Hazrat Imam Hussain and Islam

“Death with dignity is better than the life of humiliation” --Imam Hussain

Ali Hamid Khan

9 October, 2020 12:00 AM printer

The tragedy of Karbala was predicted by the Holy Prophet, Hazrat Mohammad (SAW). He said one day in the distant future the truth will meet injustice on the plains of Karbala in Iraq on the bank of the Euphrates River and though Imam Hussain and his men would be martyred it would be a transient victory for the enemies.

With hindsight we can say that Karbala was the victory of the small band of men outnumbered greatly. Might never prevail when it faces off against truth, the power of justice is massive and it is true from historical records that the meek and humble inherit the earth. Imam Hussain is in every heart and mind, loved and respected while his enemies are cursed and abhorred. Imam Hussain inspires all; he is adored and is synonymous with purity, piety and justice. He epitomises honour, dignity, bravery, humility and ilm (knowledge).

Moharram moves us and shakes us from our indifference and brings us out of passivity to focus on the teachings of Islam and follow them. Even after 1340 years, Karbala reverberates across the globe and raises questions in the minds of the people about the forces which tried to destroy Islamic principles. This was a battle which was fought to repel the power of monarchy which was corrupt and treacherous and contradictory to Islamic values though it displayed a facade based on Islamic teachings trying to beguile the people to pursue its agenda.

The Imam’s followers were unflinching in their belief and were rearing to fight even when they knew the consequences for they were prepared to embrace martyrdom as persuasions by the enemies to abandon their cause were futile. They were brave and strong in their resolve and took a stand that to stand by the Imam despite the huge forces of archers, cavalry and infantry bracing for an attack. They were brave men, undeterred by the show of force. Evil and corruption had pervaded society and Imam Hussain had no alternative but to face off and decide the fate of Islam and save it from misinterpretation and distortion.

Yazid on inheriting the throne from his father wanted to foist oath of allegiance on Imam Hussain but he rejected all overtures and was adamant to oppose him and stop him from taking power and tampering with Islamic ideology. This was a decisive battle and was a death knell for the Syrian ruler who despite formidable number and military force in the course of time buckled under the pressure by the Ummah when truth unraveled and their evil deeds came to light.

As news spread of the massacre of the Prophet’s family at Karbala discontent and rebellion started surfacing; triggering a domino effect, eventually leading to a revolt and the complete annihilation of the Ummayads. They were wiped off the face of Islamic lands. Such was the power of Karbala. The Umayyads were forcibly replaced by the Abbasids.

After Karbala, when the Imam’s family was taken to Damascus, Syria, meandering through the rough terrains, the burning desert under the scorching sun on bare backs of the camel and some on foot, chained, like the son of Imam Hussain, Hazrat  Zainul Abedin, via Kufa a city in Iraq, where they were presented at the court of the Governor who led this tragic massacre. Imam Hussain’s sister Hazrat Zainab spoke out at every opportunity and wherever the caravan stopped and apprised the people of what transpired and revealed the true identity of the prisoners. This shocked the people and discontent grew and anger raged which eventually surfaced and exploded. They were treated in a cruel and rough manner without any respect which was due to the family of the Prophet.

Hazrat Zainab’s role as the torchbearer is undoubtedly awe-inspiring. She was a catalyst and exposed the stratagem and cruelty of the rulers who usurped power and did not spare even the family of the Prophet to hang on to power. Their diabolical psyche and sinister designs were finally exposed and they had to pay the heavy price in the hands of the people. It is more than ever before that we should inculcate the teachings of Karbala and what it stands for and what it signifies in this day and age. It proved that numbers do not matter and that we must strive to protect and preserve the truth and be prepared to sacrifice so that injustice can be thwarted from spreading and the people saved from the clutches of the evil forces.

The heart-wrenching tragedy of Karbala will never cease to bring tears to our eyes and make us organise programmes to spread the message for which the Holy Prophet’s family had to endure so much pain and barbaric cruelty inflicted by the soldiers. These cruel and inhuman acts by the enemies were unbecoming of the Islamic Ummah. We remember Karbala and want all to spare a moment to honour and respect those great men and women who laid down everything they possessed for saving Islam. As long as the world exists and there is mankind, Karbala will continue to reverberate across the world and through the subsequent centuries and will continue to resonate with the justice-seeking people.

We need to look at it from a broader perspective- its background, Islam in the 7th century, why it happened, what happened, the parties involved and the ramifications in the short term and the long term. This event cannot be shrugged off, we need to educate ourselves about it and focus on Islam in its pristine form and identify the elements trying to misinterpret it. It is obligatory to stay updated and informed and refrain from moving on without considering the importance of it in our life. There are malicious elements out to malign and distort. We should be alert and cautious for only knowledge can help us in this context.

It was an epochal tragedy where the Prophet’s family was involved who laid down their lives without compromise, with the sole purpose of saving Islam as it was in danger. It was not for personal glory, wealth or power. We can not consider it casually, we have to get to the root of this issue as it is essential for us and the Islamic history and Islam’s trajectory in today’s world and the future.

Imam Hussain and his adversary had taken a markedly different position - one was for the establishment of Islam while the other was for monarchy, wealth and power which Islam opposed. His adversary had all the logistics and the state machinery and they unabatedly spread lies and propaganda which initially helped them but eventually, their chicanery and tyranny were exposed and the downfall was nigh- it soon followed.  From the crucible of Karbala emerged the nemesis of the Ummayads. Karbala became a rallying cry for the Muslims and conflicts and strife continued till the fall of the dynasty. Today we see that Imam Hussain is an icon and a beacon to guide Muslims and strengthen Islam and keep up the process of its development.