In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful
The Greatness of Imam Hussein (a.s.)
On the third of the blessed month of Sha’ban, the fourth year after Hijrah, and a year after the birth of Imam Hassan, ImamHussein (a.s.) was born.
The status of Imam Hussein (a.s.) is unparalleled, except by that of his father, mother, brother, and the Imams of his offspring (peace be upon all of them). Should a historian make a good research, collecting the stories and traditions concerning Imam Hussein (a.s.), he would certainly end up with the Imam (a.s.) as the top example among the Muslims. He would write a
voluminous, great work covering this Imam.
The Glorious Qur’an, the supreme divine document, which falsehood can never reach from before or behind it, expresses in many verses the lofty position Imam Hussein (a.s.) achieved in the sight of Allah (swt). Following are some of these verses:
1. Verse of Purification (Tathir):
“Allah only wishes to keep away uncleanness from you (Household of the Prophet) and purify you thoroughly.” Holy Qur’an (33:33)
Traditions say, regarding the reason this verse was revealed, that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) called for a shawl. With it he covered Ali, Fatimah, Hassan, and Hussein (a.s.). “O my Lord,” he said, “these are the members of my family. Remove uncleanness from them and purely purify them.” and so this noble verse was revealed on this occasion. It is a testimony by Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, on the purity of the Prophetic house (Ahlul Bait [a.s.]) and their great stature.
2. Verse of Malediction (Mubahala):
“If anyone disputes with you about it (your prophet hood) after the knowledge has come to you, say, ‘Come, let us bring our sons and your sons and our women and your women and ourselves and yourselves and pray to Allah to curse the lying party.” Holy Qur’an (3:61)
The Qur’anic exegesis’s and scholars say that his noble verse was revealed when the Christians of the city of Najran agreed with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) to pray to Allah to destroy the party which struck falsehood. As agreed, and on time, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) went out to the place chosen for the contest. He carried Imam Hussein (a.s.) and took Imam
Hassan (a.s.) by the hand. Fatimah followed behind while Imam Ali walked in their wake. “Say ‘Amen’ at the end of my prayer,” the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) told them. But, upon seeing those brilliant faces filled with piety and grandeur, the Christians stopped short of entering the contest. They recognized the Prophet’s authority, and paid the tribute.
The noble verse called Hassan and Hussein “our sons,” mentioned the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), and referred to Ali as “ourselves” and Fatimah as “our women.” She symbolizes the whole of womankind in this verse. Had there been other people who had higher status than these people, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) certainly would have brought them along with him.
3. Verse of Affection (Muwada):
“…say: ‘I do not ask you for any payment for my preaching to you, except the love of my relatives…” Holy Qur’an (42:23)
The Qur’anic exegesis’s state that this verse was revealed concerning Ali, Fatimah, Hassan and Hussein (a.s.).
Jabir bin Abdullah is reported to have said: “A bedouin came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and said, ‘O Muhammad! introduce me to Islam.’
“‘You should bear witness,’ replied the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) ‘that there is no god but Allah, Who is the only God, Who has no partner whatsoever, and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger.’
“‘Do you ask for recompense in return?’ asked the bedouin. “‘No,’ said the Prophet (s.a.w.), ‘except that you should love the relatives.’
“‘Mine or yours?’ inquired the man.
“‘Mine,’ said the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.).
“‘Hold out your hand,’ said the bedouin. ‘I give you my pledge of allegiance. My Allah curse whoever doesn’t love you or your kindred.’
“‘Amen,’ said the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.).”
It is reported in the Musnad (Book of traditions) of Ahmad bin Hanbal, the two Sahihs (Authentic books of traditions), and the exegesis of al-Tha’alibi and al-Tabarsi, that Ibn Abbas, may Allah (swt) be pleased with him, was quoted as saying, “When the verse (say: I do not ask you for any payment for my preaching to you except the love for my relatives) was revealed, Muslims asked the Prophet (s.a.w.), ‘O Messenger of Allah! Who are your kinsfolk whom we should love?! ‘Ali, Fatimah and their two sons,’ answered the Prophet (s.a.w.).”
Next to the verses of the Glorious Qur’an, we quote certain statements, from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) as additional
evidence expressing the lofty position occupied by Imam Hussein (a.s.) in the world of Islam and the Muslim ummah.
1. In the Sahih of al-Tirmidhi, Ya’la bin Murrah is quoted to have said, “The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, ‘Hussein is from me and i am from Hussein. Allah loves whoever loves Hussein. Hussein is a disciple of the disciples.”
2. Salman al-Farsi is reported to have said, “I heard the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.) saying, ‘Hassan and Hussein are my two sons. Whoever loves them then he loves me. And whoever dislikes them then he dislikes me. And whoever dislikes me then Allah dislikes him. And whomever Allah dislikes, He will throw him into hell face downward.'”
3. Al-Bara’ bin Azib is quoted to have said, “I saw the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) carrying Hussein bin Ali (a.s.) on his shoulder. He was saying, ‘O Lord! I do love him so love him.'”
4. Abdullah bin Mas’ood is reported to have said, “The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, concerning Hassan and Hussein, ‘These are my two sons, whoever loves them then he loves me. And whoever dislikes them he dislikes me.'”
5. Ali bin Hussein (a.s.) said, on the authority of his father, on the authority of his grandfather (a.s.), “The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) took the arms of Hassan and Hussein and said, ‘Whoever loves me and loves these two and their father, he will certainly be with me on the Day of Judgment.'”
Once Imam Hussein (a.s.) passed by poor men eating crumbs of bread on a mat. He greeted them and they invited himto their meal. He sat among them and said: “If your food were not alms, I would have eaten with you. Come home with me,” he asked them. There, he fed them, clothed them and provided them with money.
One could really detect the depth of his humbleness through examination of this vivid testimony, particularly when we take into consideration that Imam Hussein (a.s.) was the political and ideological figure who was appointed as the legitimate leader of the Muslims by Allah, through His Messenger (s.a.w.).
As for his social position, he was so matchless and unique, that Ibn Abbas, the revered companion of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), used to hold the stirrup of his horse when he would mount it. Ibn Abbas was older than Imam Hussein (a.s.), but he did this out of his respect for him.
It is because of his glorious social status that the people would dismount from their horses and camels, on the way to Mecca to perform their pilgrimage, as long as he would travel on foot.
Another example reflecting his humble nature is that of his acceptance of an invitation to having food with the poor. He encountered a number of poor men. Having had their food they hastened to ask him to share with them. He dismounted from his horse saying, “Surely, Allah doesn’t like the haughty.” He partook of their food and said: “I have accepted your invitation. Won’t you accept mine?”
“Certainly, we will,” said they. He took them to his house and said to al-Rabab, his wife, “Bring us what you have been storing.”
He did care for the people. He would always help them, even though, for the most part, they wouldn’t recognize his legitimate right. Shu’aib bin Abdul-Rahman is reported to have said: “On the way of al-Taf (Battle of Karbala’, wherein he was martyred) a mark was seen on the back of Hussein bin Ali (a.s.). Imam Zain al-Abideen (a.s.) (his eldest son, and the son who survived the battle) was asked about it. ‘It is the trace,’ he replied, ‘of the bag, which he puts on his back (carrying food) to the house of the widows, orphans and the poor.”
This fact attests to his remarkable humbleness, his care for the ummah, his awareness and deep feeling of his responsibility toward the people.
His Forgiveness of the Wrongdoers
This is another one of this key attributes. Once a young servant of his did something which deserved punishment. When Imam Hussein (a.s.) wanted to punish him, the servant said: “Who curb their anger.”
“Let him go”, said the Imam.
“And those who forgive their fellow-man,’ added the servant.
“And Allah loves the charitable, sir,” said the servant.
“I set you free, for the sake of Allah,” said the Imam. “Henceforth I am going to give you the double of what Ihave been giving you.”
These are only brief instances of the ethical side of the character of Imam Hussein (a.s.).
Aspects of His Thought
We deem it suitable to mention to mention some of his activities in the field of Islamic thought. These texts testify to his great intellectual capacity, polished by the divine message and set on the right track by Allah, the Almighty.
Nafi’ bin al-Azraq, the head of the Azraqis who were among the Khawarij (those who mutinied against Imam Ali [a.s.] after the Battle of Siffeen), once asked to describe his Lord Whom he worshipped.
“O Nafi’!,” Imam Hussein (a.s.) started, “Whoever uses symbolism in religious matters will always remain in confusion, deviated as he stumbles off the right path, sticking to deviation wherever he goes, straying off the right
course, and saying bad, and worthless things. O son of Azraq! I can describe my Lord with the very words He used to describe Himself: Never recognized by the five senses. Never compared to man. Very close but not to the point
of being touched. Very far but not so far that He can’t be detected. He is One and can’t be partitioned. Known by His signs. Described by His attributes. There is no god but He, the Great, the Exalted.”
At that point Ibn al-Azraq wept and said: “What beautiful words are yours.”
Allahumma Salli a’lla Muhammadin wa aali Muhammad.
Al-Balagh Foundation. Imam Hussein bin Ali. Ahlul Bait (Book 5). Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran. Pages: 16, 18-22, 25-28.