Why have we gathered here today? What night is it? Today is the night of martyrs. In our present world it is customary to commemorate certain days every year to express devotion and respect. For instance, we celebrate the Mother’s Day, Teacher’s Day and Labor’s Day.
However, we have not seen any community commemorating the Martyr’s Day, although the Muslim community commemorates the Ashura day as the Martyr’s Day. In this way, tonight is the night of the martyrs.
I mentioned in one of my speeches that the logic of a martyr is based on “love of God” on one hand and guidance of society on the other. If the personalities of the reformer and a Gnostic are gathered in one person that person will be called a ‘martyr’. One of them might be Muslim Ibn Awsaja, one Habib Ibn Mazahir, one of them Zuhair Ibn Qayn... because the rank of all martyrs is not same and there are different levels in it.
Imam Al-Husayn (A) had testified for the “martyrs of Ashura” the previous night, which displays the rank of those martyrs. Martyrs are seen shining brightly among all virtuous and honoured ones while the companions of Al-Husayn are seen dazzling among all martyrs.
Do you know what Imam Al-Husayn (A) said? What did he say about his companions? Those who were not worthy of martyrdom left Imam Al-Husayn (A) during the journey of Karbala and those who were worthy of that honour held onto the Imam till the end. However, Imam (A) tested them for the last time. This time, not one of them parted from the master.
What did the Imam do on Ashura eve? Those who have written “He gathered his companions near the tent of water,” say that there was one such tent in the camp of Imam Al-Husayn (A), which had empty water- bags.1 Water-bags were kept inside that tent from first the day itself and it was called the tent of water.
The Imam gathered his companions and helpers in that tent on Ashura eve. However, I don’t know why he did so. Perhaps, he gathered them because there were no filled water-skins in that tent that night.
Even if we consider another version that: “He gathered his companions as the night fell,” then too it is consistent with the previous version.2
Imam Al-Husayn (A) gathered his loyal companions in one tent and delivered an eloquent sermon. Actually, this sermon was a reaction of the events, which occurred at Asr time on the Ninth.
The time extended by the enemy was going to expire at sunrise on the next Ashura day. Hence the Imam gathered his companions to inform them about the circumstances and test them for the last time.
Imam Zayn al-Abidin (A) narrates that Imam Al-Husayn (A) had gathered his companions in a tent, which was near to his tent. His father glorified Allah and said, “I glorify Allah and thank him during good and bad times. O Allah! I thank you that you gave Prophethood to us, taught us the Holy Qur’an and made us understand the religion.”3
One who treads the path of truth and reality, in whatever circumstances and condition he might be, all is well for him. The man of truth recognizes well his responsibilities in all circumstances and whatever comes in his way is not bad.
When Imam Al-Husayn (A) was heading to Karbala he had uttered a sentence in reply to the renowned poet, Farazdaq, which is worthy of attention. When Farazdaq told the Imam about unsound circumstances of Iraq, the Imam said:
“If circumstances turn in our favor we would be thankful to Allah for that bounty and seek His help in thanksgiving and if the circumstances are against us; then too we are not at loss because we have good intentions and a clean conscience. Our aim is nothing except rightfulness resulting from piety. Thus, whatever comes in this way is good and not a mischief. We thank Allah in all circumstances, good or bad.”4
“I was his thanks-giver during the days of comfort as well as the days of suffering.” Thus, the Imam wanted to say,
“I have seen the days of happiness and peace in my life like those days when I used to sit in the Prophet’s lap or mount his shoulders. I have been through those times when I was one of the most loved children in the world of Islam. I thanked Allah for those days as well as for this day when I am surrounded by calamities. I do not consider these circumstances bad for me. Instead I consider them good.
O Lord! We thank You for granting the honour of Prophethood to our family and that You richened us with the knowledge of Qur’an. Only we have complete recognition of Holy Qur’an. O Lord! We thank You for granting us recognition and understanding of religion and for making us reach its depths so that we could understand its soul and inner being, which is the actual reality.”
Do you know what the Imam said after that? After that, Imam Al-Husayn (A) testified for his companions and Ahl al-Bayt and said, “Certainly, I have not seen companions more loyal and better than mine.”5
In this statement the Imam wanted to say, “O my companions! You are more excellent than the companions of my grandfather, the Holy Prophet (S) who got martyred. You are better than the companions of my father, Ali al-Murtadha and better than the companions who got martyred in Jamal, Siffeen and Nahrawan, because the circumstances you faced are completely different from those faced by them.”
Then the Imam (A) testified in favor of his Ahl al-Bayt and said: “I have also not seen Ahl al-Bayt better and more particular in fulfilling the rights of blood relation, than my Ahl al-Bayt. The rank and status that my Ahl al-Bayt has is not possessed by the Ahl al-Bayt of any other person.” Thus the Imam certified the status of his loyal companions and Ahl al-Bayt and also paid thanks to them at the same time.
After that, the Imam glanced at the gathering and said: “O people! I want to inform all of you that the enemy does not want anyone except me. They want only Al-Husayn to pay allegiance to them and I would never do so.
They consider only me as a barrier in their way. If they get me, they would not harm you. Hence, I take away allegiance from your necks. Now you are neither under pressure from the enemy nor from my side. You are free. You may happily go wherever you want.”
After that, the Imam insisted to his companions that each one of them should hold the hand of a child from his family and get out of this trouble.
This is a moment where the rank and honour of the companions of Imam Al-Husayn (A) can be understood. They were not pressurized by the enemy at that time due to which we could have said that they were already trapped in the clutches of the enemy. And Imam Al-Husayn (A) also released them from the allegiance he had taken from them.
Imam Al-Husayn’s (A) happiness had doubled on Ashura eve and Ashura day. The first cause of Imam’s happiness was that all companions including the young children as well as the elderly had surrounded him.
Secondly, Imam (A) did not notice even an iota of weakness in his companions. There was no one among the companions of Imam Al-Husayn (A) on Ashura day who would have left him or joined the enemy’s side.
On the contrary, the Imam had attracted many persons from the enemy’s side through his magnetic faith. Hurr was one of such persons. It is written that approximately thirty persons joined Imam Al-Husayn (A) on Ashura eve and this had doubled the happiness of Imam Al-Husayn (A).
After hearing the words of Imam Al-Husayn (A), everybody replied one after another saying, “Master! Are you saying that we should leave you alone and go away? No, by God! This life is not sufficient a sacrifice for you. Getting sacrificed for your sake once is nothing much.”
Another one said, “I would like to get killed a thousand times continuously and being made alive a thousand times so that I may sacrifice each life for you.”
The first to initiate the conversation and express these thoughts was Master Al-Abbas (A). After him, other companions repeated his words or spoke in the same vein. This was the last test that companions and Ahl al-Bayt had to go through.
When they announced their determination and support, Imam Al-Husayn (A) also started to unveil the events that were to unfold the next day and said:
“I would like to inform all of you that you all will be martyred tomorrow.” Hearing this, all said,
“Thank be to Allah the Lord of the worlds, that tomorrow we would sacrifice our lives for the beloved son of Fatimah.”6
Here a points is worthy of note. If the logic of a martyr is not understood, people would say that if Imam Al-Husayn (A) was going to be martyred in any case what was the use of keeping his companions with him? Except that they too get martyred in the process. Why at all did Imam Al-Husayn (A) permit his companions to stay with him?
Why didn’t he compel them to return? Why he didn’t say, “The enemy has nothing to do with you and there is not the least benefit in your staying with me. If you stay with me there would be no effect except that you too would get martyred. Hence you should go away. It is obligatory for you to go away and unlawful to stay back.”
If a person like us had been in Imam Al-Husayn’s position, he would sat on the jurist’s chair, picked up the pen and written: “I give a verdict that it is unlawful for the companions to stay here and it is obligatory for them to go away.
If you stay here your journey would be considered a journey of sin and it would be obligatory for you to offer complete Prayer instead of Qasr Prayer.” However, Imam Al-Husayn (A) did not do so. Instead he told his companions and Ahl al-Bayt to prepare for martyrdom. This proves that the logic of martyr is a different logic.
Sometimes, some people have to get martyred in order to awaken the spirit of Jihad in a sleeping community or to present a sacrifice to grant it the light of faith or a new life, Such was the situation in Karbala.
Martyrdom is not only for the sake of overpowering the enemy. It includes awakening of the spirit of Jihad. If the companions and Ahl al-Bayt of Al-Husayn had not been martyred on that day how could the world of the spirit of martyrdom had become inhabited?
Although the pivot of martyrdom is the respected being of Imam Al-Husayn (A) the companions increased the beauty of his martyrdom. If they had not been martyred the martyrdom of Imam Al-Husayn (A) would not have got the greatness, which it has till the Judgment Day. People would continue to come and seek inspiration and a fresh spirit from it in the shade of which they may also walk.7
Friends! For the sake of the water of Euphrates!
For the sake of thirst of the progeny of the Holy Prophet (S) For the sake, of the spirit in the blood of Shabbir
For the sake of the youth of Akbar Take help from the increasing spirits Yes, hold unto, hold unto Al-Husayn
The beauty of this world is because of struggle Every moment be a Badr and every breath a Hunain Move forward in pursuit of capturing the west
Your hearts should be enlightened and tongues should utter: “O Al-Husayn!”
You are Haideri; tear the chest of the serpent Uproot the door of this modern Khaiber Enquiry of the battle should continue like this
Every attack should be perfect and every stroke shuddering The unjust army is trying to escape
O blood! Become hotter! O pulse! Tick faster!
The demon of oppression is trembling. May it not find refuge! The ogre of mischief is trembling. May it not find refuge! There is no place for delay, O brave ones!
The age is calling, “Move ahead! Move ahead!” Youth is volleying; move ahead
Roar like thunder and rain after thunder Yes, roar like an injured lion, O friends!
Clink, clink of Zulfiqar, O friends!
O carriers of burning fire! Move ahead
O conquerors of heavy storms! Move ahead
O those who have God-given strength! Move ahead Thrust the sword in the chest of today’s Shimr
Yes, throw Yazid into hell, throw him.
(A poetic composition by Josh Malihabadi)
- 1. Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 625; Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg. 395.
- 2. Some words of Ustad Mutahhari are not included here to avoid repetition because the philosophy of martyrdom of Ustad Shaheed is already published by Jame Talimaat al-Islami, Pakistan.
- 3. Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 625; Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg. 395.
- 4. Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg. 336.
- 5. Irshad, Shaykh Al-Mufid, Pg. 231; Lohoof, Pg. 90; Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al- Husayn, Pg. 395.
- 6. Lohoof, Pg. 91; Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg. 400; Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 626.
- 7. Qiyam O Inqilab al-Mahdi az Deedgah Falsafa al-Tarikh, Pg. 124-134.