By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
“Indeed, anyone joining me (in Karbala) will attain martyrdom, while anyone who does not join me will not have any success.”
This is what Imam Husain (AS) remarked on the Day of Ashura (Muharram 10), 61 AH (680 AD) as the bloodthirsty Omayyad hordes closed in upon him in Karbala from all directions, eventually cutting his access to the waters of the River Euphrates on the assumption that thirst and hunger would make the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), yield to their illogical demand of giving pledge of allegiance to the Godless rule of the self-styled caliph, Yazid ibn Mu’awiyya.
They were totally wrong. It is not that they did not know whom they were opposing. They were fully aware of his position, his personality, and his parentage, since they were not Jews, neither Christians, nor Hindus, and had no Zoroastrian origin.
They said they were Muslims, but it was obvious that “Imaan” or faith had not entered the hearts of these hypocrites regarding whom the Almighty says in the holy Qur’an:
The Bedouins say, ‘We have faith.’ Say, ‘You do not have faith yet; rather say, “We have embraced Islam,” for faith has not yet entered your hearts”. (49:4)
“The Bedouins are more obdurate in unfaith and hypocrisy and more apt to be ignorant of the precepts that Allah has sent down to His Prophet.” (9:97)
Thus, as the former idolaters of Arabia or sons of the pagan Arabs who had entered the Islamic fold for worldly gains and not any belief in the fundamentals of Islam – “Towheed” (Monotheism), “Adl” (Justice), “Nubowwah” (Prophethood), “Imamah” (Vicegerency) and “Qiyamah” (Resurrection) – they were well aware of the nobility of the Bani Hashem Clan among whom God had raised His Last and Greatest Prophet, and whose Divinely-designated Heir, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), had been deprived of the political leadership of the Ummah by their sires at the scandalous gathering of Saqifa Bani Sa’dah in Medina in 11 AH.
Imam Husain (AS) spared no efforts in guiding these errant hordes and reminded them of his position so that none could have any excuse of pretending not to know him. He said:
“Am I not the son of your Prophet’s daughter – Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA)? Is not my father – Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb – the “wasi” (vicegerent or testamentary legatee) of your Prophet and his cousin and the first person, who expressed belief in Allah and confirmed what was brought by His Prophet? Is the Doyen of Martyrs Hamza ibn Abdul Muttalib not the uncle of my father? Is the martyr Ja’far ibn Abi Taleb whom God has given two wings to fly with the angels in paradise, not my uncle? Have you not heard that the Prophet has said about me and my brother – Imam Hasan (AS): “These two sons of mine are the chiefs of the young men of Paradise?”
They sheepishly acknowledged whatever he said, yet persisted in putting all sorts of pressures upon him in the vain hope that his surrender – or death – would bring them rewards in the form of wealth, land grants, political posts, and the governorship of the rich province of Rayy (extending in those days from the Alborz Mountain Range north of modern Tehran to Kashan and Isfahan).
The Imam continued his address: “By Allah, I will not pledge allegiance to these people like weak and mean persons, or like slaves will not flee the battlefield while fighting the wicked. I seek refuge in Allah from the mischief of you people and of every arrogant person who does not believe in the Day of Judgement.”
They failed to heed his wise words that real victory lies in martyrdom in the way of Allah. It means those who would kill him; trample his body; severe his head; mount it in on a lance; and parade it through the streets of Kufa and Damascus, with his children and womenfolk bound in ropes and chains walking behind; will not get anything in return.
A day earlier on the 9th of Muharram the Imam had held parleys with Omar ibn Sa’d, the Commander of the Omayyad forces and the son of Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, who was supposedly a senior companion of the Prophet.
Imam Husain (AS) asked him the reason for the hostility but did not receive any convincing answers from that weak and cowardly person who made several lame excuses, initially saying he feared his own life if he disobeyed the libertine Yazid’s tyrannical governor of Iraq, Obaidollah ibn Ziyad.
When the Imam invited him towards lasting felicities, with the promise of paradise in afterlife, the short-sighted Omar said the Omayyads had promised to reward him with governorship of Rayy in Iran, for doing their bidding.
After a lengthy discussion which had no effect on Ibn Sa’d, the Imam got up saying: “You are not destined to taste even a single grain of the wheat of Rayy.”
How true. A few years later, Omar ibn Sa’d perished like a miserable dog, killed by his own conscientious brother-in-law (wife’s brother), Mukhtar ibn Abi Obayda who avenged the innocent blood of Imam Husain (AS) by bringing to justice the principal perpetrators of the heartrending tragedy of Karbala.
Imam Husain (AS), who fulfilled the Great Sacrifice that had ransomed Prophet Ishmael in antiquity by temporarily substituting a ram, thus stands for all times as the “Beacon of Light and the Ark of Salvation” – true to the words of his grandfather the Prophet.
As the Heir of the missions of the prophets of the past (Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus), and as the Legatee of his grandfather, father and elder brother, he was the Divinely-designated Imam of mankind of his age.
It means Imam Husain (AS) was not one of those caliphs thrust upon Muslims by a comrade (as at Saqifa Bani Sa’da in 632 AD); or supposedly nominated on deathbed by a questionable predecessor (in 634 AD without any evidence of legal authority); or chosen by a council (“shura”) of dubious persons (644 AD); or had seized political rule through sword, sedition, and a treacherous truce (661 AD).
His authority was God-given. This is the reason eternal victory belongs to the Martyr of Karbala, while those who oppose him in every age and place, discourage pilgrimage to his holy shrine, destroy the holy shrines of his brother, son, grandson and great-grandson in Medina’s Baqi Cemetery, persecute his followers, cannibalistically eat their organs raw, and massacre Hajj pilgrims in the most inviolable of all places, may rule for a certain period, but will eventually be wiped out – as was the case of Yazid and the Omayyads.
I end this brief column with a passage from the Ziyarat-e Ashura: “O Aba Abdillah (Imam Husain – AS), your martyrdom was a great calamity and the cause of great distress for us and all followers of Islam! It was a tremendous calamity that befell the heavens and which affected all the denizens of the heavens! May Allah’s curse be on those who instituted a regime of wrongdoing and injustice against you Ahl al-Bayt! May Allah’s curse be on those who sidelined you from your rightful station and withheld from you the status that Allah had assigned you! May Allah’s curse be on those who slew you, and may His curse be on those who paved the way for them making it possible to wage war against you! Before God and you, I repudiate them, their supporters, their followers and those who befriend them!