By: Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 20 November 2016 at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town

In this eve of Arba-een of Imam Husayn (AS) we are gathered here to rekindle our love, to refresh our memories, to renew our allegiance and to revive our commitment to our master Imam Husayn (AS), because Karbala and Ashura and this Husayni movement continues unabated, and therefore requires revival, renewal and revitalization, because the movement and revolution of Imam Husayn (AS) in Karbala is the representative of all the leaders of truth and justice, liberation and freedom. 

We have repeatedly discussed in these 2 months of gatherings to remember the massacre of Karbala, that in Karbala, Imam Husayn (AS) is the representative of all the Prophets, from Prophet Adam (AS) to Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). Karbala is the culmination and climax of the movement of truth against falsehood right through the history of mankind. 

Karbala is symbolic of the conflict between truth and falsehood, and the headline of this epic is the clash between the oppressed and the oppressor. Karbala is the manifestation of the highest level of commitment, loyalty and devotion to Almighty Allah (SWT) in contrast to the worst people on the face of this earth. 

The philosophy and movement of Karbala continues to guide and lead people in taking a firm position, and inspires people to learn how to live. 

That sentence that we say of Imam Husayn (AS) is probably a conclusion to his definition of life: “Life is nothing except faith and purpose, and to strive and struggle for that faith.” Otherwise there is no difference between our human life and that of animals. This is the Husayni definition of life! 


This journey of life and this continuation of the Husayni movement continues until the end of time until what we believe as followers of Ahlul Bait (AS), as taught by Almighty Allah (SWT) in the Holy Quran and the Prophetic Sunnah, that the oppressed masses who are subjects of exploitation and unfairness will receive their day of revenge. 

Almighty Allah (SWT) promises this victory to the oppressed, in verse 5 of Surah Qasas (chapter 28 of the Holy Quran): 

وَنُرِيدُ أَن نَّمُنَّ عَلَي الَّذِينَ اسْتُضْعِفُوا فِي الاَرْضِ وَنَجْعَلَهُمْ أَئِمَّةً وَنَجْعَلَهُمُ الْوَارِثِينَ

“And We desired to bestow a favor upon those who were deemed weak in the land, and to make them Imams, and to make them the heirs”

Imam Husayn’s (AS) sacrifice and the blood of the children of Karbala, and all the oppressed which was shed throughout history is not in vain. There is a day of the final victory of truth and justice. This is where there is the deep connection between Karbala and the return of Imam Mahdi (AS). 

When we speak about Imam Mahdi (AS) and his program of global reform, we speak about Karbala! There is a deep connection here, which we will explore in this lecture. 

It is overwhelmingly recorded in authentic Hadith narrations that:

– the promised Mahdi will be from children of Husayn (AS) i.e. descendent from his offspring;
– the aims of Mahdi are the same aims and goals of Imam Husayn (AS) 
Let us once again remind ourselves of that well known will of Imam Husayn (AS) to his brother Muhammad ibn Hanafiyya, where he writes: 

“This movement of mine is not on account of stubbornness, rebellion or worldly passions. It is also not my object to create trouble or to oppress anyone. The only thing which invites me to this great movement is that I should reform the affairs of the followers of my grandfather, eradicate corruption, undertake enjoining to do good and restraining from evil and follow the tradition of my grandfather, the Prophet of Allah”.


The first objective of Imam Mahdi (AS) is Islah (reform) from corruption on all the levels! 

Imam Husayn (AS) was frustrated and complained to the people when he announced his purpose to move forthwith to Karbala:

“Don’t you see that innovation is being practiced? Don’t you see that the Prophetic Sunnah is being abandoned?” 

The exact same will be the case when Imam Mahdi (AS) returns. People will be shocked with what he introduces as religion, because people won’t be able to recognize this as part of Islam!

In other words by the time of his return, religion will become so polluted with innovations (bid’ah) that it will become difficult for people to see real Islam! And when I refer to bid’ah, I am not referring to the “childish” examples of bid’ah that people are so passionate about today which actually are not bid’ah at all. I am referring to real innovations in religion that will make it unrecognizable from its origin.

Hadith narrations say that Imam Mahdi (AS) will fight against systematic innovation which pollutes the principles of Islam, so much so that people will think that he has come with a new religion! 

Dua Nudba is recommended to be recited on Friday mornings before Jumu’ah prayers, and in this beautiful supplication, we ask:

“Where is the one who will revive the major pillars of Shari’ah? Where is the one who will bring light to the Prophetic Sunnah which has been sidelined?” 

Imam Mahdi’s program is to bring genuine Islam back. Again, the purpose of Imam Mahdi (AS) is identical to that of Imam Husayn (AS), who fought with systematic innovations in Islam which took this religion backwards. 

Bani Umayya introduced monarchy in Islam, introducing a tribal system which used to rule pre-Islam. This will be the same fight of Imam Mahdi (AS).


The second objective is resistance to oppression, as Imam Husayn (AS) says he will never surrender to a corrupt, evil like Yazid. 

He further says that to die with dignity is better than to surrender before humiliation. This message of Imam Husayn (AS) is to the whole of humanity. 

His slogan is that he sees life with the oppressor as the worst thing possible, but dying with dignity as perfection. He says that if the religion of Muhammad (SAWA) cannot be established without his murder, then swords should embrace him! 

Imam Mahdi’s (AS) call is identical to this. In addition to the first program of reform, he will call on ALL oppressed to join his movement. 

As is narrated in Hadith, Nabi Isa (AS) will also descend from the heavens to pray behind Imam Mahdi (AS), and he will call on the whole of Christianity to follow Imam Mahdi (AS) as this is the path to salvation. 

There are plenty of Hadith which says that people will come in big numbers who are thirsty of truth and capable leadership. We call these people “Mustadaf” as they did not really have access to the truth but had an inner yearning for truth. 

There will be wars and battles involved too, but this will not form a major part of the mission of Imam Mahdi (AS). 

So many people will follow this flag when they see it. Therefore, Imam Husayn (AS) repeatedly referred to Imam Mahdi (AS) and similarly Imam Mahdi (AS) refers to Imam Husayn (AS). 

Imam Mahdi (a.s) refers to Surah Shams (Chapter 91 of the Holy Quran): 

وَالشَّمْسِ وَضُحَاهَا

I swear by the sun and its brilliance,

وَالْقَمَرِ إِذَا تَلَاهَا

And the moon when it follows the sun,

وَالنَّهَارِ إِذَا جَلَّاهَا

             And the day when it shows it, 

He says that “Shams” refers to Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), “Qamar” refers to Imam Ali (AS), and “Nahar” refers to the day when Imam Mahdi (AS) will come and end the days of the oppression of the ideological children of Bani Umayya, replacing it with a bright day of hope for the oppressed. 

He will fill the earth with justice in as much as it will be filled with injustice before him. So the masses would have reached to the point of no return, but they will reach the intellectual maturity where they are capable of accepting the message of Imam Mahdi (AS). 

At the same time it does not mean that the representatives of Satan will not resist! Indeed they will fight! Battles and conflicts will be impossible to avoid. 


The people who will be the biggest enemies of Imam Mahdi (AS) will be those filled with HYPOCRISY, ie. the pious frauds! It is narrated in authentic Hadith relating to his return, that he will destroy hypocrisy. 

In the beautiful Dua Iftitah which we read every night in Ramadaan, we say: 

“O Allah, we ardently desire that You confer upon us a respectful government 
through which You may give might to Islam and its followers, 
humiliate hypocrisy and its people”

The quality of that state is that Islam and the people of Islam will be dignified, and hypocrisy will be humiliated! 

Therefore, another very important connection of Imam Husayn (AS) to Imam Mahdi (AS) is the bloodshed needed in order to establish eternal justice. 

Now, we must be wondering, what about compassion and kindness? To kill these hypocrites is compassion! To keep them alive is brutality!


Imam Mahdi (AS) will arrive in Makkah and start his movement there – same as Imam Husayn (AS). Hadith says that he will take support of the back of the Ka’bah, and that call of Imam Mahdi (AS) will cross all the continents, saying he is the one who will stand for the oppressed.

He will continue to call out: “Oh people of the world, be aware that my grandfather Husayn (AS) was killed while he was thirsty, and his body dragged.” 

It is on this point that Imam Mahdi (AS) will announce his intent to take revenge for the blood of the oppressed of Karbala, which is one of his titles.

Almighty Allah (SWT) says in verse 33 of Surah Israa’ (Chapter 17 of the Holy Quran): 

وَلاَ تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلاَّ بِالْحَقّ‌ِ وَمَن قُتِلَ مُظْلُوماً فَقَدْ جَعَلْنَا لِوَلِيّـِهِ سُلْطَاناً فَلا يُسْرِف فِي الْقَتْلِ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مَنصُوراً

“And do not kill any one whom Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause, and whoever is slain unjustly, We have indeed given to his heir authority, so let him not exceed the just limits in slaying; surely he is aided.”

Revenge generally has negative connotations, but the word revenge is used to scare people away from injustice. The logic of the Holy Quran is that capital punishment is not ending life, but rather, you are saving lives by establishing capital punishment (and not taking them away). Understand this!

Thus according to the sixth Imam of Ahlul Bait, Imam Jafar Sadiq (AS), he says this verse therefore refers to Imam Husayn (AS) as the oppressed (madhloom) and Imam Mahdi (AS) as the heir (wali). 

So it is clear, Imam Mahdi (AS) will take revenge of Imam Husayn (AS). However, the question is: Who will Imam Mahdi (AS) take revenge on, if the killers of Imam Husayn (AS) are all gone? 

The answer is that Husayn (AS) and Karbala is the main “headline” of the movement of the oppressed against oppressor. When we say Mahdi (AS) will take revenge of the blood of Karbala it means that he is responsible to take revenge of each and every oppressed in the history, and Imam Husayn (AS) is the leader of the most oppressed. 

Again, Almighty Allah (SWT) is making a Divine promise in the Holy Quran in verse 5 of Surah Qasas (Chapter 28): 

وَنُرِيدُ أَن نَّمُنَّ عَلَي الَّذِينَ اسْتُضْعِفُوا فِي الاَرْضِ وَنَجْعَلَهُمْ أَئِمَّةً وَنَجْعَلَهُمُ الْوَارِثِينَ

“And We desired to bestow a favor upon those who were oppressed in the land, and to make them the Imams, and to make them the heirs”.

This means all those who were oppressed in history will be given an opportunity to have their day. 

We believe in Shia Aqeedah that in the time of Imam Mahdi (AS) the leaders of falsehood and the leaders of truth will be brought back. This understanding of Mahdi and his program differs from the position of Ahlus Sunnah. 


Someone comes to the eighth Imam of Ahlul Bait, Imam Ali Reza (AS) asking why will Mahdi take revenge of the lineage of murderers of Imam Husayn (AS)? How can the lineage of Bani Umayya be held accountable for the crimes of the ancestors? 

Imam Ali Reza (AS) replied that they will be killed in this manner if they continued the path of the oppression of Bani Umayya, whether they were biological or ideological descendants. 

As we read in Ziyarat Waritha: 

“May the curse of Allah be upon those who killed you Husayn, and 
May the curse of Allah be upon those who heard of your killing and were pleased” (not ready to oppose) 

Indirectly Imam Reza (AS) explained that the issue is not about the biological children only, but the spiritual and ideological children of which plenty of them are around. Today this is crystal clear in the form of ISIS. 

And there are many people willing to call these savages “Leader of the believers!”

We must understand that one of the titles of Imam Mahdi (AS) is “al-Muntaqim” because the pain and sorrows of Karbala is deep down in his heart.