Historic Recurrence: Soleimani Immortalized
By Nour Rida
A favorite theory of mine [is] that no occurrence is sole and solitary, but is merely a repetition of a thing which has happened before, and perhaps often.” Mark twain
The concept of historic recurrence has been applied to the overall of history of the world. Repetitive patterns in history provides what some theorists call the Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence. People, who see things with a worldly or materialistic perspective, simply get on with their lives and hope these appalling trends and conditions will go away. This school of thought believes that history is a human construct.
Conversely, the Graeco-Roman and the biblical tradition contributed to the history of this idea. This historic recurrence concept also exits in Shia belief, with one additional dimension that positivists do not believe in: Metaphysics. To understand Shia thought, one cannot but take the spiritual facet into consideration. In Shia thought, one needs to recognize the direction of world affairs and their connection to Quranic history.
Islam and the Qur'an believe that the process of inner and outer changes should proceed side by side so that man may reconstruct his inner faculties that is his spirit, his thinking, his will and his inclinations. This inner infrastructure should be in complete harmony with the outer superstructure.
Man cannot accept truth and act uprightly so long as a desire for a change for the better does not have a firm hold on his heart and he does not rebuild himself from within. Society cannot be shaped in a befitting manner unless man's heart is replete with human values representing truth. Otherwise any talk of truth will be hollow and meaningless. One of the most important marks of a person’s faith or commitment to religious or ethical values is his readiness to defend that belief with life itself if necessary.
In Shia tradition, Hussein, the Grandson of Islam’s Prophet Mohamad is a martyr par excellence, who was killed to raise the issue of resisting injustice. Martyr, according to Britannica encyclopedia, is one who voluntarily suffers death rather than deny his religion by words or deeds; such action is afforded special, institutionalized recognition in most major religions of the world. The term may also refer to anyone who sacrifices his life or something of great value for the sake of principle.
History recurrence and Ashura
How does this relate to recurrence in history? Hussein is an ideal for the oppressed vs. oppressors, justice vs. injustice, and to defend human values and piety. Ashura marks the martyrdom of Hussein and 72 of his companions in 680 AD in what is known today as the city of Karbala, Iraq. They refused to pledge allegiance to the tyrant ruler of that time, Yazid. The Battle of Karbala between a small group of supporters and relatives of Hussein and a larger military detachment from the forces of the Umayyad caliph represents the war as one between good and evil. Hussein's martyrdom is considered by the Shia community as a symbol of humanity's struggle against injustice, tyranny and oppression. Ashura has, according to Shia though, religious, spiritual, political, cultural, military and epistemological dimensions. This Ashura historical event formed a paradigm shift in Shia tradition and is one of the main pillars of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It does not matter if you are Shia or not, as long as you are oppressed you will be provided support in face of tyranny.
The moral fabric of society began to decay as Yazid ruled with his own interests in mind. Hussein was highly respected within society, and his endorsement would carry great weight. Yazid needed a man like Hussain to follow his rule in order to provide legitimacy to his corrupt government. But Hussain was a man of morals and strived for social justice. Hussain could not sit and endorse Yazid and spoke out against him, despite it being a risk to his life.
Hussein was martyred to preserve Islam and its teachings, and to defend justice and human values. His legacy is invoked as a source of strength when people face insurmountable challenges. The epic of Karbala is ultimately a legacy of resistance against wrong, with a central hero whose sacrifice immortalized him.
On Friday, 3rd of January 2020, US President Trump declared himself standing behind the assassination of head of the Quds Forces, General Qassem Soleimani. In 2015, Candidate Trump confused the Quds Force, an elite Iranian military unit then led by high-profile Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani, with the Kurds, a high-profile ethnic group in the Middle East. Well anyways, it is not the first time he does not seem to know his stuff. Gen. Soleimani had played a major role in defending Iran against its enemies and assisting regional countries fight foreign occupation and terrorism. He gradually became known as an adept commander during the US-backed Saddam Hussein 8-year war against Iran. He gradually became a forefront figure as he assisted regional states and helped fight US-backed terrorist groups a.k.a Daesh. In the recent years, the IRGC commander emerged as a key strategist and ingenious commander leading Iranian military advisers assisting Syrian and Iraqi troops in battles against terrorists.
Thinking he might run away from impeachment or get a full strike on preparing for a stronger presidential campaign, Trump ordered the assassination. Soleimani was killed and Trump turned him more alive than ever; he immortalized him. Iranians poured into the streets like never before; only once seen in the history of Iran when founder of the Islamic Revolution Imam Khomeini passed away. Iranians see Trump as a ‘terrorist in a suit’.
During the Karbala epic, Yazid was the embodiment of evil, as is Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Daesh, American Imperialism, ‘Israeli’ apartheid, African apartheid and the like; the analogy can be drawn here.
Paradigm shift: beginning of US withdrawal
The US rejects to see any form of independence, sovereignty or autonomy in the Middle East, not to mention that it’s all about the oil and economy. In their book Going to Tehran, the Leveretts, former US National Security Council staffers, argue that the Islamic Republic is a powerful, rational actor in the Middle East. In their book, and based on their visits to Iran and first-hand experience, they note that it enjoys political legitimacy internally and is faithful to its constitution and accountable to its people. It is also the main impediment to the United States’ hegemonic dominance in the region. Since the 1979 paradigm shift of the Islamic Revolution, and Iran choosing to be independent and different, US governments have been putting immense pressure on the country; it has broken the norm of accepting colonialism and imperialism and chose to stand up for its values. Since then, the US consecutive governments and through a mainstream narrative has been launching soft and hard wars against Iran.
Trump killed Soleimani, the paradigm shift and a new beginning started. In retaliation for the assassination operation, Iran fired dozens of rockets hitting the two-trillion worth American military base in Iraq of Ain al-Assad. Iran broke the norms, and broke the US army invincibility just like Lebanon’s resistance broke the ‘Israeli’ army’s invincibility in 2000 when it forced the ‘Israeli’ occupation forces to withdraw from Lebanon. Today, Iran vows that the final revenge for the Soleimani will be only one thing: A US total withdrawal from the region.
Just like the martyrdom of Hussein preserved human values and Islam, the martyrdom of Soleimani and all those who believe in resisting oppression, hegemony, tyranny and imperialism will be fruitful.