By Muhammad Amin
Imam Hussain was born on 30th December 626 AD at Madina and was one of the two grandsons of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). His father was Imam Ali and mother Bibi Fatima, both the symbols of virtues and morality. Fatima in her own right occupies exceptional rank in Islam and is considered as a role model for Muslim women and is titled as the “Lady of the Heaven.”
There are numerous traditions narrated by many historians reflecting prophetic love and affection for his two grandsons. One tradition states that the prophet said: “Hassan and Hussain are the princes of the youths of paradise.” Another hadith says: “Whoever loves me, my two grandsons, Ali and Fatima will be with me on the day of judgment.” In another tradition, the prophet said: “I am from Hussain and Hussain is from me. Allah loves the one who loves Hussain.” Ibni Abbas reports that the prophet would lift Hussain up unto his shoulders. A man saw this and remarked (to Hussain): “A great (person) you have mounted upon o child.” `The prophet replied: “The great is the one who is mounted (on me).”
The tragedy of Karbala is such a situation which touches every sensible human being regardless of cast, creed and faith. After the martyrdom of Imam Ali by a khararijte, Abdul Rehman ibni Muljim, Imam Hassan succeeded his father and was judged as being the most qualified and deserving by the people. However, My,awiya was not prepared to accept this succession. He had gathered enough support in and around Syria to challenge Imam Hassan and then unilaterally declared himself the caliph of the whole Islamic world. In order to avoid bloodshed, preserve Islamic unity and to save the religion of his beloved grandfather, Imam Hassan signed a peace treaty with My,awiya. When the end of the life of the latter neared, he violated the treaty and designated his son Yazid as his successor.
Yazid was an immoral, ruthless and tyrant with no sense of justice. According to Jalaluddin al Sayuti, Yazid indulged in sinful behaviour. He would marry women along with their mothers, sisters and daughters. He drank wine and had no respect for Salah. Yazid was adamant at taking bai,at (allegiance) of Imam Hussain to justify his illegal rule. However, it was not possible for Imam Hussain to swear allegiance to such a despotic person with no regard for Islamic morals and the former being the custodian and protector of his grandfather religion. Thereupon Yazid decided to force him to swear allegiance or would have him killed.
In 680 AD (61st Hijra) while performing pilgrimage Imam Hussain received news that Yazid had sent assassins to kill him. To protect the sanctity of the holy city, Imam Hussain interrupted his Haj rituals and left for Kufa, in Iraq on the invitation of the people to come and teach them Islam. He took his Ahle Bayt, his relatives and close friends with him to Kufa and it was a peaceful journey with no intention of confrontation. However, Yazid was not satisfied with this progress of the Imam and sent a detachment to stop his proceeding and redirect his journey away from Kufa. The situation in Kufa was rapidly changing with the appointment of Ibni Ziyad as its new governor who was one of the worst enemies of the family of the Messenger of God. He had got killed Muslim ibni Aqil, the Imam’s envoy, and his two sons and let lose terror over the Kufans to support Imam Hussain. Imam Hussain encamped in the isolated desert of Karbala, in modern Iraq, when he was not allowed to proceed to Kufa. In the meantime Umar bin Sa,d had arrived with new force with strict instructions by Ibni Ziyad. He adopted ruthless tactics to stop water to the Imam and his devouted followers including six-month-old Ali Asghar. When the army of Yazid anticipated no chance of getting allegiance to Yazid, they attacked the defenseless caravan of the Imam, the elevated. Imam Hussain along with his faithful followers fought bravely and got highest martyrdom with the honorific title of Syedul Shuhada.
Imam Hussain gave away his life but refused to pay allegiance to the despotic and tyrant Yazid ibni Mu`wiya. The shahadad of Imam Hussain has left indelible impacts on human history. Both Muslim and non-Muslim historians have acknowledged the fact that he saved Islam from destruction by sacrificing his life. It was the sacrifice of the imam that took the Islamic world out of slumber. By challenging Yazid and laying down his life, he changed the world and reshaped human destiny that there is no space and tolerance for despotic and unjust rulers and that truth and justice should always be upheld against all agony and adversaries. It also established the fact that quality always wins over quantity, which imam Hussain showed through his courage and good character. After the tragic incident, Zainab, Hussain’s sister, displayed both in the court of Yazid and amongst the masses the bravery and eloquence and shook the walls of Yazid kingdom. She has now become a role mode and voice for the world women to speak in the face of unjust and despotic rulers. Many writers take her as pioneer of women empowerment. The incident of Karbala has also given the lesson of bowing down to the will and commands of Allah, the Almighty, even in the worst adversaries. This was highlighted by the Imam performing Salah while the fighting was going on. His beginning was pilgrimage to Ka`aba and his end was bowing down to Allah.
The tragic incident of Karbala has many messages and lessons for humanity. Some of the great scholars and thinkers eulogized the sacrifice of the imam in the following words:
According to Sir Muhammad Iqbal, Imam Hussain uprooted despotism forever, till the day of judgement. He watered the dry gardens of freedom with a surging wave of his blood and indeed he awakened the sleeping Muslim nation. If imam Hussain had aimed at acquiring the world empire, he would not have travelled the way he did.Hussain weltered in blood and dust for the sake of truth. Verily, therefore, he becomes foundation of the Muslim creed, La Ilaha, Il-Lallah, meaning there is no deity but Allah.
Thomas Carlyle says the best lesson which we get from the tragedy of Karbala is that imam Hussain and his companions were rigid believers in God. They illustrated that the numerical superiority does not count when it comes to truth and the falsehood. The victory of Hussain, despite his minority, marvels me.
The welfare of humanity is attached to the great sacrifice of the elevated Imam. We should practically follow his teachings rather than paying lip services. In sum it is the sacrifice of Imam Hussain which revitalizes Islam and ensures peace and prosperity in the world.
By Muhammad Amin