IMAM HUSAYN (A.S) – HEIR OF THE PROPHETS (Analyzing the phenomenon of deviation as witnessed by the Prophets)
By: Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 3 October 2016 (Muharram 1438) at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town)
In the light of Ziyarat Waritha we have learnt that Imam Husayn (A.S) and the tragedy of Karbala is not an isolated incident.
1. Husayn (A.S) is heir of Ambiya (Prophets) in their Message.
2. Husayn’s (A.S) is heir of Ambiya in their Qualities.
3. Husayn’s (A.S) is heir of Ambiya in their Strategies.
4. Husayn’s (A.S) challenges and opposition are similar to those of Ambiya.
5. Husayn’s (A.S) sacrifice is similar to the sacrifice of Ambiya.
Karbala is the climax of a movement initiated by Ambiya. This movement reaches its peak in Karbala, where Husayn (A.S) is Warith (Heir) of Adam, Nuh, Ebrahim, until he is Warith of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
We responded to a question on why Imam Husayn (A.S) was killed and why such a tragic incident took place. We said this tragedy is not an exception. It was not the first time in the history of Ambiya that such an event occurred, but it reached its peak in Karbala.
We went further to analyse why this tragedy happened. Why did people forget? Why did people deviate to the extent where they committed such a heinous crime against their saviors and leaders?
The one major issue which is highlighted in the Holy Quran in the history of Ambiya, which is manifested in Karbala, is the issue of deviation of the followers (Ummah) from the right path. Different terms are used for this reality in the Holy Quran, namely:
1. They “distort” the words;
2. They promote “corruption” in the earth
3. They promote “injustice”
4. They create “destruction of the nations” by themselves
The Holy Quran narrates stories of Ambiya and what happened to their nations and explains why they were destroyed. A key principle established in the Holy Quran is that we will never destroy a nation or a society except in a condition when the people of that community are oppressors.
Allah (SWT) does not destroy, but rather it is our own corruption and oppression, or rather, deviation which causes destruction.
ANALYSING HUMAN DEVIATION IN THE HOLY QURAN
Let us look at Nabi Nuh who spent 950 years of propagation and only had a small group of followers in the end.
Similarly, there are examples from the lives of Nabi Ibrahim (AS), Nabi Musa (AS), Nabi Isa (AS) and others, where deviation and distortion of the message occurred. This phenomenon of deviation is common in human society throughout history. We need to analyse this by going back to the very first stage of human life and explaining this in the light of Quran.
We need to refer to the stage where Almighty Allah (SWT) was planning to introduce the human race to this world. This is before the creation of Nabi Adam (A.S).
From verse 30 – 34 in chapter 2 of the Holy Quran (Surah Baqarah), Almighty Allah (SWT) explains:
وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاء وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ
“And when your Lord said to the angels, I am going to place in the earth a khalif, they said: What! wilt Thou place in it such as shall make mischief in it and shed blood, and we celebrate Thy praise and extol Thy Holiness? He said: Surely I know what you do not know.”
In this verse, Almighty Allah (SWT) announces to the angels that He wants to create humanity. There are lots of academic discussions on this point. Is Almighty Allah (SWT) referring to Adam (AS) as the successor in the earth or mankind in totality?
In response to this announcement, Angels are saying that humans will create corruption in the earth. Note that this is before the creation of Adam (A.S), so how did the Angels know that the human race will come in the future and create all kinds of problems in this earth? Again Mufassireen have gone to great lengths to explore this…
The angels knew that Almighty Allah (SWT) will create a successor from within the framework of earth, meaning from earth, which means it is created from material, and material has limitations and this will create clashes and conflict, resulting in corruption and killing. This is the direct consequence of being material. Things which are not material, such as Angels, do not have a clash. They were created from Light (Nur), not matter.
Matter brings limitations, which brings disputes and differences, which results in corruption and bloodshed. We fight because we have desires. Angels don’t have desires and therefore never fight.
Human beings always have a clash based on its material creation. Angels “complained” based upon this material creation of human beings. Their complaint was not arrogance though, but merely their expression of concern, that this human creation will create big problems in the earth. Almighty Allah (SWT) responds by saying: “I know something which you don’t know”.
Almighty Allah (SWT) is saying to the Angels that even though humanity will create big trouble, there will be among them those who are even better than you Angels. Even though humans are bitterly destructive, their Ibadah (Worship) can reach levels way beyond yours. Because Ibadah of humans is based on free will, which is on a completely different level to Angels whose Ibadah is by default.
We are analyzing the roots of corruption. The reality is that everything in life comes as a package deal. The value of Insaan (human being) is that we have been given free will, which means we can go in different directions, and even get lost. Angels on the other hand, cannot go astray, as they have been created purely for the purpose of Ibadah and don’t have free will.
As Almighty Allah (SWT) explains in verse 3 of chapter 76 of the Holy Quran (Surah Insaan):
إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا
“Indeed We have guided him to the way, be he grateful or ungrateful.”
This choice of free will which Almighty Allah (SWT) has bestowed mankind with, makes mankind higher than Angels, and the value of their Ibadah is on a different level.
Let us explain this in a different way. Example, if you live in a society where there is no access to alcohol, such as certain Muslim countries where they don’t even see alcohol. It is nothing special for those people to refrain from alcohol, so that does not make them praiseworthy. However, for those who live in a society where alcohol is easily accessible but make a choice, based on their free will, to stay clear from alcohol, makes them better than Angels.
This free will makes human beings a lot more valuable!
ABUSE OF FREE WILL
The result of free will can also be very destructive when it is abused. So this is one reason of why humans can reach the lowest of the low!
Almighty Allah (SWT) goes further to prove that the capacity of human beings is much greater than Mala’ika. He explains in the next verse of Surah Baqarah (verse 31):
وَعَلَّمَ آدَمَ الأَسْمَاء كُلَّهَا ثُمَّ عَرَضَهُمْ عَلَى الْمَلاَئِكَةِ فَقَالَ أَنبِئُونِي بِأَسْمَاء هَـؤُلاء إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
“And He taught Adam all the names, then presented them to the angels; then He said: Tell me the names of those if you are right.”
So, Almighty Allah (SWT) puts Nabi Adam (A.S) in one class, and in the other he puts the Angels, and teaches both of them the Names. These were very, very special names. Names which resulted in the status of human beings being exalted! They were none other than the names of the special 5 Panjataan for whom this whole of creation was created!
Now Allah (SWT) tests Angels about what he just taught them. They responded that their knowledge was limited, as explained in the next verses (verse 32 and 33 of Surah Baqarah) where the Mala’ika realized they are nothing when compared to Insan, as Nabi Adam passed the test:
قَالُواْ سُبْحَانَكَ لاَ عِلْمَ لَنَا إِلاَّ مَا عَلَّمْتَنَا إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ
“They said: Glory be to Thee! we have no knowledge but that which Thou hast taught us; surely Thou art the Knowing, the Wise.”
قَالَ يَا آدَمُ أَنبِئْهُم بِأَسْمَآئِهِمْ فَلَمَّا أَنبَأَهُمْ بِأَسْمَآئِهِمْ قَالَ أَلَمْ أَقُل لَّكُمْ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ غَيْبَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَأَعْلَمُ مَا تُبْدُونَ وَمَا كُنتُمْ تَكْتُمُونَ
“He said: O Adam! Inform them of their names. Then when he had informed them of their names, He said: Did I not say to you that I surely know what is ghaib (unseen) in the heavens and the earth and (that) I know what you manifest and what you hide?
وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلاَئِكَةِ اسْجُدُواْ لآدَمَ فَسَجَدُواْ إِلاَّ إِبْلِيسَ أَبَى وَاسْتَكْبَرَ وَكَانَ مِنَ الْكَافِرِينَ
“And when We said to the angels: Make prostration to Adam they did prostrate, but Iblis (did it not). He refused and he was proud, and he was one of the unbelievers.”
All the Angels made prostration, except Iblis. He was arrogant.
Thus far in our discussion we have analysed humanology in these 4 verses from 30 – 34 of Surah Baqarah. These verses teach us:
1. Insan (human beings) has free will
2. Insan has a material being
3. Insan has capacity of learning
4. Insan has a capacity of responsibility
These qualities of Insan raises them way above any other creation. This liberty which has been given to Insan makes them much greater than Angels.
However, unfortunately, the same free will which allows human beings to reach the greatest of heights is able to bring them to the lowest of the low. Again, Almighty Allah (SWT) explains this in the Holy Quran, in Surah Tin (chapter 95, verses 4 and 5).
لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ
“Certainly We created man in the best make.”
ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَاهُ أَسْفَلَ سَافِلِينَ
“Then We render him the lowest of the low”
The other very important verse in this discussion is verse 72 of Surah Ahzab (chapter 33), which explains the important trust/responsibility (Amaanat) bestowed upon Insaan (which again elevates their status):
اِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الأَمَانَةَ عَلَي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَن يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الاِنسَانُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُوماً جَهُولاً
“Surely We offered the trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to be unfaithful to it and feared from it, and man has turned unfaithful to it; surely he is unjust, ignorant”
Human beings accepted this Trust which all other creations declined. This Trust is “Wilayat” (Guardianship), as explained by Imams of Ahlul Bait (A.S).
The level of trust and responsibility which is granted to Insaan is articulated so well in this verse (which earth and mountains are not ready to take it), but then amazingly in the second half of this verse Allah (SWT) says Insaan is an Oppressor and Ignorant!
Mufassireen have gone to great lengths to explain this supposed contradiction, clarifying that it refers to Insaan not fulfilling what they have promised. They accept the Trust (Amaanat) but most fail to deliver in action by becoming either oppressive or ignorant.
Verse 73 then divides humanity into 3 groups. They are either:
1. Munafiq (hypocrites) – someone who knows what is right but still commits the wrong
2. Mushrik (polytheists) – does not know but commits the wrong
3. Mu’min – believer
So in conclusion, we see that it is this phenomenon in human society that caused a tragedy like Karbala where humans could sink to the lowest of the low, lower than animals. This same free will and thinking power which Allah (SWT) has given to humans with which they can serve humanity in the best possible way, can be used to create nuclear bombs and can cause the suffering of people for generations when it deviates. The same smartness of human beings becomes the cause of suffering!
From this suffering, we see amazing potential at times with great people being produced. This is the capacity of human beings, from worst of the worst to the best of the best.
When we say humans are best of the creation, we wonder how this is possible. If we leave all the worst people on the one side, we see that those handful are still worth more than the rest of creation!!
HUR – PRISTINE EXPRESSION OF FREE WILL IN KARBALA
Tonight we remember such a human being in Karbala! From the one extreme position he reaches the complete opposite position. In Karbala we have a personality by the name of Hur bin Yazeed ar-Riyahi. Hur is one of the leaders of Kufa, well-respected and influential head of a tribe and status in society. Unfortunately, Hur is in the wrong camp. He is the source of trouble and calamities on Ahlul Bait (AS).
With Hur we see a practical example of where Insan can reach. Hur is the first commander who is sent by ibni Ziyad to stop Imam Husayn in Kufa. He is the one who stopped Imam Husayn from progressing his journey to Karbala. He is the one who prevented Imam Husayn from setting up his camp near the access to water.
Hur played a very destructive role in the build-up to the tragedy of Karbala. Who can be a bigger criminal than Hur in this situation? Hur did not change after witnessing the build up to Karbala, with upto 30,000 troops from Bani Umayyah arriving, water supply being cut off on 7 Muharram, together with Shimr arriving on 9 Muharram. Hur still was unrepentant.
However, in the early morning of Ashura, Hur undergoes an internal revolution, unable to bear the facts of what is going to happen on the day, whereby he is supposed to be part of those who annihilate the party of Rasulullah (SAWA). He is shaking profusely at this reality and approaches Imam Husayn (A.S) with utmost sincerity requesting forgiveness. Imam Husayn (A.S) receives him openly, and Hur becomes a martyr in Karbala, after fighting bravely.
Hur is a pristine example in Karbala displaying the grand heights that a human being can reach after being in the depths of treachery!!