Message of martyrdom
By S.G. Jilanee
Martyrdom is shahadat which is also translated as testimony. Hussain’s martyrdom was an eternally abiding testimony to the oneness of Allah. It gave a lease of immortal life to the Divine Message.
By his sacrifice the spirit of the Faith was resurrected, the flame rekindled. The blood of Hussain and his companions not just reinforced the foundation of the Faith but made it timeless.
That is what Khwaja moinuddin Chishti meant by calling him “bin-e-la ilah,” (the basis of the belief in the Oneness of Allah). Hussain also gave continuity to the name of the Prophet (SAW) as a son perpetuates the name of his father. Therefore, Hussain was also called “ibn-e-Rasool ullah” (son of Allah’s Messenger).
Some commentators even hold the view that Hussain’s martyrdom was the translation of the verse, “And We ransomed him (Ismail A.S.) with a momentous (or great) sacrifice,” (37:107) for the simple reason that a ram that was actually substituted on the occasion for Ismail could not, by any stretch of imagination be termed as a “momentous/great” sacrifice.
Karbala happened one-and-a-half millennium ago. And yet it remains fresh in the hearts and minds of Muslims. Muharram, every year, revives poignant memories of the tragedy. The events as they occurred are vividly recapitulated in all their gory, blood-curdling detail. Many ask, why go on with it, year after year, endlessly?
Recalling the past refreshes the lessons of any event. In this particular case the tragedy highlights a number of factors. One, that promise must be kept. It is repeatedly enjoined in the Quran.
Sometimes believers are commanded to fulfil their promises; sometimes those who keep their word are praised, and at one place it has been clearly said that it is unpleasant to Allah that one should say what one does not act upon. “Grievously odious is it in the sight of Allah that ye say that which ye do not.” (61:3).
Hussain had received invitation from the Muslims of Kufa to come and receive their homage (bai’at). As Muhammad (SAW)’s true disciple, he could not decline it. And when he had accepted it, the word had to be kept.
He had no inkling of Yazid’s diabolic plans. In those days communication was slow. He had earlier sent his cousin Muslim bin Aqeel on a fact finding mission. But meanwhile Obaidullah ibn-e-Ziad had taken over as governor of Kufa. Muslim was captured and put to death. News of the developments did not reach Hussain in time so he could cancel his journey.
It was when Yazid’s army blocked his path at Karbala that the gravity of the situation dawned on Hussain. He had not gone with any intention to fight. Why else would he take his whole family along with him? And why would he go with a gross total of 72 souls? That would be a suicide prima facie and contrary to the Divine admonition. “…and make not your own hands contribute to (your) destruction…” (2:195).
Hussain had not even anticipated any confrontation or he would have collected fighters with him. His two-and-seventy included young boys (Qasim, Ali Akbar), children (Aun, Mohammad), a suckling baby, Ali Asghar, as well as a sick young man, Hussain’s son, Zainul Abedeen.
Men of fighting age including Abbas and Ali akbar (the latter only 18) were just a handful. Even despite Hur crossing over to his side from the enemy ranks, it did not improve the fighting capability of Hussain’s camp.
Epitomizing Islam’s true spirit, Hussain tried to eschew fighting till the last moment. Yet, Yazid demanded that Hussain should either swear allegiance to him or die. Obviously, Hussain could not accept the first option. Yazid was not a Caliph chosen by the elders. He was “appointed” by his father. Nor did he have any of the attributes to qualify for the office.
Bowing before him would be a negation of the yardstick for the level of superiority in Islamic society: “…Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you…” (49:13). Hussain had learnt the lessons of Islam at the knees of the Prophet (S.A.W.). He could not bow before tyranny and injustice. So, he opted for the other alternative.
What happened thereafter is etched indelibly on the pages of history. Hussain died to live forever (a martyr in the way of Allah does not die). Yazid lived to die in ignominy. One went to salvation, the other to perdition. As Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar said, “Hussain’s assassination is really the death of Yazid.”
Pray for Early re-appearence of IMAM -E -ZAMAN(AS)
Syed Mohammad Masoom Abidi