited for contempt. But the same consideration does not seem to have moved Dr Awan, and he led at the press conference, where he was watched with increasing unease by a bunch of ministers worried, probably, by the prospect of having to face a contempt case. However, so far there has been no contempt case against them, even though the man who was supposed to head the Supreme Courts commission into the memogate scandal, Tariq Khosa, has refused to head it. The Khosa tribe seems to have got something to do with Memogate, what with Punjab Governor Latif Khosa forming a 'save-Pakistan forum, which is actually a 'save-the-President forum. I anxiously wait contributions from Sirdar Zulfiqar Khosa, CMs Adviser and tumandar of tuman Khosa, and of his son Dost Muhammad, the former husband of the missing stage actress Sapna Khan. Whatever role the Khosas might play, I wouldnt have put down Dr Awan as someone who had learned the lessons of Ashura. After all, he was until recently a minister in a government resolute in its support of the USAs War on Terror, even though the PPP has given up two party chiefs in support of the lesson we learn from Ashura, that it is worth it to accept death rather than the disobedience of the Almighty, who conveyed His last message through the grandfather of the Imam. That refusal to accept what is wrong is what marks out the Muslim, and what the War on Terror is against. In fact, the War on Terror has liberated, some years ago, back in 2005, the site of that martyrdom, Karbala. I havent heard, but I suppose the custodians of the shrine are now devoted to protecting the occupation, which allowed them commemorations in the open after the years that Saddam banned them, though that was not why he was hanged. The USA now wants to take its War on Terror to Iran, which is Shia, and which also mourns the Imam every Muharram, though that is not the reason for the American invasion. The invasion is going to take place for defiance, for refusing to accept American dominance, in short, for the sort of reasons why the Imam was killed. That makes us, who have so far helped the USA, what? Are we like the men of Kufa, of whom I have heard it said, 'their hearts were with Hussain, but their swords were with Yazid. They are the most interesting people in the story. They caused the whole tragedy, for if they hadnt invited him, the Imam wouldnt have rebelled. Or perhaps he would have, for he would not have given the bait, which would have saved his and his familys life, though it would have meant accepting something he could not: injustice, the nomination of a son by a father, the introduction of the hereditary principle.