Story 12: Imam Husayn (‘A) And The Syrian

A man from Syria, with the intention of performing the Hajj pilgrimage or some other aim, arrived in Madinah. His eyes were cast over a man sitting in a corner. Paying attention to him, he asked, “Who is this man?”

They said, “He is Husayn, son of Ali ibn Abi Talib (‘a).”

Due to widespread propaganda against Husayn,1 anger penetrated the man’s soul and made him boil with rage. In his mind, in order to please Allah, he insulted and defamed Husayn ibn Ali (‘a) as much as he could. In order to unburden his hostility, he said whatever was on his mind.

Without losing his temper or expressing anger, Imam Husayn (‘a) looked at him full of affection and kindness and started reciting a few verses of the Holy Qur'an relating to good character, forgiveness and tolerance. He (‘a) said, “We are ready to help you, no matter what. Are you from Syria?”

He replied, “Yes.”

The Imam (‘a) said, “I have experience with this sort of disposition and character. I know the origin of this.”

Then he added, “You are a stranger in our city. If you are in need, we are ready to offer you help, and to welcome you and show you hospitality in our home. We can clothe you and provide you with money.”

Expecting a violent reaction and never supposing he would face such leniency and tolerance, the Syrian was so touched by Husayn’s (‘a) words that he said, “I wished the earth had split open and swallowed me whole at that moment, and that I had not been so rude and brazen. Until this moment no one was more hateful towards Husayn (‘a) and his father than me, but from this moment onwards no one is more beloved and dearer to me than them in the whole world.”

  • 1. Syria was conquered at the time of the Caliphate of Umar. The first person who was selected to govern Syria was Yazid ibn Abu Sufian. He died after two years of rule. The government of this rich province was entrusted to his brother, Mu'awiyah ibn Abu Sufian who was the governor for twenty years and ruled with absolute authority. Even during the Caliphate of Umar, when governors were frequently appointed and dismissed, nobody had ever governed a region for so many years. Mu'awiyah had a firm footing in his region and no-one trifled with him.

    He became entrenched to such an extent that he started dreaming of the Caliphate. After twenty years of rule, and the bloody transgressions committed by him, he managed to achieve his goal. He reigned as Caliph over Syria and other regions of the vast Islamic territory for another twenty years. Hence, Syrians lived under the rule of the Umayyad dynasty from the day that they came to know the world of Islam.

    As is well known, the Umayyads were hostile towards the Hashemites from days of old. After the advent of Islam, this hostility intensified, became more vigorous, and spread to the descendants of Imam Ali (as). Due to the spread of false propaganda, when Syrians came to hear the name of Imam Ali's descendants, they felt enmity towards them and they considered hostility against them a religious duty. They became well-known for such habits and character.