بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Sending our greetings of peace, prayers and salutations upon the Master of the Martyrs
أَلسَّلاَمُ عَلىٰ وَلِيِّ اللهِ وَحَبِيبِهِ،
أَلسَّلاَمُ عَلىٰ خَلِيلِ اللهِ وَنَجِيبِهِ.
أَلسَّلاَمُ عَلىٰ صَفِيِّ اللهِ وَابْنِ صَفِيِّهِ
أَلسَّلاَمُ عَلىٰ الْحُسَيْنِ الْـمَظْلُومِ الشَّهِيدِ،
أَلسَّلاَمُ عَلىٰ أَسِيرِ الْكُرُبَاتِ وَقَتِيلِ الْعَبَرَاتِ
Peace be upon the hostage surrounded by the tightening circle of sorrow and grief, killed by a horde of savages.
In the introductory salutations of the ziyarat, Imam as-Sadiq, peace be upon him, discusses the spiritual lineage of Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him, and mentions that he is the son of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family – the one who is the most beloved to Allah. Some of the Prophets of Allah are referred to by their titles which they are well-known by; Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, who is known as the Friend of Allah; Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, who is known as the one who spoke to Allah; Prophet Isa, peace be upon him, who is the Word of Allah; Prophet Nuh, peace be upon him, who is the Prophet of Allah – keeping in mind that he (Prophet Nuh) was the first one to attain the status of nubuwwah; Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, who was the Chosen of Allah and finally, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his family, who is the Most Beloved of Allah.
In regards to the phrase “Peace be upon you” (السلام عليك) - many different meanings have been given:
1. As-Salam (The Peace) is one of the names of Allah, the Grand and Majestic and thus in this meaning, we are asking for Allah’s protection to be on Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him.
2. As-Salam (The Peace) in the meaning of pure and complete submission.
3. As-Salam (The Peace) in the meaning of safety and security.
With these different interpretations given, whose over all meaning is that of safety and security, we can understand that when we greet Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him, with this phrase, what we are saying is that we, who are visiting the Imam or are reciting this visitation from far away, that we are promising the Imam that no harm or infliction of grief will ever emanate from us unto the Imam – not at that particular time that we are addressing him, nor at any other time – meaning that we will do our best to keep away from breaking the laws which they promulgated.
We understand that their entire purpose of existence was to guide and rectify humanity and to keep us on the path of tawheed and the obedience of Allah and this includes the obedience of all of their teachings – including the moral illnesses such as pride, arrogance, boasting, miserliness, love of the self, love of power, backbiting, etc…
Thus, when we recite these passages we must also work to ensure that we remove all such negative ethical traits from within ourselves so that we do not cause hurt or grief to the Imam.
When we have done this, then our ‘Salam’ towards the Imam will be truthful and sincere. It is through the recitation of the greeting and its repetition that we seek spiritual closeness to the Imam and we instill the love for the Imam and his teachings within our lives and we work to remove all of the negative traits which may have built up within ourselves over the years.
Such greetings to the Imam and his companions and family members announce to Allah, the Prophet, the Imam and to our own inner heart that we will not rest until we have removed and annihilated all of the inner demons we carry and that we will also not rest until all external evil forces have been destroyed and reduced to mere mention in the books of history.
Martyrdom and the bearing of witness by Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq, peace be upon him, in regards to the greatness and lofty status of Imam Husayn, peace be upon him
أَللَّـهُمَّ إِنِّي أَشْهَدُ أَنَّهُ وَلِيُّكَ وَابْنُ وَلِيِّكَ وَصَفِيُّكَ وَابْنُ صَفِيِّكَ الْفَائِزُ بِكَرَامَتِكَ، أَكْرَمْتَهُ بِالشَّهَادَةِ وَحَبَوْتَهُ بِالسَّعَادَةِ، وَأَجْتَبَيْتَهُ بِطِيبِ الْوِلاَدَةِ، وَجَعَلْتَهُ سَيِّداً مِنَ السَّادَةِ، وَقَائِداً مِنَ الْقَادَةِ، وَذَائِداً مِنَ الَّذَادَةِ، وَأَعْطَيْتَهُ مَوَارِيثَ الأَنْبِيَاءِ، وَجَعَلْتَهُ حُجَّةً عَلى خَلْقِكَ مِنَ الأَوْصِيَاءِ،
O Allah! I give witness that beyond a shadow of doubt he is Your favourite and choicest confidant, who enjoys Your confidence and favour, precisely like his father. You looked to him and elected him in Your cause, picked him and chose him for the good fortune, selected for him the best purified parents. appointed him as a guardian, a leader, and a defender of rights, a true representative (inheritor and progenitor) of guardians, leaders and defenders of rights, gave him a lot and even more from the inheritance of the Prophets, put him forward as a decisive argument, along with the other successors (meaning the twelve Imams) to all of mankind.
In this transient world, everyone attains status or worth through a “means” – either someone or something. In this portion of the ziyarat, Imam as-Sadiq, peace be upon him, refers to Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him, as being the representative of Allah and the son of the representative of Allah; and that he is the chosen one and the son of the chosen one of Allah – and even though he comes from such a lineage and possesses such a level of dignity and honour, however it is through his martyrdom that he was given the greatest honour.
Indeed, it is through his martyrdom – and what a martyrdom he experienced that Allah granted him the greatest level of felicity and success and in actually when we review history we see that Yazid and his supporters were seeking fame and glory in this transient world and went through many means to try and attain it, however we see that Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him, and his companions who were seeking nothing other than the pleasure of Allah ended up reaching the status of being the most talked about and mentioned individuals that the world has ever seen.
The goals of Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him, in his uprising
فَأَعْذَرَ فىِ الدُّعَاءِ وَمَنَحَ النُّصْحَ، وَبَذَلَ مُهْجَتَهُ فِيكَ لِيَسْتَنْقِذَ عِبَادَكَ مِنَ الْجَهَالَةِ وَحَيْرَةِ الضَّلاَلَةِ،
He met with deadly dangers, acted justly and fairly, made use of everything belonging to him to pay full attention to give sincere advice; took pains, made every effort, and put his heart, mind, soul and life at the disposal of Thy mission to liberate the people from the yoke of ignorance and the evil of bewilderment.
Before leaving for Mecca, Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him, addressed his half-brother, Muhammad al-Hanafiyah and gave him a will and testament which listed the reasons for his going to Mecca and what he hoped to achieve by his movement – this can be summarized as being, “I am seeking to bring about reformation in the nation of my grandfather, the Messenger of Allah and to enjoin the good and to forbid the evil…”
Through a cursory study of the time of Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him, we understand that in the 50 short years following the death of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, so many changes had taken place in the religion and untold innovations had entered the pristine teachings that the spirit and face of Islam had been altered immensely.
In order to restore the true visage of the religion of the Noble Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his family, and to carry the religion forward to future generations, Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him, saw no other alternative but to take a stand in order to safeguard the religious teachings of Allah.
Through this, the Imam was making a clear proclamation that the current religion, rulers and state of affairs were not in line with the Islamic teachings of the Prophet, and that there was corruption present at all levels. Thus, his movement was to ensure that the original teachings of the religion would be resurrected and reach all parts of the world.
A glimpse at the killers of Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him
وَقَدْ تَوازَرَ عَلَيْهِ مَنْ غَرَّتْهُ الدُّنْيَا، وَبَاعَ حَظَّهُ بِالأَرْذَلِ الأَدْنَى، وَشَرَى آخِرَتَهُ بِالثَّمَنِ الأَوْكَسِ، وَتَغَطْرَسَ وَتَرَدّى فِي هَوَاهُ، وَأَسْخَطَكَ وَأَسْخَطَ نَبِيَّكَ، وَأَطَاعَ مِنْ عِبَادِكَ أَهْلَ الشِّقَاقِ وَالنِّفَاقِ وَحَمَلَةَ الأَوْزَارِ الْـمُسْتَوْجِبِينَ النَّارَ، فَجَاهَدَهُمْ فِيكَ صَابِراً مُحْتَسِباً حَتَّى سُفِكَ فِي طَاعَتِكَ دَمُهُ وَاسْتُبِيحَ حَرِيمُهُ،
أَللَّـهُمَّ فَالْعَنْهُمْ لَعْناً وَبِيلاً وَعَذِّبْهُمْ عَذَاباً أَلِيماً
اَلسَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا ابْنَ رَسُولِ اللهِ، اَلسَّلامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا ابْنَ سَيِّدِ الأَوْصِيَاءِ،
In this portion of the ziyarat, Imam as-Sadiq, peace be upon him, describes the killers of his grandfather.
1. Umar ibn Sa’ad ibn Abil Waqqaas was one of the people directly involved in the events of Karbala. Sa’ad who was the father of Umar was one of the first people to accept Islam during the initial appointment of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his family. He witnessed and went through many hardships in the formative years of Islam and through which Iran was conquered and Islam was brought to that nation and he was also responsible for the establishment of Kufa as a city.
However like many other companions of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his family, the love of this transient world took him over and when the issue of the caliphate came up, he did not support the rights of Imam Ali, peace be upon him, and died sometime between the years of 55 and 58 ah.
Umar ibn Sa’ad, even though he was well-known due to his father’s name and history, he too was a man who was enamored by the material world and was a person whom both the Prophet and Imam Ali did not think highly of and it is for this reason that Sa’ad himself did not leave any inheritance for his son.
Umar ibn Sa’ad played an instrumental role in Karbala as he was the commander of the forces of Ibn Ziyaad. He gathered over 4,000 soldiers from Kufa to stand up against Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him.
2. Shimr ibn Dhil Jawshan was another perpetrators of Karbala. During the era of Imam Ali, peace be upon him, he was actually on the side of and a fervent supporter of the Imam and fought alongside the Commander of the Faithful in the Battle of Siffeen against Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan, however he ended up “changing” and then supported the likes of Yazid and fought against Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him, on the day of Ashura, and he committed many atrocities against the Ahlul Bayt, peace be upon all of them.
This is an example of the types of people who fought against and killed Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him, and his noble family and companion.
Both the historical narrations and the traditions of the Prophet and his family show us that one of the principle reasons for what transpired in Karbala had everything to do with “love of the transient world” and a desire to attain as much of it as possible.
Farazdaq, the famous poet has stated: “In the year 60 ah, I accompanied my mother from Kufa towards Mecca for the Hajj. On the way, we met Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him. The Imam asked me, “What is the news from Kufa?” I replied: “The hearts of the people are with you, however their swords are with the Bani Umayyah…”
To this Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him, replied: “Indeed people are servants of this transient world and the religion is but a plaything on the tips of their tongues. They gravitate around the religion so long as it meets their material needs and requirements, however when they are tested with tribulations and difficulties, very few people hold firm onto the true faith.”
Learning life lessons from the Leader of the Martyrs
أَشْهَدُ اَنَّكَ اَمِينُ اللهِ وَابْنُ اَمِينِهِ،
عِشْتَ سَعِيداً وَمَضَيْتَ حَمِيداً وَمُتَّ فَقِيداً مَظْلُوماً شَهِيداً
وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ اللهِ مُنْجِزٌ مَا وَعَدَكَ، وَمُهْلِكٌ مَنْ خَذَلَكَ، وَمُعَذِّبٌ مَنْ قَتَلَكَ
وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّكَ وَفَيْتَ بِعَهْدِ اللهِ وَجَاهَدْتَ فِي سَبِيلِهِ حَتَّى أَتَاكَ الْيَقِينُ، فَلَعَنَ اللهُ مَنْ قَتَلَكَ، وَلَعَنَ اللهُ مَنْ ظَلَمَكَ، وَلَعَنَ اللهُ اُمَّةً سَمِعَتْ بِذَلِكَ فَرَضِيَتْ بِهِ
And I bear witness that you kept your promise made with Allah, and strived in His way until what was certain came upon you, so curse of Allah be on those who killed you, and curse of Allah be on those who oppressed you, and curse of Allah be on the people who came to know of it and approved (of all of it).
The movement of Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him, has taught us many lessons – both on an individual and personal level and also on a societal level – some of which include:
1. Personal and individual:
i. Spirit of monotheism (Tawheed) and the spirit of connection to Allah;
ii. Servitude to Allah;
iii. Turning away from personal desires and the allures of this world;
iv. Submission to the will and pleasure of Allah;
v. Requirement of studying and knowing all of the Divinely taught values and worth of the human being;
vi. Bravery and chivalry;
vii. Standing firm in the face of difficulties and tribulations;
viii. The spiritual worth of the human being;
ix. Forgiveness and clemency;
x. Not being afraid of death or martyrdom – rather, to accept these wholeheartedly;
2. Communal and societal:
i. Self-sacrifice and thinking of others before oneself;
iii. Equality of humanity and removal of all forms of discrimination;
iv. Importance of being political aware and active;
v. Enjoining the good and forbidding the evil;
vi. Realizing that the truth does not lie in ‘numbers’;
vii. Standing up to oppression and tyranny and not following the wicked;
viii. Understanding that “politics” is not separate from “religion,” and that “social struggle” and “spiritual action” are one and the same.
These lessons mentioned above are but a drop in the unlimited ocean of the noble Divine teachings which were embodied in the message of the Prophets and their safeguarding at the hands of all of the Imams – specifically Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon all of them.
Renewal of the pledge of allegiance to the Doyen of the Martyrs, al-Husayn ibn Ali, peace be upon them both
أَللَّـهُمَّ إِنِّي أُشْهِدُكَ أَنِّي وَلِيٌّ لـِمَنْ وَالاَهُ وَعَدُوٌّ لِـمَنْ عَادَاهُ
بِأَبِي أَنْتَ وَأُمّي يَا بْنَ رَسُولِ اللهِ
May my father and mother be sacrificed for you O the son of the Messenger of Allah.
This portion teaches us an important lesson which is that our friendship and enmity in life should revolve around their friendship and enmity; we also learn that our happiness and grief and every other emotion and action in our lives should all revolve around Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him, and that in actuality, we become “extensions” of the Husyani mission.
Since the meaning of “Shia” is “follower,” it only makes sense that as the “Shia” of the Imams, we truly follow them in war and peace; in love and hate – if we truly wish to be counted amongst their adherents and followers.
This is the same understanding that we are given in Hadith al-Kisa in which we say, “O Allah! Indeed these are my Ahul Bayt and my confidants and my supporters. Their flesh is my flesh; their blood is my blood; whoever hurts them has hurt me, whoever displeases them, displeases me, and whoever fights against them, fights against me; I am at war with those who are at war with them and I am at peace with those who are at peace with them and I have enmity with those who have enmity with them and love those who love them. Indeed they are from me and I am from them…”
The pure, untouched genealogy of Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him
أَشْهَدُ اَنَّكَ كُنْتَ نُوراً فىِ الأَصْلاَبِ الشَّامِخَةِ وَالأَرْحَامِ الـْمُطَهَّرَةِ، لَمْ تُنَجِّسْكَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةُ بِاَنْجَاسِهَا وَلَمْ تُلْبِسْكَ الْـمُدْلَهِمَّاتُ مِنْ ثِيَابِها، وأَشْهَدُ أَنَّكَ مِنْ دَعَائِمِ الدِّينِ وأَرْكَانِ الـْمُسْلِمينَ وَمَعْقِلِ الْـمُؤْمِنينَ
وَاَشْهَدُ اَنَّكَ الإِمَامُ الْبَرُّ التَّقِيُّ الرَّضِيُّ الزَّكِيُّ الْهَادِيُ الْـمَهْدِيُّ
A description of the progeny of Imam al-Husayn, peace be upon him
وَاَشْهَدُ اَنَّ الأئِمَّةَ مِنْ وُلْدِكَ كَلِمَةُ التَّقْوى وَأعْلامُ الْهُدى وَالْعُرْوَةُ الْوُثْقى، وَالْحُجَّةُ على أهْلِ الدُّنْيا
The theological beliefs (Usul ad-Din) of the followers of the Ahlul Bayt, peace be upon them all
وأَشْهَدُ أنّي بِكُمْ مُؤْمِنٌ وَبِاِيابِكُمْ، مُوقِنٌ بِشَرايِعِ ديني وَخَواتيمِ عَمَلي، وَقَلْبي لِقَلْبِكُمْ سِلْمٌ وَأَمْرِي لِأَمْرِكُمْ مُتَّبِعٌ وَنُصْرَتي لَكُمْ مُعَدَّةٌ حَتّى يَأذَنَ اللهِ لَكُمْ، فَمَعَكُمْ مَعَكُمْ لا مَعَ عَدُوِّكُمْ
Salawat (prayers of Allah) upon the noble Ahlul Bayt, peace be upon them all
صَلَواتُ اللهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَعلى أرْواحِكُمْ وَأجْسادِكُمْ وَشاهِدِكُمْ وَغائِبِكُمْ وَظاهِرِكُمْ وَباطِنِكُمْ آمينَ رَبَّ الْعالِمينَ