The unparalleled struggle of Syedna Imam Hussain(A.S)

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By: Bashir Ahmad Dar

Since the times of Hazrat Adam A.S, the forces of truth and falsehood, righteousness and evil have been at war with each another. The history is witness to it that there were numberless clashes between these two opposing forces. This struggle reached its climax at Karbala where Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A), epitome of truth and good, attained martyrdom. The history has had hardly a parallel to this event and hardly any martyr has attracted name and fame as Hussain R.A. has had.

Imam Hussain bin Ali bin AbiTalib took his auspicious birth on 3rd of ShabanulMauzam 04 Hijra corresponding to 626 C.E. He was the grandson of the Holy Prophet (May Allah send greetings and salutations on him). His mother was Fatimah, who was the Holy Prophet`s (may Allah send greetings and salutations on him) daughter, and his father Ali (K.W) was the cousin of Holy Prophet (may Allah send greetings and salutations on him). On his birth, it was Allah`s Messenger (may Allah send greetings and salutations on him) who, recited the adhan (the call to prayer) into his right ear, and read iqamah (the shorter version) in his left ear. He was martyred in the Battle of Karbala in 61 Hijra( 680 CE). He, the chief of the martyrs, occupies a high rank in the history of Islam as that of the world history.

The lessons drawn from his life and martyrdom at Karbala are that sacrifice, selflessness, patience and seeking the pleasure of Allah, glorified and exalted should be the main goal of a Muslim. His brave followers were cut down beside him to the last man but he never wavered.

There are many Hadith (narrations of Prophet SAW) about Imam Hussain bin Ali (A.S.).

“They are the chief of the youth of Paradise.” (SunanTirmidhi) said Prophet Muhammad (may Allah send greetings and salutations on him) about Hassan and Hussain (A.S.). Further Allah`s Messenger (may Allah send greetings and salutations on him) said, “He who loved Hasan and Husain (A.S.) loved me, and he who hated them hated me.” (Musnad Ahmad bin Hambal).

In another Hadith Prophet (may Allah send greetings and salutations on him) says, “Hassan and Hussain(R.A)  are the chiefs of the youth of Paradise and Fatimah(R.A)  is the chief of their women.” (SunanTirmidhi) on the authority of Abu Sa`id and Hudhayfah.

Yet in another Hadith, Allah`s Messenger (may Allah send greetings and salutations on him) is reported to have said, “Hussain(R.A)  is from me and I am from Hussain(R.A).” (Musnad Ahmad IbnHambal).

Once Allah`s Messenger (may Allah send greetings and salutations on him) looked toward Ali(K.W), Hasan, Husain(A.S.), and Fatimah(R.A) and then remarked, “I am at war with those who will fight you, and at peace with those who make peace with you.” (SunanTirmidhi)

Umar bin Khattab(R.A) narrates: I saw Hassan and Hussain(R.A)  riding on the shoulders of the Holy Prophet (may Allah send greetings and salutations on him). I said, “What an excellent mount is under both of you!” The Holy Prophet (may Allah send greetings and salutations on him) replied, “And what excellent riders (are they)!” (Majma-uz-Zawaid).

Ali bin Abu Talib on his way to the battle of Siffin passed through the desert of Karbala. It is said that he stopped there and wept very bitterly. When asked regarding the cause of his weeping, he replied that one day he visited the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah send greetings and salutations on him) and found him weeping. When he sought from the Prophet Mohammad (may Allah send greetings and salutations on him)  the reason which made him to weep, he replied, “O Ali (K.W), angel Gabriel(A.S) has just been with me and informed me that my son Hussain would be martyred in Karbala, a place near the bank of the River Euphrates. This moved me so much that I could not help weeping.” (Al-Khasis-ul-Kubra).

AnasibnHarith(R.A) narrates: One day the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah send greetings and salutations on him) ascended the pulpit to deliver a sermon to his associates while Hussainibn Ali and Hassan ibn Ali(A.S.) were sitting before him. When address was over, he put his left hand on HussainibnAli(A.S.) and, raising his head towards Heaven, said: “O my lord! I am Muhammad(SAW) Your slave and Your Prophet, and these two are the distinguished and pious members of my family who would fortify my cause after me. O my Lord! Gabriel has informed me that the son Hussain(A.S.) would be killed. O my Lord! Bless my cause in recompense for Hussain`s(A.S.) martyrdom, make him the leader of the martyrs, be You be his helper and guardian and do not bless his murderers.”

Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A)narrates: One day at midday I saw in a dream the Holy Prophet (may Allah send greetings and salutations on him) dishevelled and dusty. He had a bottle in his hand which contained blood. I said, “May my parents be sacrificed for you, what is this?” he replied, “This is the blood of Hussain(A.S.) and his companions which I have been collecting today.” I was reckoning the time and found that he been killed at that time

The author of Kashf-ul-Mahjub, Ali Hujiwiri(R.A), wrote about Imam Hussain(A.S.): “So long as the truth was apparent, he followed it. But when it was lost, he drew the sword and never rested until he sacrificed his dear life for Allah`s sake. Allah`s Messenger (may Allah send greetings and salutations on him) distinguished him by many signs of favour.”

KhwajaMuin-ud-Din Chishti (R.A.) pays warm tributes to Imam Husayn: He gave his head but did not put his hand into the hands of Yazid. Verily, Hussain(A.S.) is the foundation of la ilahail Allah (there is no deity except Allah). Hussain(A.S.) is the lord and the lord of lords. Hussain himself is Islam and the shield of Islam. Though he gave his head (for Islam) but never pledged Yazid. Truly, Hussain is the founder of la ilahail Allah (there is no deity except Allah).

The events leading to the battle of Karbala are too known to be explained here. After the death of Mu’ awiyah in 61 Hijra (680 C.E), his son,  Yazid bin Mu’ awiyah ascended the throne. On becoming the Khalifa, Yazid sought allegiance (bi’at) from Hussain along with others Abdullah bin Umar(R.A), Abdullah bin Zubair(R.A).   Hussain(R.A) took a stand against Yazid’s rule. Whilst Yazid was feared and hated for his ruthlessness, Hussain was loved and respected by society. Yazidrealised this, and understood that if he could convince Hussain(A.S) to support him, the people would too.

Hussain had a choice. To support the rule of Yezid and live a comfortable life full of luxury, or to refuse and likely to face consequences for his decision. What should he do?  For Hussain he could not live his life as a supporter of tyranny, and the choice for him was simple. Hussain(A.S) refused. He said “I only desire to spread good values and prevent evil”.

Having refused to support Yazid, Hussain knew his life was in danger. Yazid did not allow anyone to oppose him, and adopted a policy of killing those who disagreed with him. Cautious of this, Hussain(A.S)  decided to leave his hometown of Medina, and left along with his family to Mecca.

Mecca, being the capital city of Islam and home to the Ka’ba, Hussain(A.S)  hoped Yazid would respect the holy city and not follow Hussain (A.S) and his family. However, Yazid did not. The oppression and torture of a governor of Yazid led the peole to rise against him at Kufah and the inhabitants of that place invited Hussain (A.S) to come to their rescue. The friends of Hussain(A.S)  had estimation of the character of then Iraqian character, so they persuaded him not to trust the Kufan invitation. He sent his cousin Muslim bin Aqeel (R.A) to Kufah to assess the actual situation there on the field. On his arrival the Kufan people vowed to side with him. Being assured by the Kufans, Muslim(R.A) dispatched a letter to Hussain(A.S) requesting him to come to Kufah. In the meantime, Muslim bin Aqeel along with his sons was p;ut to death by Ubaidullah bin Ziyad, the governor of Iraq.  Forced to leave Mecca, Hussain set course for Kufa. A city in Iraq where he had received letters of support from.Yazid predicted this and sent a huge army to block Hussain from reaching Kufa, and force them to the desert town of Karbala.

Once they reached Karbala, Hussain with his family 72 companions were surrounded by Yazid’s forces of up to 30,000 men. Despite being hugely outnumbered and with limited access to water, Imam Hussain(A.S.) refused to give up. Yazid gave Hussain(A.S) a final choice. To either support the government, or be killed.

After receiving the final ultimatum from Yazid, Imam Hussain(A.S.) realised he would be killed is a matter of days. Imam Hussain (A.S.) gathered his companions and urged them to escape. He explained that it was him who Yazid wished to kill, and not them. Again, Hussain’s(A.S.) selflessness shone through. Having been deprived of water in the hot desert, he urged his supporters to save themselves.

Despite this, Hussain’s men stayed loyal to him and stayed true to their principles. Within a few days Yazidi government ordered his army to kill Hussain (A.S.) and his companions (R.A). When the dust settled, Hussain(A.S.) and his companions were killed. Throughout the forces of Yazid promised him he could leave freely if he chooses to support Yazid, but every time Hussain(A.S.) refused and was eventually killed, holding firmly to his principles.

After his death, Hussain’s(A.S.) family was taken captive. His sister, Zainab(A.S), took up the role of leadership and gave an inspiring speech in Yazid’s palace, condemning his actions and his style of leadership.

Zainab(A.S.) was one of the first to be inspired by Hussain(A.S.)’s stand and his principles. Despite the sexism that existed in society at the time, she refused to be silent and held Yazid and his ministers to account for their role in the moral decay of society.

And this struggle and sacrifices have inspired the great leaders besides generations throughout the history. Some quotes are given here.

M.K.Gandhiji remarks about Hussain(A.S) “Imam Hasan and Hussain(A.S.)….felt that an injustice had been done to them. When called upon to surrender, they refused. They knew at that time that this would mean death to them. If, however, they were to submit to injustice, they would disgrace manhood and betray their religion. In these circumstances, they yielded to the embrace of death. The heads of these fine young men rolled on the battlefield. In my view, Islam did not attain its greatness by the power of the sword but entirely through the self-immolation of its fakirs(saints)(The collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi Vol 13, Letter #395 page 518)  Gandhi is said to have added “I bought nothing for the Indian people. I only presented outcome of understanding from the personality of the hero of Karbala. We have no way but to follow the lead of Imam Hussain(A.S).” A reminder of that blood-stained Karbala” says Edward C. Brown, “ where the grandson of the Apostle of God(Muhammad SAW) fell, at length, tortured by thirst, and surrounded by the bodies of his murdered kinsmen, has been at anytime since then, sufficient to evoke, even in the most lukewarm and the heedless, the deepest emotion, the most frantic grief and an exaltation of spirit before which pain, danger and death shrink to unconsidered trifles”.PanditJawaharLal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India, is reported to have said about Imam Hussain(A.s.) ,”There is a universal appeal in his martyrdom. Hazrat Imam Hussain(A.s.) sacrificed his all, but he refused to a tyrannical government. He never gave any weight to the fact that his material force was far less in comparison with that of an enemy; the power of faith to his greatest force, which regards all material force as nothing. This sacrifice is a beacon light of guidance for every community and nation”.

Imam Hussain (A.S.) struggle has lessons to offer:  that one man can stand against an army, and in giving his life inspire those after him to overthrow the abusive and tyrannical rulers. Just as those who lived in the 7th century were inspired by Hussain(A.S.)’s stand, so are the millions today who pay homage to Imam Hussain(A.S.) for his stand and mourn his death.

Indeed the sacrifices of Syedna Imam Hussain(A.S) and his companions braving all unfavourable conditions of climate and resources at Karbala,  and still praying Allha to accept his sacrifices shall remain an unparalleled instance for all communities and times to come.Let’s conclude with the verse of famous kashmiri Sufi  scholar Mir Syed Aziz UlLahHaqani RA-

Gamunmanz ager aesekanhmubtla

Karen yaadsuwaqai Karbala

(If any one is subdued in miseries and vicissitudes,let him recollect the happening of Karbala i.e. by recalling the hardships the family of the Prophet SAW faced,one will indeed feel belittled his own difficulties)

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