My dear friends!
We love our children. So didn’t Imam Al-Husayn (A) love his children? Surely, he loved them more than we love our children.
Prophet Ibrahim (A) did not love his son, Ismail less than we love our children. He loved his son very much. The reason is that He was a better person than us. Imam Al-Husayn (A) also loved his children more than us but he loved God above all the things and did not allow anyone to precede.
It is written that Imam Al-Husayn’s (A) entire family had accompanied him on his journey to Karbala. It is a fact that if a person is traveling with his children he feels responsible and he remains worried about what would happen to them after him.
It is narrated that Imam Al-Husayn (A) dozed off during the journey. After sometime he opened his eyes and recited
“Indeed we belong to Allah and to Him we shall return.”
Everybody started asking each other why Imam Al-Husayn (A) has recited this? They thought perhaps a new issue had arisen.
Imam Al-Husayn (A) loved his son Ali Akbar very much and expressed his love for him often because he looked like the Prophet, Imam Al-Husayn’s grandfather. (You can imagine what a father goes through when such a son is surrounded by dangers). His Eminence, Ali Akbar comes forward and asks.
“O father! Why did you recite the verse of return?” Imam replied, “I heard the voice of the unseen caller in my dream saying: This caravan is being ushered by death. After hearing that voice, I understood that our destination is death. We are moving towards our certain destination of death.”1
Here, the conversation was similar to that between Prophet Ismail (A) and Prophet Ibrahim (A).2
His Eminence, Ali Akbar asked Imam Al-Husayn (A), “‘Are we on the right path?” Imam said, “O son! Why do you ask? The only thing is that we are going where our aim is taking us. Whether we are going towards death or life does not matter.” His Eminence, Ali Akbar said, “That is right but are we on the right path or not?”
Imam Al-Husayn (A) became glad on hearing this. His face lit up with joy. It could be noted from the supplication that he recited at this moment. Imam said, “O son! I do not have anything to reward a responsible son like you at this moment. However, I pray that may God reward you on my behalf whatever you deserve.”3
Imagine the scene when Ali Akbar returned from the battlefield on Ashura afternoon after facing the enemies bravely. His mouth had dried up so much that he could not fight any more. When this lion-hearted son of Al-Husayn came to him, he said, “O father! I am dying of thirst. The weight of armor is causing uneasiness. Can I get some water please?”4 (As if he meant to say that if he got a little water he would push the enemies far behind).
The reply of Imam Al-Husayn (A) to his beloved son was, “My dear! I am sure that sooner you attain the rank of martyrdom, sooner you will be satiated by the water-provider of Kauthar.”
- 1. Irshad, Shaykh Al-Mufid, Pg. 226.
- 2. When Prophet Ibrahim (A) had told Ismail (A) that he was having a dream regularly and that he considered it a revelation of God. He said that he was ordered by Allah that he should slaughter Prophet Ismail (even though Prophet Ibrahim (A) was not aware of the philosophy of sacrifice, he was sure that it was the order of Allah and a divine will).
What could a son say at that time? Did he tell his father that it was just a dream and if someone dreams of death then he gets longevity and that he too would get long life? No, the son said,
قَالَ يَا أَبَتِ افْعَلْ مَا تُؤْمَرُ ۖ سَتَجِدُنِي إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ مِنَ الصَّابِرِينَ
“O father! Perform whatever order you have been given. God willing, I would be one of the patient ones.” (37:102)
When Prophet Ibrahim (A) slaughtered Prophet Ismail (A), he got the revelation, “...when both of them accepted and father made son He with his forehead on ground, We said: O Ibrahim! You made your dream come true.” i.e. O Ibrahim! We did not want you to behead your son. It was not at all Our purpose because there was no use in it.
The real purpose was to see how obedient you, father and son, are to Allah. The real aim was to test your willingness in obeying Allah. You have proved your obedience. Father was ready to sacrifice and the son was ready to get sacrificed and We don’t want anything more than that. Hence, do not behead your son.
- 3. It is mentioned in Irshad, Shaykh Al-Mufid, Pg. 226 as follows: “May God give you the best reward a son can get for (his behavior towards) his father.”
- 4. Lohoof, Pg. 113; Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg. 461.