Abbas Alamdaar

The shifting sand dunes of Karbala were smeared with blood. Near one of wash dunes, on the bank of Alkoma, lay the prostrate figure of a youth with blood gushing out from innumerable wounds. The crimson life-tide was ebbing fast. Even so, it seemed as if he was anxiously expecting somebody to come to him, to be near him before he breathed his last. Through his starched throat he was feebly calling somebody.
Yes, Abbas was anxiously expecting his master to come to him before he parted with his life, as he had come to the side of all his devoted friends who had laid down their dear lives for him and in espousing his cause.

It is said that before a man’s death al the past event of his life pass before his mind’s eye in a flash-back. In his last moments Abbas was experiencing this. He was seeing himself as a child in Medina following Husain with a devotion which was considered unique even for a brother.

He was seeing the events of that hot and sultry day in Kufa when his illustrious father Ali was addressing a congregation in the mosque and he, as a child, with his characteristic devotion, was looking at the face of his beloved brother watching him intently so that he could attend to his wishes on an instant command. Seeing from the parched lips of Husain that he was feeling extremely thirsty, how he had darted out from the mosque and returned with a tumbler full of cool, refreshing water and in the hurry to carry the water as quickly as possible to quench the consuming thirst of his dearest brother, how he had spilled water on his own clothes. He was recalling how this incident had made his illustrious father stop in the midst of his speech, with tears rolling down his cheeks at the sight of his young son all wet with water. He was remembering his father’s reply to the queries from his faithful followers as to what had brought tears in his eyes, that Abbas who had wetted his body with water in the process of quenching Husain’s thirst would in the not too distant future wet his body with his own blood in attempting to quench the thirst of his young children. He was vividly seeing the scene on the 21st Ramazan, way back in 40 Hijra, when his father mortally wounded, was lying on his death-bed and entrusting his children and dependents to the care of the his eldest brother, Hasan – all except him. Seeing that his father had commended all but him to the care of Hasan – how he, a child of 12, had burst out into uncontrollable tears. His father, on hearing him sobbing, had called him to his side and given his hand in Husain’s hand with the words:
“Husain, this child I am entrusting to you. He will represent me on the day of your supreme sacrifice and lay down his life in defending you and your dear ones, much as I would have done if alive on that day.”

How his father had turned to him and affectionately told him:
“Abbas, my child, I know your unbounded love for Husain.
Though you are too young to be told about it, when that day dawns, consider no sacrifice too great for Husain and his children.”

He saw before his mind’s eye that parting with his aged mother Fatima in Medina. How she had affectionately embraced him and reminded him of the dying desire of his father to lay down his life in the defense of Husain and his dear ones.
A faint smile of satisfaction flickered for a brief moment on his parched lips a smile of satisfaction that he had fulfilled his father’s wish; that he had performed his duty for which he was brought up. It just flitted for a moment and vanished as other scenes came before his mind’s eye. He was re-living the events of the night before. He was seeing Shimr stealthily coming to him; and talking to him about his ties of relationship; about the protection he had been promised for Abbas by the Commander of Yazid’s forces, only if he would leave Husain and go over to Yazid’s camp; about the promises of riches and rewards that he would get; how he had spurned the suggestion of Shimr with the utmost disdain to the chagrin of that servile minion who had sold his soul for a mess of pottage. How he had scared away that coward by his scathing rage saying:
“You worshipper of Mammon, do not think that Abbas will be lured by your tempting offer of power and pelf. If I die in fending my master, Husain, I shall consider myself the luckiest person. O coward, remember that valiants die but once. Nobody is born to live eternally. By betraying my master, you have betrayed the Prophet, whose religion you profess to follow. On the Day of Judgement you will be doomed to eternal perdition. I am ashamed to own any relationship with you. Had it not been for the fact that you have come here unarmed, I would have given you the chastisement you deserve for your impudence in asking me to become a turncoat.”

How that wretch had scampered from there seeing him roaring like an enraged lion. The thought of that unpleasant interlude contracted his brows. Or was it the excruciating pain he was suffering on account of the deep gashes he had all over his body?

Yet another scene passed before Abbas’s eyes – Sakina leading 42 children, each with a dry water-bag. The children were shouting as if in chorus
Thirst, consuming thirst, is killing us.
Sakina coming to him and putting her dry water-bag at his feet and saying to him:
“O uncle, I know you will do something to get water for us. Even if you can bring one bag full of water, we can wet our parched throats.”
He could see that thirst, aggravated by the scorching heat of the desert, was squeezing their young lives out of them. The sight of these youngsters had moved him more than any other soul-stirring events of that faithful day. How he had picked up the water-bag with assurance to Sakina that he would go and bring water – God Willing.

How he had taken Husain’s permission and marched out of the camp with a sword in one hand, the flag in the other, and the bag on his shoulder, with the children following him in a group up to the outer perimeter of the camp. How Husain had repeatedly requested him to avoid fighting as much as possible and confine himself to the task of bringing water!
His thoughts switched over to the events that had preceded his fall from the horse. With the object of procuring water for his dear little Sakina, he had charged on the enemy who held the river banks. He had run through the enemy ranks like a knife through butter. Again this surging onslaught the cowards could not stand and had run helter-skelter shouting for protection. For a moment it seemed as if Ali, the Lion of God, had descended from heaven. In no time Abbas was near the rivulet. He had jumped down from the horse and bent to fill the water-bag. When it was filled to the brim, he had taken some water in his cupped hand to drink and satisfy his killing thirst. But, on second thoughts, he had thrown the water away. How could he drink water when Sakina and the children were still withering without it?
How could he be so callous as to forget that his master Husain had not had a drop of water since the last three days. He had turned to his horse which had been let loose so that it could satisfy its thirst.

The animal had been intently looking at its master as if to say:
I too am aware that, so long as our master and his children remain without water, our thirst cannot be quenched.
With the water-bag filled he had jumped into the saddle with one thought uppermost in his mind, to get the water to the anxiously waiting children as quickly as possible. Seeing him galloping towards the camp of Husain, the enemy had turned. Somebody had shouted from the enemy ranks that if Husain and his people got water, it would be difficult to fight them on the battlefield. Though it was an uneven fight, he fought them with valour which was so characteristic of his fathers Though he was thirsty and hungry, he charged on them and scattered them. The mercenaries of Yazid were running like lambs in a fold when charged by a lion. Seeing that a frontal assault on a man so brave was not possible, they had resorted to a barrage of arrows. When arrows were coming form all sides, Abbas had only one thought in his mind, how to protect the water-bag than his life. Seeing that Abbas was preoccupied with this thought, one treacherous foe, hiding behind a sand-dune, had rushed out and dealt a blow on his right hand and cut it off. In a flash Abbas had transferred his sword to his left hand and the standard he was bearing he had hugged to his chest. Now that the Lion of Ali was crippled, the foes had found courage to surround him. A blow from an enemy’s sword severed his left arm. The odds were now mounting against him. He held the bag with his teeth and protected the flag with his chest pressed on the horse’s back. Now the paramount thought in his mind was to reach the camp somehow or the other. A silent prayer had escaped his lips:
Merciful Allah, spare me long enough to fulfill my mission.

But that was not to be. An arrow had pierced the water-bag and water had started gushing out of it. Was it water that was flowing out of that bag or the hopes of Abbas? All his efforts had been in vain.
After all Sakina’s thirst would remain unsatisfied and all her hopes would be frustrated. The enemies who had made bold to surround him, now seeing his helpless condition, were now gathering thick round him.
One of them came near him and struck mortal blow with an iron mace. He reeled over and fell from the horse.
He tossed on the burning sand with excruciating pain. He felt that life was fast ebbing out but his wish to see his master had remained unfulfilled. With one last effort, with all the strength that was left
in him, he shouted:
O my master, do come to me before I die.
As it in answer to his prayers he felt some footsteps near him, Yes, his instinct told him that it was his lord. His one eye had been blinded by an arrow and the other filled with blood and so he could not see. But he felt his master kneeling down beside him, lifting his head and taking it into his lap. Not a word was said for a few seconds because both were choked with emotion. At last he heard Husain’s voice, a half-sob, half-muffled cry:
Abbas, my brother, what have they done to you?
If Abbas could see, would he have recognized his master? With back bent and beard turned white and hoary, on hearing the parting cry of his beloved brother, Husain’s plight was such that nobody could have recognized him – such was his transformation. Abbas was now feeling the loving touch of his master’s hand. With effort he muttered:
You have come at last, my Master. I thought I was not destined to have a last farewell with you but, thank God, you are here.
With these words he put his head on the sand. Tenderly Husain lifted his head and again put it on his lap, inquiring why he had removed it from there.
My Master, replied Abbas, the thought that when you will be breathing your last, nobody will be there to put your head in a lap and to comfort you, makes me feel that it would be better if my head lies on the sand when I die, just as yours would be. Besides, I am your slave and you are my master. It is too much for me to put my head on your lap.
Husain burst into uncontrollable tears. The sight of his brother, whose name was to become a byword for devotion and unflinching faithfulness, laying down his dear life in his arms, was heart-rending.
Abbas was heard to whisper softly:

“My master, I have some last wishes to express. When I was born, I had my first look at your face and it is my last desire that when I die, my gaze may be on it, too. My one eye is pierced by an arrow and the other is filled with blood. If you will clear the blood from my one eye, I’ll be able to see you and fulfill my last dying desire. My second wish is that when I die you may not carry my body to the camp. I had promised to bring water to Sakina and, since I have failed in my attempt to bring her water, I cannot face her even in death. Besides, I know that the blows that you have received since morning have all but crushed you and carrying my body to the camp will be heart breaking work for you. And my third wish is that Sakina may not be brought here to see my plight. I know with what love and affection she was devoted to me. The sight of my dead body lying here will kill her” .

Husain sobbingly promised him that he would carry out his last wishes added:
“Abbas, I too have a wish to be fulfilled. Since childhood you have always called me master. For once at least call me brother with your dying breath.”

The blood was cleared from the eye, one brother looked at the other with a longing lingering look. Abbas was heard to whisper:
My brother, my brother and with these words he surrendered his soul to his Maker: Husain fell unconscious on the dead body of Abbas with a cry:
O Abbas, who is left to protect me and Sakina after you?

The flow of Furat became dark as winter and a murmur arose from the flowing water as if to protest against the killing of a thirsty water-bearer on its banks.



A contemporary scholar Mr Abdul Ghaffar in the daily ‘Hindustan’ dated 21 June 1993 has raised certain objections about the ‘Welcome to Mourning’ (IstiqbaleAza). Perhaps his one-sided study might have plunged him into misunderstandings. Hence it became imperative for us to clarify his misgivings.

The summary of his objections, based on five premises, which are as follows:
(1) Certainly the assassination of Husain will kindle fire in the hearts of the believers until eternity, which will never extinguish. It is a tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.)? What is the proof of its authenticity?
(2) The mourning of Prophets (a.s.) before Imam Husain (a.s.) is a meaningless thing.
(3) The survival and resilence of Islam is based on its cardinal principles of Namaz, Roza, Hajj etc. Islam thrives on it and not on mourning of Imam Husain (a.s.).
(4) Mourning and self-flagellation for Imam Husain (a.s.) is forbidden.
(5) Mourning and establishing such gatherings does not have any relevance to the religion. Man should follow Quran and Traditions and not the practice of scholars.

Now we shall reply to the above-mentioned objections so that the foundation and base of Azadari may become evident to one and all. And none shall remain unaware of the existence found in reliable and authentic traditions.

Refutation to the First Objection
“Martyrdom of Husain kindles such a fire in the hearts of the believers which will never extinguish.”
This tradition is but a part of a lengthy narration which Imam Sadiq (a.s.) had related from Holy Prophet (s.a.w.). Complete tradition is quoted below:

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
“When Imam Husain (a.s.) came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), he looked at him, hugged him and said: ‘Martyrdom of Husain will generate such a fire in the hearts of believers which will never be extinguished.’ Then he said’ My parents be sacrificed for him who is the fountain-head of all mournings’. When the companions asked ‘What does it mean?’ He replied ‘That no believer will remember him but mourning and weeping.’

The tradition was recorded by a great scholar of 8th Century A.H. Shamsuddin Mohammed Aalim (died in 786A.H.), who was given the title of’ Collection of merits and excellences and total knowledge of the world and hereafter’ by Shaikh Mohammed Yusuf Quraishi Shafei in his book ‘Majmua’ quoted from the book ‘Al-Anwaar’ written by Shaikh Abu Ali Mohammed bin Abi Bakr Hammam bin Sohail Katib Iskafi (died in 336 A.H.), who was student of the renowned Sunni scholar of 3rd century A.H. Abdur Razzaq. The narrator of this tradition was Ahmed bin Abi Hiraasa Bahuli, who related from Ibrahim bin Ishaque, who related from Hemad bin Ishaue Ansari, who quoted from Ibn Sinan and who narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.).

This tradition has surprised our respected brethren Abdur Ghaffar but its authenticity was supported by Bukhari in ‘Al Adab Al Mufrad ‘, Ibn Majah in his ‘ Sunan ‘in the chapter of Merits of Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (a.s.). Hakim has written about it in his ‘ Mustadrak ‘ pg 77 and Ahmad Bin Hambal in his ‘ Musnad’ vol 4, pg 172 . Apart from these stalwarts, other traditionalists have also narrated it in their books on the authority of Yali Bin Murrah and Jafar Bin Abdullah Ansari that ‘Once the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) alongwith his companions was going to attend a feast. He saw Imam Husain (a.s.) playing with his friends. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) moved with agility and wanted to hug him. But when Imam Husain (a.s.) dodged him smilingly. This made the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) to laugh with him and be pleased. Finally he caught Imam Husain (a.s.) and took him in his arms, kissed him and said
“Husain is from me and I am from Husain, Allah likes him who loves Husain. He is one of my grandsons,”

Refutation to the Second Objection
He objects that how come past Prophets (a.s.) mourned and weptfor Imam Husain (a.s.) before his martyrdom?
The cause of this question is that Abdul Gaffar considers Prophets to be like ordinary mortals and thinks that they are unaware of the future happenings. While they are gifted with Divine Knowledge due to which they are aware of future happenings. They used to rejoice at joyous occasions and became sorrowful and uncomfortable at the sad incidents.

It has been mentioned in reliable traditions that often Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) mourned for Imam Husain (a.s.), which was obviously before his martyrdom.
Thewell-known scholar of 10th century A. H. Allauddin Muttaqi Hindi in his book ‘Kanzul Ummal’ has quoted Ibn Abi Shaibah, who has related from Umme Salmah, the wife of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), that “Once Imam Husain (a.s.) came to Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) when I was sitting near the door. I saw that Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) had something in his palm, which was moved by him and weeping profusely. By now Imam Husain (a.s.) had fallen asleep in his lap. I asked about the matter. He replied: ‘Jibraeel has brought the sand of the place where Husain will be martyred and informed me that people of my Ummat will slay him.'” (Kanzul Ummal, vol 2)

The great Sunni scholar of 8th century A. H., Hafiz Nuruddin Haithami Shafei has related from Tabrani , who has narrated from Hazrat Aisha that
“Once Imam Husain Bin Ali (a.s.) visited Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), while he was in the middle of a revelation. He climbed on the shoulders of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), Jibrael asked from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) that did he love him? The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) replied ‘How could I not love my son’. Jibrael said: ‘Surely your Ummat will kill him afteryou’. Then he stretched his hand and handed over a white sand to Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and said: ‘Your son will be killed on this soil. The place is known as Taff.’ After the departure of Jibrael, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) came out, he had the same sand in his hand, he was weeping and he said: ‘ O Ayesha, Jibrael has informed me that my son Husain will be killed on the land of Taff. My Ummat will pass through test after me.’ Then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) went, weeping profusely. Hazrat Ali (a.s.), Hazrat Abu Bakr, Hazrat Umar and Hazrat Abu Zar were present there. When they all inquired about the cause of grief. He replied: “Jibrael has informed me that, after me, my son Husain will be killed on the land of Taff. He also gave me the sand and said that it is from his grave.” (Majmauz Zawaed, vol 9, pg 187)

Hakim Neshapuri has related a tradition from Umme Fazl that once in her dream she saw the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), whose limb got cut and fell in her lap. She related the dream to Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), He replied “You have seen a good dream. InshaAllah, Fatema will give birth to a child and you will upbring him.” Umme Fazl said soon after Fatema gave birth to Husain and I brought him up. Once I took him to Holy Prophet (s.a.w.). When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) looked at me, his eyes were brimming with tears. When I inquired about the cause of tears. He replied: “Jibrael had come to me and told me that after me, my Ummat will kill my son.” I asked “Will it be this son?” He replied in the affirmative. Jibrael also brought reddish sand for me.” (Mustadrak Hakim, vol 3, pg 176)

Are not these three traditions enough to prove that Prophets, and Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) in particular, due to Divinely gifted knowledge were well-aware of the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.). They were aggrieved and mourned for him.

Refutation to the Third Objection
Undoubtedly Namaz, Fasting and Hajj are from the fundamental principles of Islam and none of the Muslim can repudiate it. But what aboutthose things which are regarded as a matter of belief and related to the emotional feelings like the Oneness of Allah, Prophethood of Hazrat Mohammed (s.a.w.) or for that matter love of Allah, His Prophet and Ahlebait. Are not these things also among the obligatory deeds. Are not these things higher than obligatory deeds of Islam? Quran and traditions bear testimony to the fact that faith has precedence upon deed. The pre requisite for acceptance of a virtue is correct belief. Belief in Allah and Prophet, Resurrection, avoidance of polytheism and disbelief, enmity with the enemies of Islam, love of Allah, Prophet Mohammed (s.a.w.) and his Ahlebait are in fact total and absolute belief. Good deed leads to perfection and elevation of faith.

Allauddin Muttaqi Hindi, a great Sunni scholar has recorded a tradition in his book ‘Kanzul Ummal’ from a great Sunni traditionalist and historian Ibne Asakir that Hazrat Ali (a.s.) related from Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) who said:
“O Ali! Islam is bare naked, it is covered by piety, its dress is guidance, its adornment is shame, its pillar is abstinence and its base is good deeds. The foundation of Islam is my love and love for myAhlebait.” (Kanzul Ummal, vol 13, pg 90 and vol 6, pg 218)

Imamul Mohaddesin Ahmed Bin Hambal has related a tradition from Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) in which he addressed his cousin Mutallib Bin Rabiah:
“By Allah faith will not enter any Muslim’s heart unless forthe sake of maintaining contact with me and he loves my Ahlebait (a.s.).”
(Musnad Ahmed, vol 3, pg 201)

The great traditionalist Hafiz Jalaluddin Suyuti has recorded from Tabrani that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) said:
“Maintain love of my Ahlebait. Meet Allah in such a way that you maintain love with us. He will enter into paradise by our intercession. I swear by the One who holds my life in His hands that no deed will be accepted unless we Ahlebait approve of it.” (Ahyaul Mayyit, Tradition No 18)

Hence if Namaz, Fasting, Zakat and Hajj are compulsory acts of Islam then the base of these acts is veritable faith and belief, which includes love of Ahlebait. Since Imam Husain (a.s.) is very much from Ahlebait, heartly attachment and love for him according to authentic tradition forms an indispensable condition for the veritability of faith.

At this juncture a question arises that if by Quranic injunction and religious instruction someone loves Imam Husain (a.s.) from the depth of hear tthen is it possible that he will remain unmoved at his calamity and he will not express grief for him?

Therefore, we say that if Namaz, Fasting, Hajj and Zakat are pillars of Islam and its establishment are intact eternity of Islam. Then it is amply proved by traditions that love of Ahlebait and love of Imam Husain (a.s.) and mourning on him, which is an offshoot of love of Ahlebait, is the foundation of Islam. Its establishment is a pre-condition for establishing Islam.

Refutation to the Fourth Objection
The reply to this objection becomes evidentfrom the earlier reply though. Allah, the Almighty, says in Quran
“O Prophet say that I do not ask of you any reward except the love for my kindred” (Shura: 22) .

Hence according to this verse love of Prophet (s.a.), Ahlebait and Imam Husain (a.s.) is compulsory. And the best expression of love is to be pleased in the happiness of the beloved and to express grief at his sorrow. Hence mourning on Imam Husain (a.s.) for Muslims who believe in this Quranic verse is compulsory.
Factually speaking, it is highly surprising how can a Muslim dare to differ from clear injunctions of Quran and traditions and opine that act which is a part of belief is forbidden. It is really astonishing that how will this man face the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and his Ahlebait on Quiyamat and how will he expect their intercession.

Is not there the story of Hazrat Yaqub (a.s.) in Quran? Who wept at the separation of his son Hazrat Yusuf (a.s.) for an age. So much so that he was blinded. While Hazrat Yusuf was not tormented by thirst, nor was he brutally killed, neither his sons were killed in his arms, his corpse was not trampled under the hoods of the horses, his tent was not set ablaze and even his women folk were not made captive.

Respected Sir Abdul Gaffar what you suggest that while following the practice of Hazrat Yaqub (a.s.) how much shall we mourn?

Before the event of Karbala the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) often mourned for Imam Husain (a.s.). After the demise of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), Janabe Fatema (s.a.) mourned for him so much that according to the narration of Ibne Sa’ad she was not seen smiling even for a day.

Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) mourned for his father for his entire lifetime. Whenever a sheep was slaughtered and its head separated he used to say
“My father’s head was chopped off in the same manner. The son of the Prophet was slain in this way.”

In the end we request Janab Abdul Gaffarthat about any religious matter unless he does not make impartial study and investigations he should not pursue the matter blindly otherwise his actions will be nothing but plain waste. We also suggest that he should refer some of the Sunni books like Maqtal-al-Husain by Mowaffeq Bin Ahmad Khwarizmi Hanafi, Qurratul Ain fil Baka Alal Husain by Mohammed Mobin Tanava Hanafi, Sawadul Ain fi Rethail Husain by Abu Bakr Hadrami Shafei, Fasle TarjamatuI Imam Al Husain Az Tarikhe Damishq by Ibn Asakir and such other books and compilations. And he should deny the religious factuality of Imam Husain (a.s.) and associate with the enemies of Islam thus causing a rift in the unity of the Muslims. He should know that some of the most difficult stages on the Day of Quiyamatwill be giving explanation of such verdicts and rulings which a man makes inadvertently. There are such traditions in Sihahe Sitta where it is mentioned that on the Day of Quiyamat angels will bring some companions to the Fountain of Kausar and they will turned away because they did not fulfil their rights towards Holy Prophet (s.a.w.).


To understand the sermon of Imam Husain (a.s) and to unravel the secrets and mysteries hidden in it, to experience its excellence, to be influenced by it and then convey it in our own words is a task of mammoth proportions. Leave alone the lay man, even scholars, intellectuals and the litterateurs whose entire lives have been spent in teaching, reading and writing are powerless and ineffective in elucidating and interpreting certain portions of the sermon and writing its exegesis. This statement is not an exaggeration but it is an indisputable fact.

For instance, once Janabe Abdullah b. Jafar-e-Tayyar – the husband of Janabe Zainab (s.a) was with Imam Husain (a.s) at the time when he (a.s) had left Mecca. Along with Janabe Abdullah was Yahya b. Saeed – the brother of Umar b. Saeed. Janabe Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) was carrying along with him a letter from Umar b. Saeed that granted safety and protection to Imam Husain (a.s). Yazid had deposed Waleed b. Utbah and had made Umar b. Saeed as the governor of Madina. Janabe Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) was among those respected personalities who tried to dissuade Imam Husain (a.s) from undertaking the journey to Karbala. He even brought Yahya b. Saeed and the letter that granted asylum to Imam Husain (a.s) in Madina. To him Imam Husain (a.s) said ‘I saw my grandfather (s.a.w.s.) in my dream. Now it is impossible that I turn back. And I have not mentioned this dream to anyone else.’

Imam Husain (a.s) said

‘The one who responds to Allah’s and His Messenger’s (s.a.w.s.) invitation, performs good actions and complies with the laws of Islam has not opposed Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w.s.). He (Umar b. Saeed) sends a letter of amnesty and at the same time prepares the grounds for war! But know that the greatest security and shelter lies with Allah. And the one who does not fear Allah in his religion, then he will be deprived of Allah’s sanctuary on the Day of Resurrection. I beseech Allah that His fear remains in me in this world and He grants me refuge in the hereafter. If this letter of amnesty is really based on goodness and sincere intentions then he will get its reward in this world as well as the hereafter.’

Through this brief exhortation, the curtain is raised and some secrets are unfolded. The first is a subtle advice to Umar b. Saeed that the one who does not fear Allah in this world and revolts against the truth cannot expect His pardon in the hereafter. This disobedience will be unacceptable and would be unforgivable. Secondly, Imam (a.s.) was heeding the invitation of Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w.s.) and therefore a letter of amnesty from Umar b. Saeed does not have any significance. It also shows the character, greatness, magnanimity, courage and independence of Imam Husain (a.s).

But what about that dream? What plan does Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) have in his mind? As events progress, numerous advises and exhortations, as well as the highest forms of guidance, the method of enjoining goodness and prohibiting evil in a practical form, emerge from the sermons of Imam (a.s.). Over the years, Imam’s (a.s.) enlightening sermons have been minutely analysed and many pearls of wisdom have emanated from them. And this process continues till date.

The words and advises of Imam Husain (a.s) in the course of his journey from Medina to Mecca and then from Mecca to Karbala – till the time he attained martyrdom, were collected and compiled in a book. Only after intense reflection and deliberation on his enlightening sermons and speeches, did the deep and incisive secrets concealed in them and their universal effects were manifest to the people. Topics like Tauheed, Prophethood, Wilayat (Vicegerency), Qiyamat, Divine Justice (Adl), the proofs and evidences of the existence of God, the difference between the Divine existence and the existence of the creatures and then finally ‘meeting with the Lord’ have all been dealt with in his sermons. Topics that are so profound that even past prophets and messengers appear to be like divers in the sea of amazement and astonishment. These discussions open the doors of ‘True Recognition’ (marefat) of Allah. The greatness of Prophethood, the majesty of Imam, belief in the Day of Accounting, characteristics of the prophets and their successors – as if his sermons are a key to the entire aim and objective of Prophethood.

History is a witness that Imam Husain (a.s) had given so many speeches and sermons to the army of Yazid that finally they were compelled to say ‘O Husain! We have heard all that you have said. Now pick up your sword and start fighting’.

This shows that Imam Husain (a.s) put forth all his proofs and arguments and had ensured that his voice and message was heard by each and everyone. He did this so that no wrongdoer could advance the excuse of ‘ignorance’ on the Day of Judgement. Keeping in view the numerous sermons of Imam Husain (a.s) it is impossible to unveil all their secrets across a short treatise of a few pages. In fact it is difficult to throw light even upon a select few of his sermons. However, if the esteemed readers were to bestow their attention on the books that have been written on the speeches of Imam Husain (a.s) in the vernacular languages, if only to stimulate their interest, and try to comprehend their meanings and significance, then it is possible to make some progress. They will realise that the defense of twenty three years of propagation of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) began in the month of Rajab and it was secured on the day of Ashoora through his sermons. When the Shias acquire the maturity to understand the phrases that emanated from the blessed tongue of Imam Husain (a.s) and their hearts are stirred with an inclination to act upon them, then the advises of the Quran will become evident to them. The mind will then start accepting and comprehending the effects of the sayings of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). By reading and hearing about the attributes of our blessed Imams (a.s), the heart finds contentment and we can grasp that even while living in this world we should strive to adorn our hereafter. Writers have concentrated on four aspects in their efforts to unveil the secrets concealed within the speeches of Imam Husain (a.s).
The four aspects are:

(a) One particular Quranic verse, the exegesis (tafseer) of which is from Umar b. Khattab.
(b) The debate on the issue of allegiance, a controversy over which began right after the demise of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the advises of the people exhorting Imam Husain (a.s) not to go to Iraq.
(c) Some crucial turn of events during the journey to Karbala.
(d) Those illegitimate ones who were the fruits of the ‘Accursed Tree’. Obviously this short article cannot delve on all these topics in detail. But as the tradition says, “If you cannot take everything, then also don’t leave everything.’

1. The narration of the Holy Quran that is related to the event of Karbala and is a prelude to understanding the sermons of Imam Husain (a.s) is found in Surah Hajj, verse 78 . This verse throws light among other things, upon the personalities that appointed Yazid as the caliph and the successor of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). In reality, these personalities were the true architects of his evil reign. In this verse Allah exhorts:

‘And strive hard in (the way of) Allah, (such) a striving a is due to Him.’
(Hajj : 78)

Over here, the struggle (Jehad) that Allah has emphasised refers to the Jehad of Imam Husain (a.s) and the opposing group against whom the battle will be waged is Mughairah (according to Baihakee ). The exegesis (tafseer) of this verse is that Ibn Mardiyah narrates from Abdur Rahman b. Awf that Umar b. Khattab told us, ‘Have you not read the Quranic verse in which Allah declares – ‘Just as you did jehad in the early days you should be prepared for jehad in the last days.’ I affirmed, ‘Certainly, I have read this verse. But which era is referred to by the phrase “last days”?’ To this Umar replied ‘The days when the Bani Umayyah will be rulers and the sons of Mughairah will be the ministers.’ Baihakee has also narrated this same incident. (Durre Mansoor, vol. 4 pg. 371, Cairo edition).

The sons of Mughairah were given ministerial portfolios during the reign of Yazid. Moaviyah was unhappy with Mughairah. But it was Mughairah b. Shoba who had suggested to Moaviyah that he should appoint Yazid as his successor. (Vali-e-Ahad). And in order to prove his (Mughaira) loyalty, he sent his son to Moaviyah – along with forty men – to give the oath of allegiance to Yazid as the ‘heir apparent’. After all of them had sworn allegiance to Yazid, Moaviyah took the son of Mughairah in one corner and asked him ‘In how much money did your father purchase their faith?’ Mughairah’s son said ‘In four hundred dinars’. To which Moaviyah replied ‘Even then it has turned cheap!’

The characters that are unveiled and identified in the entire episode are
(a) Umar b. Khattab, (b) Abdur Rahman b. Awf (c) Mughairah, (d) the son of Mughairah, (e) Moaviyah, (f) Yazid, (g) those forty Kufans who swore allegiance to Yazid for four hundred dinars. The era of these individuals is seen in three paces – the rule of Umar, the reign of Moaviyah and the predictions leading to the reign of Yazid. It is the miracle of Quran that in one single verse, it has exposed the true character of these individuals who are sailing in the same boat and who were instrumental in the appointment of Yazid as a caliph. And standing against these characters is the group that represents the truth and who also embraced three eras and who were introduced by Imam Husain (a.s) most fittingly. It was nighttime when Walid b. Utbah announced the proclamation of Yazid. It was at the governor’s residence where Imam Husain (a.s) declared:

In this short address, Imam Husain (a.s) draws Walid b. Utbah’s attention to the following points:
(a) “We are the people of the (last) messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.)” :
The reason for saying this is that after a few days the despicable people would argue about the progeny of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.).The fifth member of the progeny of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) (i.e. Imam Husain (a.s)) has firmly presented irrevocable evidence in the annals of history and has shown that the attributes of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) are divine and heavenly. Infallibility and chastity are the prime requisites to conform to these characteristics and its proof would have to be brought from none other than Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) himself. It means that that not only are they exceptional but they are also unparalleled in their attributes and they strive hard in the way of Allah with a striving a is due to Him.

(b) “We are the treasures of the prophets knowledge” :
We are well versed with divine secrets. We appear like you but are not like you. We are leaders and masters of (past) prophets and the successors. We are the ‘Path’ of Allah and the inheritors of the past prophets. We are the Proofs of Allah and we bestow the teachings of the Book and Wisdom. Just as our grandfather (s.a.w.s.) persevered in his mission of propagating Islam and just as he purified the ‘self’ of the people by means of the verses of the Quran – awakening and shaking their intellect, intelligence and mentality – and at the same time was steadfast, we too are like him (s.a.w.s.). It is our responsibility to smash the majesty and power of the kings of Rome, Damascus and Arabia and replace them with divine splendour and grandeur. And even with a handful of followers we shall achieve our aim. Otherwise there would not be any distinction between the light of guidance and the darkness of deviation.

(c) “We are the place of descent of angels” :
We are that place where angels are constantly arriving and departing. Our silence has given an opportunity to the plunderers of Islam to gather their strength. But it should not happen that at the time of their death they should have any regrets. Angels are our messengers. They constantly bring for us the news of the universe – in which corner of the earth, the weak and the oppressed are preparing for a confrontation. We are the people who can give a fitting reply to the hypocrites and the polytheists within the realm of religion. And we will give a suitable reply. Ibrahim (a.s.) shall declare that He (Imam Husain (a.s.)) is my son. Moosa (a.s) shall announce He is my inheritor. Isa (a.s) shall proclaim that He is my trustee. While the last messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) – the pride of all prophets shall declare proudly: ‘I am from Husain’.

(d) “We are the place of descent of mercy” :
I am the son of that Prophet (s.a.w.s.) who was a mercy for the worlds. I am the centre of mercy. At the time when the accused Shimr was about to behead Imam Husain (a.s) at the time of Asr on the day of Ashoora, he saw that the lips of Imam Husain (a.s) moving. He thought that probably Imam Husain (a.s) was cursing him. He bent forward to hear what Imam Husain (a.s) was murmuring. He heard Imam Husain (a.s) saying, ‘O my Lord! The nation of my grandfather (s.a.w.s.) is ignorant of my great status. Please forgive them.’ This can only be expected from the grandson of that prophet who was a source of compassion for both the worlds. On his way to Karbala when Imam (a.s) met Abdullah b. Jaufi, he (a.s) advised him, ‘You go very far away from here so that my cries for help (on the Day of Ashoora) do not fall upon your ears. Otherwise you will be destroyed.’ (This is just a small glimpse of his benevolence)

(e) “The religion of Islam was initiated through us” :
And we are the ones who will put the seal of finalisation upon it. If only man – who is endowed with wisdom and who discerns everything – were to fulfill the demands of his robust intellect! He should have asked, ‘O son of the prophet! How is it possible that you will put the final seal on the history of Islam. The phrase (ARABIC) is actually pointing towards the ‘Glorious Kingdom’, the ‘Divine Rule’ – the reign for which the entire universe is awaiting and he is the one who will take revenge.

In this way, in a few words, Imam Husain (a.s) has expressed the status of Imamat – a position that is only obtained by divine appointment. – and has elucidated the spirit and purport behind its context and meaning. He did all this in order to complete his arguments and make the people aware of the secrets of the status of Imamat. He did this so that no one would have any excuse on the Day of Accounting. Not only this, but Imam Husain (a.s) has pulled down the facade of power and leadership from the face of Yazid and exposed his true colours. Imam Husain (a.s) said, ‘Yazid is a drunkard. He boldly kills those people whose killing is prohibited. He is openly involved in all sorts of indecencies and obscenities.’ And when he (a.s) demanded from the officials of Yazid, ‘Tell me, how can a person like me give allegiance to a person like him? Be patient and wait till morning. The truth shall be apparent in broad daylight.’ And when Marwan b. Hakam, who was the fiercest enemy of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) advised Walid to kill Imam Husain (a.s), he (a.s) told him sternly, ‘O son of a degraded woman! You shall be the one who will kill me.’

The reign of Yazid – the caliph of the Muslim nation – encompassed the entire Arabian Peninsula. It is that evil era when the corruptions of Damascus have cast their shadows on the Islamic Empire. After describing the malicious character of Yazid and his immoral personality, the persona of Imam Husain (a.s) and his infallible character are as dazzling as the first rays of the rising sun. These phrases (that Imam Husain (a.s) addressed to Marwan) highlight the courage of Imam Husain (a.s) and through them the universal strength of falsehood is raised to dust. The arrows are an indication of the onslaught of war – a war as it ought to be waged. A war of patience, a crusade of steadfastness, a battle against the self and a war against relations.

Imam Husain (a.s) said ‘A person like me will never swear allegiance to a person like him’ . This meant that if the heir to Hazrat Adam (a.s.), Hazrat Nuh (a.s.), Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.), Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) and the grandson of the last Prophet (s.a.w.s.) were to sell himself to Yazid, an illiterate and a drunkard and the most tyrannical of all creatures, there would be no difference left between (ARABIC) (those who have been bestowed with Allah bounties) and (ARABIC) (those upon whom there is the wrath of Allah). Consequently, not only mankind would be devoid of the noble values and morals as propounded by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) but there would also remain no sign of divine justice (Adl), belief in the unseen and the Hereafter. Everything would have been lost in the darkness of the disastrous deeds of the progeny of Abu Sufyan. It was a taunt of Imam Husain (a.s) when he said, “Wait until morning. Everything shall be clear.’

O from what an infinite personality did Yazid decide to obtain an allegiance! (No doubt, the only Infinite Being is Allah. Over here we mean that the personality and character of Imam Husain (a.s) is beyond the comprehension of ordinary mortals). In this way Imam Husain (a.s) has mentioned the string of allegiances that were purchased from time to time – right from Saqifah till the last allegiance that was purchased for a mere ten dinars (about which we have discussed earlier). All these acts will humiliate the people till the Day of Judgement. Here we would like to mention yet another shameful and disgraceful event of history that is connected to this allegiance (that Yazid sought from Imam Husain (a.s)) and it is related to that very era. The son of the leader of mankind was already determined not to give allegiance to Yazid. But Abdullah b. Umar b. Khattab did give his allegiance to a disgraceful creature. After Yazid, he kissed the feet of Hajjaj b. Yusuf and offered his allegiance to him. And this incident is recorded in the pages of history. After Yazid, Abdul Malik b. Marwan became the caliph and he appointed Hajjaj b. Yusuf as the governor of Madina. Abdullah b. Umar went to visit Hajjaj b. Yusuf in the middle of the night and told him, ‘Please advance your hand so that I may swear allegiance to the caliph of the time (i.e. Abdul Malik b. Marwan)’ Hajjaj b. Yusuf asked him, ‘What is the haste? Why don’t you wait till the morning?’ At this Abdullah b. Umar replied, ‘I have heard the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) say ‘One who dies without paying allegiance to the ruler of his time, dies a death of ignorance’. Immediately, Hajjaj b. Yusuf asked him, ‘Then why did you flee from paying allegiance to Ali when he was the caliph?’ After saying this, he removed his foot from below the quilt and asked Abdullah b. Umar to kiss it, saying that he was fit only for this kind of an allegiance. And Abdullah b. Umar did that. (Sharh-e-Nahjil Balagha by Ibn Abil Hadeed) . And the irony is that Ahmed b. Hanbal (one of the greatest Ahle Sunnah scholars) has narrated 1,700 traditions from Abdullah b. Umar while he has recorded only 22 traditions from Imam Hasan (a.s) and Imam Husain (a.s) – yes only 22 traditions. (Sukhnan-e-Husain b. Ali (a.s.))

Abdullah b. Umar had gone to Mecca for performing Umrah and on his way to Medina, he met Imam Husain (a.s). He cautioned Imam Husain (a.s) about the evil plans and tactics of Yazid and his cronies in order to arrest and assassinate him (a.s). At this Imam Husain (a.s) said:

“O Abu Abdur Rahman! Don’t you know how offensive and wretched is this world that even a great prophet like Janabe Yahya b. Zakariya (a.s.) was not spared. The people beheaded him and his head was gifted to a singing girl who was also a prostitute and a woman of immoral character. The Bani Israel would commence their day only after they had slaughtered 70 prophets. But when “the greatest of avengers” (i.e. Allah) decided that it was enough, He involved them in terrible calamities…” After this Imam Husain (a.s) said “O Abu Abdur Rahman! Fear Allah and do not turn away from my assistance.”

Two important points emerge from this short sermon. The first one is that this world is so depraved that even a great prophet like Janabe Yahya (a.s) was beheaded and his head was presented to a singing girl. And Imam Husain (a.s) has referred to Janabe Yahya b. Zakariya (a.s.) a number of times during his journey. This shows that he was aware of his fate. Because there is a striking similarity between the martyrdom of Janabe Yahya b. Zakariya (a.s.).and his own martyrdom. And nor were the Syrians and Kufans living during the time of Imam Husain (a.s) any less oppressive than the Bani Israel. Thus Imam Husain (a.s) was commencing the journey (from Medina to Karbala) conscious of the consequences of his each and every step. (All this shows that Imams (a.s.) have the knowledge of the unseen and are cognizant of the future course of events. This (information) they receive either through divine inspiration or through the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Yet this does not mean that the Imams (a.s.) act according to their foreknowledge. They live and behave like ordinary humans)

The second point is that it was imperative to expose the character of Abdullah b. Umar. History has given undue importance to this personality. It is surprising that Ahmed b. Hanbal had the audacity to narrate 1,700 traditions from him. According to Sahih-e-Bukhari (Kitab-ul-Fetan) , Abdullah b. Umar had sworn allegiance to Yazid. (Sukhnan-e-Imam Husain (a.s), pg 69 Mohammed Sadiq Najmi).

This same Abdullah b. Umar – at the time of departing from Mecca – arrived in the presence of Imam Husain (a.s) and requested Imam Husain (a.s) to allow him to kiss that very spot where Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) used to kiss him. Imam Husain (a.s) lifted his cloak and Abdullah b. Umar kissed his chest thrice. And at the time of leaving Mecca, Abdullah b. Umar mentioned to Imam Husain (a.s) that soon he (a.s) would be martyred. Over here, the question that arises is that is it possible that Imam Husain (a.s) would be unaware of his own martyrdom while strangers were conscious of this fact. The “knowledge of the unseen” that Imam Husain (a.s) possessed is a completely different matter. What is evident over here is that even the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) – at every stage of the twenty three years of his propagation, had prophesied the causes and the reasons that would lead to the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s). The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) described Imam’s (a.s) distinguished personality, the apostasy that would be prevalent in his nation, those who would oppose the Ahle Bait (a.s.) and would be their staunchest enemies, the rulers who would rule the Muslim empire and who would be more tyrannical than Firaun, the personalities of Bani Umayyah, the journey of Imam Husain (a.s) etc. Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) had prophesied each and everything. In the end, Imam Husain (a.s) fulfilled the responsibility of Imamat and advised Abdullah, ‘O Abdullah! Fear Allah and do not turn away from your duty of helping me.’ But Abdullah b. Umar, with tears in his eyes, turned his back and returned to Medina. In today’s world there are numerous Abdullahs who are sympathetic and sorrowful for Imam Husain (a.s). But to be included with Imam (a.s.) on the Day of Judgement and to be counted among his friends and helpers requires that one be prepared to sacrifice not only one’s life and wealth but also all those things that we cherish and hold dear. And this is not an easy task.

Thus various people like Abdullah b. Umar, Abdullah b. Jafar (r.a), Umar-e-Itraf (he was a brother of Imam Husain (a.s)), Muhammad b. Hanafiyyah – all of them tried to dissuade Imam Husain (a.s) from undertaking the journey from Mecca to Iraq, but Imam Husain (a.s) was resolute in his intention. The sermon worth mentioning is the one that he (a.s) delivered to Janabe Muhammad b. Hanafiyyah at the time he was about to leave Mecca. At that time, Janabe Muhammad b. Hanafiyyah was very ill. Yet he arrived in the presence of Imam Husain (a.s) and said, ‘O my beloved brother! You are well aware that the people of Kufa are notorious for violating their pledges. You also know how the Iraqis had behaved with your father. It is better that you stay back in Mecca.’ To this Imam Husain (a.s) replied, ‘If I am martyred in the precincts of Kabaa then it would lower the prestige and the sanctity of this venerable place.’ Janabe Muhammad b. Hanafiyyah then advised Imam Husain (a.s) to go to Yemen where he would remain safe. Imam Husain (a.s) replied, ‘I will think about it’. This discussion between both of them had taken place in the night. Yet when morning arrived, Imam Husain (a.s) began preparing to leave for Iraq. When Janabe Muhammad b. Hanafiyyah reminded him that he would consider going to Yemen, Imam Husain (a.s) said, ‘O my brother! Last night I saw Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in my dream and he said:

“O Husain, get ready and start moving. Allah wants to see you martyred.’

On, hearing this Janabe Muhammad b. Hanafiyyah recited:

‘Surely we are from Allah and to Him shall we return.’

Then he continued, ‘But is it advisable to take the women and the children along with you when you know that the circumstances are very sensitive and fraught with danger?’ At this Imam Husain (a.s) replied. ‘Allah wants to see them in bondage too.’ ( Sukhnan-e-Imam Husain (a.s) )

In this sermon, Imam Husain (a.s) has discussed those factors that led to his journey to Iraq. Firstly, the vision he had of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) in his dream. Secondly it was Allah’s wish that that he should be martyred and thirdly it was once again Allah’s wish that his children and the ladies of the family should be imprisoned and held in bondage. Imam Husain (a.s) has given similar relies to Janabe Umme Salmah, Janabe Zainab (s.a) and to Janabe Muhammad b. Hanafiyyah. Those who possess only superficial knowledge of religion and are not well versed with it, draw some baseless conclusions after hearing this reply. They claim that Imam Husain (a.s) was forced to undertake the journey to Iraq and his ‘free-will’ was suppressed by Allah. Unfortunately, this is a school of thought that not only comprises of laymen but also includes scholars and intellectuals. These people say

‘Surely Allah desired that He should see Imam Husain (a.s) martyred.’

Then they continue, ‘Hence the account of this particular event of Karbala is distinct from other events of the world. Because this martyrdom and imprisonment is beyond the scope of any individual – however great he might be. Leave alone humans, even angel have a feeling of regret on being deprived of this momentous opportunity.

In view of what these scholars and intellectuals claim, three pertinent points arise:
The first is that the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s) has no significance and value (since it was forced upon him and was not a voluntary act). The second is that the one who performs jehad by his free will is superior (to the one who is compelled to do jehad). And the third point is that the armies of Ibn Ziyad and Yazid are absolved of their offense of murdering Imam Husain (a.s) because they were forced to commit this heinous crime. Our reply to all these points and to all those who propound such views is very simple. Those who are familiar with the profound concepts of ‘Masheeyat’, ‘Iradah’ and ‘Destiny’ (Qadr) will understand the reply of Imam Husain (a.s), which these intellectuals have failed to comprehend and have reached the conclusion that martyrdom was forced upon Imam (a.s.). These people have interpreted Imam’s (a.s.) words in another light. While, on the contrary, these words and phrases highlight the excellence of Imam Husain (a.s).

All the laws and rules of the exalted religion of Islam bear testimony to the fact that Allah expects each and every of His servant to observe them in toto. He expects all His servants without exception to fulfill their obligatory and recommended acts and at the same time refrain from the prohibited and the undesirable acts. He wants to see that every Muslim is subservient to His commands. However the reality is that when it comes to acting upon these laws, then we give preference to our likes and dislikes and disregard the wishes of Allah. Ultimately we act according to our own wishes. Sometimes our desire overpowers us, while at other times, it is our position and status in society that compels us to act according to our cravings. At times, it is our family, environment and wealth that is responsible for our actions. Hence quite a few factors act as an obstacle in the path of complete subservience to Allah’s commands.

But many a times it does happen that we obey the divine commands even though it is a cause of hardship for us. We fast in summer and forsake food and water. Our throats may be parched, yet we don’t even look at water. By doing this we act according to the command of Allah. Allah loves to see us thirsty in the condition of fasting. All these acts we perform out of our own free will and have never felt that someone is compelling us to do them. The desire of Allah does not seize our free will. We act on the laws of Islam on the basis of our free will and intention. It is precisely due to this that we are either praised or condemned for our actions.

Imam Husain (a.s) had heard his grandfather (s.a.w.s.) say in his dream that Allah desires to see you martyred and your family imprisoned. The love of Allah was so firmly rooted in Imam’s (a.s.) entire existence that he was willing to do anything for the happiness of Allah. And nothing could break his determination. Imam Husain (a.s) did not desire martyrdom out of compulsion. But he wanted to attain martyrdom for the satisfaction and contentment of Allah.

Imam Husain (a.s) is the pride of Hazrat Ismail (a.s). Hazrat Ismail (a.s) interpreted the dream of his father (Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s)) as a command from Allah and was willing to be sacrificed for Allah’s pleasure. Then how is it that Imam Husain (a.s) would not interpret the words of his grandfather (s.a.w.s.) as a command from Allah? He (a.s) was willing to have himself sacrificed and have his family and children imprisoned. And this act is matchless in the annals of history. If the sacrifice of Hazrat Ismail (a.s) is a reason for greatness and an example of free will then the sacrifice of Imam Husain (a.s) too is an example of free will and infinite greatness.

The explanation for all this is that ‘Mashiyyat’, ‘Iradah’, ‘Qadr and ‘Qaza’ have different interpretations in “Aalam-e-Takween” (The world of creation) and in “Aalam-e-Tashreei” (The world of actions). “Aalam-e-Takween is related to involuntary acts – the acts in which man has no say and in which Allah’s command is final and will materialize. Birth, death, creation of the heavens and the earth etc are all examples from the world of creation. On the other hand “Aalam-e-Tashreei” refers to that desire of Allah in which He loves to see His creature acting upon the laws of Islam and that too for their own benefit. He loves to see His servants act upon all those things that He has ordered and refrain from all those things that He has prohibited. Hence Allah has given full freedom to man to perform an action or to leave it. As He says in the Holy Quran

‘Surely Allah enjoins the doing of justice and doing good to others and giving (of the dues) to the near ones. And He forbids indecency and rebellion. He cautions you so that you may be mindful.’ (Nahl: 90)

As we see, Allah is inviting the servants towards His commands and prohibitions through advice and counsel means precisely this and nothing else. And these were exactly the circumstances before Imam Husain (a.s). And for the sake of the command of Allah, he is firm and steadfast in his endeavour. (i. e. jehad was inevitable and an obligation for him). As he had said earlier, the reign of Yazid is equivalent to performing the last rites of the religion of Islam. The only alternative was for the friends and helpers of Bani Hashim and the family members to lay down their lives in order to give a new lease of life to Islam. This is the underlying meaning of the phrase

‘Surely Allah wishes that He sees me killed and my family members are imprisoned.’

Coming to the third question that “What is the significance of that martyrdom which has already been predicted in the past?” The reply to this question is that no doubt Allah was well aware that Imam Husain (a.s) would remain steadfast on the divine command – a command whose greatness and excellence is beyond the realm of human intellect. Allah knew that Imam Husain (a.s.) would never disobey Him and would willingly sacrifice all that he possessed – his wealth as well as his family. And knowing this Allah informed His last Messenger (a.s.) about the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s). But this news that Allah gave to His Prophet (s.a.w.s.) is in no way the cause of the occurrence of the events of Karbala. Nor can it be said that this divine pre-knowledge usurped the free will of Imam Husain (a.s) and compelled him to attain martyrdom. An example will clearly illustrate this point. Suppose a person performs an obligatory act of faith out of his free will. And suppose Allah informs His prophet about it. Does this information in any way affect the freedom and liberty of that person? The answer is obviously ‘no’. The conclusion is that this martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s) is a great and illustrious event. As days turned into months and months changed into years, history has recorded this event in its pages. The light that emanated from his sermons and which spread across the horizon dazzled the enemies and opponents of Imam Husain (a.s). Allah has spoken of these sermons in the farthest corners of the universe when He says:

‘And this happened when You had taken a covenant from them that they would adopt perseverance inspite of living in this world and seeing its splendour and adornment. Consequently they adopted this covenant and You were aware of their loyalty and firmness. Hence You welcomed them near You and made them familiar with Your proximity. Till such an extent that You found them distinguished and You selected them for lofty praise.’ (Dua-e-Nudbah)

Dear readers, this is one aspect from the secrets of Imam Husain’s (a.s) sermon. And these pearls become evident only because all sorts of people – acquaintances as well as strangers – met him during his journey and advised him not to go towards Kufa. Imam Husain (a.s) replied to all of them and especially tried to divert their attention towards Allah. Sometimes he narrated the dream in which he saw Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) while at other times he invited the people towards Allah as he was bestowed with the status of Imamat. When Imam Husain (a.s) reached the place known as ‘Khazeemah’ then while consoling his sister Janabe Zainab (s.a) he said

‘O my sister! Whatever has been decreed will happen.’ (Here too, the word ‘decree’ is used in the meaning of ‘command of Allah’. We have discussed this point earlier.) Moving forward in his journey, Imam Husain (a.s) reached “Roor” and then to a place called “Sa’lebeeyah” It was over there that Imam Husain (a.s) came to know about the martyrdom of Janabe Muslim (a.s.), Janabe Haani (r.a.) and Abdullah Yaqtar (r.a.). On hearing about their martydom, he (a.s) declared:

‘There is no goodness in this life after all this (news).’ This implied that such an environment had been created that no one was able to live a life of freedom and liberty. Even before his martyrdom the sermons of Imam Husain (a.s) created a revolution in that gloomy and ignorant society. He dispelled the feeling of hopelessness and despair from among his companions when he announced

(a) ‘Being martyred in the way of Allah is a cause of distinction for a man.’
(b)’I am advancing towards death. A death, which is not shameful for a man.’
(c) ‘Alas! We are carrying the burden of humiliation.’
(d) ‘We will neither submit to them in humiliation nor will we run away from them like slaves.’

Such sermons and exhortations continued and finally the eve of Ashoora arrived. After completing his prayers, Imam Husain (a.s) addressed his companions in which he said:

‘Know that the hour of martyrdom is drawing near. I withdraw my allegiance from you. You are now free and can go back to your respective cities.’ But when the lamp was lighted again, each and every companion was standing in his place. And each one of them gave a short speech in which they stressed and emphasised their love and attachment to Imam Husain (a.s). Thus when Imam Husain (a.s) had tested all his companions and found them trustworthy, he removed from their eyes the curtains of the world and revealed to each one of them their abode in Paradise. These were the secrets of the sermon of Imam Husain (a.s) that he delivered in the night of Ashoora. ( Sukhnane Imam Husain (a.s) )

In the end we would like to conclude this article with a sermon of Imam Husain (a.s), which is not only embellished with radiant words but is also profound in its concepts. And we pray to Allah that the love of Imam Husain (a.s.) remains firmly entrenched in our hearts till our last breath.

‘O son of the noble one! Be patient and forbearing. Death is nothing but a moment in which you leave behind difficulties and afflictions and enter into the valley of Paradise where there are eternal bounties. Who does not want to be freed from a prison and live in the comforts of a palace? But the death of your enemies is like the one who steps out from a large edifice and enters a prison. My father (a.s.) has narrated to me a tradition from my grandfather (s.a.w.s.) in which he (s.a.w.s.) informed – The world is like a prison for a believer while it is like a Paradise for an unbeliever. Death is that instant which transfers a believer from his prison into Paradise while for an unbeliever it sends him to Hell. I was neither lied to nor have I lied.’


The traditions of the Holy Prophet (S.A.) prophesizing the martyrdom of Imam Husain (A.S.) has been recorded in Shia and Sunni books alike. Here we shall confine our disquisition to the traditions related from Sunni sources:-

(1) Ibn Sa’ad and Tabrani have related from Hazrat Ayesha that the Holy Prophet (S.A.) has said:-

“Jibraeel has informed me that after me my son Husain(A.S.) will be slain on the land of Taf. He (Jibrael) brought the soil of that land to me and said that he will be buried underneath this soil.”

Mulla Ali Qaari has recorded the tradition with more details and Khalili has narrated the same in Irshaad with these words:- ” this soil belongs to that earth.” Same tradition has been related from Hazrat Ayesha with these words:-

“Certainly Jibraeel showed me the soil of the earth where Husain will be killed. Then the wrath of Allah will be severe on those who spilled his blood.” [Sawaeq, p.190-91; Kanzul Ummal, vol. 2, p. 223]

(2) Abu Daud and Hakim have narrated from Umme Fazl binte Harith that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) has said:-

” Jibraeel came to me and informed me that my Ummat will kill my son Husain and he gave me little bit of that blood-stained reddish soil.” [Sawaeq, p. 19; Maqtale-Khwarazmi, p. 152]

(3) Tabrani and Abu Yaali have narrated from Zainab binte Jahash that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) said:-

“Jibraeel brought the news to me that my Ummat will kill this son (Husain) of mine. When I asked for the soil of that earth, he handed over the reddish soil to me.” [Kanzul Ummal, vol. 2, p. 223]

(4) Ahmad bin Hambal has related from the Holy Prophet (S.A.) that:- An angel came in my house who had never come before. Then he addressed me and said:-
“This son (Husain) of yours will be killed and if you wish I can bring the soil of that place, and then he gave a bit of reddish soil in my hand.” [Sawaeq, p-190]

(5) Ibn Sa’ad narrates from Umme Salma who narrates from the Holy Prophet (S.A.) that:-

“Jibraeel informed me that my son Husain will be killed in the land of Iraq. When I said show me the soil of the earth where he will be killed, he brought the soil and said here is the soil.”

Ibn Asaakir has also narrated the tradition from Umme Salma with these words:-

“….. wrath of Allah be upon his killer.” [Kanzul Ummal, vol. 2, p. 223]

(6) Ibn Sa’ad has narrated from Sho’bi that:-

“When Hazrat Ali (A.S.) was going towards Siffin, he passed from Karbala. When he reached the village ‘Nainawa’, located near Furat, and inquired it’s name, he was told that it is known as ‘Karbala’. At this he wept so much that the earth became wet. ”

Abdullah ibn Yahya narrated from his father who was a slave of Hazrat Ali (A.S.) that:-

“Be patient 0 Aba Abdillah, be patient 0 Aba Abdillah, be patient 0 Aba Abdillah, by the river of Furat.” He continued that, “I visited the Holy Prophet (S.A.) when he was weeping. When I inquired about the reason for weeping, he said:- “Once Jibraeel told me that my son Husain will be killed in the vicinity of Furat, at a place called Karbala. Then Jibraeel brought out a handful of soil whose fragrance was coming upto my nostrils”. After smelling this fragrance, tears came in my eyes.”

Ahmad bin Hanbal and Ibne Zahaq has narrated this tradition from Hazrat Ali (A.S.).

(7) Khwarizmi has narrated that Abu Ali Bairhaqi has quoted in his history that the Holy Prophet (S.A.) addressed Imam Husain (A.S.) and said:-

“Certainly a special grade has been reserved for you in paradise which cannot be attained without martyrdom.”

Abu Ali Islami says:- “When the army of enemies started gathering to fight Imam Husain (A.S.), then he understood that he would be slain and he bore it patiently.” [Maktale Khwarizmi, p. 170]

(8) Sibt ibn Jauzi narrates that when Imam Husain (A.S.) reached Karbala, he inquired about the name of the place and he was told that it is Karbala, and is also known as Nainawah, which is the name of the village. Imam Husain (A.S.) wept at this and said:-

“This is the land of distress and restlessness.” Janabe Umme Salma has told me that once wh en Jibraeel came to the Holy Prophet (S. A), you were with me. Then the Holy Prophet (S.A.) called you near and made you sit on his lap. Then Jibraeel inquired of him:- “Do you hold him dear?” The Holy Prophet (S.A.) replied:- “Yes, of course.” Jibraeel said:- “YourUmmat will kill him and if you wish I will show you the place where he will be slain” and then Jibraeel showed the land of Karbala. Hence when Imam Husain (A.S.) was told that this is the land of Karbala then he smelled the soil and said: -“This is the same land, of which Jibraeel has informed the Holy Prophet (S.A.), where I will be killed.”

And as narrated in another tradition that he took a handful of soil from there and smelled it – same tradition has been narrated by Ibn Sa’ad in Tabaqat through Waqedi. [Tazkiratul Khwas, p. 259-260]

Ibn binte Munie has narrated two traditions from Umme Salma in this chapter. [Zakhaaerul Uqba, p. 147-148]

(9) Ibn Aseer and Tabari have narrated from Fuzarah that:-

“Zohair ibn Qain Bajalee who was a partisan of Usman went for Hajj in the same year when Imam Husain (A.S.) left for Iraq.

“While returning he met the caravan of Imam Husain (A.S.) on his way. Since he was a friend of Usman he was loathe to remain with the caravan of Imam Husain (A.S.). But one day, coincidentally when Imam Husain (A.S.) came out of his tent, he also came out and Imam (A.S.) saw him.” Fuzarah continues:- “Once when we were having our breakfast, a messenger of Imam Husain (A.S.) came and said: ‘0 Zohair, Imam Husain (A.S.) has sent me message that he wishes to see you.’ We left the morsel in our hand with utter surprise, because Zohair was loathe to meet him. “

Dailam binte Amr, wife of Zohair, said in a fiery tone: ‘Subhan Allah, the son of the Holy Prophet (S.A.) calls you through a messenger and you do not want to go.”

At this Zohair went to Imam Husain (A.S.), albeit unwillingly. When he returned, after a while, his face was beaming with joy. He erected his tent near to the tents of Imam Husain (AS.) and said:

‘I have decided that I will accompany and defend him even at the cost of my life.”

His wife while bidding him farewell said:

“May God bless you with goodness, I have a humble request from you that on the day of Quiyamat remember me in the presence of the grandfather of Husain. “

Then Zohair turned towards his companions and said:

“Whosoever from amongst you wishes to accompany me can come along and whoever wishes to part then this is my last tryst with him. I will tell you one incident. We have been to the city of Balkhajer, which is in Turkey for participating in a battle. There the Almighty blessed us with a victory. We gained a lot of booty of war and we were very happy with it. Salman Farsi said: ‘If you get an opportunity to stay in the company of the youth of Ale-Mohammad and fight in their company then that pleasure and joy will be by far surpassing than this war-booty. I assign you to God.’

Then he joined Imam Husain (A.S.) and laid down his life for him. Kamil and Ibn Aseer have quoted another version of Salman’s saying. It is as follows:-

‘If you reach the times of the chief of the Youths of Ale-Mohammad then the pleasure of fighting along with them will be much more than today’s war-booty.”

And Tabari has written Salman Bahuli instead of Salman Farsi and it seems to be more correct because Salman Bahuli was killed in Balkhajer. (Summul-Mane, pg. 141; Al-Kamil, vol. 3, pg. 277; Tabari, vol. 4, pg. 299.)

(10) Ibn Aseer has related from Ghurfa Azdi, who was a companion of the Holy Prophet (S.A.) that:

“There arose a doubt in my heart regarding the status of Ali (A.S.). Hence I followed him when he moved towards the side of river Furat. Hazrat Ali (A.S.) stood at a side. We all too stood around him. Then he signalled from his hand and said: “This place is the habitat of camels, their riders and other animals. This is also a place where blood will be spilled. My father be their ransom, nobody from the earth and skies will be their helper except Allah.'”

Ghurfa says that “When Husain (A.S.) was killed, I reached at the spot where he was killed. I saw it was the same place which Hazrat (A.S.) had shown to us. There was not the slightest difference in it. He adds: I seek forgiveness from God for that doubt and I have gained certitude that Ali does not take any step without the will of God.” (Asadul-Ghaba, vol. 4, pg. 169).

(11) Dailami has related from Ma’az that the Holy Prophet (S.A.) said that:-

” I am aware of the martyrdom of Husain, I have seen the soil of the place (of martyrdom) and I have also been informed of his killers.” (Kanzul Ummal, vol. 6, pg. 223)

(12) Ibn Asaakir has related from Ibn Amr that the Holy Prophet (S. A.) has said:-

“May Allah deprive the wretched Yazid of His mercy. Know that I have been informed about the martyrdom of my beloved Husain and also the sand of his grave is brought unto me. I have seen his assassins. Know that Husain has not been slain among those who do not love him but the wrath of Allah be upon them.”

(13) Baihaqi has quoted a tradition from the Holy Prophet (S. A.) that he prophesized about the martyrdom of Imam Husain (A.S.) that-

“He will be martyred at a place near Kufa called Taff.” (As-Sirato Nabviyah, vol.3, pg. 220)

(14) Yakubi has written that: “The foremost in Madina who mourned on the calamity of Imam Husain (A.S.) was the wife of the Holy Prophet (S.A.), Janabe Umme Salma because the jar in which the sand of Karbala was kept was given to her by the Holy Prophet (S.A.) and he had told her: ‘Jibraeel has informed me that my Ummat will kill Husain and then he gave me the sand. When this sand will turn into fresh blood then understand Husain has been slain.’ That sand was with Umme Salma. When Imam Husain (A.S.) left for Iraq then she used to always look at it. Once when that sand turned into blood, she started wailing aloud. When other women saw her crying even they joined her in the mourning. The whole city was agog with mourning in such a way, as it was never before.” (Tarikhe-Yakubi, vol. 2, pg. 218, 219)

Ibn Hajar has related from Mulla Ali Qari in Sawaeqe- Mohreqa and Ibn Hanbal in his Musnad has recorded the same with a minor difference that “that sand was of the very spot where Imam Husain (A.S.) was slain.” (Sawaeqe-Moharreqa, pg. 191)

The traditions from the Holy Prophet (S.A.) are in abundance which state that he has foretold all the incidents, including the fate of the assassins.

Now it is not known why some people are averse to the events of Karbala? Why they shun this sunnat of the Holy Prophet (S.A.)?
Why they carp and critisize those who narrate the events of Karbala?


The propagation, advancement and perpetuation of Islam is the result of the painstaking efforts of Hazrat Ibrahim, Hazrat Musa, Hazrat Isa, Hazrat Mohammed Mustafa (s.a.w.),HazratAbuTalib (a.s.) and Hazrat Ali (a.s.). It was due to their endless exertions, perrenial patience, forbearance and steadfastness that Islam has become what it is.

Similarly their footsteps were followed by Janabe Sarah, Hajaruh, Aasiyah bin Muzahim, Safura, Janabe Maryam, Janabe Khadija, Janabe Fatema Zehra (s.a.). Their sacrifices are like the scintillating stars on the horizons of history. One of the contributor to this series of sacrifices was the sister of Imam Husain Bin Ali (a.s.) Janabe Zainab Bin Ali (a.s.). The tree of Islam which was sown by the infallible hands of Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.), and cultivated it by their sacrifices. When the age-old enemies, in the eyes of Islam contemplated to uproot it, Imam Husain (a.s.) protected it by his initiative and martyr-dom. And Janabe Zainab (a.s.) publicly lambasted and humiliated the oppressor in his very court and proclaimed the failure of every attemptthatwould be made to destroy Islam until Quiyamat and made the tree of Islam verdant and blooming forever.

Titles reflect the very characteristics of man. Same is applicable with the titles of great men and scholars. Nowadays the norms are much different the ardent devotees may give any title and with the intention of not disheartening him the same is gladly accepted. The scholars of Islam have mentioned some of the titles of Janabe Zainab (a.s.) in the following manner. The titles and its explanation are as follows:-

Zainab was her name. It is the combination of two words, viz., ‘ Zain ‘ (Adornment) and ‘ Ab ‘ (Father), which means father’s adornment. Everything is adorned in accordance with its position and prestige. There is a difference in the decoration of a hut and a palace. Similarly adornment of a king and a pauper differs. A mosque and a house too differ in the matterof adornment. For that matter, difference remains in adornment of ordinary mosque and Holy Kaaba. Apart from this, material adornment is differ-ent from spiritual adornment.

The true adornment of man is synonymous with his merits and excellences.

The holy person of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) is the sum total of all the meritorious attributes and excellent characteristics. A person who is adorned with all the excellent attributes in his self and if somebody becomes an adornment for him,
then what can be said of such an adornment. How closely similar would be their personalities. Some writers have written that the father and the daughter were so close, so germanely attached that even the alphabetical distance of Alif cannot set them apart. It is for this reason that in Arabic ‘ Zainab ‘ is written without the alphabet’ Alif in between. HazratAli was the adornment of excellences and Janabe Zainab was his adornment.

Waliyatul Allah:
Wali means leader, master of authority. If this authority is limited to sheriat then it is known as ‘Wilayate Tashriee’ and if it extends to the whole Universe, then it is known as ‘Wilayate Takvinee’. As much the character will be high the bounds of authority will be that much encompassing. Janabe Sulaiman was having the authority of controlling the breeze, while his vizier Aasif bin Barkhia was having the power of transporting the throne of Bilquees in time of batting of an eyelid. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) split the moon and Hazrat Ali (a.s.) retrieved the sun. Janabe Zainab (a.s.) is a WaliyatuI Allah and this is vested with authority on the universe and moreover she also has the authority over this authority.

One ordinary example of the potential of her authority is that in Kufa, when she wished to deliver a sermon, the whole atmosphere was rife with shrieking noises and ear-splitting cacophony. Men and animals, both were making a lot of noises. Nobody could have quelled such a noisy mob. Man may become dumb of fear of tyranny but same cannot be with animals. A narrator has narrated the nature of Janabe Zainab’s (a.s.) power in these words:
“The moment Zainab Bin Ali gesticulated at the people, then their breathing slowed down and bells which were dangling in the necks of animals stopped ringing ……..”

(Maqtal Al Husain, Al Muqarram, pg 311, Printed at Al Bethata Press.)

This incident clearly shows the extent of authority, which Janabe Zainab (a.s.) wields over this Universe. Her mere gesture was enough to quell the bedlam.
The Holy Quran has described one of the characteristics of the friends of Allah thus:
“The friends of Allah shall have no fear nor will they be in grief.”
(Yunus: 62)

Janabe Zainab (a.s.) remained patient in such trying circumstances which would have humbled even the mighty men. They would have dumped patience and become querulous. Both her patience and forbearance were such that she was consoling each and everybody. When Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.) witnessed the shroudless corpses of the martyrs, he wept uncontrollably, it was Janabe Zainab (a.s.) who consoled him and related a tradition from her grandfather that
“Allah will construct a shrine over here and people will come to visit it.”
Despite of unlimited powers bearing patiently is from the traits of WaliyatuI Allah. At this juncture also she remained a prideful adornment for her father Hazrat Ali (a.s.) also despite of unlimited powers (who can retrieve sun for him few men are nothing) resigned to being dragged, while rope tied to his neck.

Aminatul Allah:
There is a difference in maintaining trust that of human beings in respect of material things and trust that of Divine secrets. It needs colossal fortitude and patience to be capable of keeping Divine secrets. Such secrets can be inquired by either the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) or Imams (a.s.). Other than infalliables none can carry any such divine secrets. Imam Husain (a.s.) assigned
the secrets of Divine leadership and vicegerency to Janabe Zainab (a.s.) and thus elevated her status further. If this episode shows the sublime status of Janabe Zainab (a.s.) then it also proves her infallibility, because a fallible human cannot bear the secrets of Imamat.

One of the Divine trusts is the office of Imamat. She protected the Imam of her time, and supported him. When the enemies contemplated killing him, she came in front and saved his life. In Medina Janabe Fatema (s.a.) saved the life of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and in Karbala and after Karbala Janabe Zainab (a.s.) saved the life of Ali Bin Husain (a.s.). She indeed was the successor to Janabe Zehra (s.a.).

Aalematun-Ghaira Muallamah Wa Fahimatun Gharra Muffahamah:
A scholar without teacher and an intellectual without an instructor. Janabe Zainab (a.s.) was a scholar without a teacher and an intellectual without an explanator. This title was accorded to her by the Imam of her time, Imam Zainul Abedeen (a.s.). This shows that Janabe Zainab (a.s.) never received education from any teacher. But she was divinely blessed with knowledge and education. Allah accords such an honour to those who rightly deserve it. Which means she was gifted with ‘Ilme Ladunni’ . This again is further proof of her exalted position and status. Who can comprehend the position of the one who is gifted with divine knowledge. The importance of knowledge has been repeatedly mentioned in Quran and traditions. This title indicates that how much does Islam want to rise the place of the women who have knowledge. The traces of her knowledge is seen in her sermons, which she delivered at Kufa and Syria. These sermons were like the sermons of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and that of Hazrat Fatema Zehra (s.a.). When those who had been in audience to the sermons of Hazrat Ali (a.s.), heard the sermons of Janabe Zainab (a.s) remarked
‘Has Ali come to life again?’ Because her style, her oration, her delivery, depth of her meaning, and everything, reflected that of Ali (a.s.)

Sharikatul Husain:
Janabe Zainab (a.s.) was a constant companion of Imam Husain (a.s.) at every stage. She too descended from the same bloodline and lineage and also accompanied him in his trials and calamities. Companionship of an infallible Imam is not a trivial honour.

Ka’abatu Rezaya:
Rezaya is the plural of Raziya, which means major catastrophe. Ka’aba is the House of Allah, people circumambulate around. Muslims from all over the world face towards it and come towards it. Janabe Zainab (a.s.) is the Ka’aba of calamities. Difficulties and catastrophes were revolving around her and every trouble was coming to her. She was the epicentre of calamities from the very beginning, death of her grandfather, separation from mother, demise of father, death of brother and a large scale massacre of her kith and kin in Karbala. Those who were full of life at the dawn, were all slain atthe decline of sun, the whole house was ruined in just one day. Her loved ones were replaced by the wrenchful sorrows of their deaths. Then from Karbala to Kufa, Kufa to Syria, Syria to Karbala, Karbala to Medina, hordes of tribulations became her fate. If the curtain of Kaaba was set on fire then her veil was snatched. If stones were catapulted on Ka’aba then her back was lashed ruthlessly. If Ka’aba was dishonoured then she was humiliated by dragging from place to place. Such atrocities did not lower the status of Ka’aba rather its honour was enhanced similarly such tortures and oppressions did not demand her but her enemies were disgraced. If even today the curtain of Ka’aba has survived then even her veil of honour has remained



The Ahle Bayt (a.s.) – In the words of Imam Husain (a.s.)

Among the fundamental tenets of Islam is the complete and comprehensive subservience to the Prophet (s.a.w.s.)’s progeny i.e. the Ahle Bayt (a.s.). The Prophet’s assertion in this regard, bears ample evidence to this doctrine.

“I leave in your midst two important legacies, viz. the Book of Allah (Quran) and my progeny, Ahle Bayt (a.s.). If you fasten on to them firmly after me, you shall never be deviated. “These two shall never separate (from each other) until they meet me at the fountain of Kauthar.”

The authenticity of this tradition is firmly established so as to dispel the need for references. It clearly purports that adherence to the Quran and Ahle Bait. (a.s.) alone will save a Muslim from the pitfalls and protect him from the clutches of Satan. An important criterion for complete obedience and subservience however, is that one be closely acquainted with the true leaders. For, to expect that level of obedience without proper recognition is both irrational and unreasonable. However, where the Ahle Bayt (a.s.) are concerned, one pertinent point that needs to be addressed is whether we are capable of totally comprehending their venerable station (on our own). Imam Sadiq (a.s.) proclaims, “Their intellect can never grasp (the Imam) and reflections will fall short of comprehending him.” (Usool al-Kafi, vol. 1, Kitab al-Hujjah)

Notwithstanding his phenomenal advancement, man is totally mystified and baffled when it comes to understanding the exalted position of the divinely guided Imams (a.s.). Their august position is impossible for man to perceive employing his own limited powers of perception. However, it would become much easier to discern their status in the light of tradition from infallible Imams (a.s.) themselves. Traditions from Imam Hussain (a.s.) in this regard are most fascinating providing us with an invaluable insight.

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) narrates thus “Some men approached Imam Hussain (a.s.) beseeching ‘O Aba Abdillah! Enlighten us with your virtues through which Allah has made you eminent’ Imam (a.s.) warned,

‘You will not be able to understand these merits nor do you have the capacity to digest them.’

However they persisted in their demands till Imam (a.s.) relented and said

‘Okay, if you consider yourselves capable of comprehending our position, then one of you may stay with me while the other two may stand at a distance. I will relate our virtues to the one with me. If he is indeed able to grasp it, I will willingly repeat it before the others.’

In accordance with Imam (a.s.)’s request, two persons distanced themselves while one of them remained with Imam (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) then began enumerating the superiority of the Ahle Bayt (a.s.), so much so that that man was stupefied. His countenance changed dramatically, turning pale, shock and disbelief written all over it. Later when his companions inquired from him, he, in his bewilderment, could evoke no response. (Al Kharaaej wa al-Jaraeh, vol 2 page 795 by Qutbuddin Raawandi, Muntakhab al- Basaaer, p. 108 by Saffar and Isbaat al-Hudaat, vol 5 p 194, hadith 34 by Shaykh Hurr Aamili )

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) relates another tradition that echoes the one above,

“A person approached Imam Hussain (a.s.) requesting him ‘Enumerate for me those virtues that Allah (the Glorified) has specifically bestowed on you.’ Imam (a.s.) cautioned, ‘You shall find it difficult to digest our virtues’.
However that man did not desist and Imam (a.s.) yielded to his demands
by narrating only one tradition. Imam had not yet finished with his narration, that the man’s condition metamorphosed radically and his hair and beard turned completely white. Immediately, he was made to forget that tradition. Later Imam (a.s.) said,
“It was only with Allah’s mercy that my narration was erased from his memory.’ (Al Kharaaej vol 6 page 795, Behaar al Anwaar vol 25 page 379 Had. 27, Isbaat al-Hudaat, vol. 5 page 195 Had. 35)

The conclusion from the above traditions is evident. The Ahle Bayt (a.s.) and their virtues are beyond human intellect. Indeed man can only fathom them with Allah’s mercy. Not surprisingly then, Imam Sajjad (a.s.) has claimed,

“I am afraid that if I reveal (to you) the treasures of my knowledge, you may declare my murder to be admissible.” This is precisely why Imam (a.s.) has declared “Short ofGodhood, you may attribute us with anything.


Habib b. Mazaahir (may Allah illumine his countenance) inquired from Imam Hussain (a.s.) “In what form did you exist before the creation of Hazrat Adam (a.s.)?” Imam (a.s.) replied:

We existed in shadows of light hovering near the Arsh (Allah’s throne). We were the ones who imparted to the angels the method of glorification of Allah and His worship and His veneration. ” (Behaar al-Anwaar, v.60, p. 311)


Imam Baqir (a.s.) narrates from Imam Hussain as who recounts “In his farewell Hajj, the Prophet (s.a.) after performing all the necessary rituals of Hajj , mounted his steed and declared, “None shall enter the Paradise save a Muslim.” This prompted Abu Zar Ghaffari (r.a.) to ask the Prophet (s.a.) ‘O Messenger of Allah (s.a.)! Tell us what is Islam? Holy ‘ Prophet (s.a.) elaborated,’

“Islam is devoid of any robe but the robe of piety and self-restraint. Modesty is its splendour. Waraa and abstinence are its criteria, (waraa means to practice abstinence even in one’s thoughts or at least to make an attempt in that direction). Religion is its perfection while action is its consummation. Every structure necessitates a foundation and the love of Ahle Bayt (a.s.) is the foundation of Islam. A structure is as good as its foundation. For an insipid foundation will spell imminent collapse for the structure. ” ‘ (Ibid. v.68, p. 281, narrating from Al-Mahaasin by al-Barqi ).

1. Aban b. Taghlab narrates from Imam Husain (a.s.) who said,

“One who loves the Able Bayt is from the Ahle Bayt.”

Incredulously I asked Imam “From the Ahle Bayt?!” Imam (a.s.) reiterated thrice emphatically, “Yes, from us, the Able Bayt! Certainly the one who follows us is from us.” (Nuz’ah al-Naazir wa Tanbeeh al-Khaatir, p. 58, H 19)
This tradition explicitly states that love for the Ahle Bayt (a.s.) is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for being accounted among them. Love apart, one’s deeds must also mirror their deeds.

2. Imam Hussain (a.s.) narrates,

“Love of the Ahle Bayt (a.s.) sheds sins like the gust of wind sheds leaves from the trees. Then one who claims to be our friend must don the garb of piety and virtue and repeatedly seek forgiveness from Allah with contrition. Inshallah, his sins will be pardoned.” (Footnotes of Taarikh Ibn Asaakir, p. 159).

3. The Chief of the Martyrs, Imam Husain (a.s.) declares,

“Enjoin on yourselves the love of Ahle Bayt for only our adherent will receive our intercession” (Ehqaaq al-Haqq by Qaazi Noorullah Shustari, v.11,p.591)

All the above mentioned traditions are unequivocal in their suggestion. They reiterate in no uncertain terms that only strict adherence to the Ahle Bayt (a.s.), in both letter and spirit, will merit any kind of intercession on the Day of Judgement.


Imam Hussain (a.s.) elucidates, “By Allah! Poverty, deprivation, indigence and martyrdom afflict our Shias faster than wild horses and a raging storm.” (Behaar al-Anwaar, v. 67, p. 246)

This tradition asserts that claims of proximity to the Ahle Bayt by no means entail automatic immunity from misfortune and adversity. Rather, a Shia should be equipped for calamities. For surely, adversity is the acid test of a person’s faith and separates the wheat from the chaff. Besides, sufferings and calamities are the factors underlying true friendship and devotion. Traditions also echo this sentiment thus,

“Every misfortune guises love.”

However, that is not to say that being a Shia is a precursor for perpetual misfortune. No, a Shia may also get a taste of the finer things in life like wealth, riches and other comforts, if Allah so wishes. As Quran proclaims,
“He does as He pleases.”


Imam Hussain (a.s.) reminisces,

“In the Prophet’s era, we used to identify the hypocrites by their animosity towards Ali and his children (a.s.).” (Uyoono Akhbaar al-Reza, vol. 2, page 72 by Shaykh Sadooq r.a.).

Indeed, it is ironical how the Ahle Bayt (a.s.) despite their perfection and infallibility had to counter such severe hostility and oppression from the Ummah. Imam Hussain (a.s.) also wonders aloud

“I am unable to comprehend why the people oppose us and despise us, while certainly we are the edifice of mercy, the tree of Prophethood and the mines and treasures of knowledge.” (Nuz’ah al-Naazir, p. 85)

But what lead to this malice and hatred? When were the seeds of this hostility sown and where were they nourished? Replies to these questions are unfolded on the day of Ashoora, when Imam Hussain (a.s.) beseeches the enemy and demands from them the reason for their enmity and viciousness. His blood thirsty adversaries reply succinctly:

“Because of hatred for your father (Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.)”

Imam Zamana (a.t.f.s.) has articulated this sense of hostility against Ali (a.s.) in Duae Nudbah with stirring melancholy,

“….And after the Prophet, Ali was a guidance from deviation, a light from (blinding) darkness, the strong cord of Allah and His right path. His proximity in ties of relationship with the Prophet unparalleled and his stature in religion is without precedent. And none can emulate him in his virtues. He treaded the path treaded by the Messenger of Allah, may bless them both and their progeny And he contended on (the basis of) interpretation and he was not distracted from the way of Allah by the accusation of any accuser. Indeed he spilled the blood of the Arabian warriors, slew their valiant fighters and vanquished their wolves. As a result, their (the Meccan idolaters) hearts were filled with malice and animosity due to the battles Badr, Khaiber, Hunain, etc. Then, the
Ummah was adamant on his detest, gathered to cut all relations with him and take revenge from his children. Till such a time that he killed the violators of allegiance, the unjust and the renegades (i.e. in the battles of Siffin, Naharwan and Jamal). And when his life term was about to end, the most accursed wretch from the last era, following the one of the earlier era (referring to Qedaar Bin Salaf, the murderer of the she-camel of Allah, the miracle of Prophet Saaleh), martyred him.”
(Extracts from Doa-e-Nudbah).


After the plunder and massacre at Karbala THE ROAD TO SHAM

After the plunder and massacre at Karbala, the Ahle Bayt (a.s.) of the Prophet (s.a.) were subjected to harrowing tribulations by Yazid’s forces on their way to Shaam (Syria). Indeed these afflictions surpassed those meted out at Karbala in their intensity as well as their hostility. It left the members of Imam Hussain (a.s.)’s household completely scarred for the rest of their lives.

Sayyid Ibne Taoos (r.a.), the great traditionalist, has recorded in his ‘Iqbal’ that in the latter half of the Day of Ashoora, soon after Imam Hussain (a.s.) was martyred, the ladies of his household encountered nerve-racking bereavement and trauma. They were taken captives by Yazid’s barbarians. In captivity, they were engaged in the mourning and lamenting for their loved ones. They were subjected to such intense humiliation and abasement in that latter half of Ashoora, that Ibn Tawoos could never adequately capture that suffering on paper.

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) recounts from his father, Imam Baqir (a.s.), who inquired from his father Imam Sajjad (a.s.), in what condition had Yazid (the accursed) summoned him ? Imam Sajjad (a.s.) replied,
“I was made to mount a lame camel that was without any saddle. Imam Hussain’s severed head gazed at us from atop the lance. Our ladies trailed us mounted on mules. Yazid’s sentries held guard on the rear side. Raised lances and spears hovered threatening around us. If one of us dared to shed even a single tear (in grief), he/ she was subjected to agonising prodding of lances in the head. This was until we reached Damascus and one of the Syrians announced our arrival thus, ‘O people of Shaam, these are the prisoners from the accursed clan! ‘(We seek refuge in Allah) !!

Abdullah b. Rabeeah narrates, “I was present in Damascus in Yazid b. Muawiyah’s court when Imam Hussain (a.s.)’s household were brought to Shaam. Zuhair b. Qais entered the court. Yazid exclaimed, ‘Woe to you! What news have you got for me?’ Zuhair answered proudly ‘I bring glad tidings of Allah’s conquest and triumph. Husain (a.s.) along with eighteen members of his family and his sixty companions confronted us, …..we surrounded them and attacked them with our daggers and lances. They scurried for shelter like pigeons. They scattered for refuge with panic. All this in as much time taken as to slaughter a camel or of the afternoon siesta. Till we decimated every single one of them, down to the last rebel. We plundered their corpses, not sparing even their clothes. We dyed their dress with their blood. We ground their faces in the earth so that the sun could cast its blazing heat on them. So that they would be left at the mercy of storms and gales. So that the predators of the desert would linger around them.” Having heard this, Yazid dismissed him without any reward. Ubaydillah b. Ziyad then summoned Imam Hussain (a.s.)’s head to be advanced. He then summoned the children and the ladies of Imam (a.s.)’s household. And ordered that Imam Sajjad (a.s.) chained in iron fetters and escorted by Makhfar b. Thalabah Aaezee and Shimr b. Zil Jawshan (may Allah curse both of them). They accompanied Imam (a.s.) till he joined those who had the holy head of Imam Husain (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) walked in studied silence, not conversing with either of his escorts till they reached Damascus.

Both Shiite and Sunni historians have recorded that when the carriers of Imam Husain (a.s.)’s head reached their first destination, they began drinking alcohol in their euphoria. They were gazing at Imam (a.s.)’s holy head with regalement and gratification, when a palm emanated off a wall clutching an iron pen, and wrote a few words in blood : “Are the murderers of Husain (a.s.) hopeful of the Prophet’s (s.a.) intercession on the Day of Judgement?” On witnessing this, they were petrified and quickly left that place.

Sibt b. Jauzi has reported from Ibne Sireen in his ‘Tazkeratui Khawaas’ that a stone relating to an era that preceded the Prophet’s proclamation (be’sat) by five hundred years, was discovered on which some words in the Syrian dialect were engraved. Its Arabic translation was similar to the aforementioned tradition.

Sibt b. Jauzi has recorded a tradition from Abu Muhammad Abdul Malik b. Hisham Nahvi.
“On their way to Shaam, at every halt, Yazid’s army had the practice of removing Imam Hussain (a.s.)’s head from the chest (which was specially made for his head). They then placed his head aloft the lance. At one of their halts at a church, they removed Imam (a.s.)’s head from the chest as was their practice, raised it atop the lance and guarded it. They inclined this lance against the church. A lone Christian priest inhabited this church. At around midnight, this priest witnessed an amazing spectacle. He saw a ray of light extending from Imam (a.s.)’s head to the skies. Amazed, he then inquired from Yazid’s men, ‘Who are you?’ They responded, ‘We are Ibne Ziad’s soldiers.’ The priest then sought the identity of the severed head. They replied that it was the head of Hussain b. Ali b. Abi Talib, son of Fatema, daughter of the Prophet. Amazed, he requested, ‘Will you let me keep this head for the night’s duration in exchange for ten thousand dinars? I will return it (when you are ready to leave this place)?’ They acquiesced and handed over Imam (a.s.)’s head to that priest in exchange for the agreed amount. The priest, then cleansed Imam (a.s.)’s head and applied fragrance to it. He held the head closely and wept for the entire night. In the morning, he confessed to Imam (a.s.)’s head,

‘I have nothing remaining with me save my life. I bear witness that, there is no God except Allah and Muhammad (s.a.) is His Messenger and I am your slave’ .

Later, he abandoned the church and devoted the rest of his life to the service of the Ahle Bait (a.s.). Indeed this incident of the Christian priest’s guidance by Imam Hussain (a.s.) without a word transpiring from Imam (a.s.)’s severed head, bears articulate testimony to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)’s declaration’

‘Certainly Hussain is the beacon of guidance and the ark of deliverance.’

Yazid’s men proceeded with Imam (a.s.)’s head. On approaching Damascus, they resolved to distribute those dinars (given by the priest) as Yazid was likely to deprive them of it. When they opened those bags containing the dinars to their shock and dismay they discovered that the dinars had transformed into worthless coins. Inscribed on one side was :

“Do not consider Allah to be unaware of what the evildoers perpetrate.”

And engraved on other side was

“Soon the evildoers shall find out where their hearts are inclined”

Disillusioned, they were forced to dump those bags in the river.
(‘Seeratun Nabi’ by Ibne Hisham)

Sayyed (r.a.) recounts from Ibne Lahseeah, (of which only the necessary portion we shall mention over here), who relates, “I was circumambulating (doing ta’waaf) the Holy Ka’aba when I overheard a person beseeching with the Almighty Allah thus, ‘O my Lord! I am expectant of (Your) forgiveness although I know You will not forgive me.’ When I tried to console him, he disclosed to me the entire episode thus,
‘I was among the fifty individuals who took Imam Husain’s head to Shaam. On the way all, save me, drank alcohol in revelry and celebration. At night, I witnessed awesome lightning. I beheld the various Prophets viz. Hazrat Adam (a.s.), Hazrat Nuh (a.s.), Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.), Hazrat Ismail (a.s.) and Hazrat Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) descending from the skies. Accompanying them was a group of angels ushered by Jibraeel (a.s.) and Mikaeel (a.s.). Prophet Muhammad (s.a.) took the chest with Imam’s head and began wailing uncontrollably. All his companions consoled him. Jibraeel (a.s.) told the Prophet (s.a.), ‘Allah has ordained me to obey you unconditionally. If you wish I can decimate your nation.’ The Prophet (s.a.) declined Jibraeel’s offer and said, ‘Our nation’s decision will be taken on the Day of Judgment.’

Thereafter, the angels advanced menacingly towards us so as to kill us. I cried, ‘Peace! Peace! 0 Messenger of Allah!’ The Prophet looked at me in disgust and said, ‘Go away! May Allah never forgive you!’

Abu Mikhnaf has chronicled in his ‘Manaaqib’ that when Imam Hussain’s head was brought in front of Yazid, it emanated a fragrance so sweet and enchanting, so as to surpass all other fragrances.

Sayyed ibne Taoos (r.a.) has narrated a tradition that, when the ladies of the Imam (a.s.)’s house were approaching Damascus, Janabe Umme Kulsum (s.a.)
approached the accursed Shimr requesting him, ‘When you take us into the city, please take us past the gate that has few spectators.’ However, Shimr displaying his malevolence, did exactly the opposite. He made the ladies pass through the most crowded gates of Damascus and positioned them at the steps of the Masjide Jaame’a where usually, the common criminals were made to stand.

Zaid has narrated from his forefathers who in turn recounted from Sahl b. Sa’ad thus, ‘…in of one my sojourns to Shaam, I was surprised to see festivities abounding among its residents, akin to Eid. On seeking the reason (for such festivities) from the people, I learned that the rejoicing was on account of Imam Hussain, whose head was brought to Shaam and the ladies of his house, who were held as captives. I waited awhile till I saw the flags and standards, one behind the other… and I saw some women mounted on camels devoid of any saddle. I approached the first camel of that procession which incidentally was that of Sakina b. Hussain (s.a.). I introduced myself and sought any demands that she might have. She requested that all the severed heads be sent forward, preceding her. I accosted the guardians of the heads and offered them three hundred dinars so they took the heads ahead of Janabe Sakina (s.a.). (Bihar al Anwar and Manaaqib )

It has been reported that the Ahle Bayt (a.s.) were detained at the gates of Shaam for three days, as if they were an adornment for the city that no eye had ever witnessed in the past. Then about five lakhs from Shaam’s populace greeted them playing the tambourine and drums.

However, the fact is that all these sufferings and more, are very evident for Imam-e-Zamana’s (a.t.f.s.). He, in his divine knowledge, aware of every vivid detail and every minute aspect of Karbala.

Every Shia’s most ardent desire is to find Imame Zamana (a.t.f.s.) in the precincts of Imam Husain’s shrine. And to say “Ameen” when Hazrat (a.t.f.s.) beseeches Allah beneath the dome of Imam Husain (a.s.)’s shrine, for his early reappearance. Allah (the Mighty and the Glorified) responds to Imam (a.s.)’s invocations. Only then will Janabe Zehra (s.a.) find solace and the Prophet’s word will come to pass. And we attain martyrdom under Imam (a.s.)’s banner.