The best lesson which we get from the tragedy of Karbala
By: Syed Muhammad Bokreta
Truly speaking I have never found myself in such a difficult and dilemmatic stance as in this case , while trying to compile this Historic diary, I felt both incapable and hesitating in trying to choose the right and accurate material to this Tragedy despite the wealthy references and other sources at hand , but my humble aim in this diary has reached the conclusion of describing and narrating some of the noble Speeches , Sermons and Advices that were given by Imam Hussain (A.S.) before his Martyrdom on the10th of Muharram 61 AH, the 10th of October 680 AD in the Land of Al taf or Karbala and the vivid ever lasting Lessons and other reactions to his Martyrdom by some Eminent world figures.
Realising the very modest and God-rewarding attempt of this composition of mine, therefore if it is found to achieve even a small part of what I want to achieve then the credit of its Goodness and achievements goes to the day which is always inspiring me in the Hereafter while quenching my thirst from the “Hawdh” or water spring by the Blessed Hands of his Grand father and my 32nd Grand Grand-Father the Beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and Intercessor (Shafi’i) on the day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail.
Having said that , it is crystal clear that , the paradox within this tragic historic event is that it has brought two extremes on the opposite ends of the Heavenly scale, there is no Muslim on earth before or at present that doubts the purity and high qualifications of Imam Hussain (A.S.) as from his early childhood he was foreseen by the Beloved Prophet (SAWA) to be the future Martyr of Islam, Surely the Great Messenger of God was Divinely informed about the regressive evolution which was to take place a few decades after his passing away.
For that purpose, and seeing the purity of his Grandson to rise against injustice and tyranny he spoke in such highly and ever reverberating terms: “Hussein (A.S.) is from me and I am from Hussein (A.S.), May Allah love whoever loves Hussein”
[Sunan Ibn Majah –Hadith N°144] and
“Hassan (A.S.) and Hussein (A.S.) are the leaders of the youth of paradise” [Sunan Ibn Majah Hadith N°118 & Al Kamil, Ibn Al Atheer 3-32]
Also reported in the Musnad of Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal, part 1, page 85: Once Imam Ali (A.S.) entered the house of the Prophet (SAWA) and noticed tears flowing from his eyes, when Imam Ali (A.S.) asked him if anyone had saddened him, He said: “ Gabriel has just left me , he informed me that Hussain (A.S.) will be killed at the shore of the Euphrates river , and he asked me if I like to smell the soil on which he will be killed, then he brought a handful of soil and gave it to me , when I smelled it I could not check my tears”.
Imam Hussain (A.S.) and due to his high standard level of piety, awareness and Responsibility towards the Ummah of his Grand father could not stand by, while seeing an unscrupulous and a wicked man like “Yazid” illegally chosen to the higher position of leadership of the Ummah, although the reign lasted only three years, it was a real nightmare for the Muslims.
Hussain (A.S.) was planning for a complete revolution in the religious consciousness of the Muslims. All of his actions show that he was aware of the fact that a victory achieved through military strength and might is always temporal, because another stronger power can in course of time bring it down in ruins. But a victory achieved through suffering and sacrifice is everlasting and leaves permanent imprints on man’s consciousness.
In view of the very hard and unbearable events of this tragedy of Imam Hussain (A.S.) and his Beloved household and the slavery of his Women, it is quite impossible to go in details recalling back the atrocities that occurred during that day, but one thing remains so important: “No Human being Witness , let alone be Muslims of this inveterate grief re- enacted annually on the tenth of Muharram in Ashura’s day Passion can remain unmoved by its telling and melancholy clue to the evil and callousness of a powerful establishment that was dressed in religious garb.”
Seeing the public wealth of the Ummah becoming the exclusive property of the Ommayad rulers, and Yazid’s motto was to jail on suspicion and kills on accusation, a Man like Hussain (A.S.) could not tolerate such insane deeds so he decided to act according to a very famous Hadith he heard from the Beloved Prophet (SAWA): “O people , the Messenger of God (SAWA) said: Whoever sees an unjust ruler , legalising what Allah prohibited , breaching the covenant of God , violating the precepts and instructions of his Messenger and administrating the affairs of his Servants by sin and injustice, and does not try to change the situation by deed or word , he deserves from God what that ruler deserves.”
*In a letter to the People of Kufa through his Envoy Muslim Ibn Aqil: “God has chosen Muhammad (SAWA) from among his people graced him with His Prophethood and selected him for His message. After he admonished the people and conveyed His message to them God took him back unto Himself. We, being his Household, his close associates endowed with the quality of guardianship , his trustees and vice regent, and his heir and legatee, are the most deserving among all the people to take his place. But the people preferred themselves over us for this, we became contented, disliking dissension and anxious to preserve the peace and well-being of the community, though we were fully aware that we were more entitled to this leadership than those who had taken it for themselves, I have sent my messenger to you and I call you to the Book of God, and the Sunna of his Prophet (SAWA), the Sunna which has become obliterated and innovations have become active and energetic. If you listen to me and obey my orders I will guide you to the right path. May the Peace and the Mercy of God be upon you.” [Tabari II - p.240]
*Before the Tragedy of the 10th of Muharram, he made this very thorough and high significant statement: “ O People , remember who I am and search your conscience , think if it is legitimate for you to shed my blood , am I not a son of the Daughter of your Prophet (SAWA) and son of his executor Ali (A.S.) , his cousin and the first Believer in God and his Messenger? Isn’t Hamza (A.S.), the Leader of Martyrs, the uncle of my father? Isn’t Jaafar (A.S.) the two-wing flier in Paradise my uncle?
Did you not hear the famous statement of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) who said to me and to my brother: “Hassan (A.S.) and Hussain (A.S.) the leaders of the youth of Paradise ?”.
“If you believe that what I say is true , it would be better for you , by God I never deliberately spoke an untrue word since I knew that God dislikes untruth , if you do not believe me , there are Men among you who can inform you of the veracity of my statement , Ask Jabir Ibn Abdullah , Abu said Al Khidri , Sahl Ibn Saad , Zayd Ibn Al Arkham , they will testify that they heard it from the Messenger of God .Isn’t this sufficient to prevent you from shedding my blood?”.
“If you doubt my words, do you doubt that I am the son of the Daughter of your Prophet (SAWA)? By God there is not in the east or in the west a Son of the Daughter of the Prophet (SAWA) other than I, Do I owe you a blood that you want to avenge? Do I owe you a fund that I took from you? Do I owe you a compensation for violation of a right?”.
There was a dead silence from the transgressors.
Then, Imam Hussain (A.S.), preparing himself for the fateful encounter, dressed himself in the cloak of the Holy Prophet (SAWA), perfumed himself with musk, and rode on horseback with the Holy Qur’an raised in his hand. Addressing his enemies and invoking God in a long and beautiful sermon, he said: “O God, you are my only Trust in every calamity; you are my only hope in every hardship; you are the only promise in the anxiety and distress in which hearts become weak and human action becomes slight, in which one is deserted and forsaken by his own friends, and in which the enemies take malicious pleasure and rejoice at his misfortunes. O God, I submit myself to you; my complaint is to you alone against my enemies, and to you alone is my desire and request. Who else other than you can relieve me from grief. You alone are the custodian of every blessing and the Master of every excellence and the last resort for every desire”.
[Tabari II-P.329; Al Bidaya Wal Nihaya VIII-P.179; Irshad II-P.100]
Imam Hussain’s numerous speeches and repeated appeals in the name of the Prophet to his enemies’ religious sentiments, which he made throughout the day and after each loss of life among his supporters, were all in vain. The only reply he received was that he must submit himself to Yazid or be killed. To this demand Imam Hussain’s reply: “By God I will never give you a humiliated hand, nor will I take a slave’s decision”
In another tragic and heart stricken emotional scene ,Qurra Ibn Qays At-Tamimi, a member of the misguided Umayyad army, is reported by Abu Mikhnaf as saying that he could never forget the scene when Imam Hussain’s sister Zaynab (A.S.) passed by the mutilated body of her brother; she cried in hysterical fits, saying: “O Muhammad(SAWA)! O Muhammad (SAWA)! The angels of Heaven send blessings upon you, but this is your Hussain (A.S.) so humiliated and disgraced, covered with blood and cut into pieces; and, O, Muhammad (SAWA), your daughters are made captives, and your butchered family is left for the east wind to cover with dust?”. [Tabari, II p.370; Bidaya, VIII, p.193].
After reaching Kufa the captives and the heads of the victims were presented to Ibn Ziyad, and the head of Imam Hussain (A.S.) was placed in a tray in front of him in a court of ceremony crowded with nobles and spectators, Ibn Ziyad, having a cane in his hand, struck the lips of Imam Hussain (A.S.) again and again. Zayd Ibn Al Arqam an old Companion of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) present in the court, not aware of what had happened, recognized Hussain's brightening face, was stricken by shock and grief, and shouted to Ibn Ziyad: “Remove your cane from these lips! By God, on these lips I have seen the lips of the Holy Prophet of God Muhammad (SAWA) kissing and sucking them”.
[Tabari; II, p.371; Dinawari, pp.259 f.; Bidaya, VIII, p.1903].
He left the court weeping, outside, people heard him saying: “O people of the Arabs, after this day you have made yourselves home-born slaves and cattle. You have killed the son of Fatima (S.A.) and made your ruler Ibn Marjana who will now keep on killing your best men and force you to do the most hateful things. You must now be ready for the utmost disgrace”.
Umm Luqman, the daughter of Aqil Ibn Abi Taleb (May God have mercy on them), came out crying when she heard the news of the Martyrdom of Imam Hussain (A.S.), with her were her sisters Umm Hani, Ramla and Zaynab, daughters of Aqil Ibn Abi Taleb, Imam Hussain’s Uncle, she wept for her slain Relatives on the bank and she recited: “What would you say if the Prophet (SAWA) asked you: What have you, the last of the communities, done with my offspring and my family after my departure from them? They are prisoners and slain and have been stained with their own blood. What sort of reward is this for my advice to you, that you should oppose me by doing evil to my blood relations?”.
Statements of Historians and World Figures:
*Charles Dickens: “If Hussain had fought to quench his worldly desires, as alleged by certain Christian critics, then I do not understand why his sister, wife, and children accompanied him. It stands to reason therefore, that he sacrificed purely for Islam.”.
*Dr.K.Sheldrake: “This unique historical sacrifice of Imam Hussain (A.S.) and his small band of 71male supporters has caught the attention of historians, scholars, and writers throughout the world, in all periods of history. Some of the more notable quotes and insights are given below: “Of that gallant band, male and female knew that the enemy forces around were implacable, and were not only ready to fight, but to kill. Denied even water for the children, they remained parched under the burning sun and scorching sands, yet not one faltered for a moment. Hussain marched with his little company, not to glory, not to power of wealth, but to a supreme sacrifice, and every member bravely faced the greatest odds without flinching”.
*Thomas Carlyle: “The best lesson which we get from the tragedy of Karbala is that Hussain and his companions were rigid believers in God. They illustrated that the numerical superiority does not count when it comes to the truth and the falsehood. The victory of Hussain, despite his minority, marvels me!”.
*Edward Gibbon: “In a distant age and climate, the tragic scene of the death of Hussain will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader.”
*Mahatma Gandhi: “I have learnt from the tragedy of Hussain how to be an oppressed Man but be victorious at the end”.
*William Muir: “The tragedy of Karbala decided not only the fate of the Caliphate, but also of Mohammadan kingdoms long after the Caliphate had waned and disappeared.”
*Allama Muhammad Iqbal: “Imam Hussain uprooted despotism forever, till the day of Resurrection. He watered the dry gardens of freedom with a surging wave of his blood, and indeed he awakened the sleeping Muslim nation. If Imam Hussain had aimed at acquiring the worldly empire, he would not have travelled the way he did. Hussain weltered in blood and dust for the sake of truth. Verily, Therefore, he becomes the foundation of the Muslim creed “ La Ilaha Il-lallah ” (there is no deity but Allah).
It goes without saying that the commemoration of this event does not follow the Gregorian or western calendar, but the Islamic one, therefore, in the Islamic world; the date of the 10th of October 680 has no relevance in this circumstance except to my Historic diary previously set on the Gregorian calendar basis.
But surely through this heroic and unprecedented Martyrdom as emphasized by Muslims and non –Muslims alike, it is crystal clear that, not only Imam Hussain (A.S.) is a Genuine “Common Heritage” to all Muslims from their different schools of thought but to Humanity at large ,undoubtedly it is him who laid the solid foundations of “the School of Martyrdom” whose Graduates from all Generations would not be intimidated by death, only these People are the ones capable of Reshaping the world and securing the continuity and progress of this Great Faith.
As such History never deceives nor forgets, for Imam Hussain Ibn Abi Taleb (A.S.),by the Huge sacrifice he made through his ever Lasting Martyrdom, has definitely left behind an immortal legacy which has since continued to inspire Humanity towards the lofty goals of justice in society, this great Imam might have paid a very heavy price for such unparalleled commitments of fighting injustice and despotism , but it is surely because of this that he is still well remembered and much loved in the hearts of all Muslims and Humanity despite the 1332 elapsed years !!!