The First Martyr
The morning mist had carried the false dawn in its wake and slowly given way to daybreak on the day of Aashura, 61 A.H. The helpers and companions, who were paragons of virtue and faithfulness, had fulfilled their roles which were firmly entrenched in the teachings of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny). They had offered their morning prayers behind their Imam. Zuhair Ibn Qayn and Saeed stood guard and shielded the small group of worshippers from a barrage of arrows. Saeed’s chest was pierced with arrows and as he rested his head on Imam’s laps, with a few breaths still left in him, his lips moved, “O my master Husain! Are you pleased with me?” he asked. Imam Husain’s (peace be upon him) reply was unforgettable. “O Saeed, you are Saeed (fortunate) in this world and will remain Saeed in the hereafter as well” the master said. Saeed smiled and bid adieu to this temporal world. We can never imagine what Saeed saw during this battle. How we wish a small window opened up in the sky and we, the mourners of Imam Husain (peace be upon him), could catch a glimpse of at least one illuminating ray from the countless mesmerizing rays emerging from that beautiful place, to be included among the enlightened ones.
It is true that history repeats itself so that the divine manifestation is communicated in such a way that Qabeel and his progeny and the effects of the sacrifices made by Habeel and his progeny, on whose heads rests the crown of nobility, shining vividly with all its adornments, is not wiped out through acts of boastfulness, sorcery and deception.
Only about 73 years had passed after Allah’s beloved envoy, the last of the Messengers, Muhammad Al-Amin (peace be upon him and his progeny) had declared, “There is no god but Allah,” from the peak of Mount Paran. The call had shaken Mecca. The society was filled with disbelief, hypocrisy, unhappiness, monarchy, greed for power leading to oppression, anarchy and the dark shadows of tyranny had stretched so long that people shamelessly sought allegiance for Yazeed from the Prophet’s grandson (peace be upon him).
The Prophet’s grandson (peace be upon him) then turned the course of history by replying, “A person like me can never pay allegiance to a man like Yazeed.”
The Noble Messenger’s grandson (peace be upon him) visited the grave of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) for one last time before leaving Medina for Mecca. He was then compelled to convert his Hajj into Umrah and head for Iraq. Karbala welcomed him. Let’s stop here for a moment and delve into the 73-year old history of Mecca. It was a barren and grassless city, where camel feces encircled stagnant water. People had to filter the water to make it potable. This reality has been well articulated in the sermon by Janabe Fatima Zahra (peace be upon her) while presenting her case on Fadak. On the other side is Karbala, a good distance away from river Euphrates. The landscape was dotted with small hills which resembled blisters and drinking water was simply out of bounds.
Readers are requested to revisit the introduction of this article. Visualize the sight of a collapsed Saeed, whose chest was pierced with arrows. His head was resting on the lap of Imam and his eyes faced the sky. The first drop of blood to have fallen on the ground from this martyr’s body was putting into perspective and defining the famous words of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) “I am from Husain”.
It was as if a divine will that the Prophet’s grandson (peace be upon him), akin to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) himself, was reiterating the slogan “There is no god but Allah,” on a familiar, sun-beaten, parched and barren land laden with small hills, and by doing that he put an unquestionable stamp on Prophet’s saying “I am from Husain”. It is true that history repeated itself to complete the argument.
The need is to contemplate and deliberate so that those who have turned a blind eye towards it may now view it insightfully. Abu Sufyan had heartlessly killed Sumayyah and Yasir (parents of Ammar Yasir) and those who had laid down their lives before them, too, had uttered the word “Ahad (One)” before passing away. They had crossed the final boundary of belief in One God. Saeed too verified, “O my master! Are you satisfied with me?”
This was a minor example of the intellectual comparison which fulfills the demands of “Husain is from me” by replying “I am from Husain” or in other words “Labbaik”.
Dear readers, the aspects which you will come across in this article are only an intellectual review of the comparison between the prophet’s propagation and the fortification of the message by Imam Husain (peace be upon him).
Hijrat (migration) is a point from where Islam established its truthfulness and gave rise to such proofs which indicate towards divine greatness. Allamah Iqbal put forth his intellectual and philosophical ideology of this comparison thus,
He engraved ‘There is no god’ (except Allah) in the desert
He engraved the statement of our deliverance
There is a need to kindle our thoughts regarding these two epic migrations. Both have similar and common factors. When Imam Husain (peace be upon him) had skimmed through the entire city of Medina, he knew very well that this was the same place where the Lady of Paradise Janabe Fatima Zahra (peace be upon her) along with Imam Ali (peace be upon him) had knocked the doors of its inhabitants in the darkness of the nights, imploring them to save Imam Ali’s (peace be upon him) rights from being usurped. Hardly 40 people had pledged support. Medina, had in a way, turned into Mecca of the early years of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and the book, “I am from Husain” was flipped open.
If Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) had stayed back in Mecca, he would have to perennially live fending off terrifying attacks of the disbelievers and his shining reality wouldn’t have come through.
Similarly, had Imam Husain (peace be upon him) not made Karbala his base after leaving Medina, Islam would have found itself buried under thousands of veils. The purpose and reasons of Imam Husain’s (peace be upon him) migration was in front of Allamah Iqbal and the meaningful tradition of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) “I am from Husain,” was echoing in the ears. Hence, Iqbal gathered his thoughts and summed it up through the above mentioned couplet indicating his affiliation for justice.
History is speaking and Muslims, world over, are listening loud and clear. Yet they are in the clutches of selective amnesia and are nothing more than prisoners. Leaving Medina was only raising the voice of ‘I am from Husain.”
Conflicts after migration and the battle of Karbala till afternoon
We have studied the comparative ambiances and prevalent conditions of that period. From the proclamation of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) till he migrated to Medina, there are around 80 battles reported in history after Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) made Medina his home. The battle of Karbala commenced at daybreak and ended shortly after noon. Let us review it without any prejudice. More importantly, like the wars mentioned earlier, the battle of Karbala was between good and evil. The first attack was a raging one. The brave warriors of Imam Husain (peace be upon him) forced the big and powerful army to retreat after the initial offensive. Following which, history tells us that the warriors went into the battle one after the other. It was, as if, every warrior from Imam Husain’s (peace be upon him) camp was fighting a proxy battle for Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny), as they would have done in his era. They fought like the Lion of God. Janabe Qasim (peace be upon him) was merely 13 years old. He killed four sons of Azraq from Damascus and then added fuel to hellfire by killing Azraq himself. Janabe Ali Akbar (peace be upon him) was 18 years of age. He pushed back the forces of Yazeed into one corner, approached his father and said, “O father! Thirst is killing me.” The standard-bearer, Hazrat Abbas (peace be upon him), bound by his unflinching commitment to the Imam of his time, seized the river from the enemies and delivered a tight slap on the faces of the Kufans and Syrians. One fails to understand which book of Maqtal Maulana Abul Kalam Azad referred to when he wrote a prejudiced view that only 72 from Yazeed’s army were killed.
Mubaahela is such an event which cannot be denied even by biased historians because Holy Quran will hold a mirror to them till the Day of Judgment. Readers are requested to look at the Mubaahelah in Karbala. Ma’qal, a resident of Kufa who lived in the Fauzaan lane near Burair Hamadani’s house, was one of the commanders in Yazeed’s army. When Ma’qal threw open a challenge Burair picked up the gauntlet. Ma’qal said, “Burair, we used to say that Allah’s mercy is upon us and we are well satiated.” Burair replied, “We have debated enough, now let us do Mubaahelah (calling Allah’s curse down upon the liar) with each other.” Ma’qal asked him how. Burair said, “We should leave the decision on Allah and whoever is on the right his sword stays and one on the wrong be killed.” Ma’qal agreed and both raised their hands towards the sky and prayed. A swordfight ensued and Burair defeated Ma’qal. This was how the incident of Mubaahelah repeated itself. The reason for quoting this is, from the 6-month old Ali Asghar (peace be upon him) to the senior most Muslim Ibn Awsaja (peace be upon him), each one of their battles were a throwback to the time of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and was only ascertaining the call of the Truthful Messenger (peace be upon him and his progeny), “I am from Husain.”
Martyrdom of Imam Husain (peace be upon him) and demise of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny)
The situation before the demise of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny): The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) had become physically very weak and frail before his demise and yet, even in that condition he thwarted Abu Bakr’s plans to lead the prayers by leading the congregation himself and thereby cautioned the people about the future. History has recorded that Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) led that congregational prayer in a sitting position.
Purpose – Whatever the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) did was as per divine will, but in the light of human intellect one can easily fathom that Holy Prophet’s (peace be upon him and his progeny) knowledge of the unseen was viewing Islam’s journey till the Day of Judgment. It would be the very mosque (Masjid al-Nabawi) where Abu Bakr would impose himself, the case of Fadak would be taken up, the first concocted tradition would be narrated, Fadak would be grabbed illegally, the house of Fatima Zahra (peace be upon her) would be set on fire, a rope would be tied around Ali’s (peace be upon him) neck even as the unsheathed Zulfiqar, would be restive, in awe of his patience.
Only a few days, rather a few hours, remained before his demise, when the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny), ordered his companions to bring him a pen and a paper so that he could write his will. He (peace be upon him and his progeny) said: Let me write a will, following which you people will not be deviated.” Khwaja Hasan Nizami has narrated this incident in his book Muharram Namah, about the occasion when complete mayhem took over. Bani Hashim ensured that those who refused to give pen and paper to Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) confessed that he intended to write in his will that Imam Ali (peace be upon him) would be his successor.
Hasan Nizami writes in Muharram Namah: Bani Hashim insisted that pen and paper be provided because it is obligatory to obey the order of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny). But Umar said that he shouldn’t be given (pen and paper) else he (peace be upon him and his progeny) will appoint Imam Ali (peace be upon him) his caliph and successor. This infuriated Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and he ordered them to vacate his room.
Solution to the problem of Caliphate
When the sun of Allah’s Will rises, truth will manifest itself. Keeping all differences aside, it is evident that Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) appointed Imam Ali (peace be upon him) as his successor for the guidance of Muslims, which has been acknowledged by friends and foes alike. Enemies could have erased the textual proofs but verbal acknowledgements of the opponents can never be wiped out from history. The Messenger and beloved of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) passed away. Ameerul Momineen (peace be upon him) along with few of his companions performed his last rites.
People of the world were busy in their worldly affairs
Leaving Mustafa without a shroud
Martyrdom of Imam Husain (peace be upon him)
Let us come to Karbala and pay attention to these touching words penned by Mirza Dabeer:
When Husain left for the battlefront in the afternoon
There was nobody present to hold the stirrup (foot support)
Sakinah was dusting off her garment
Husain stood silently with his shoulders drooped
There was no support for the King of Karbala
Only a sister had helped a brother mount (his horse)
This verse of the elegy isn’t just a heart-rending piece of remarkable poetry but it also an apt summation of history which has traveled deep down from Mirza Dabeer’s heart into this elegy. Perhaps, narrating this couplet in this article will make us eligible of the blessings of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny). However, we are only able to look at the apparent causes, situation and the loneliness aspects. But an Imam can view right up to the Day of Judgment, accounting, reward and punishment. Imam Husain (peace be upon him) was alone but not helpless. He was heartbroken but his bravery was enough to induce fear in the heart of the debauched army. They were reminded of Khaybar and Khandaq. Imam Husain (peace be upon him) was about to take on the vastly spread army. He was to confront the disloyal, debased and evil ones from the Arabs.
Imam Husain (peace be upon him) very well knew that he would be martyred. He was more worried about the burning tents of his womenfolk, thirst, weakness, helplessness of the orphans and they being subjected to torture by the oppressors.
Pause for a while and reflect. Did Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) not know that his only daughter’s house would be charred, her son Mohsin (peace be upon him) would be martyred, Ali (peace be upon him) would be hauled by a rope? Think about the commonality of thoughts running through the minds of the grandfather and the grandson. Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) completed the argument upon the people. So did Imam Husain (peace be upon him). When he entered the battle, he addressed the Kufans and Syrians, “Why do you want to kill me? Have I made the prohibited the permissible or permitted the prohibited? Have I in anyway caused harm to you?” This is what he got for an answer, “We bear enmity with your father and hence we are avenging it from you.” Imam (peace be upon him) also told them that their stomachs were filled with the prohibited food and that’s why they were against him. His completing the argument was only ratifying the completion of argument of his grandfather and endorsing the statement: Husain is from me.
Imam Husain (peace be upon him) was martyred. His sister raised her hands towards the heavens and cried, “Oh Lord, accept from us, indeed You are All-Hearing, All-Seeing.” It is as if Janabe Zainab (peace be upon her) was truly representing Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him), Janabe Zahra (peace be upon her), Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and Imam Ali (peace be upon him).
The Holy Quran also acknowledged:
“O reassured soul! Return to your Lord, well-pleased (with him), well-pleasing (Him). So enter among My servants. And enter into My garden.”
[Surah Fajr (89): 27-30]
In the end, we quote couplets and if one intends to explore every possible aspect of this comparison then a detailed book on “I am from Husain” can be written.
After the demise of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny), Medina turned into Saqifah. Only Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon both of them) and a few other companions were present in the funeral.
People of the world were busy in their worldly affairs
Leaving Mustafa without a shroud
After the martyrdom of Imam Husain (peace be upon him), which mourner will not have this tragedy affect his heart?
There is no forsaken or tired person like you
For whom there was no grave or shroud after martyrdom
Think about the shroud-less bodies of the grandfather Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his progeny) and his grandson, the Chief of Martyrs (peace be upon him). Only then we will be able to truly appreciate the meaning of “Husain is from me and I am from Husain.”
May Allah hasten the reappearance of the Imam Zamana, who is the successor of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and Imam Husain (peace be upon him), and avenge the oppressions on the noble grandfather and his grandson through him.