IMAM HUSAYN (A.S) – HEIR OF THE PROPHETS (Analyzing the phenomenon of deviation as witnessed by the Prophets) 

By: Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 2 October 2016 (Muharram 1438) at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town) 

Once again with the start of Muharram and the Islamic New Year, our memories are refreshed with the great revolution and uprising of our Mawla and Imam, Sayed as-Shuhada aba Abdillah al Husayn (A.S). We remember and honour this tragedy, and renew our commitment and our allegiance to Imam Husayn (A.S). We are here in this open university of Imam Husayn (A.S) to learn, educate and develop ourselves through this great institution of Azaa and mourning of Imam Husayn (A.S) and the Shuhada of Karbala (A.S). 

The very first question that arises every year, which warrants a response (every year), is: Why Karbala? Why should we cry every year for a tragedy which occurred 14 centuries ago? And for how long will we continue to cry? 

This year, I want to respond to this question differently, by actually asking a question: Why did this tragedy of Karbala occur? 


As we all know, it took place in the year 61AH. Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) passed away in 10AH, which means this tragedy occurred around 50 years after his passing. On the 10th day of Muharram in the year 61AH, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), Husayn ibni Ali (A.S) was brutally massacred in Karbala, Iraq along with 72 of his devoted companions. And who killed them? Were they non-Muslims or idol worshippers who killed them? 

NO!! It was the same people who believed in the same faith as Husayn (AS), and as a matter of fact believed in the same faith of his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). How on earth is this possible? 

If we look at all the different Prophets whom Almighty Allah (SWT) sent to this earth, the most successful Prophet, without any doubt, whose message spread to every corner of the world in the shortest period of time, who had committed, loyal and devoted companions beyond compare, was none other than our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). 

Before the conquest of Makkah, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was refused entry to Makkah when he initially came there. It is narrated that those non-Muslims from Makkah who came to see Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) on the outskirts of Makkah reported back to those in authority by saying that this man has such unbelievably loyal and devoted followers, so much so that when he performs Wudhu (ablution), his followers would gather their hands to catch the dripping water (preventing it reaching the ground) and receive its blessings!

So how is it possible to fight with someone like Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) who has such amazing followers? This devotion resulted in Islam spreading throughout the whole Arabian Peninsula in his lifetime, and entered new regions in different continents thereafter. 

So in light of this level of devotion, how is it possible that the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) can be so brutally martyred only 50 years after his passing – by MUSLIMS themselves?? How could things go so wrong in such a short period? 


Last month on the night of Ghadier, we discussed the authenticity of the narration of the incident at Ghadir, and that 110,000 Sahaba are reported to have witnessed the sermon by Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) where he exclaimed: “Mankuntu Mawla, fahatha Aliyun Mawla” (For whomsoever I am his Master, Ali is his Master).

This incident of Ghadier is now so well recognized and authenticated by Ahle Sunnah wal Jama’ah to the extent that they even agree that if the hadith relating to Ghadier is not authentic, then no other hadith can be considered authentic as no other hadith is more widely reported than the hadith of Ghadier.

A valid question was raised on one of our discussion groups last month after the Ghadier celebrations, namely, how is it possible that Ghadier is simply forgotten after being overwhelmingly authenticated and witnessed by such a vast number of Sahaba? All of a sudden it appears as if this event did not happen?!  

You will recall from our discussion on the night of Ghadier, I mentioned the view of senior Sunni Lebanese cleric, Sheikh Maahir Hammoud. He says that if we were to place the incident of Ghadier “in a box” and examine it purely for what it is and appears to the mind of the reasonable man without being influenced by any external occurrences, then one will certainly conclude that Ghadier was the event wherein the comprehensive Wilayah of Imam Ali (a.s) was established! 

BUT, with the passage of time and due to certain historical occurrences, Ghadier became “re-interpreted” to cause it to neatly fit into the happenings of history!! 

So again, coming to the question of how is it possible that 110,000 people forgot? 

Let us park the discussion of leadership for a moment. Let us say “Mawla” as referred to in Ghadier or Hadith of Thaqalayn, refers to “love”for Imam Ali (a.s) and the Ahlul Bait (a.s), and only love, and it is not an issue of Leadership. 

Or for that matter the Quranic injunction in verse 23 of Surah Shura (chapter 42): 

قُلْ لا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْراً إِلَّا الْمَوَدَّةَ فِي الْقُرْبَی

“…Say thou (O’ Our Apostle Muhammad!):  I demand not of you any recompense for it (the toils of apostleship) save the love of (my) relatives…” 

Obviously we in the school of Ahlul Bayt (A.S) understand this love on a different level, but the very basic aspect of love that nobody disputes is that we are commanded to love the family of the Holy Prophet (SAWA), as recorded in the Holy Quran, in numerous Hadith narrations, and historical events. 

Nobody disagrees on the great emphasis placed on love of Ahlul Bayt (A.S). In fact, all Muslims believe it to be a compulsory part of faith. So the question is, if Almighty Allah (SWT) and Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) commanded love of Ahlul Bait (A.S) so strongly, then what type of love was shown to Imam Husayn (A.S) on Karbala?  What did the masses do to the Ahlul Bayt (A.S)? 

Sometimes we ask this question to our Sunni brothers, about what went wrong to have resulted in the tragedy of Karbala…not addressing it to them, but rather as an open question, to analyse what created this mess, whereby Muslims did not only differ amongst each other, but they brutally killed each other, and even went further to take the women and children of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) as prisoners of war? 

The answer lies in understanding the history of humanity! 

Did such a tragedy happen before? 

Lets look at any revolution or a mass change in society and what happened thereafter, and how long they survived through the challenges endured. 

Why Imam Husayn (A.S) was killed, and why were all the commandments of love for Ahlul Bait (A.S) sidelined? The answer lies in Ziyarat Waritha.


اَلسَّلاَمُ عَلَیْکَ یَا وَارِثَ اٰدَمَ صَفْوَۃِ اللّٰہِ

اَلسَّلاَمُ عَلَیْکَ یَا وَارِثَ نُوْحٍ نَبِیِّ اللّٰہِ

اَلسَّلاَمُ عَلَیْکَ یَا وَارِثَ اِبْرَاہِیْمَ خَلِیْلِ اللّٰہ

اَلسَّلاَمُ عَلَیْکَ یَا وَارِثَ مُوْسیٰ کَلِیْمِ اللّٰہِ

اَلسَّلاَمُ عَلَیْکَ یَا وَارِثَ عِیْسیٰ رُوْحِ اللّٰہِ

اَلسَّلاَمُ عَلَیْکَ یَا وَارِثَ مُحَمَّدٍ حَبِیْبِ اللّٰہِ

Peace be upon you, O inheritor of Adam the choice of Allah. 
Peace be upon you, O inheritor of Noah, the prophet of Allah. 
Peace be upon you, O inheritor of Abraham, the intimate friend of Allah. 
Peace be upon you, O inheritor of Moses, the spoken by Allah. 
Peace be upon you, O inheritor of Jesus, the spirit of Allah. 
Peace be upon you, O inheritor of Muhammad, the most beloved by Allah. 

This Ziyarat is a highly authentic Ziyarat, taught by Imams of Ahlul Bayt (A.S) themselves. 

Imams of Ahlul Bayt introduced us to Imam Husayn (A.S) in this format, as the “heir of the Prophets” (plural!!). 

In this Ziyarat, when we greet Imam Husayn, a number of Ulul Azm (grand Prophets) are mentioned. Imam Husayn (A.S) is warith (heir) of Prophets. What does it mean? This will be our theme for next 10 nights, exploring this reality.  
Imams of Ahlul Bayt (A.S) taught us that Husayn (A.S) is heir of the Prophets. This is the key to understanding who was Husayn (A.S) and why Husayn (A.S) was killed, and what he stood for and sacrificed, and what his mission was. 

The question is what type of inheritance is involved? Is it simply material inheritance? Yes this is indeed there. Prophets DO leave behind material inheritance. So Imam Husayn (A.S) is an heir of material inheritance. Unfortunately not even this material inheritance was honoured to Ahlul Bait (A.S)!! 

As the grand scholar Shaheed Ayatullah Sayed Muhammad Baqir Sadr (R.A) says, the demand of Ahlul Bayt (A.S) goes beyond simply a piece of land – this demand is simply a symbol of a much greater right that they were denied.


When Husayn (A.S) left Madina, in that well known will to his brother Muhammad ibn Hanafiyya, he writes:

 “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” 

So the first inheritance that Imam Husayn (A.S) inherited was the MESSAGE of Ambiya. 

The second inheritance of Imam Husayn (A.S) was the QUALITIES of the Prophets. 

The third inheritance of Imam Husayn (A.S) was the OPPOSITION which Prophets faced. 

The Holy Quran speaks about 2 types of opposition which Ambiya faced: 
1. Opposition from those who are opposed to the message of Ambiya. This is opposition from non-believers. 

2. Opposition from those who accepted the message of Ambiya, but then later deviated. Therein lays the phenomena of deviation which Prophets were challenged with. 

So to answer the earlier question of how is it possible that Muslims can kill Imam Husayn (A.S), it is because of deviation, or rather, distortion of the message, and this distortion has various levels, such as: 

1. The words are distorted – such as the Bible of today which is not the complete original literal revelation to Nabi Isa (A.S) 

2. They don’t distort the words, but instead, they distort the meaning and understanding. 


Why do we have ISIS today? Do they have a different Quran and Sunnah? 

They read the exact same Quran and claim to follow the same Sunnah, following the same books of history. 

So how can we say that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam? From East to West we see that ISIS is condemned by all ranks of Islamic theologians claiming that it is a creation by Western and Zionist conspiracies. Indeed, this is true, but not the point. These people read the same Quran and Hadith compilations. The problem is in their interpretation. Distortion in understanding! 

There is a Professor in Al-Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University who was recently dismissed, when he asked why are we saying ISIS is not Islam? He says that their approach of burning people alive, enslaving children and women sold in the markets is the same as in the dark history of Muslims! 

When we are critical of history, people think we are saying that Nabi Muhammad (SAWA) failed in his Prophetic mission. This is a common argument. The Holy Quran says that Nabi Nuh (A.S) lived for 950 years, and only those few who boarded his ship were guided. Does this mean that Nabi Nuh (A.S) was a failure? 

And then there’s the followers of Nabi Musa (A.S) – we will analyse the deviation and distortion from the followers of Nabi Musa (A.S) which is CRITICAL to understand! It will put Surah Baqarah into perspective, which is the longest Surah of the Quran, because it constantly refers to the problem of deviation and distortion. 

The Prophetic approach explained in the Holy Quran shows that it is not the mistake or shortcoming of the Prophets if the people deviated from the message, as it is the responsibility of Prophets to convey the Divine Message. It is not Prophet’s responsibility to force people on the right path. That is based on free will. 

Imam Husayn (A.S) is the target of distortion, and his fight is against distortion, not Kufr and Shirk. This he clarified in his will when leaving Madina, referenced earlier. 

His fight was to seek reform for the Ummah of his grandfather. Those who followed him were very few. Again, this is another inheritance of Husayn (A.S) who was left alone with hardly any supporters, like the Prophets experienced. 

So we conclude the Majlis today with the remembrance of Muslim ibni Aqil, who was the special envoy of Imam Husayn (A.S). He was the first martyr of Karbala who was brutally killed in Kufa, way before Ashura, when he was sent by Imam Husayn (A.S) to assess the situation in Kufa and he was martyred all alone with only one supporter.