Muslim scholars claim Imam Husain saved Islam by sacrificing his life and 72 others inBattle of Karbala, and that the lessons of Karbala are meant for all humanity…
By: Ramzan A. Sabir
The tragic events of Karbala that occurred 14 centuries ago, reflect a collision of good versus evil, the virtuous versus the vicious, the collision of two leaders,Imam Husain (the head of virtue) versus Yazid (the head of vice). Husain was a righteous man, the religious authority, and the Imam of Muslim Ummah (the followers). As the representative of his grandfather Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Imam Husain’s main concern was to safeguard and protect Islam, and guide the fellow Muslims. On the other hand, the staying in power by the rulers like Mu’awiya (son of Abu Sufyan) and his son Yaziddepended solely on the spread of terror and might of the sword. They used brute force to rule over the Muslim empire by all possible illicit means. Imam Husain never recognized Mu’awiya or Yazid as legitimate ruler of the Muslim Ummah. Before him,Imam Ali (a.s. i.e., peace be upon him) had fought battles against Mu’awiya because Mu’awiya continuously misused public funds and violated the Islamic principles.Imam Al-Hasan (a.s.), an elder brother of Imam Husain, had to swallow the bitter pill of making a peace agreement with Mu’awiya, in order to safeguard the security of the Ummah which was at stake at that time.
When Yazid, son of Mu’awiya declared himself a ruler over the Ummah, he demanded Imam Al-Husain’s (a.s.)allegiance of loyalty. Imam Husain (a.s.) on his part flatly rejected Yazid’s rule and behavior, for there was no way Yazid could represent Islam. He believed allegiance would be blasphemy. But Yazid, the tyrant ruler over the Ummah, was adamant in his demand, and tension between the two parties increased day by day. Imam Husain (a.s.) was quick to realize that giving allegiance of loyalty to Yazid would jeopardize the survival of Islam. To safeguard and protect Islam, therefore, the Imam had no choice but to confront and collide with Yazid’s rule irrespective of consequences. Imam Husain (a.s.) along with his family members and companions decided to leave Madina and travelled to Kufa. Since Yazid had ordered his commanders to seize the Imam’s allegiance of loyalty at any cost, even by brutal force, the commanders assembled a relatively large army estimated at 30,000. The armysurrounded Imam Husain (a.s.)’s camp of about 130 persons in a desert called Karbala(Iraq), located about 60 miles southwest of Baghdad. The enemy forces cut off the basic necessities to the camp, including access to water. The camp consisted of Imam Husain, his family, friends, and companions, all of whom stood firm and determined with him. These brave companions would rather face death for the noble cause of Islam, than submit to the outrageous tyranny and the un-Islamic ways and practices of Yazid.
On 10th of Muharram Hijra 61 (October 10, 680 AD), a battle took place between 72 righteous persons on one side and giant army on the other. Yazid’s army brutally massacred 72 righteous persons including Imam Husain (a.s.), members of his family, and his faithful companions. Thus, Karbala proved to be a clash involving Islamic truths versus falsehood, right versus wrong, belief versus disbelief, the oppressed versus the oppressor, and faith against brute force. Karbala was about standing up to oppression, regardless of the consequences. Thus, in Karbala, Al-Husain (a.s.) the 57 year old grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), sacrificed almost all he had, for one goal. This goal was to letthe truth triumph over falsehood eventually,and he did that brilliantly. His goal was to foil the plan that Mu’awiya had expertly developed for his son, Yazid, which was to establish a permanent BenuUmayya’s rule over the Muslim Ummah (even by sacrificing the Islamic principles), but doing it in the name of Islam. Brilliantly, Imam Husain (a.a.) succeeded in foiling this plan and he exposed the disreputable nature of BenuUmayya though this was at the expense of his and his companions’ lives.
Following the martyrdom of Imam Al-Husain (a.s.), the survivors which included Imam ZainulAbideen (a.s.), Sayyedah Zainab (s.a.), women of the martyrs, and children including Al-Husain’s grand son Imam Al-Baaqir (a.s.). In Karbala, the first Sham-e-Ghariban agonized the bereft survivors with frightful circumstances of horrible treatment, whereas Yazid’s army spent the evening jubilantly celebrating what they perceived to be their victory. Most of the tents of Imam Al-Husain (a.s.)’s camp were filled with heart rending cries of agony over the losses of their loved ones. The evening had hardly progressed when Yazid’s soldiers entered the tents and looted the occupants. They snatched away women’s chadar (veil) and jewelry. After setting their tents on fire, they took everyone (including the ailing Imam ZainulAbideen (a.s.) as captives. They placed all captives on bare backs of camels, and traveled through a long exhaustive journey from Karbala to Kufa and then from Kufa to Damascus (a distance of about 700 miles). During the journey, the women were without their hijab (head-covers), while ahead of them the captors were carrying the severed heads of Al-Husain (a.s.) and othermartyrs hoisted atop spears. All of the surviving women and children (of which many were the descendents of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) were put to bear tremendous sufferings, tortures and atrocities for over a year.It was a tragedy of such an enormous magnitude that there is no parallel event in any other religion.
Sayyedah Zainab (s.a.), in captivity, through her remarkable leadership, patience, and perseverance, as well as her eloquent speeches delivered in Kufa and Damascus, exposed Yazid’s notorious rule. Through her speeches she brought alive the high status of the family of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), and their struggle against the forces of evil, thus waking up the Ummah to their senses. Upon learning the truth about the Karbalamassacre, Ummah began to protest to Yazid and created circumstances that led to the captives’ freedom and their return journey to Karbala and Medina, where large numbers of people joined them in their grief and mourning. The people of Medina hailed Imam Al-Husain (a.s.) as a savior of Islam, and Sayyedah Zainab (s.a.) as a savior of the Ummah. They all noted that Yazid, despite his enormous wealth and mighty power, could not win the Battle of Karbala.Yazid wanted allegiance but did not get it, he wanted to destroy Islam but could not do so. Every year millions of Shia muslims visit Karbala to pay tributes to Imam Husain (a.s.)’s holy shrine. For full details of these tragic events, please read on-line the author’s book
“Karbala: Before And After” www.slideshare.net/changezi/karbala
One of the scholars Sheikh Abdul Jalil of Idara e Jaferia, Burtonsville Md. who reviewed the above book, commented:
- Learning about the tragedy of Karbala is essential for everyone, young or old.
- It strengthens our faith,
- Gives us guidance to do what is right,
- Protects us from Evil, and
- Enhances our love for Imam Husain (A.S.) and all other Martyrs of Karbala.
- No doubt, the book appears to be a priceless jewel for all of our youth. However, the book is not for any particular community.
- Rather, in my opinion, lessons of Karbala are meant for all humanity.