Today is Ashura day, a day of Meraj for Imam Al-Husayn (A). It is necessary for us today to try to gain inspiration from Imam Al-Husayn’s (A) spirit, honour, steadfastness, bravery and bright thinking. If there is a little feeling of being human in us, it can awaken us.
A renowned writer, Al-Abbas Mahmood Aqqad says that on the Ashura day it seemed that the qualities of Imam Al-Husayn (A) were having mutual competition between themselves i.e. each quality of Imam Al-Husayn (A) wanted to move ahead of others. His patience wanted to become better than other qualities. His sincerity wanted to be the best. His bravery wanted to win over every quality.
A poet has aptly said:
The road of life is fragrant to this day
How excellent is the beneficial personality of Al-Husayn
On the page of romance and the register of ethics
Even today shines the seal of the rules of Al-Husayn.
I cannot make even the smallest comment about Imam Al-Husayn’s (A) patience because I am smaller than it. Then too I would dare to say that the quality of Imam Al-Husayn (n.s.), which was most explicit, was the power of his heart, his calmness, his steadfastness, it is not a thing narrated by me only but it was recognized on the Ashura day. It is the statement of a narrator from the enemy’s side which is very meaningful.
He says, “I swear by Allah, I am surprised. What a heart he had! What a power he had that his calmness was not affected even when he was heart-broken after his loved ones were cut into pieces in front of him! The power of his heart cannot be found anywhere even though you may search thoroughly. This is really amazing.”
It is not an ordinary thing; it is extremely amazing. I was always surprised that Imam Al-Husayn (A) was moving ahead in a manner on the Ashura day as if marching towards his bright future after seeing the signs of success of his revolution with his own eyes.
He had no doubt that success was destined for him after he is martyred. He had no doubt that the Ashura day was the last day of sowing the crop. Hence he should not grudge about whatever he was facing, because soon it was going to bear fruits.
Thus, the fruits of his revolution started coming from the Ashura day. Eventually, we saw that betrayal and revolts against Bani Umayyah started soon after the martyrdom of Imam Al-Husayn (A).
The first to tear away the veil from the malicious face of Bani Umayyah was a lady from the army of infidels. She played an important part in enlightening the true features of this catastrophe. When that woman saw at the Asr of Ashura that Yazid’s army was preparing to attack Imam Al-Husayn’s camp, she came running, took a tent-pole in her hand and stood in front of the tents guarding them. She was from the tribe of Bakr Ibn Wail.
She shouted, “O progeny of Bakr Ibn Wail! Are you alive? Come for my help because these people want to even take away the clothes of the ladies of the family of Prophet (s.a.).”1 Through her few words, this lady made clear the meanness of the enemy.
In my view, the moment when Imam Al-Husayn (A) bid farewell to his Ahl al-Bayt was a very sorrowful one. There was no one alive except him. This scene of departure was extremely distressing but the reason why Imam Al-Husayn (A) had come to bid farewell for the second time is very significant.
It is narrated that when Imam Al-Husayn (A) attacked the enemy with ferocity and drove the infidel forces away to reach the Euphrates, the enemy got worried that Al-Husayn would drink the water and regain strength. Eventually, someone shouted at that moment, “O Al-Husayn! You are drinking water while the army is attacking your camp.”
Hearing this, the dignified Imam immediately came out of the Euphrates.2 I don’t know whether the statement of that person was right or not or the army of infidels was preparing to attack the camp or not. However, I know that Imam reached his camp from Euphrates within a blink of eye. The camp was not attacked when Imam Al-Husayn (A) arrived there. The Imam made use of this opportunity and gathered the women and children once again.
This is the moment when the majesty of Imam Al-Husayn’s (A) soul is displayed. He first said, “O my Ahl al-Bayt! Be prepared to bear atrocities.” It was as if he wanted his family members to be mentally prepared for this deed. He did not say more.
However, he immediately said, “O my Ahl al-Bayt! You should have faith that Allah would protect you and grant you salvation from the mischief of the mischief-mongers. He would take you back to the sanctity of your grandfather with respect.
After that, the disgrace of your enemy would begin. You should be assured that Allah would make your enemy get involved in different kinds of punishments in this world.”3 It was as if the Imam was looking at the future with his own eyes.
Imam Al-Husayn (A) had selected a place on the Ashura day as a center during the battle. He used to attack from that place. First he fought in one-to-one combat. The enemy came one by one in groups but the Imam did not leave anyone’s head intact. The Imam’s attack was such that the enemy was taken aback. Seeing this, Umar Ibn Saad shouted, “What are you doing? Ali’s heart is beating in his chest.
He is the son of that person whose sword destroyed the pride of the bravest Arabs.” In this way, Umar Ibn Saad was actually trying to rekindle the hatred of Arab tribes for Imam Al-Husayn (A). Eventually, the soldiers asked. “What should we do?” He replied, “This is not the right way. If you go one by one, no one would be left alive. You should attack him from all sides.”
The enemy used to flee whenever the Imam attacked them but during the entire battle, he made sure that he was not far away from the camp. His sense of honour did not permit that anyone should dare to come near his camp as long as he was alive. He had ordered his family members not to come out of their tents as long as he was alive.
If you have heard somewhere that the Imam’s family members were coming out of their tents and shouting Al-a’tash (‘we are thirsty’) repeatedly; it is absolutely wrong.4
They had come out of their tents only once, when Zuljanah returned without his rider. Whoever came out at that time did not know what was happening. When they heard Zuljanah neighing, they thought that the Imam has come to bid farewell for the third time.
It is narrated that Imam Al-Husayn’s (A) Zuljanah was well-trained. Not only the Imam’s Zuljanah but also horses of enemies were trained so well that whenever their riders fell off they used to sense it immediately.
Thus, when Zuljanah saw that Imam Al-Husayn (A) had fallen and was not getting up from his place, it stained its mane with the holy blood of Imam Al-Husayn (A) and galloped towards the camp5 to inform the Imam’s family members that he is killed.
On the other hand, the family members thought that the Imam has come to bid farewell for the third time. Hence they came out of their tents. However when they saw the actual circumstances, they began weeping and wailing after surrounding Zuljanah from all sides.
The Imam had not permitted them to come out previously. Imam (A) had selected a center point for the battle from where his voice could be heard in the camp. In this way, the Imam made sure that their hopes remain alive.
When the Imam used to return to his center point after attacking the enemy, he used to recite: There is no power and might except by Allah the High and the Mighty, loudly (I don’t know whether it should be called a loud voice because his throat was so parched because of severe thirst; so how could a loud voice come out of it?)
He used to gather all his strength and recite: “Laa h’aula wa laa quwwata illaa billaahil a’liyyil a’z’eem” There is no power and might except by Allah the High and the Mighty, i.e. “O Lord! Whatever spiritual and physical power Al-Husayn possesses is from You only.”
His family members used to be happy hearing this voice because they got assurance that their master was alive and this kept their hopes alive. On the other hand, whenever the enemies attacked, they tried to surround the Imam in a smaller circle. Those enemies of religion used to shoot arrows on the Imam, hit him with stones while the Imam attacked and drove them away.
You must have heard how Ibn Saad started the battle on the Ashura day. You must also have heard that Imam Al-Husayn (A) did not allow starting hostilities from his side. This custom was followed without fail when the opposite army was apparently Muslim. Imam Ali (A) strictly followed this custom. He used to say, “I would never initiate the battle. Let them start the fighting. We would hit them later.”
Imam Al-Husayn (A) also did not start the battle. Instead Umar Ibn Saad called for his bow and arrows for seeking the pleasure of Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad. Umar Ibn Saad’s father was Saad Ibn Abi Waqqas, a renowned archer during the early days of Islam. He (Umar) placed an arrow in his bow, aimed at the camp of Al-Husayn and shouted:
“O people! Bear witness to Amir Ibn Ziyad that I was the first to shoot at Al-Husayn's camp to start the battle.”
The battle of Ashura started with an arrow and also ended with an arrow. The poisonous arrow, which ended the battle, had hit the holy heart of Imam Al-Husayn (A). It pierced the Imam’s chest from front and came out from behind.6
Thus, the Imam could not take it out from the front. It is written that the Imam pulled it out from his back. After being hit by this arrow Imam Al-Husayn (A) could not balance himself on the horseback and he fell down. He did not have enough strength to get up.
It is narrated that a some sons of Imam al-Hasan (A) had accompanied Imam Al-Husayn (A) on the journey of Karbala. One of them was Qasim. Also, Imam al-Hasan’s (A) youngest son, Abdullah was present in Karbala; he was only ten years old.
He was only a few months old when Imam al-Hasan (A) was martyred. Imam Al-Husayn (A) had brought him up. Imam Al-Husayn (A) loved his nephews very much. Perhaps he loved his nephews more than his sons since they were orphans.
Abdullah too loved Imam Al-Husayn (A) very much. Imam Al-Husayn (A) had handed him over to his sister, Zaynab (s.a.) on the Ashura day and asked her to take special care of him. Lady Zaynab (s.a.) was keeping a continuous watch on the children. Suddenly, Abdullah ran out of the tent. Lady Zaynab (s.a.) ran after him to catch him but he said, “I swear by Allah, I would not leave my uncle alone.”7
Saying this, the child ran towards the battlefield and threw himself in the bosom of Imam Al-Husayn (A), whereas the Imam was himself in a bad condition. At that moment, an oppressor moved forward with a sword to behead the Imam. As soon as he raised his sword, Abdullah shouted, “O son of an adulteress! Do you want to kill my uncle?”8
No sooner did the oppressor attack with his sword than the child put forth his hands to shield the Imam but they got cut off as a result. The child started crying, “O uncle! Look what the oppressors have done to my hands.”9
I testify that you enjoined the good and forbid evil and performed jihad for Allah as is worth to be performed till you reached certainty.
وَسَيَعْلَمُ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا أَيَّ مُنْقَلَبٍ يَنْقَلِبُونَ
And they who act unjustly shall know to what final place of turning they shall turn back. (26:227 )
- 1. Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 710.
- 2. Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 45, Pg. 51.
- 3. Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 698; Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg. 491.
- 4. Similarly, a tradition is famously narrated about “disobedience of Allah”, in which angel Fitrus had lost his wings. He rubbed himself with Imam Husayn’s (A) cradle at the time of the Imam’s birth. As a result of the blessings of the Imam’s presence, he got his wings back. On the other hand, the holy Qur’an says:
يَخَافُونَ رَبَّهُمْ مِنْ فَوْقِهِمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ
Meaning: They fear their Lord above them and do what they are commanded. (Surah Nahl 16:50).
بَلْ عِبَادٌ مُكْرَمُونَ
Meaning: the angels are respected servants of Allah (Surah Anbiya 21:26).
عَلَيْهَا مَلَائِكَةٌ غِلَاظٌ شِدَادٌ لَا يَعْصُونَ اللَّهَ مَا أَمَرَهُمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ
Meaning: Over it are angels stern and strong, they do not disobey Allah...(Surah Tahrim 66:6)
Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Tabatabai, author of Tafsir al-Mizan had replied to one of the questions saying that the incident of Fitrus is not in accordance with verses of Qur’an.
Also the holy Qur’an says:
مَنْ كَانَ عَدُوًّا لِلَّهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَجِبْرِيلَ وَمِيكَالَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَدُوٌّ لِلْكَافِرِينَ
Meaning: Whoever is the enemy of Allah and His angels and His apostles and Jibraeel and Mlkaeel, so surely Allah is the enemy of the unbelievers. (Surah Baqarah 2:98).
وَلَٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ
Meaning: But righteousness is this that one should believe in Allah and the last day and the angels and the Book and the prophets. (Surah Baqarah 2:177).
All these verses prove the elevated status of the angels. (Rizwani)
- 5. Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 705.
- 6. Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol 55, Pg 53.
- 7. Irshad, Shaykh Al-Mufid, Pg. 241; Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 45, Pg. 53.
- 8. Irshad, Shaykh Al-Mufid, Pg. 241; Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 45, Pg. 53.
In one version it is mentioned: Yabnal lakhnaa-; and in other it is written as: wailaka yabnal khabithati ataqtulu a’mmee; (Rizwani)
- 9. Mafatih ul-Jinan, Ziarat Mutliqa Imam Husayn (A).