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Wal Asr

The smallest fraction of time is called as moment. It is smaller than a second. Even smaller than moment is a thing termed as ‘batting of an eyelid’. The life-span of the entire universe is made up of these very small moments, chained in them. From birth, man grows by the moment. After a certain period, he starts reducing by the moment to the extent that he is liberated from this cycle. Sometimes, days pass in a jiffy but the nights seem so long as if you feel the arrival of each moment and its passage. Why? How? When? While, none denies that since times known, there has been absolutely no change in the speed of time nor is it expected in the future. Yet, why does one feel that time moves with pauses? The gist lies in the fact that when a person gets afflicted with difficulties and problems and cannot foresee any solution for them, worry over takes him. He is restive and desires his problems to be dispelled in one go. He breathes and thinks of an imaginary moment when all his problems will be solved and the tumultuous present will pass! But he feels that there is a clash between time and difficulties. Neither his difficulties are being solved nor is time budging from its place. The greater the intensity of the difficulties and problems, the more does time come to a standstill.

When and where does this happen? It is related to the place where the circles of human deeds and acts occur in a particular set of circumstances. Till man is alive, he is active in some place or the other. If he feels that his problems cannot be solved in one city, he migrates to another. Nevertheless, while migrating from one place to another, he is at loggerheads with difficulties and is constantly striving to regulate the inconsistencies of his moments.

In the scorching summer of May-June, the blessed month of Ramazan enters. A labourer slogs the whole day under the blazing glare of the sun. To work hard and slog in a state of fasting is completely different from fasting in normal circumstances when you are satiated and your thirst quenched. The fasting labourer intends to come home early. Noon is on the decline and the sun is all set to sink. The long walk to his home is all of three hours. His eyes spot an earthen pot brimming with cold water. His heart is roasted. The sight of water has increased his thirst. But patience is obligatory because the Holy Quran has advised ‘Seek help through patience’ and in the light of traditions,
patience has been explained as fasting. This journey of three hours -from afternoon to dusk – seems like a travel of many days. It’s the battle of a fasting believer. Killing thirst is challenged by a pot of cold water right in front of his eyes. If he breaks his fast, he will lose the battle. And if he passes these testing moments with the remembrance of Allah, exhibiting steadfastness and patience while expressing undying gratitude to his Lord, he will be triumphant. His fast will be accepted and gigantic rewards will be his destiny.

With this example, in the light of feelings and senses, in those passing moments – the smallest measure of time – if you have gauged the miraculous and incredible values of the breaths of human life and the bond that exists between its intense and light moments, then come, let us see the number of battles waged by the grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.), Hazrat Imam Husain (a.s.), with each passing moment from the 28th Rajab till the afternoon of Aashura, the 10th of Muharram. Here, by stating ‘the number of battles’, we intend to depict a glimpse of events that began from Madinah and the moment when the raging battle reached at its zenith in Karbala and finally came to an end in the afternoon of the 10th of Muharram.
After the death of Moaviyah, his son Yazid ascended the throne, a clear violation and breach of the peace-treaty concluded between Moaviyah and Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s.). As a result, Yazid instructed the Governor of Madinah to either force Imam Husain (a.s.) to pay allegiance or behead him and send his head to Syria the seat of Caliphate.
On the other hand, Imam Husain (a.s.) refused to pay allegiance. In the  gubernatorial palace, Marwaan raised the slogan of killing Imam (a.s.), who bid farewell to Madinah. The caravan was ready to depart. Abdullah Ibn Umar came forward and advised, ‘Son of Allah’s Messenger! It would be better if you  travel in the darkness of the night.’ When Imam Husain (a.s.) politely declined Abdullah’s suggestion, he requested, ‘In that case, please unbutton your shirt so that I can kiss your chest as the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) used to do. For, he (s.a.w.a.) had prophesied that when my Husain (a.s.) bids farewell to Madinah, know that he will be martyred.

‘Dear Readers! On the one hand is the caravan in which are the youths of Bani Hashim, the loyal and faithful companions and the infallible and pure ladies. Children are also quite a few. On the other hand, traps are laid down by the enemies. The enemy is in a position of power.
This small caravan reached Makkah while staring death right in its face. After
the passage of the months of Shabaan, Ramazan, Shawwal and Zeeqad, the month of Zilhajj arrived, announcing the season of Hajj – the annual pilgrimage. Hordes of pilgrims entered Makkah. A number of mercenaries hired by the tyrant Yazid also entered Makkah wearing the dress of the pilgrims but with swords concealed in these holy clothing so that they could kill the son of Allah’s Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and earn handsome rewards from the accursed Yazid. They thought that this incident would be confined to the books of history as an obscure event.
But Imam Husain (a.s.) converted his Hajj into Umrah. Initially, Janabe Muhammad Ibn Hanafiyyah came and met him and requested him not to take the road to Kufah. Imam (a.s.) turned down the request. Janabe Abdullah Ibn Ja’far, in a state of illness and along with the brother of Amr Aas – Yahya, came to meet Imam (a.s.) with similar requests but Imam (a.s.) did not relent and continued his journey. The caravan proceeded. On the way, they received the news of Hazrat Muslim Ibn Aqeel’s martyrdom in Kufah. Imam (a.s.) cried yet the caravan continued to proceed to Kufah. Imam (a.s.) had already had a meeting with Zohair Ibn Qain, who had announced to the people of his tribe that his moment of martyrdom had arrived and that he was going along with Imam Husain (a.s.),  the grandson of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.). On one occasion, Imam Husain (a.s.) himself went to Abdullah Ibn Hurr al-Jo’fi and told him, ‘If you accompany me now, you will attain the lofty position of martyrdom.’ Ibn Hurr Jo’fi replied, ‘I shivered on seeing the mutilation meted out to Muslim’s corpse. You can take my horse – which is unparalleled amongst the fighter horses in the whole of Arabia and all my war arsenal but I am sorry I cannot come with you.’ Imam Husain (a.s.) thundered back, ‘In this case, you go so far that my cry for help should not reach to your ears lest you be destroyed.’

Engaging in minor clashes with the army of Hurr Ibn Yazid al-Riyaahi, Imam Husain (a.s.) entered Karbala on the 2nd of Muharram. From the 7th of Muharram, the enemies prohibited Imam (a.s.) from taking the water and from the 8th of Muharram, there was not a drop of water in the tents. To gauge the extent of thirst on the 9th and 10th of Muharram is beyond human
intellect and understanding. To endure the trying moments of three days of
thirst and parchment of throats with steadfastness was possible only for the family members and companions of Imam Husain (a.s.) and the pain of which can be felt only by those who love them. Without doubt, every second must have seemed like a gigantic mountain.

Thereafter, the looming darkness of dusk of Aashura was followed by the journey of the captives from Karbala to Syria via Kufah. How the days of the children of Bani Hashim must have passed! How the ladies – with their own throats quenched – must have exhorted their children for patience! May our parents be sacrificed for those moments that had become silent after becoming the portraits of pain and grief!

If one ponders deeply and asks a pounding heart about the point of commencement of the impact left behind by the great sacrifice of Imam Husain (a.s.), no just person will say that its effect was only on account of the battle of Karbala, its morn or evening. These were mere indications towards the culmination of a series of events. Rather, the canvas of impact commenced with the conversation between Imam Husain (a.s.) and the Governor of Madinah including in its fold a number of events till those heart rending moments on the eve of Aashoora. Every moment, every second, the battle of Imam Husain (a.s.) continued till his last breath.

Today we mourn the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.). We wear black clothes and carry the standard of Hazrat Abbas (a.s.). We carry the caskets of the young Sakinah (s.a.) and Imam Husain (a.s.). The youth beat their chests (maatam) to express their anguish. Women mourn the martyrs and the ladies. From every house, wails of ‘Ya Husain’ can be heard. The leaders of the community and the heads of tribes all come together, leaving aside their differences and disagreements, to mourn as if one of their own has died. This restiveness, restlessness, crying, wailing and mourning for the martyrs of Karbala is the effect of the pure milk fed to us by our mothers, which has become blood and is now flowing in our veins. This amazing and incredible sight that shakes the mind as to how this crowd of hundreds and thousands, while listening to the virtues and excellences of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) yells out cries of ‘Ya Ali’ and sends salutations on Muhammad and Aale Muhammad (s.a.w.a.), suddenly, for the last ten minutes, when the speaker starts narrating the sorrowful events of Karbala, becomes all heart broken and wails as if afflicted with a great grief! Each and every one sheds tears uncontrollably.
From where did this feeling and emotion emanate? This is the consequence of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) grief that is deep-rooted in human nature. Did you ever deliberate on it? Can we compare the inhabitants of this desolate world with the handkerchief of the Lady of the Universe, Hazrat Fatemah Zahra (s.a.)?! The only reply one can think of is that our mothers have instilled this love in our blood that flows through our veins in one of those sorrowful and heart-rending moments when they grieved for Imam Husain (a.s.). When a mourner for Imam Husain (a.s.) breathes his last, amongst all his other wills, he also wills to his heirs and successors to ensure that this mourning for the Chief of the Martyrs continues. This battle of Imam Husain (a.s.), which lasted for six months (from 28th Rajab till 10th Muharram) was fought against an empire that spread till Rome and Persia . But his (a.s.) handful of followers fought so valiantly that it wringed and broke the wrist of the gigantic kingdom. This is the miracle of Islam which is shining like a golden
seal on the history of humanity, every moment of which will be strengthening the slogan and belief of ‘There is no god but Allah’. Those who oppose the mourning (azaadaari) of Imam Husain (a.s.) and object at the mourners are unaware that by these hostilities, they are disgracing none but themselves. It is extremely difficult to assess the significance of the six month battle waged by Imam Husain (a.s.) but its every second salutes the mourners who shed tears for their Imam (a.s.), his household and his companions. True monotheism reflects the truthfulness of his faith. If you don’t believe, pick up the Holy Quran – which comprises of all things wet and dry – and ask it about anything from any era and it will reply, ‘Why don’t you deliberate and ponder on Surah al-Asr?’

December 7, 2020