By Muhammad Amin (Garam Chashma)
(Dying with honour is better than living with dishonor)
Imam Hussain inbe Ali ibni Abi Talib was born on the 10th of October 625 AD. in Madina and died on the 10th of Muharram in Karbala in Iraq. He was the grandson of Prophet of Islam Muhammad (peace be upon him) and son of Ali and Fatima (AS). He holds a prominent figure in Islam as he is the third Shia Imam and also as being member of the Ahle Bayt and Ahle al-Kisa. He succeeded to the Shia Imamat after the death of his elder brother Imam Hassan al Mujtaba (AS) in 670 AD.
When the Umayyad caliph Mu,awiya asked the Imam to pay allegiance to his son Yazeed, the exalted imam refused to do so as it, according to him, was against the terms of the pact concluded between Imam Hassan and Mua,wiya. When he died in 680 AD, his successor Yazeed wanted Imam (AS)’s allegiance by hook or by crook. But this was not acceptable to the Imam as he considered himself more entitled to the caliphate due to his relationship with the messenger of God, being his rightful legatee and also on the basis of the Imam Hassan-Mu,awiya Pact. During this time the Imam was living in Madina and left for Makkah. He was well aware of the nefarious intention of Yazeed, who had sent his men to Makkah to either obtain his allegiance or get him killed. During his stay in Makkah, he also received letters from the people of Kufah, Iraq, inviting him to come to Iraq to help them get rid of the oppression and atrocities of the government of Yazeed. Combined with these factors, imam Hussain (a.s) left for Kufah in 680 A.D with members of his households and other companions. When the caravan of imam (a.s) reached Karbala, they were intercepted by the army of Yazeed. They had one sole aim to take his allegiance or finish him. When the imam (a.s) refused to give his ba,i, Yazeedi army attacked the unarmed and peaceful caravan of Imam Hussain and killed them. Thus he along with six month-old-child Ali Asghar got martyred on the 10th of Muharram 680 AD. The women and children of Imam Hussain’s family were taken prisoners by the army of Yazeed.
The martyrdom of the exalted Imam was a decisive factor in shaping the Islamic and Shia history. The timings of the Imam’s life and martyrdom were crucial as that was one of the challenging periods of the 7th century. During this period, Umayyad oppression was rampant and the stance the Imam and his followers took became a symbol of resistance inspiring future uprisings against oppression and injustice.
It is to be admitted that in the present era, oppression and injustice have become symbol of Yazeediyat and every resistance against them has become a symbol of Hussaniyat.
Imam, the exalted, occupies a special place in Islam. He was a symbol of piety and spent his whole life in the way of Allah preaching the religion of his beloved Grandfather. He was grown and groomed in the care of his great grandfather, the Messenger of Allah, and learned from him the lessons of perseverance, bravery, steadfastness and fear of God, the Almighty, etc.There are many verses in the honour of Imam Hussain in the holy Quran. When a delegation of Christians from Narran came to Madina in 632 AD and argued with the holy prophet about prophet Isa, then this verse was revealed: “If anyone disputes with you in this matter (concerning Jesus) after the knowledge which has come to you, say come let’s us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves .Then let’s swear an oath and invoke the curse of God on those who lie.” After this revelation, the prophet of Allah took Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussain to the Mubahala. When the head of the Christian delegation saw the Panjthan, they were touched by their awe. They refused to Mubahala and paid jizya to save themselves from the curse.
When this verse of Quran was revealed, “Say no reward do I ask of you except being kind to those of kins,”, people asked Prophet Muhammad, “O messenger of God, who are the ones whose respect is made obligatory upon us in this verse?” The holy prophet replied they are Ali, Fatima and their two sons.
The messenger of God had profound respect for Imam Hussain and numerous authoritative ahadiths are available in this regard. Hazrat Anas bin Malik (God be pleased with him) narrates that when it asked the holy prophet that as to who were dearest to him in his family, he replied they are Hassan and Hussain.
The prophet is also reported to have said that Hassan and Hussain are the masters of the youths of paradise. One day the prophet was in prostration (sajdah) when Hussain climbed on his back and the prophet remained in the prostration till he himself came down.
The messenger of God also said that Hussain is of myself and I am of Hussain .O Allah be pleased with those who please Hussain and hate those who hate Hussain.
The messenger of Allah said to Fatima (a.s), call my children to me and then would sniff and cuddle them.
Hazrat Anas bin Harith (God be pleased with him) narrates that one day the messenger of God was delivering sermon in the pulpit of the Mosque and Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain were sitting in front of him. When he finished the sermon, he forwarded his left hand towards Hussain and raising his head towards the Heaven said, O Allah I am Muhammad Thy Slave and Messenger and these two are the distinguished and pious members of my family who would fortify my cause after me.O my Lord:Gabriel has informed me that my son Hussain will be killed.O my Lord bless my cause in Hussain,s martyrdom ,make him the leader of the martyrs, be you his Helper and Guardian and don`t bless his assassins.
The great sacrifice of imam Hussain (a.s) has left indelible effects on human history .The renowned English historian Edward Gibbon was much touched by the sacrifice of the exalted imam and he said it to be a great tragedy. According to historian Syed Akber Hyder, Gandhi said that the expansion and progress of Islam was due to the great sacrifices of the saints such as Hussain and not military expeditions. Imam Hussain (a.s) sacrificed his life together with his family and devoted companions only for the cause and glory of Islam, the religion of his Grandfather. He said I revolted not for wickedness and nor for fame. Verily I rose only to seek rectification in the nation of my grandfather, the prophet of Allah. He gave us the great lessons of never bowing down before the tyrannical and oppressor ruler, but instead surrender our whole to the will of Allah. The present democracies are also seemed to have inspired by such great movements. The outstanding leadership displayed by Zainab( a.s) during and after the tragedy of the Karbala shows her courage, tolerance and eloquence in Yazeed, s court and this was one of the first marks of women empowerment in the history of the world .All this reminds us of the glorious mottothat Islam revives after each Karbala. The great sacrifice of imam (a.s) has been beautifully been put by Hazrat Muinuddin Chisti (RA) in these words:
Shah ast Hussain badshah ast Hussain
Deen ast Hussain Deen panah ast Hussain
Sar dad na dad dast e Yazeed ra
Haqa ka binaya la illaha illallah ast Hussain
Translation: Hussain is the prince and Hussain is the King
Hussain is the religion (Islam) and custodian of the religion
He gave his head but did not give his hand to Yazeed
Verily maintainer of the truth is no one but Hussain.