What is the Road to Karbala?

What is the Road to Karbala?

I wrote this for Stand With Dignity.

Stand With Dignity also produced a few videos in which I spoke about different topics. This is about my trip to Karbala and what Imam Hussain (as) means to me.

The World’s Largest Annual Pilgrimage: For Love of Hussain.

What Is the Road to Karbala?

It is a path of mourning for the wounds are deep and the arrows are plentiful that pierce the flesh of Hussain Ibn Ali and his companions on Ashura. On that day Yazid’s army controlled the battlefield. Hard to call it a battlefield, a massacre, really. What do you call 30,000 soldiers against the bravest 72 people who ever lived or ever will live?

It was Yazid’s day. The day of might. The day of brute force. The day of overwhelming numbers. The day of treachery. The day of deceit. The day of control.

“You will do this because we say!”

That is the cry of every authoritarian despot everywhere. Authority rules. Not truth. Not democracy. Not reason. Not love. Not compassion. The authoritarians use those words and make a mockery of them.  And they fool the masses. They fool the 30,000. But those who are aware know, the minority, the 72. They know.

They know because their heart knows. Their heart knows because they know the grandson of the Prophet (peace be upon him). They know because they have seen the love and beauty that is Imam Hussain (AS). So few. So few really know.  As Hussain told his sister Zainab:

“Falsehood can buy many supporters, but truth has only a few friends.”

But when I walked the road to Karbala in October 2018 I was surrounded by millions. Poor and wealthy alike from around the world, walking to make their visit to the man who opened our eyes to the meaning of justice, of truth, and of sacrifice. They walked mourning, weeping, for Hussain and his family, for their suffering, for their courage, for their commitment to Allah at all costs.

Hussain calls out today to everyone, to Muslims, to me a Christian:

“Hal Min Nasirin Yansurna. Is there anyone to help me?”

Don’t answer lightly, dear mourner of Hussain.

How can I say, “Labbayk Ya Hussain! Here I am Hussain!?”

Do I mean it? Do I mean it, really? Am I really here for Hussain when it means going against the grain, resisting the lies, challenging the powerful, seeking the truth, the real truth?

Honestly, more often than not I don’t really mean it. The cost is too great. I hedge my bet.

Labbayk Ya Hussain! Here I am Hussain! (As long as I don’t have to sacrifice too much).

Here I am Hussain! (As long as it doesn’t take away my comforts).

Here I am Hussain! (As long my life isn’t disrupted by the cry of the suffering).

Here I am Hussain! (As long as I can safely blend in with the crowd).

I mourn for Hussain because I was too late for the battle. I mourn for Hussain because I know I am not like Hussain. I mourn for Hussain because the world is mired in injustice, deceit and cowardice, and I am a part of it. I mourn for Hussain because it is just easier to be on the side of Yazid. I mourn for Hussain because mourning is about all I can do.

What is the road to Karbala?

It is the road, if we let it, to be a road of honesty.

I felt summoned by Hussain when I touched his shrine and I was assisted because I couldn’t quite reach it. A hand took my hand and put it against the grate amidst the surging crowd. It was a moment of unity. A Christian from America welcomed. Hussain is for everyone. I felt summoned by Hussain to seek what is true and just. I felt confident that I could. But following Hussain is not an easy road.

Two years have passed since I made the ziyarat to Imam Hussain (AS). The world has changed dramatically in these two years. It feels as if we are under a spell. Something is very, very wrong and we don’t seem to know what it is. We are being deceived by the powers of this world as Yazid’s army was deceived.

What is the road to Karbala?

It is the road of awakening. It is the road of the free man and the free woman. It is the road of hope for humanity when the odds are so against it all seems lost. Hussain showed the world what it means to be a true, free human being when the world was at its darkest.

“Labbayk Ya Hussain!” is not really about us and what we think we can do. We are too late. But we are bearing witness to a promise. We are bearing witness to the revealing of Imam Mahdi and the return of the Prophet Jesus. It is a matter of faith. We are summoned to trust that Allah has not given up on us.

That may be the hardest task of all—to hope for humanity when humanity is under attack. Perhaps that is what Hussain may be asking of us now. To keep hope alive.  Hussain wasn’t defeated at Karbala. He was victorious. Yazid won this world with its deceptions and corruption. Hussain won the world to come with freedom and truth for humanity under the compassionate, watchful eye of Allah.

This world to come is coming soon, inshallah.

John Shuck, a Christian pastor, attended Arbaeen in 2018 thanks to the sponsorship of the Husayniah Society of Seattle and Sister Zahra Abidi. John and his partner, Josh Townsley, made a film about the visit called “For Love of Hussain (AS)” available on YouTube.

Cruelty and Hope

Cruelty and Hope

The cruelty. That is what is destroying my soul. The cruelty. The clincher for me that COVID was a psychological operation was when they cancelled March Madness. The students were so excited about the tournament. The ETSU (East Tennessee State University) Bucs finished their best season in decades, perhaps ever, and the news simply announced that the tournament was over. They attacked the young people first. I saw the meanness in that and knew intuitively that this was Satan’s work. The cruelty has abounded since then.

It is more than simply destroying humanity or turning us into robots or reducing the population; it is the excessive amount of cruelty by which it is done that destroys my hope. Oh I weep. God, how I weep. Why? If there is a God, why? I remember as a kid being taught by another kid a few years older than me how to make ants fight to the death. I did it once. The same kid liked to take a magnifying glass and fry them in the sun. What made this fun? He was just a kid. So was I. I think on that and realize that we are nothing more in the minds of our conquerors. We are but ants to them.

I can’t fight this anymore. I have lost all hope. I will be judged for that if there is a judge. Judged for giving up—for abandoning hope. I doubt now that there is a righteous judge. I am thinking that the universe, existence itself, is a cruel joke run by evil. Sometimes I hold out hope that there is Good beyond it, but I am losing that hope daily.

My heroes, my friends, my “conspiracy theorist” pals who take the abuse each day for posting what they see happening to us, keep at it through varying degrees of personal despair. If we can just post the right meme. If we can just dismantle one lie in the delusion. If we can make people see some of the falsehood, even just a little bit, people will awaken. We keep at it. Meanwhile, people cannot awaken because they cannot believe that such cruelty exists. They cannot imagine that those they have been conditioned to trust are so evil. So cruel. The longer it goes on, the more people fear, and the more they trust their authorities, and the more they hate those who challenge that illusion of security provided by these authorities.

In all the movies (ie. Matrix, The Hunger Games), the good people win. But who made the movies? The evil Satanists made the movies. All of this is a movie. It is their movie. They are playing us even through that. They are so far ahead of us, like the consciousness of a human vs. the consciousness of an ant, that even hope, even God in every religion and the Good in every philosophy and practice, is their creation. It is cruelty all the way up and all the way down. Even Goodness is an illusion. There is no pure heart. We are all made in Cruelty’s image. It isn’t that Evil is a distortion of Good, but Good is a distortion of Evil. Not a distortion, really, just a cipher, a rube, a program, in the cruel, sick game.

Is that blasphemy? Am I saying too much? Is there anything worthy of hope? Do I have it wrong?

My friends are fighting. They are warriors. They are not giving up. They fight in the belief that Good can defeat this Evil before total enslavement. The last thing I want to do is to discourage that spirit. That fight is the last remnant of our soul. But I have to ask if we are doing anything more than playing their game?

Maybe. Maybe we are doing something. The USS Liberty did not sink. Israel and the Traitor in Chief, LBJ, tried their best to sink the USS Liberty on June 8th, 1967, but the last torpedo fired that should have sunk it hit a beam in the ship and did not break it in two. The USS Liberty did not sink and its survivors tell her story to this day. That is a sign of hope for me. If Divine Intervention, the Good, saved the Liberty, was it saved for nothing? I meditate on that and I hope yet.

In October 2018, I learned the story of Imam Hussain (as), Hussain Ibn Ali, and his courageous stand against Yazid. I don’t know how that all worked out that I would visit his shrine in Karbala, Iraq. I don’t know what it means that the moment I was about to touch the shrine and I couldn’t reach it, to be assisted, to have my hand pushed against the grate and to look into the eyes of the person who did it. I don’t know what that means. I just know it happened and I felt a summons to speak what I thought was true. Was it a Divine sign? Maybe I am just being played. But I hope yet.

Hope is thin. So thin it rests on a razor’s edge. Hope is so thin that I lose it in the fog. Cruelty is thick. It is a dense fog that covers all. It grows thicker each day. We have no time left. The Cruel plan is unfolding faster and faster. It won’t be long, a few months, a few years on the outside before we are all transformed into an artificial existence. Our humanity is being stripped away from us. It has begun with the masking, the walking in rows, the distancing, the isolating, the destruction of our societies, divide and conquer, but more than that, the inability of the many to see what is happening before their eyes.

How can others not see what I see? It is so difficult to fathom that everyone from former church members to family members to the most aware people I thought I knew not to see that this is all terribly, terribly wrong. Such is the deception. Such is the cruelty. Such is the thickness of illusion. We are under a spell. Can it be broken?

I don’t know. In this thick fog, I still clutch the thin hope that if I can tell my truth at all, then it is not over. Not yet.

We are human.
We are not sick.
We are not diseased.
We are not contagious.
We are being deceived.
Awaken.
Breathe.

Amen.

Stand on Your Feet: A Sermon for Palm Sunday

LISTEN HERE

WATCH HERE

Hello my friends. My name is John Shuck.
My website is http://www.johnshuck.com

I am a Presbyterian Church (USA) minister and I have been one for 27 years having served four different congregations. I parted ways with my last congregation in November 2019. I don’t need to go into that, except that my awareness of spirituality and the human condition has expanded, at least how I see it. I am on my own and the irony is that while I have been on my sabbatical trying to determine what comes next, the apocalypse hit and the government has shut down the churches.

We are in uncharted territory as a human species. These are in a very real sense, the last days. I will get to that.

I should offer a disclaimer. Even though I am a Christian minister, I am not an orthodox Christian. I take a wide variety of viewpoints and synthesize them in my own way. And I change my mind on things as I learn and experience new things. You will find things to like and things to dislike. Take what is true for you, leave the rest. It is all good with me.

Before I begin my quote “sermon” endquote, I want to be clear that there is no such thing as “virtual” church. It is not a thing. What we call church in English comes from the Greek word, ekklesia, which means congregation or assembly. It is actual flesh and blood people gathering together to share the Gospel, to heal, to pray, to break bread, to worship. Virtual church is fake. These virtual sermons and virtual worship experiences that are being offered are not real. I am not saying they is not valuable, but it is not church. Calling it “virtual” church is an attempt to make you feel better about your imprisonment, your banishment, your punishment, your isolation, your hell.

From my perspective, hell should be called hell, and loss should be recognized for what it is, loss. Even as I may call this a “sermon”, it is not a sermon. A sermon requires a congregation, an ekklesia, an assembly, of flesh and blood people. This is a screen show. But it is what it is. It is the best I have for you today. I say this so we do not forget and are not fooled and lulled to into accepting that this assault on humanity, this attack on the people of Earth is not as horrific as it is. This is not OK. This is not right. This is evil.

Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

More on that to come. Today is Palm Sunday. It is also Passion Sunday. Palm/Passion Sunday. Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey to shouts of Hosannas.

Here is the text:

Matthew 21:1-11

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
‘Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’

Two Christian scholars who have helped me appreciate Palm Sunday and Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem at Passover are John Dominic Crossan and the late Marcus Borg. They wrote a book together called “The Last Week” explaining the last week of Jesus’s life according to the Gospel of Mark within the matrix as Crossan calls it of Roman Imperial Theology.

This parade of Jesus is a demonstration. Scholars debate as to whether this is historical or parable, and I think it is probably some kind of combination, but what is real in all of this is the matrix for this spiritual story. The matrix is occupation by the Romans and the Jewish leaders over the people and everything that goes with it. As Dr. Crossan has said, you cannot talk about Martin Luther King and not talk about slavery and Jim Crow and lynchings, that is the entire matrix from which King arose, preached, and led a movement. You can’t talk about Jesus and not talk about Roman Imperial Theology and the Second Temple Theology which worked hand in hand to oppress the people of Palestine.

What is happening when Jesus enters Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, that is from the east, on the other side is a military parade from the west. They are showing their stuff. Roman soldiers on war horses. They have a job to do. This is Passover. This is the time of revolt. Passover is about after all, liberation from slavery and oppression. It is a hotbed of revolution and resistance. The Roman soldiers are marching in a loud and visible parade with everything they got. They are planting crosses in front of the gates to the city. Swords, arrows, soldiers everywhere. They will be needing to crucify people to show who is boss. That is what occupation means. Humiliation and control. They call it order. Occupation is the same then as it is today. Of course, the means, the weapons, are far more deadly today.

The parade of Jesus is a counter-parade. The people shouting Hosannas to Jesus are the people. These are people who have lost their land, their livelihoods, their lives to these oppressors who have taken over. They are the people who know the oppression of Rome and the Jewish Temple priests, Pharisees, scribes, and tax collectors who collaborate with their Roman masters. These people are considered non-essential. These people see in Jesus a way out. Freedom. Liberation. Dignity.

What they do not see in Jesus is what according to the gospels, Jesus saw. Jesus saw that he was going to be crushed by this oppression. He would die. He saw that his dying would do something for the future.

That future might be right now. Jesus taught by word and example that dying on your feet is better than living on your knees. Another person showed the world that same truth several hundred years later, Hussain Ibn Ali, in Karbala.

Now Christians and Muslims are going to disagree over the martyrdom of Jesus. According to the Qur’an, Jesus did not die but was taken to heaven. The Jews crucified Judas thinking it was Jesus. I have deep respect for that revelation and for the people who hold it. My mind may be changed. For now, my conscience sees Jesus as a martyr. That is where I am.

Christians and Muslims will see things differently probably until Jesus (peace be upon him) and Imam Mahdi (peace be upon him) reveal themselves, establish justice and straighten us all out. I hope that time comes soon. When that time comes, I will likely be shown that I had a lot of things wrong. I will face the judgment of the beneficent and compassionate God that judges in truth.

Assuming that Jesus did die on a cross as the Gospels say, for what? Why? What does that mean? Or what does the death of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) mean? What does it mean for us today in what I see as the beginning of the end of life as we know it?

On Palm Sunday we also hear the passion story, the story of Jesus’s execution. I am not going to read that today. You can find it in Matthew 27:11-54. It tells of the fake trial, Jesus’s crucifixion and the punchline after Jesus breathes his last, and there is an earthquake, a Roman soldier, a centurion exclaims:

“Truly this man was God’s Son!”

I do want to say something about what I think the designation, “God’s son” means and doesn’t mean. I think that Christianity probably made a wrong turn by saying that Jesus was different in kind from other human beings. He was different in degree, but not kind, as I see it.

The phrase Son of God was used by what came to be orthodox Christianity to say that Jesus was God. But the phrase “son of God” or “God’s son,” is an honorific title that means chosen one or prophet, someone selected to do a task. Prophet David or Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon them) could be called the same.

I see Jesus (peace be upon him) as a prophet chosen for a task. What is that task? I think Jesus showed us where we came from, what the problem is, and our way out.

I should say another thing. I am not an orthodox Christian or an orthodox Muslim or an orthodox anything. I am independent. I think what I think, change my mind as needed, and you can take what you think is true and reject what you don’t think is true. I am simply following my conscience.

Christian orthodoxy has considered the incarnation of Jesus, the divine Jesus incarnated into human flesh as unique to Jesus. I see it differently. I see Jesus as an example for everyone. I recommend reading David Icke regarding this. According to David Icke, we are infinite consciousness choosing to have a finite experience on earth. Like Jesus who was equal with God says Philippians chapter 2, but emptied himself (kenosis) and had an earthly experience. Here is that text:

Philippians 2:5-8:
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

The difference between Jesus and the rest of us is that Jesus didn’t forget who he was when he emptied himself and became flesh. We forgot. We only see this world, the world of our senses, unless of course our consciousness has been ignited. The reason we forgot is because forces of evil have filled us with illusion and deception, telling us that this is all there is.

I find the Gnostics to be very helpful with this. The Nag Hammadi library, found in the 20th century after having been hidden for 16 hundred years is a treasure of esoteric thought about Jesus and the human condition. The Gospel of Thomas, which consists of sayings of Jesus, many of which are quite unlike sayings of Jesus in the other gospels, is helpful here, in regard to Jesus’s ultimate mission. As I put this together, Jesus is like an avatar. He chose to become human but never forgot that he was infinite consciousness. So are you. So am I. What Jesus and all the prophets and other intuitive insightful people have done is to ignite the spark of awareness in humanity. Awareness of who we really are. With that awareness comes freedom.

Humanity has become a prisoner. We are prisoners of this material realm, prisoners of our senses, and afraid of death. If you don’t think humans are afraid of death, then ask yourself how three billion of us have given up our societies and our rights and our dignity within a few short weeks because we are afraid of some so-called virus. The virus is fear. That is what the real virus is. The virus is the deception by which the rulers of this age, the powers of darkness, are enslaving us.

We are going to be fully enslaved very soon. I don’t know if we will be enslaved for centuries or whether we can, with God’s help, beat this. This is what I wrote on my Facebook page a couple of days ago.

“Life in America (and around the world) is ending as we have known it. It may seem to come back partially, for a short time. Then it will plunge into slavery. The vast majority will accept this enslavement thinking that the governments are protecting them. This enslavement could last for decades, maybe for centuries. Do I know that? No, I expect it. What do we do? You must accept that you are not your body. You are not your thoughts and perceptions. You are not your emotions. You will die and this experience will end. The real you will not end. The most important thing is spiritual grounding. This is a long battle. It is not against flesh and blood but principalities and powers and the rulers of this present darkness. It is not your job to worry whether or not people will wake up in time or whatever. It is each of our jobs to live this day and bear witness.”

We are to bear witness. That is what Jesus did. Others have as well. They spoke their truth and spoke it clearly and were killed for it. They knew that would happen. They did it because it was a way to communicate to future generations, perhaps to this present day that we must not fear death. When we do not fear death, when we live each day prepared to die, we can think more clearly about what is happening. Jesus sacrificed himself for that. We shouldn’t waste it.

What does the Gospel story of Jesus, particularly, the parade and the passion we are contemplating this week, have to do with our situation?

First of all, something isn’t right. We need to know who we are engaging. I think that this entire thing is a Problem-Reaction-Solution as David Icke calls it. All kinds of bad things are coming with a so-called pandemic as an excuse. We need to research this and expand our consciousness regarding what is happening. We may get out of lockdown. We may not. Even if we do, life will not be the same. We have allowed our governments (ultimately, those who control them) to have complete control over us. Those forces who control our governments are evil. They have been plotting our demise. Search out guides that have been proven to be trustworthy to you. David Icke is a person who I have found to be that. He is not at all surprised at what is happening. First, know what we are facing. Do the work.

Second, we need to be courageous and speak about what we know to be true and not allow others to bully us with their fear. The view by the established media and all the authorities do not allow for any other view except theirs. That view is, “Shut up and do what you are told.” Instead, we follow in the spirit of Jesus. We say what we see. We disobey when necessary, and face the consequences of that. I am thanking the citizen journalists, and citizen scientists, and citizen truth-tellers and asking you to keep going. This is called bearing witness.

Third, we need to know and be prepared that bearing witness could lead to sacrifice. Each day we must live as those who are prepared to die and know that when we die, we die as those who go forth to live. That is our spiritual bedrock. Do whatever practice you need to do, prayer, meditation, spiritual reading, spiritual writing, whatever, to reinforce that. Upon it we can do what we must.

Finally, we must trust that which is worthy of trust. Worrying over whether the world will awaken or trying to calculate how God will defeat evil is not our job. God is using us. As I understand it, God is saying, bear witness to what is true, to what is just, to what is real. Trust that you will know what you need to do when you need to know.

Godspeed, my friends.
And God bless.

I am John Shuck. My website is http://www.johnshuck.com
Find my videos at “What’s Real?” on Brighteon.

Be well. Be safe. Be attentive.

For Love of Hussain (A.S.) Now On-Line!

Contact John Shuck for an interview about this ground-breaking film!

The film has been released on YouTube and as of this writing has already received over 8,000 views since it was posted on Monday. “For the Love of Hussain (A.S.)” recounts the reflections and experiences of a Christian Pastor from America on the fifty-mile walk from Najaf to Karbala, Iraq for Arbaeen in October 2018.

Arbaeen is the largest yearly peaceful gathering on Earth. Officials estimate the number of people entering Karbala over a two-week period over fifteen million.

Yes. You read that correctly. Fifteen million. Other estimates are even higher. By comparison, the Hajj, receives three million visitors each year. Arbaeen has no central organization but has self-organized spontaneously after the fall of Saddam as visitors walk to visit the shrines of Hussain and Abbas in commemoration of their martyrdom in the Battle of Karbala 1400 years ago.

What they are saying about the film:

Miriam Fatima — ‘Unity is what this world need b4 its too late… We All together can Stand up against oppression like Imam Hussian a.s.. Stand For Truth’

S Jafry — ‘May God reward you with His best Mercy and expand your ability to continue to seek, recognize and stand for truth, justice and freedom. Beautifully captured especially shared mission of Jesus and Hussain.’

Syed Bokari — ‘Very inspiring, truly amazing and wonderful to see Muslims and Non-Muslims coming together through the love for Imam Hussain. God Bless the Pastor and his team for bringing the visit to the world. Mashallah.’

Moshin Raza — ‘Amazing well done…thanks for spreading this message of peace. Karbala is the only place in world where any person from any religion can attend this peaceful gathering for love of Hussain and witness humanity where everyone is treated equally and that is message of Imam Hussain a.s’

Farah Shariff Haji — ‘So beautiful! ♥️🙏🏼 Thank you for sharing it. Labaik Ya Hussain!’

Imaan Designs — ‘Thank YOU for awesome storytelling – the genuineness of feeling shone through!’

Princess Jenny — ‘I watched it was really wonderful thanks for your efforts and wish you success in your work always.’ 💖 💞

Ihsan Al-Saidi — ‘Thank you for sharing. Could not stop crying. Labayk ya Hussein.’

Rob Solomon — ‘Nicely done … well presented. The walk of Peace is thrilling. Simply thrilling.’

Ge Sada — ‘Actually I enjoyed every single minute of the documentary with my family. Your comments are really touching and brought tears to our eyes many times … Now I have what I’ve always needed when someone else, when a foreigner asks about Imam Hussain.’

The trip to Iraq for John Shuck and Josh Townsley was sponsored by the Husayniah Islamic Society of Seattle. This is what they said about the project:

‘Alhamdulilah! a short documentary, For love of Husayn, has been released. Pastor John Shuck and cameraman Josh Townsley were invited to make the 3 day Arbaeen trip from Najaf to Karbala in Iraq by Husayniah Islamic Society of Seattle in 2018. Husayniah sponsored the entire trip but did not interfere in the production of the film at all. The film is therefore an independent review of the amazing Karbala walk by these two Christian pilgrims. Husayniah plans to send Non-Muslims and Sunni Muslims as pilgrims to Karbala every year to witness this miracle. We ask the pilgrims for nothing in return but to help us spread Imam Husayn’s message of Love, Peace and Justice.’

While in Iraq, Townsley and Shuck were interviewed by the Iraqi Media NetworkShabir TV, and The Imam Hussein Shrine. After the walk, Shuck was interviewed by Peter Wong of the Beaverton Valley Times.

Both Shuck and Townsley are available for interviews and for venues to share their film and their experiences. 

Contact John Shuck via e-mail.

John Shuck is the pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church in Beaverton. Josh Townsley is executive director of Evergreen Habitat for Humanity in Clark County, Washington. 


Husayn Means Beauty: The Attraction of the Seventh Century Martyr (ENCORE)

Scholars and religious leaders explore the impact of Husayn and the devotion of the 15-20 million pilgrims who visit his shrine each year. Part 1 of 2.

This is a rebroadcast of an episode that originally aired in May 2018.

I will be attending the pilgrimage to Arbaeen from Najaf to Karbala, Iraq, at the end of October, with a Maulana Mohammad Baig, courtesy of the Husayniah Islamic Society of Seattle.

 On April 28th 2018, The Husayniah Islamic Society of Seattle and Global Initiatives co-sponsored an interfaith educational event called Husayn Day.  The event was a reflection upon Husayn, the martyred grandson of the Prophet Mohammad. Rather than bow to his oppressors, he, along with 72 family members were killed in Karbala, Iraq in 680 CE. He is considered a martyr for justice, truth, love, and resistance. He is a leading figure in Shia Islam and his death is mourned each year by between 15 and 20 million pilgrims who visit his shrine during the forty-day period of mourning from Ashura to Arbaeen.

In the next two episodes, you will hear speeches from the presenters on Husayn and the yearly pilgrimage to his shrine. The presenters include, Dr. John Morrow, Sister Nicole Correri, Sheikh Fadhel Al-Salani, Sheik Ahmed Bahriny, Maulana Mohammad Baig, and me, John Shuck.

The West is largely ignorant about Islam and, in particular, Shia Islam and the person of Hussain. Twenty million people visit his shrine each other. This the largest annual gathering of human beings on planet Earth. Yet, Western media ignores it. According to an article in the Huffington Post by Sayed Mahdi al-Modarresi, “World’s Biggest Pilgrimage Now Underway, And Why You’ve Never Heard of it!” 

Why you have never heard of it probably has to do with the fact that the press is concerned more with negative, gory, and sensationalized tabloids, than with positive, inspiring narratives, particularly when it comes to Islam.

You will hear about it on Progressive Spirit.

In this first episode you will hear from Dr. John Morrow, full professor, author, senior research scholar, public speaker and activist. He is author of a number of numerous articles and books including The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World. Dr. Morrow provided a stirring poetic spiritual biography of Husayn.

You will also hear from Sister Nicole Correri. She is the preeminent female Shia speaker in North America. She will begin a Ph. D. program at Boston University in the Fall.  Sr. Correri told the importance of Zainab, Husayn’s sister, and described her experience attending Arbaeen.

Video of the entire conference.

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