By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
“Let the faithless not suppose that the respite that We grant them is good for their souls: We give them respite only that they may increase in sin, and there is a humiliating punishment for them.” (Holy Qur’an 3:178)
Every year the 1st of Safar jolts our conscience and makes us ponder on the fateful anniversary of this day.
It is the year 61 AH, only fifty years after the passing away of the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger, whose universal mission of Islam delivered mankind from the darkness of disbelief, fratricide, hatred, exploitation and all other negative tendencies. Yet, his noble offspring are standing as enchained prisoners in the court of Yazid, who styles himself as caliph or ruler of the Islamic realm, while in front of him is placed the severed head of Imam Husain (AS), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
It is a mind-boggling situation. What went wrong and where? Isn’t Husain (AS) the Immaculate Son of the Infallible Parents, Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA) – the Noblest ever lady of all times – and the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), regarding whom the Prophet had said: “Ali is with Truth and Truth is with Ali!”
Didn’t the Seal of Messengers tell the Muslims on Divine Commandment: “Indeed Husain is the Beacon of Guidance and the Ark of Salvation?”
Moreover, isn’t Yazid, in whose hands is a goblet of wine, while a crucifix given by his morally loose Christian mother dangles around his neck as a firm testimony of his lack of faith in Islam? Isn’t he the grandson of the licentious Hend bint Otba who had ordered the murder of the Prophet’s uncle Hamza during the Battle of Ohad and then tried to chew his mutilated limbs and liver? Weren’t his father Mu’aywiyya and his supposed grandfather Abu Sufyan, hardcore heathens of Mecca who had left no stone unturned to try to kill the Prophet but miserably failed, before reluctantly paying lip service to Islam in 8 AH?
How come the roles had reversed? Did the pagan Arabs of Mecca succeed in wiping out Islam after the departure of the Prophet from the mortal world to seize political power?
The answers to these questions were provided then and there on this day in the court of Damascus by the Prophet’s granddaughter, Hazrat Zainab (SA), who despite being in chains, boldly delivered an eloquent sermon to unmask hypocrisy for all time and to make the message of her martyred brother universally triumph.
A passage from her sermon, after praising God Almighty, extolling the virtues of the Prophet, and referring to the God-given merits of her Impeccable Household – the Ahl al-Bayt, whose pristine purity has been vouchsafed by the Holy Qur’an (33:33) – she addressed Yazid and the Omayyads as “Yabna at-Tulaqa” (sons of freed slaves) in order to expose their pagan past, before her grandfather showed them the mercy of Islam. She then said:
“Those who have helped you to become the head of the Muslim State have done a big disservice to Islam and will soon know what awaits them. The end of all the tyrants is terrible and God knows the misguided and wrongdoers amongst you.
“O Yazid! My disrespect towards you and my warning you of the punishment awaiting you is neither with the hope that you will change your attitude nor for the reason that you will repent. You are one of those in whose heart Satan nests and procreates.”
What electrifying words that jolted the conscience of the whole court! We are indeed indebted to Hazrat Zainab (SA), and her nephew Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) – the son and successor of the Martyr of Karbala – for sifting truth from falsehood and thereby bequeathing to posterity the genuine Islamic message of her grandfather.
A question, however, arises, who were instrumental in the rise of the despicable Omayyads to become heads of the Muslim State?
For the answer, we have to travel back fifty years in history from 61 AH, to focus on the tragic events in Medina. In 11 AH, while Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was being laid to his final rest by his immediate family led by his son-in-law and Divinely-designated Vicegerent, Imam Ali (AS), a group assembled in Saqifa Bani Sa’da to create the greatest discord in Islamic history, by usurping the political rights of the Ahl al-Bayt.
This turn of events prompted Hazrat Fatema (SA) – the mother of the then toddler Hazrat Zainab (SA) – to boldly challenge the new regime by delivering a memorable sermon to not just unmasked the conspirators but to prove the erratic course of the caliphate in the future that would end in the rise of Yazid and other infidel rulers as heads of the Muslim state. The Prophet’s Daughter had said:
“What falsehood! For Allah’s Book is still amongst you, its affairs are apparent; its rules are manifest; its signs are dazzling; its restrictions are visible, and its commands are evident. Yet, indeed you have casted it behind your backs! What! Do you detest it? Or, according to something else you wish to rule? Evil would be the exchange for the wrongdoers! And, if anyone desires a religion other than Islam, it never will it be accepted from him; and, in the hereafter, he will be in the ranks of those who have lost.
“Now hang firmly to this cheap dromedary of caliphate of yours and release it not. But beware; the hump of this camel is injured while there are blisters and holes in its feet. It carries the scars of ignominy and the sign of the wrath of Allah. Eternal shame is attached to it.”