It is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an that some of those involved in chastisement of hell would ask each other, “What has brought you here?” They would get a reply,
قَالُوا لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ الْمُصَلِّينَ
“We did not offer Prayer (74:42)
وَلَمْ نَكُ نُطْعِمُ الْمِسْكِينَ
and did not feed the beggars. (74:43)
مَا سَلَكَكُمْ فِي سَقَرَ
Also we used to hear unbelievers speaking against the religion in gatherings (74:44)
وَكُنَّا نَخُوضُ مَعَ الْخَائِضِينَ
or we too used to speak such.” (74:45).
This proves the importance of Prayer in religion. Why did the Holy Prophet (S) say that Prayer is the pillar of the tent of religion? It is so because if Prayer is offered correctly all other things would be rectified.
The Imam said in his last will, which begins with the words, “Allah, Allah!” and which is heard by you a number of times, “Allah, Allah! Do not leave Prayer at any time because this is the pillar of your religion.”1
You know that the bloodshed started after the noon (Zuhr) of Ashura. Till Zuhr, Imam Al-Husayn (A), many of his companions and youths of Bani Hashim were alive.2 Only thirty companions of Imam Al-Husayn (A) were martyred before Zuhr through arrows and rest of them were alive till Zuhr.
When a companion noticed that it was time for the Zuhr Prayer, he requested the Imam,3 “Master! The time of Prayer has arrived and we wish to offer our last Prayer behind you in congregation.”
Imam Al-Husayn (A) looked at the sky and confirmed that it was the time of Prayer. Then he said, "You have remembered the Prayer. May Allah include you among those who pray.” Or he said: “You have remembered Allah. May Allah include you among those who pray.”4
The Imam is praying for a person whose life is in the clutches of death to be included among those who pray. Thus, see what rank a true worshipper has near Allah?
Of course we offer Prayer. However, we also offer Prayer during the middle of battles. This prayer is called ‘prayer of fear’ in Islamic jurisprudence. Prayer of fear is like prayer of journey, which comprises of two units instead of four.
Hence, even if a person is in his homeland and in the state of war it is necessary for him to offer two units prayer. It is difficult to offer full Prayer during wars and hence, Prayer of fear should be offered there according to the Islamic law. Now if all companions stand in congregation for Prayer their defenses might be disturbed.
Hence half the soldiers continue to defend against enemy attack and the other half offer one unit prayer behind the Imam in congregation and one unit on their own and end their prayer. The Imam waits either sitting or standing after the first unit so that they may take their defending positions and other half of the soldiers would join him in congregation. The rest half of soldiers offer one unit prayer in congregation and another unit on their own.
Imam Al-Husayn (A) also prayed like this but conditions were different at that time. The Imam was not far from his enemies. Hence, the companions defending him stood very close to him but the shameless enemies did not let them pray in peace.
The enemy started raining arrows when Imam Al-Husayn (A) was offering the Prayer. They were also taunting orally. The accursed ones were saying, “O Al-Husayn! Do not offer Prayer. Your Prayer is useless. You have betrayed the ruler of the time, Yazid and hence, your Prayer is useless.”5
One or two companions of Imam Al-Husayn (A) became a shield of Imam Al-Husayn (A) so that they could stop on their bodies arrows shot at Imam Al-Husayn (A) to allow the Imam to complete his Prayer. When both of these companions fell wounded, Imam Al-Husayn (A) had just finished his Prayer.
One of them was Saeed Ibn Abdullah Hanafi. When the Imam reached near him, he was in his last moments. As soon as the Imam took his head in his lap, Saeed asked a strange question. He said, “O Aba Abdillah! Did I fulfill the right of loyalty?”6
It means, that he was thinking that the right of Al-Husayn is so great that such a sacrifice would not be enough for it. Thus was a prayer of Imam Al-Husayn (A) in the desert of Karbala.
Imam Al-Husayn (A) recited Takbir (Allaahu Akbar) as well as Sub-h’aanal- laah (Glory be to Allah) in this Prayer. He bowed, and prostrated.7 However, he offered one more Prayer two or three hours later, in which he bowed differently, prostrated differently and recited differently. Imam bowed when he was shot in his holy chest by an arrow.
He was forced to bow down then and remove the arrow from his back. Then do you know how the Imam prostrated for the last time? He did not rest his forehead on the ground because when he landed from the horseback, his right cheek touched the hot land of Karbala and he was reciting:
Bismillaahi wa billaahi wa a’laa millati rasoolillaah
In the name of Allah and by Allah and on the religion of the Messenger of Allah (S)
- 1. Nahjul Balagha, Faizul Islam, Sermon 47, Pg. 968.
- 2. The names of persons who were martyred in the first attack are mentioned in Absarul Ain.
- 3. The name of that companion was Abu Thamama Amr Ibn Abdullah Saeed. Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 656.
- 4. Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 45, Pg. 21; Mausuat al-Kalimat al-Imam al-Husayn, Pg. 444.
- 5. Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 45, Pg. 21.
- 6. Maqtal e Husayn, Muqarram, Pg 244.
- 7. Muntahai ul-Amaal Vol:1 Pg:698