Muharram, Kerbala & Imam Hussain (as)
Inform others-use this Article esp for non muslims
Think not of those who are slain in God's way as dead. Nay, they are living, finding their
sustenance in the presence of their Lord (Qur'an 3:169)
EVENT & PERSONALITIES Imam Hussain was the grandson of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, through his daughter, Lady Fatima and son-in-law, Imam Ali, peace be upon them all. In less than half a day on the 10th of Muharram ( Ashura) in the year 680 A.D. (61 A.H.),
on the hot desert sands of Karbala in Iraq, Imam Hussain(as), and 72 of his family members, friends and followers, including his 6 month old infant son, were martyred under most gruesome circumstances. These included His brother Hazrat Abbas (as) the standard bearer, His young 18 yr old son Ali Akber & his 4 year old daughter Sakina who died while in prison in Damascus. The Oppressive ruler; Yazid son of Mu'awiya son of Abu Sufiyan & his very large army of over 30,000 men, committed these heinous crimes against the small group which included the household of the Prophet. Lady Zainub (sister of Imam Hussain) sister of Imam Hussain also played a key role especially subsequent to the battle to inform people of the truth.The group, including the six-month infant Ali Asgar, was without food and water for 3 days before their martyrdom. Ali Asgar was martyred thirsty in his father's arms when his tender throat was pierced by a three-pointed poisoned arrow, while his father implored the tyrants to allow water to the infant, after all his other companions were martyred at their hands. Imam Hussain resolved to defend his thirsty entourage from the killer army’s onslaught, rather than submit to their forcible extraction of allegiance to a criminal despotic regime which used the name of Islam. He was going to stand to his principleto defend True Islam, even though he might be the last man standing with no support, no help The martyrs were beheaded & their heads were put on spears, while their corpses were trampled upon and left unburied. The ordeal did not stop at this as the women and children in the Imam's entourage were held captives and tortured while being led on an arduous journey to Damascus to be paraded and later imprisoned there for over a year. The only male survivor was Imam Zainul Abideen (as) son of Imam Hussain (as) who was ill at that time, yet chained & repeatedly beaten. He subsequently wrote a 'Treatise on Rights' & a monumental prayer book called Sahifa Kamila ( see www.Duas.org) In the history of Islam, al‑Husayn ibn 'Ali, the martyr of Karbala, wrote one of the most brilliant chapters; a chapter which still and after more than fourteen centuries, echoes in the minds and hearts of Muslims everywhere. It is remarked by a modern Muslim writer that with every Karbala Islam is renewed.Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) considered the greatest British historian of his time. Wrote “In a distant age and climate the tragic scene of the death of Hussein will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader." [The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, London, 1911, volume 5, pp. 391-2] Each year during the first Islamic month of Moharram and upto 40 days (Arbaeen) thereafter, mourning sessions are held all over the world, wherein the trials and tribulations of these martyrs are recounted, mourned and lamented, while expounding the values and teachings upheld by them. These practices are an institution in them and are being continuously held for the past 14 centuries. The Martyrdom is unique and unparalleled in a number of ways, the most obvious of all being its sacrifices from - men, women and children of all age groups, every conceivable human relationship, rich and poor, noblemen and slaves, military commanders and commoners, and individuals coming from different specters of human society. REASONS Imam Hussain(as), his family and friends sacrificed everything ( life ,wealth, family honor) that they had ,in their struggle against tyranny and despotism and for upholding the human values of truth, justice and liberty of thought, word and deed. Their struggle was aimed at the ultimate goal of awakening human beings of all times to uplift the human spirit beyond short-sighted materialistic pursuits, and establish a just and equitable order in society. Imam Hussain wrote a will and handed it over to his brother Muhammad Hanafiyyah. The will read, ‘’I have not risen against Yazid in order to create corruption or discord, nor to elevate myself in the eyes of the people, nor to oppress.’’ Innama kharajtu litalabil islahi fi ummati jaddi wa abi’’ I have only risen to rectify, to reform the affairs of the Ummah of my grandfather and of my father. ‘’Uridu ‘an aamura bil ma’ruf wa anha ‘anil munkar.’’ I want to invite people towards good and forbid them from evil.’’ Yazid the oppressive ruler openly indulged in sinful activities like drinking, womanizing, terrorizing /killing innocent people, making fun of scholars etc & yet claimed to be rightful successor /leader of Islam & the Muslim ummah. The silent majority scared and terrified by the overflowing military might and power, did nothing about this.
Yazid demanded that Imam Hussain (as) pay allegiance (bay'aa) to him. When asked to give bay’aa to Yazid, Imam Hussain said, ‘’ We are the household of the prophet hood, the source of messengership, the descending place of the angels, through us Allah had begun showering His favours, whereas Yazid is a sinful person, a drunkard, the killer of innocent people and one who openly indulges in sinful acts. ‘Mithli la yubayi’u mithlah’. A person like me can never do bay’aa(pay allegiance) to a person like him (Yazid). I look upon death as but the felicity of martyrdom and I regard life among oppressors and transgressors as nothing but agony and torture. By God I will never give you my hand like a man who has been defeated; nor will I flee like a slave.’’ He rejected the rule of a man who was generally agreed not to have been fit to rule. In this sense he was a revolutionary, as indeed he is now regarded by contemporary writers. EFFECTS The event is of great significance because of what this martyrdom meant for the religion of Islam in exposing the wrong and upholding the right through the sharp contrast between him and his followers on the one hand and his antagonists on the other. Mahatma Gandhi in 1924 writing in ‘Young India’’ about the battle of Karbala said among other things ‘’ I wanted to know the best of the life of one who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind….the utter self-effacement of Hussain, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission to save Islam.’’ The Martyrdom has also prompted a vast body of literature in a multitude of languages all over the world, a phenomenon that continues to this day. Outstanding examples of this are the elegies written by Mir Anis, one of which holds the world record for the longest verse for the past two centuries. The largest gathering on the face of the earth since time began now occurs in Karbala in Iraq on Arbaeen ( 20 safar) where over 10 million pilgrims visit the shrine. Imam Hussain embodied in himself magnificent qualities - wisdom, knowledge, leadership, patience, humility, forbearance and total submission to the Almighty, to name a few - and his life is a source of inspiration and a role model for all generations to condemn all forms of oppression & Injustice. To know more visit www.al-islam.org