In the Name of Allah
WHO IS IMAM HUSAIN?
Imam Husain's life and status in the Islamic history are formidable. Indeed, it is not of obscurity but because of the vitality and the significance. Of his contributions. The following account is only a very brief record of his qualities.
He was one of two sons of imam Ali and Fatimah, the daughter. of the Prophet (p.b.u.t.). His father, imam Ali, needs no introduction. The least known of him as to be acknowledged by the far and near and by his foes and admirers. He was openly declared by the Prophet as the Commander of the faithfulls. Needless to mention his knowledge, bravery, steadfastness, brotherhood to the Prophet, justice and piety.
Fatimah was the dearest daughter to her father (p.b.u.t.). AI-Turmudhi narrated through Usamah ibn Zaid that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.a.h.f.) said " The dearest member of my family to me is Fatimah". She was declared by the Prophet as the master of all women in the whole world. She and her husband were members of the family who were signified for their qualities and roles. They are examples of interest to Muslims, men and women. Their role was an extension of the Prophet's role in the sense of leading the great cultural transformation from the darkness of an infidel's culture to the brightness of heavenly light.
Historians recorded the birth of Imam Husain as an exciting event for the Muslims at Madina and especially to the Prophet of God. He was even concerned with the name given to his grandson. "Husain'. And the news flared up in the sky, the Muslims congratulated each other for the new child whom the Prophet considered as his own son. Thus the Prophet once declared, "Husain is of myself and 1 am of Husain. 0, God be pleased with those who please Husain". This statement was not accidental or the result of emotional strains as it is wrongly claimed sometimes. This declaration came #0m~ a responsible wise leader, the Prophet of God who would never commit a mistake during the performance of his Prophetic task. He was delivering the Islamic Message and informing people of those who will act as springs and guardians for this Message in the future. Emotions and sentiments are not loose in a Muslim's life, but are controlled by Islamic concepts and ideals.
There is always a criterion for like and dislike which evolves from the deeply rooted Islamic concepts. Although Abu Lahab was the Uncle of the Prophet, his infidelity made him cursed till the Day of Judgement.
The Prophet of God made another statement which leaves no doubt of imam Hasan's and Husain's role. He (p.b.u.h.a.h.f,) said "Hasan and Husain are the masters of youth in Paradise. This was presented as a credential to the Muslim nation in order to hold firm to their leaders.
At a certain time the Muslims at Madina felt the Islamic Message's glory and good results. So that they intended to reward the Prophet for his effort in guiding them. The gift they presented to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.a.h.f.) was some gold which they had collected. .The Prophets answer came in the following verses which were revealed during this incident. "Say: 'No reward do 1 ask of you for this except being kind to those of kin" (23/42). AI-Kashaaf narrated that when this verse was revealed, people asked the Prophet "O Prophet of God, who are these of kin which this verse makes their respect obligatory upon us?" The Prophet answered, "They are Ali, Fatimah, and their two sons". However, this did not imply disrespect for other Muslims, companions or the rest of kin to him. Looking objectively at the message of the verse it will indicate first of all reluctance to accept material reward. If a reward was not suitable then it cannot be restricted to material only. Hence, the verse was indicating respect to some specific people, not because they are his relatives as such. But the real reason behind this respect was to safeguard the Islamic Message.
The role they assumed to play in the Islamic history required such respect in order to enable them to perform their task.
Al-Hakim narrated through Abu Saaid AI-Khidri that the Prophet said, "He who dislikes us, we the family, God will place him in Hell". This implies those who dislike Islamic conduct and life.
Jabir narrated that the Prophet in his speech after performing the fast pilgrimage, said, "O people 1 am leaving the book of God-and my family (Atrah) for guidance. If you hold fast to them, surely you will never go astray". This Hadith was narrated through some twenty different sources of trusted chains of narrators. Muslim in his Sahih quoted some of them.
Another striking Hadith obtained through Abu Dhar where he quote the Prophet saying, "O people, let my family act as a head of a body of you, and as eyes of a head among you."
The last few Hadiths are impressive in many respects. First they were narrated by different sources of different inclinations which add to them extra weight. Secondly the same content of all indicates the consistency of the event.
Imam Husain as already stated, was one member of the family of the Prophet. He was brought up in the Prophetic guidance where he received the direct concern of the Prophet. The ideal. atmosphere where he had grown up with his grandfather, father, mother and elder brother was the highest level ever attained.
Thus he acquired wisdom, generosity, bravery, piety and letters. He occupied outstanding posts during his father's reign in the Islamic State;. During the terror and corruption which swept the Muslim World at the hands of the Umayads, he was the sole hope of: the Muslims to restore the establishment of the Islamic laws which would bring them prosperity, peace and happiness of the two worlds. He never failed the Muslims, but acted as expected of a great ideological leader and discharged his duty to the best.
Who was Yazid?
Yazid was the son of Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan, from the family of Umayyah, one of Quraish's families. Abu Sufyan was acting as the chief adversary in the infidel's campaign against Islam. Muawiya's mother, Hind, ate the liver of Hamza, the Uncle of the Prophet because of her burning hatred and beasthood. Muawiya too was an active opponent to Islam. Indeed, Abu Sufyan's family was performing the' strategic, financial and boosting morale in the infidel's campaign against the Muslims. Their efforts, wealth and diplomacy were of great burden on preventing the spread of Islam among Arab tribes.
Time had lapsed and Mecca was suddenly besieged with enormous forces of the Muslims. The unbelievers at Mecca were struck with seeing the Muslim fighters who had caught them unprepared. Thus, the infidels had no choice but to abandon their arrogance which had prevented them from accepting God's sovereignty. During this incident, historians recorded some peculiar stories about Abu Sofyan's family. However, there is one thing certain that they accepted Islam unwillingly, and they were treated in a special way for that..
For instance, they were given extra donations in order to gain their hearts towards Islam. But whether this generosity had any influence to produce a change in their materialistic thinking is a different matter. Indeed subsequent events revealed no change in their way of thinking and life.
Yazid was brought up in a family whose atmosphere was electrified with emotions of its dead who fought Islam. Besides seeing those Muslims who killed them receiving full honour and respect by the whole society. Not to mention the wasted wealth injured pride and stripped privileges of their family.
However, Yazid had some unique qualities in the adverse sense. He was known as a playboy during his youth. Historians recorded him being drunk, committing adultery and in general leading a very corrupt life. Some even quoted Yazid saying, "The family of Hashim staged a play to get a Kingdom. Actually there was neither news from God nor a revelation". Even if we discarded this extreme, there is no escape from facing the rest of his shameful deeds and horrifying crimes. Not to mention his illegal claim to rule the Muslim World, or misusing Muslims' money, or intrusion upon peoples' dignity and lives.
The Revolution's CausesThe motives for revolution were numerous. Some were direct grievances of the general people while others were ideological. The following were the most apparent:-
1. There were many defects and drawbacks but the most urgent one was the attempt to distort Islamic concepts and ideals. This aspect was of extreme importance and preoccupied the minds of responsible Muslims at the time. The fabrication of Hadith was all too common, which had apoisonous effect on the lives of Muslims. This, was giving the Umayyads for a while a free hand to carry out their inhuman deeds and policies. The mask of religion which they used to hide their un-Islamic conduct was extremely dangerous. In the long run, this could have changed Islamic concepts of ruling and inverted social ideals. Thus stripping off this mask and exposing the true Umayad's picture was of utmost necessity.
2. The State's structure was built on an un-Islamic basis. Quraish was born to rule, Arabs were second class citizens, and non-Arabs constituted the base of the society's pyramid. That was the general social picture of, the Muslim world under the Umayyads dynasty. Freedom of thought and expression were denied, When one dared to express an opinion contrary to that of the Umayyad's, prison became his home, his property was robbed, and oven his life was at stake.
3. The Umayyads considered the Muslim world to be their own property. The aims (Zakat) and other Islamic dues were collected, but no-one knows or can question where that money went. Large gifts and donations were given to few cruel governors and tribal chiefs in order to secure their allegiance. Large sums of money were wastefully spent on racing, gambling, wine-making, and buying slave women to entertain high-class people in power. Hence, the majority of Muslims were left near starvation level while the ruling group all enjoyed the social and material privileges.
4. The Muslims had apparently got used to the un-Islamic rule of the Umayyads as time passed by. Their resistance slackened and some people began adjusting themselves to the new conditions. Hence, the revolutionary spirit of Islam began to disappear gradually from Muslims' lives and thoughts. Therefore, a new stimulant to their souls was necessary to activate their lives and try to restore, Islamic conduct to the society.
The Revolution's ProcedureImam Husain made no doubt of his intentions to fight the regime of the Umayyads. The speeches he delivered at Mecca were consistent. Besides, the will which he entrusted to his brother Muhammad ibn AI-Hanafia who remained at Madina. That will, in fact, was a formal declaration of the revolution. He (p.b.u.h.). wrote "I am not campaigning for unwillingness to accept righteousness, or having intent to do mischief and suppress people. Indeed, 1 have decided to reform my grandfather's nation. 1 want to enjoin what is right and forbid dishonour. People who accept my call for being right, then God is the Master of righteous people. Those who reject my call, then 1 shall be steadfast till God passes H is Judgement. Indeed, God is the best Judge".
During his travels to Karbala, he never ceased calling people to strive for the Islamic ideals of social justice and government, and to wage war against deviation from Islamic conduct.
In his speech (p.b.u. h) at Karbala, he quoted the Prophet (p.b.u.a.h.f.) saying "He who sees a cruel governor violating God ' s law, breaking his covenant, acting in contrast to the Tradition of the Prophet, mischievous and suppressing people, then he does not try to change that ruler by action or speech; indeed God has promised with an appropriate place in Hell. "O people those Umayyad's have pledged allegiance to the Devil and left God's obedience. They have spread corruption, suspended the application of Islamic laws and taken to themselves Muslims' wealth. Besides forbidding what is permitted and allowing what is forbidden."
Imam Husain's speeches were aiming directly at stripping the religious mask of the Umayyad's regime. He was. introducing himself to people and explaining his message to the nation. Indeed, the personality of Imam Husain and his religious reputation was beyond question or doubt. Therefore, no wonder of carrying ouch a great task while many distinguished people were not ready to raise a finger.
Any objective study of this great revolution will show that something unique about its procedure and results. The leader predicts his own death before even setting a foot in the march! But, he goes on carrying out all necessary preparations for his campaign. Imam Husain's address to the people at Mecca was this: "O people, as if my body be cut to pieces by spears and wolves between AI-Nawawees and Karbala.
There is no question of the day which was already written. God's satisfaction is our aim, we the family of the Prophet".
The way Imam Husain and his Companions fought was a glorious record of bravery and nobility. They were only seventy fighting men against thousands of the Umayyad's Army. Even with this imbalance of fighting power, the Umayyad's Army used the most vicious and ignoble methods in fighting this tiny camp. The Umayyad's Army went to the extent of preventing them drinking water and kept them for three days tortured in the burning heat of the desert. But, the firm faith of Imam Husain and his followers in their cause was never shaken. Thus they set an ever-shining torch of Jihad against deviation from Islamic conduct and smashed the myth of the Umayyad's of keeping allegiance to deviated regimes.
The Revolution's ResultsWhat had Imam Husain's revolution meant in history? Some people who are not familiar with its motives, innocently. inquire about its results. Others have even questioned its wisdom that striking at a mighty force like the Umayyad's was fatal.
Although the revolution's motives were already discussed, but a brief review of the changes in the Muslim World after Imam Husain's revolution is appropriate at this stage.
1. Murdering Imam Husain (p.b.u.h.) the grandson of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.a..h.f.) was a great shock to the whole Muslim world. This is not to mention the way he was murdered or the treatment given to his family who had the highest esteem and respect of all Muslims Consequently, all Muslims dissociated themselves from the Umayyad's deeds and policies. Indeed, who want to share in the certain curse upon those who murdered the family of the Prophet? Thus, this revolution had done the task of unveiling the Umayyad's un-Islamic character to the general public and left no doubt in any person's heart about the Umayyad"s substance. Therefore, the concepts which the Umayyad's were propagating in order to distort the ideals of Islam found no listening ear any longer. Hence, diverting the Umayyad's mischief of changing Islamic concepts and ideals.
2. Imam Husain's revolution set a, lively example as to the duty of Muslims in such conditions.. It had deeply penetrated peoples' hearts, and produced great pains for not doing their Islamic duty. This feeling which pained people all the time transformed into repentance and then to an open revolt against the Umayyad"s regime. Thus, the revolution provided the stimulant to move their spirit and set it in a dynamic movement. Indeed, the Islamic movement was put to a new gear throughout the rest of the Islamic history. A series of revolutions manifesting Imam Husain's revolutionary spirit and reforms emerged at successive intervals. Twabeen's revolution took place immediately after Karbala's tragedy. Another revolution at Madina was aiming at doing away with the Umayyad's deviated regime Al-Mukhtar Al-Thaqafi led another revolution which stormed the Umayyad's regime in Iraq. He was able to punish all principal collaborators in the campaign against Imam Husain in Iraq. Mitraf ibn Al-Mughira's revolution against Hajjaj and Abdul Malik was another result. However, there were a chain of revolutions in all parts of the Muslim world which eventually had done away with the Umayyad"s regime. Imam Husain's revolution was the principal slogan of the revolutionaries against the Umayyad"s.
The Abasides came and soon their conduct was exposed as not that which the family of the Prophet were advocating. They realized that the revolution results were stolen and before they could do anything, the main personalities which carried the revolt through were treacherously eliminated by murder, poison and imprisonment.
The attempts to restore Islamic conduct were never ceased throughout Islamic history. Bitter experiences and intermittent material failures are natural results of struggle. Most important is the triumph of the Islamic spirit against intimidation and attempts to obscure its shining face and glory. A ceaseless revolution in Muslim lives is a reality, which the enemies of Islam failed to extinguish. The secret key of this blessed revolution lies in the firm faith in God. The unshakeable conviction which puts material supremacy and gain in an inferior position to God ' s satisfaction. These ideals were demonstrated by Imam Husain when the Muslims were in need of such an example most.
The revolution of Imam Husain was not solely for changing a government. If it was so, then it would be wrong to call it a revolution.. Imam Husain was advocating a drastic change in the social set up, the economic and political structures, and refining Islamic concepts from foreign ideas which had crept into Muslims' minds and thoughts. In other words, Imam Husain wanted to change the life of Muslims to be in conformity with Islamic laws and ideals. Indeed, this explains one main reason for why Imam Husain was let down by the tribes of Kofah after being promised support, and his call was ignored by the rest of the Muslim world. Hence, a revolution means a drastic change in one's life or the collective life when applied to a large scale.
Lessons from the Tragedy of KarbalaKarbala is the cruelest tragedy humanity has ever seen. Yet, the startling (though appalling) events in Karbala proved like a powerful volcano that shook the very foundation of Muslims, it stirred their consciousness, ignorant or learned alike. For sincere Muslims, Karbala turned into a triumph. The tragic event became the very beacon of light to always remind Muslims to practice Islam honestly and sincerely, to do what is right irrespective of consequences, and fear no one except Allah (swt).
On the other hand, Yazid never achieved what he and his father had planned to achieve, for within three years, Allah's wrath fell upon him, causing him to die at the age of 33 years. And within a few decades the rule of Benu Umayya crumbled and came to an end. The tragedy of Karbala taught humanity a lesson that standing for the truth and fighting unto death for it is more honorable and valuable than submitting to the wrongful, especially when the survival of Islam is at stake.
The Philosophy of Mourning & LamentationWhy is Husain (A) regarded as the "leader of the martyrs" ? It is because he was not just the victim of an ambitious ruler. There is no doubt that the tragedy of Kerbala, when ascribed to the killers, is a criminal and terrible act. However when ascribed to Husain (A) himself, it represents a conscious confrontation and a courageous resistance for a sacred cause. The whole nation had failed to stand up to Yazid. They had succumbed to his will, and deviation and regression towards the pre-Islamic ways were increasing.
Passiveness by Husain (A) in this situation would have meant the end of Islam as we know it. Thus Husain (A) took upon himself the responsibility of the whole nation. The greatest tragedy was that one who stood up for the noblest of causes, the defence of Islam, was cut down in so cruel a manner.
It is for this reason that the sacrifice of Husain (A) is commemorated annually throughout the Muslim world. Our sorrow never abates as we relive the tragedy.
The commemoration of Ashura on the 10th of Muharram every year serves to remind us of the sacrifices of the family of the Prophet (S). It also makes us aware of the people, then and now, who tried to destroy Islam and the family of the Prophet (S) and all that they stood for - as well as those who watched, listened and did nothing.