By: Sister Siddiqa Valli
(Currently studying at Madrasah Bintil Huda in Qum, Iran)
Imam Hussain (a.s), the grandson of the final Messenger of God was brutally massacred in a dessert in Iraq today referred to as Karbala. He was a man who was As-Sadiq (The truthful) like his Grandfather the Prophet Muhammed (sawa), the Most Just like his father Imam Ali (a.s), A revolutionary like his Mother Lady Fatima (a.s), Generous like his brother Imam Hassan (a.s).
If we were to take all the sublime qualities of Man and Jinn and put them in a human being, we would see him as Husain (a.s). History does not shy away from speaking of his mercy to friend and foe. After all, who else can be called merciful except one who when faced with swords forgives his foe turned friend, Hur ibn Yazid who was the reason Imam’s caravan was camped at Karbala after being denied access to cross into Kufa.
The massacre of Karbala was carried out on the 10th of Muharram 61 AH. The movement at Karbala has no parallel in this world for the aims of its inception were metaphysical. The man who brought about this movement did it so that the world recognizes the difference between Justice and Oppression at a time when the two were confused.
Imam Hussain (a.s) taught people how to rise up against oppression even if it be at the expense of their life and family. After all, why should the soul be subjected to humiliation at the hands of people? Isn’t the soul a pure creation of God and shall be returned to God?
The movement of Karbala should be described as a spectacle of Human greatness. On one side is an army blinded by power and wealth and opposite to them we see a small group of people who only wish to annihilate themselves in the love of God, wishing to give up everything they have so that us, ungrateful as we may be, are able to live a life of dignity and knowledge.
Imagine if Imam Hussain (a.s) had not created this movement and allowed Yazid to continue making fools out of people with the end result being a return to the days of Jahiliyya where people drank the urine of camels?! Such delicate was the situation at the time that it was either progression or regression of humanity.
The Value of Tears and Mourning Ceremonies
Imam Hussain (a.s) chose to allow his sacred blood to be spilt so that humanity can progress. Should a tear shed in the memory of Imam Hussain (a.s) signify a harmony between our souls and his spirit, should it create within us a little glow of his valour, a particle of his free nature, a particle of his faith, a particle of his piety and a small spark of his tawhid, such a tear has infinite value.
Karbala is not just a tragedy or an event but it is a sacred movement which has inspired millions of people to uproot oppression from themselves, families, communities and countries. It is important to understand the characteristics of the sacred movement of Karbala because this will lead us to understanding why we need to uphold these mourning ceremonies.
The movement of Karbala is universal representing all human beings. It was for the sake of truth, justice, equality. It was for the sake of Tawhid, knowledge of God, faith and Wilayah. Al Husayn’s revolution represented the eternal struggle of good versus evil, nobility versus baseness, political expediency versus moral idealism, mercenary man versus man of principle. The movement at Karbala is one which every Prophet came to establish hence reviving the movement of Imam Hussain (a.s) is equal to reviving the movement of 124000 Prophets.
Imam Hussain (as) was a visionary who had a powerful vision and insight. He lived in a time when falsehood was accepted as the truth. Yazid having come to power had created another havoc like that of his father, but worse, in the Islamic world. Imam Hussain (as) found himself in a position where he was witnessing the laws of the religion of Islam being violated and he found the people complacent to this.
The Islamic world needed to wake up from their slumber where they were blinded by power and wealth allowing oppression and forgetting the sublime teachings of the Prophet. If this were to continue, humanity would seize to understand the meaning of Justice. The uprising of Imam Hussain (a.s) and his consequent murder forced people to question ‘Why was the grandson of the Prophet killed?’
When the character of Yazid was uncovered, the people started becoming aware and revolting against Yazid and the Ummayyads. It can be said that Karbala led to the demise of the Ummayyad dynasty. The immediate aftermath of Karbala in relation to people’s attitude was of three folds:
- The Shi’a of the AhlulBayt (a.s) received the news of the death of Imam Hussain (a.s) with sadness, regret and anger. They were sad because of the atrocities on their most beloved, regret because they were not at Karbala and anger at the Ummayyads for their oppression.
- The general body of Muslims met the news with shock and revulsion because the actions of Yazid revealed how little he cared for law and morality. This made them re-consider their friendship to the ruling powers.
- The adherents to the regime were rejoiceful at the death of Imam Hussain (a.s).
Today, we have once again have arrived at a junction where we need to choose which group we fall into for this will play an extensive role in our attitude to the rising of Imam Mahdi (a.s). Are we going to fall into the first group as the Shi’a, the second group who were indifferent and only arose after a tragedy or will we be the third group which rejoices at the sorrows of the Ahlulbayt (a.s)?
The mourning ceremonies which have been encouraged by the Ahlulbayt (a.s) seek to be a constant reminder of the pure soul of Imam Hussain (a.s) and his message so that we make a choice and re-affirm our belief in that choice every year.
With the rising of Daesh (ISIS) we are in more need of the sweet and sublime message of Imam Hussain (a.s) ‘Don’t you see that what is right is not acted upon and what is wrong and false is not forbidden. In such conditions, the man of faith should long to meet his Lord.’ We need to keep alive the formative school of Imam Hussain (a.s) so that the rays of the Husayni spirit may breathe into our communities declaring ‘Far from us is disgrace and indignity.’
- Ashura – Misrepresentations and Distortions, Ayatullah Murtaza Mutahhari
- The Revolution of Imam Al- Husayn, Shaykh Muhammed Mahdi Shams as-Din al-Amili