By Sondoss Al Asaad

The ninth of April, the martyrdom of the Sadrs

April 10, 2018 - 8:54

BEIRUT - On the 38th martyrdom anniversary of Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir AL Sadr and his sister Sayedah Amina Al-Sadr [Known for Bent Al Huda], on 9 April 1980. Remarkably enough, the same date marks Saddam’s Baathist regime collapse, following the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.

On that day, the U.S. military pulled down a 16-foot statue of the notorious Tyrant Saddam at Baghdad’s Firdaus Square.

Unequivocally, the de-baathification process ended an era of brutality and genocides against thousands of Iraqis and Iranians. Saddam’s unforgettable chemical attacks and his imposed war against Iran from 1980 to 1988, backed by many Western governments claimed about one million lives.

 Who is Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir AL Sadr?

Late Ayatollah Al-Sadr is a thinker, philosopher and religious scholar, his writings and thoughts on how to resist oppression have inspired generations of Shiite and free people around the world. He was born in Kadhimiya, Baghdad, on 1 March 1935.

At the age of two, his father, the scholar Haider Al-Sadr, died. After completing primary school in Kadhimiya, he and his family moved to Najaf in 1945, where he spent the rest of his life. When he was only 13, he joined the Seminary of Islamic Studies [Hawza] and he was an exceptionally gifted student. Then, at the age of 20, Al-Sadr was given the religious title of Mujahid, i.e. a profound scholar. During these years, he published some of his most celebrated works, which remain prominent in many international universities; including, Our philosophy and Our Economy.

In 1957, Ayatollah Al-Sadr and other scholars established the ‘Islamic Da’awa Party’ (IDP). At a time of increasing communist activity, he initiated various educational and enlightenment activities, such as public lectures and social events. He remained fearless and steadfast, continuing his educational programmes and activities.
Ayatollah Al-Sadr realised the Baath regime’s jeopardies, particularly its head Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Likewise, the Baathists also realised his significant impact on the Iraqi people, therefore they start to utilise all possible means to halt Ayatollah Al-Sadr’s activism. They arrested him consecutive times and executed many of his students and colleagues in the seventies.

Ayatollah Al-Sadr famously preached three historical speeches before his execution, which cover many national thematic fields and in which he essentially urges all Iraqi religious sects and ethnicities to unite in the battle for freedom. In these highly significant speeches, Ayatollah Al-Sadr stands firmly against the Baathist oppressive and dictatorial regime. He calls all the Iraqi segments to unite demanding democracy, freedom and the recognition of human rights. He, further, pledges to continue his emphatic opposition against tyranny and totalitarianism, despite the death threats he received from Saddam.

Ayatollah Al-Sadr envisioned a free and democratic Iraq expressing, “I would like to reiterate that this regime that rules the Iraqi people with the force of fire and steel, and which denies their fundamental rights and freedom will not survive.” Socially and politically speaking, in both his writings and speeches, Ayatollah Al-Sadr sought to appeal to all Iraqi factions, regardless of their sects, ethnicities, tribes or whether they are religious or secular without prejudice or distinction. Moreover, he called for holding free and fair elections, “I call the Baathists to give the Iraqis their right to run their affairs through holding free and fair elections, which result in establishing a parliament that truly represents all Iraqis.”

Ayatollah Al-Sadr called the Iraqis; Arabs, Kurds, Shias and Sunnis; to unite against Saddam, arguing that this is the only way to attain freedoms and rights and to reclaim the dignity of their country that had been ravaged by the Baathists. He exposed the fallacy of Saddam who aimed at claiming himself as the Iraqi Sunnis’ leader, saying, “The tyrant Saddam and his followers are trying to persuade our Sunni sons that the struggle is between the Shiite and the Sunnis to deviate the Sunnis away from fighting against our common enemy [dictatorship].”

Ayatollah Al-Sadr believed that it is the responsibility of all Iraqis to struggle for freedom, justice, virtues and honourable governance based on the values and principles of Islam. He addressed the Iraqis:

“Unite your stances and your thoughts under the banner of Islam; for the sake of saving Iraq from the nightmare of this group of tyrants, and for the cause of building a free and dignified Iraq. An Iraq ruled by the justice of Islam and where human dignity and rights are supreme, and where all citizens, from different ethnicities and sects, feel like brothers working together- all of them- in leading their country, rebuilding their nation, and realising their higher Islamic values based on our true message and great history.”

Who is Sayedah Amina Al-Sadr?

In her short life, Sayedah Amina Al-Sadr [Known for Bent Al Huda] has inspired an entire generation of men and women to confront tyranny and oppression. She was born in Kadhimiya, Baghdad in 1937. Her father died during her childhood, and because of her family’s poor circumstances, Sayedah Bent Al Huda was primarily educated at home by her mother, and then later by her brother Ayatollah Al-Sadr.

Sayedah Bent Al Huda’s skills to eloquently articulate the concerns of the masses made her an influential woman in Iraq. At a young age, she developed a talent for reading and writing, which helped her later to play an influential role in the struggle against the Baathists. In 1966, she began prolifically writing in Al-Da’awa magazine, and was one of its main contributors. Sayedah Bent Al Huda wrote various fictional stories, which deal with the social problems that women were facing in Iraq at that era
Sayedah Bent Al Huda was an educationalist, always readily available; to express Iraqi women’s voices and concerns; to solve their problems and to answer a variety of religious questions. In 1967, she helped establish several girls’ schools in Baghdad and Najaf and played a principal role in running them as the headmaster. She is a resolute woman who stood fearlessly against the constant intimidation and abuse of Saddam.

Their Execution

When the Baathists arrested Ayatollah Al-Sadr, his sister Sayedah Bent Al Huda rushed to ‘Imam Ali (PBUH) mosque’, in Najaf and addressed the people, “Why are you silent while your leader has been arrested? Why are you silent while your leader is in prison being tortured? Come out and demonstrate.” These powerful words motivated and encouraged men and women to stand firm and united against tyranny.

Many demonstrations were held, forcing the regime to release Ayatollah Al-Sadr. However, he was placed under house arrest until he was finally arrested on 5 April 1980 with Sayedah Bent Al Huda. On 9 April 1980, three days later after subjecting them to brutal severe torture, they were both executed and buried in the Holy city of Najaf. It is reported that Saddam himself shot them and they were buried in the Wadi as-Salam graveyard in the holy city of Najaf.

Remarkably, when Saddam was asked not to execute Sayedah Bent Al Huda, he replied, “Do you want me to repeat Yazid’s mistake?” Indeed, Ayatollah Sayyed Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr and his sister Sayedah Bent Al Huda persistently confronted the oppression and injustice of their time. In that sense, they are the sincere and vivid imitation of the duo model of Imam Hussein and Lady Zainab (PBU’em).

Yet, Saddam followed his predecessor by giving the Islamic revolutionary movements around the Muslim world a novel example of confronting tyranny. They were both political activists and campaigned on behalf of the Iraqi people, who were affected by the constant struggles of living under the Baathist tyrannical rule. Indeed, Ayatollah al-Sadr and Sayedah Bent Al Huda’s heroic resistance would long echo in the conscious of free people.

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