The martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS) occupies a very significant position in Islamic history. It is said to be the completion of the sacrifice of the prophet Ismail (AS), the apostle of God. Imam, the exalted, sacrificed his own life but never bowed to one of the worst tyrants of the world. And thus it is said Islam was reborn due to the great sacrifice of Imam Hussain.
And today, every oppressed people look towards Imam Hussain for courage and tolerance against the tyrant rulers of their respective times. One of the greatest freedom fighters of modern era against apartheid regime in South Africa, Nelson Mandela writes in his memoirs that after spending 26 years in prison I had lost all hopes of any success and relief and was deliberating on surrendering to the regime. Suddenly, the incident of Karbala came to my mind and gave me courage and morale. And only in one year I won freedom for my people. There is no doubt that people irrespective of their cast, creed and colour get inspiration from Karbala and this has become a universal phenomenon.
Karbala was a place, where the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the prophet (pbuh) of Islam took place. The movement of Imam Hussain (as) was a method of dealing with ones, s own soul and with others, for he wanted to teach us a lesson about servitude at every stage of his blessed movement. He departed from the safety for the sake of Allah, while exposing his family into captivity when he saw that his Lord willed for them to be captured. He exposed himself to the greatest forms of insult and torture, when he saw that his Lord willed for him to be killed. His sister Zainab (salamullah) summarized all of these lessons when she confronted the oppressor of her era saying, I did not see anything but it was beautiful. God willed for this group of people to be killed, so they came out to be killed, and God would gather you and them together to be judged. Such beautiful statements from Zainab should lead us to ask whether the martyrdom of Imam Hussain was the end of the tragedy or the beginning of a movement.
Considering his personality, Imam Hussain was the grandson of the holy prophet (PBUH) through his daughter Lady Fatima and son in law imam Ali (A.S).
Hussain was not just some Caesar or Hercules tale of history ,but rather who, as described by prophet Muhammad as the leader of the youths of paradise. In less than half a day on the 10th of Muharram (Ashura) in year 680 A.D on the hot desert sands of Karbala in Iraq, Imam Hussain (AS) and 72 of his family members, friends and followers including his six months old infant son, were martyred under most gruesome circumstances .These included his brother Hazrat Abbas, the standard bearer, his young 18 years old son Ali Akbar and his 4 years old Sakina who died while in prison in Damascus. The oppressive ruler Yazid and his very large army of over 30,000 men committed these heinous crimes against the small group which included the household of the prophet.
Hazrat Zainab also played a key role especially subsequent to the battle to inform people of the truth and shook the walls of palace of Yazid during her speech in the darbar of the tyrant.
The group including the six month infant Ali Asghar was without food and water for three days before being martyred. He was killed thirsty in his father’s arms when his tender throat was pierced by the poisoned arrow, while his father implored the tyrants to allow bringing water to the infant after all his other companions were martyred at their hands.
Imam Hussain resolved to defend his thirsty entourage from the killer army’s onslaught, rather than submit to their forcible extraction of allegiance to a criminal despotic regime which used the name of Islam. He was going to stand to his principles to defend true Islam, even though he might be the last man standing with no support, no help. He however ensured that his message was not limited to his time when he was proceeding forth, he continuously reminded us that his mission was timeless and borderless.
He sought to ensure us that we too would be Hussaini in our outlook and efforts and that we should reject any Yazedii forces or mindset. For this reason perhaps he gave Muhammad Al Hanafiya an important testament which to this day remains the blue print for his mission and should also form the plan of our life. The imam stated, now know that surely the aim of my stand is not inspired by vain exultation nor is it for the quest of kingdom. It is not to cause dissension or to spread corruption. It is also not for the goal to wrong anybody unjustly, rather the purpose of my stand is the reformation the Ummah of my great grandfather.
I only intent to enjoin good and forbid evil. Emulate my grandfather, the Messenger of Allah and my father Ali ibni Abutalib.
According to Syed Muhammad Hussain al Shahristani, the holy prophet had (pbuh) openly prophesied that faith of Islam would be saved by my grandson Hussain, when it will be endeavoued to be destroyed by Yazid. So it would be necessary to establish a movement beyond explanation and dialogue and unusual movement in which blood is sacrificed in order to eliminate corruption.
This movement would awaken the nation from its depth to see the corruption of the leader’s soul after it had neglected the corruption.
The famous English writer Charles Dickens states with regard to Husain’s uprising, if al-Hussain fought to quench his worldly desires, then I do not understand why his sisters, wives and children accompanied him. It stands to reason therefore that he sacrificed purely for Islam.