By Mr. Nasir Shamsi
One of the founder Universal Muslim Association of America (UMMA). Past Chairman Muslim Foundation Inc. and Trustee of Al-Huda Foundation. Editor (of many books printed by Payam-e-Aman Inc & Message of peace)
THE TRAGEDY OF KARBALA
Muharram, throughout the past fourteen centuries, has stood as a torch-bearer to humanity, reminding us of the heroic struggle of Imam Hussain (A.S.), the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, descendant of Abraham, against the tyrant ruler, Yazid. These struggles lead to the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (A.S.) and his 72 companions, who laid down their lives (in 680 A.D.) to uphold the ideals of truth and justice.
The pathos and grief a reminder of their suffering – fill the inmost recesses of our hearts, and in all humility, we commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (A.S.), the “Lord of Martyrs.” We bow our heads in grief and offer homage of our tearful eyes to the children of the Imam, who in their camps along the Euphrates River in Karbala, Iraq, were denied water and food for several days. Although, they suffered in silence, these jewels of the Prophet’s house did not complain.
RELIGION OF GOD
The religion of God changed hands from his Prophets Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, and finally attained perfection at the hands of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (descendant of Abraham, born in 571 A.D.). Islam is, therefore, the repository of all revealed scriptures and the principles and ideas of the prophets of all Lands and ages.
THE TEACHINGS OF ISLAM
The teachings of Islam lay down in the Last Revealed Book of God, Quran, and propagated by Prophet Muhammad (A.S.), the “Benefactors of Mankind” are:
- There is one and only one God, Allah
- He sent all his Prophets to guide humanity, which include Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, to perfect and continue their endeavors. He sent Muhammad as his last messenger, and the holy Quran, the world of Allah, was revealed to him.
- The dead shall be made alive on the Day of Judgment, when everyone shall be judged by his actions in the present life, and accordingly be rewarded or punished.
IGNORANCE vs. GUIDANCE
The Prophet was born in an environment which was completely immersed in evil. People worshipped idols, ate dead animals, practiced immorality, buried infant girls alive as unwanted liabilities, deserted their families, violated the covenants, and some of the stronger ones even oppressed the weak. Such was the state that when the prophet Muhammad summoned them to Allah, to profess him as the One and worship Him alone, and to discard whatever stones or idols they worshipped instead.
He also commanded them to be truthful in talk, to render to others what was due to them, to stand by their families, and to refrain from doing wrong and shedding blood. He forbade them from committing sins, bearing false witness, depriving orphans of their legitimate rights, and speaking ill of chaste women. He promoted the observance of prayers, fasting, and contribution to charity.
The fierce opposition to the Prophet’s message of peace (Islam in Arabic means “peace”) was spearheaded, among other tribes, by the Umayyad’s, who in their ignorance considered the prophet hood of Muhammad as the supremacy of the “Hashemite’s” (Prophet’s family), whom they resented. When Islam was, because of universal appeal, finally accepted by the masses over a period of 23 years of the Prophet’s endeavors, his enemies-led by the Umayyad’s-went underground, pretending they had submitted to God.
REPRESENTATIVES OF GOD ON EARTH
Soon after the death of the Prophet, the Umayyad’s managed to capture power, and Yazid was illegally installed as the ruler. Brought up in immoral and irreligious surroundings, Yazid abhorred discipline in any form. He exhorted people to shun religion, and openly ridiculed the Holy Commandments. The weak in faith gravitated towards Yazid for the liberal rewards, while others turned towards the grandson of the Prophet, Imam Hussain (A.S.), son of the Prophet’s daughter, Fatima, and Ali, the Commander of the faithful.
Determined to avenge the Umayyad’s, and to give himself the semblance of a legitimate caliph of Islam, Yazid issued orders that allegiance must be obtained from the grandson of the Prophet. Imam Hussain was fully aware of the wicked designs of his adversary; his allegiance would mean consent to all the irreligious activities unleashed by the wicked ruler who had illegally imposed himself on the helpless people. The “total evil” had once again, in the course of history, challenged the “absolute good.”
HUSSAIN AND CHRIST
The world has not been without the brave and fearless among men who, to uphold truth, justice, and righteousness, stood out in a crowd. Professor Arnold Toynbee, the great historian, while comparing more than twenty civilizations in ten volumes of A Study of History, expresses his mystic belief that societies and civilizations develop under the guidance of a very small group of leaders.
When a society deteriorates and degenerates and is apparently beyond any hope of reform. God sends “His Man,” who in his behavior and conduct displays of Godly qualities. His own virtues and traits. “as if God himself has descended on Earth in the garb of a man” to redeem humanity. Christ and Hussain, Toynbee says, were such vice-regents of God, ordained to dispel evil and vice from their contemporary societies.
Rightly so, the Imam of the Faithful launched a most effective battle against the evil of his time. In this “Right & Wrong”, he lost his life and the lives of his kith and kin, but when the dust so wistfully settled on the brave and blood-stained bodies of these valorous ‘Soldiers of Humanity,’ a fine distinction between the “Right & Wrong” has already made itself manifest.
Is Hussain dear to Muslims alone?
He is the meteor on the horizon of humanity.
Let humanity wake up to his grandeur.
Every nation will say, “Hussain is ours.”
“The world is unable to present an example finer and brighter than the personality of Imam Hussain (A.S.). He was the embodiment of love, valor, and personification of sacrifice and devotion. Every Muslim, in particular, must learn a lesson from his life and should seek guidance from him.”
Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah
(The found of Pakistan said in one of his messages for “Hussain Day” in Bombay).
“My admiration for the noble sacrifice of Imam Hussain as a martyr abounds because he accepted death and the torture of thirst for himself for his sons and for his whole family, but did not submit to unjust authorities.”
“There is a universal appeal in this martyrdom. Imam Hussain sacrificed his all, but he refused to submit to a tyrannical government. He never gave any weight to the fact that his material force was far less in comparison with that of his enemy. The power of faith to his is the greatest force, which regards all material force as nothing. This sacrifice is a beacon of light of guidance for every community and every nation.”
Pandit Jawahar Nehru
(The first Prime Minister of India in his message to the Hussain Day Committee, Bombay, 1361 A.H.)
“The best lesson which we get from the tragedy of Karbala is that Hussain and his followers were the rigid believers of God. They illustrated the numerical superior does not count when it comes to truth and falsehood. The victory of Hussain despite his minority marvels me”.
“Hero and hero Worship”
“If Hussain fought to quench his worldly desires (as alleged by Christians critics), then I do not understand why his sisters, wives, and children accompanied him. It stands to reason therefore that he sacrificed purely for Islam:”
“It was possible for Hussain to save his life by submitting himself to the will of Yazid. But his responsibility as a reformer did not allow him to accept Yazid’s Caliphate. He therefore prepared to embrace all sorts of discomfort and inconvenience in order to deliver Islam from the hands of the Omayyad’s. Under the blazing sun, on the parched land and against the stifling heat of Arabia, stood the immoral Hussain”.
“In a distant age and clime, the tragic scene of the death of Hussain will awaken sympathy of the coldest reader.”
“Decline and fall of the Roman Empire”
“In the history of Islam, the life of Imam Hussain stands unique, unapproached and unapproachable by anyone. Without his martyrdom, Islam would have been extinguished long ago. He was the savior of Islam and it was due to his martyrdom that Islam too such a deep root, which it is neither possible nor even imaginable to destroy now”.
“Decline and fall of the Roman Empire”
“The tragedy life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal.The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream… It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is sin.”