THE start of every Muslim New Year is the month of Muharram - a month in which the family of the Prophet (PBUH) made the supreme sacrifice of their lives for the sake of truth and justice and so that the true essence and spirituality of Islam could be revived. Here was Imam Hussain A.S. refusing to bow before tyranny and oppression; and instead offering his family's martyrdom for the ideals of Islam. The life of the Prophet's (PBUH) family was already a symbol of sacrifice and simplicity; the martyrdom at Karbala symbolised the utter selflessness and devotion of Imam Hussain A.S., his family and followers who chose death rather than acknowledging a tyrant and his repression. Karbala epitomised the spiritual essence of Islam, and almost fourteen hundred years later, it still awakens a sense of justice and struggle against tyranny amongst us Muslims. Nor did the struggle end at Karbala. In fact, Karbala began the renewal of the fight against tyranny and for the true essence of Islam. This message was carried to the Muslim Ummah by Bibi Zainab A.S. who herself fought the tyrants of the time to carry forward the message of Imam Hussain A.S. bravely and undeterred against all odds. It was Bibi Zainab who defied the murderers of her brother and made the Ummah aware of the sacrifice of Imam Hussain, his family and followers at Karbala. Ironically, as was the case then, the struggle between good and evil pitted the Muslim masses against Muslim tyrants. The barbaric cruelty of the Muslim tyrants at Karabala knew no bounds and today the same boundless cruelty prevails. In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Muslims are killing Muslims. Beyond Pakistan, the Muslim World is more intolerant of each other than of the enemies outside. No wonder then that we are easily exploitable by the West for their agendas - especially post-9/11 when one clear agenda that has emerged in West is to weaken and restructure the Muslim World. The Muslim Ummah continues to watch with despair as its rulers fail to unite and invest in their own capabilities. Today we are devoid of a leader who can heal our cleavages, so that others cannot exploit our differences. While doctrinal cleavages will remain, what one should expect from fellow Muslims is to respect and tolerate each other, so that no Muslim feels fear and persecution from his own kind. After all, almost fourteen hundred years after the noble sacrifice of the Prophet's (PBUH) Family we should be able to learn the spirit and essence of Islam. What better time than the month of Muharram to practise tolerance and reach out to fellow Muslims across the divides. Is it not possible for our Muslim "brothers and sisters" to rid themselves of the frightening hatred that presently consumes them to kill innocent Muslims in a wave of fanatical fury? Karbala should be a living example of sacrifice, of humility, and also of utter defiance of tyranny and subjugation.