The message of Imam Al- Hussain
By: Shaykh Dr. Muhammad b. Yahya al Husayni al Ninowy
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
مِّنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رِجَالٌ صَدَقُوا مَا عَاهَدُوا اللَّـهَ عَلَيْهِ فَمِنْهُم مَّن قَضَىٰ نَحْبَهُ وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَنتَظِرُ وَمَا بَدَّلُوا تَبْدِيلًا
“Among the believers are Men, who delivered their promise to Allah” (Ayah 23/Surat Al-Ahzab)
If history has taught us anything, it has certainly delivered a message with unequivocal resonance; Haqq and freedom are not something that is given. Haqq and Freedom are things people earn. And people are as free and on the Haqq as they want to be.
Islam, the religion of Haqq, justice and freedom for all came into a place and time where oppression was the rule, slavery was a tool to humiliate the weak, killings a way to solve problems, violence and hate was the game of the day. A society fueled by feuds, raging by violence and hate. Merely by being born in the wrong tribe could mean eternal slavery, oppression, and stripping of any and all rights.
The Beloved Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, emerged as the Rabbani voice denouncing those ways while striving to ensure justice and equality for all. By endangering himself and his loved ones, he -sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, gave us one of the most precious monotheistic gifts, namely the collective duty of self criticism. Speak the truth though against yourself. Support the Haqq, denounce the Batel, or at least Stand with the Haqq, abandon the Batel.
Stand up to oppressors and tyrants, no matter of the price if you are capable. If you aren’t, do what you capable of, but do something.
The Seerah of the Beloved Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, taken as a whole, may be summarized as a succession of victories of Haqq over Batel, of Justice over Tyranny, of Freedom over Slavery.
If the Beloved Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, has taught us anything, then among the many, he taught us an important lesson. One; which the Qur’an amplified numerously: It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather a profoundly faithful few, who are keen to uphold the truth and selflessly sacrifice for it.
To be the example of a candle that burns itself illuminating the way for others, to give the ultimate sacrifice to enlighten the path of the truth, as the truth and only the truth shall set you free.
In a very famous Hadith, the Beloved Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, says: “Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn”. The meaning entailed by this Hadith is not that I am Husayn’s grandfather, as this is an obvious fact and a common knowledge. The meaning sheds light that Husayn is like me, Husayn’s line is my line, Husayn’s message is my message, Husayn’s principles are my principles, Husayn’s mission is my mission, Husayn’s vision is my vision, Husayn’s renaissance is my renaissance; Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn.
The Ayahs and Ahadith about Ahl ul Bayt al-At’haar including their Master Al-Imam Al-Husayn are numerous, and known to most of you know.
We are already in Muharram, and in the atmosphere of the days of Ashura. A day where it is reported that Allah Ta’ala saved Musa (as), and even relating to Adam and Noah, and many others (as). To our Ummah, Muharram and Ashura are not about a person or an event as much as the renaissance that demonstrated the message of sacrifice, devotion, Qur’an, Sunnah, unconditional compassion, non-violelnce, and love for all. These are days where the beloved of the beloved of the Beloved gave an everlasting lesson of how love can win over hate, peace over violence, Haqq over Batel and good over evil. Days that demonstrated the highest of nobility, and offered the ultimate of sacrifices. It is not strange, when you realize that he is the grandson of our Beloved Prophet, the son of Amirul-Muminin Ali, brother of Al-Imam Al-Hasan, and a beloved son to Master, the Lady of Ahl ul Jannah Sayyidatina wa Mawlatuna Fatimah-Azzahra, sallallahu ala sayyidina Muhammad wa aalihi wa sallam.
There was a noble reason that demanded the sacrifice of Imam Husayn. The simple and obvious reason is simply to preserve The original Bid’a-Free Muhammadan Islam. Islam, Haqq, Truth, Justice, Equality, Freedom and Liberty are all precious values that demand very precious sacrifice. That, to my mind, is the supreme significance of Imam Husayn’s sacrifice. But the highest honor must still lie with the symbol, who faced horrifying odds but refused to surrender to the evil. Rather than allow evil to entirely mask sacred things, al-Husayn and his family paid with their own lives the penalty of honor and Haqq. The beginning of the battle offered by our beloved Imam Husayn was when he went from city to city, hunted about from place to place, but harboring the Haqq and refusing a Haqq-covered evil offers and presentations. Then he has a choice of an effectual but dangerous attempt at reviving the love/freedom-centric Religion of Islam, or living at ease for himself while closing an eye on the ongoing distortion of Prophetic Sunnah and its values. He chose the path of sacrifice and hardships with duty and honor, and never swerved from it giving up his life freely in the absolute bravest of ways ever known to Mankind. That briefly is the story.
What is the lesson?
There is of course the physical suffering in martyrdom, and all sorrow and suffering claim our sympathy, the dearest, nearest, purest, closest to our hearts, souls and minds. The one who the Beloved Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, himself used to interrupt his speeches to pick him up, delay his prostration to honor and not bother him, the one whose face not only is honorable, but it is the face where The Prophet’s honorable lips, face, and body touched, loved, and valued. It is that very same honorable face, that Yazid bin Mu’awiyah and hiscronies “humiliated”, slaughtered, kicked, put on the spears and went through the cities to teach all people a lesson in their version of “democracy and freedom”. There are no words that can describe the pain profoundly felt in every free human’s mind, soul and heart.
But there is a greater suffering than physical suffering. That is when a valiant soul seems to stand against the world; when the noblest motives are reviled and mocked; when knowledge and Prophetic wisdom is taunted by the arrogant ignorance, when the truth and the authentic Prophetic Sunnah seems to suffer an eclipse. It may even seem that the martyr has but to say a word of compliance, do a little deed of non-resistance; and much sorrow and suffering would be saved; but the spiritual connection and voice relays: “Truth after all will never die”
But the whole battle is for man’s keeping hold of Haqq and Freedom. And that can only be done by the highest examples of man’s conduct – spiritual striving and suffering enduring firmness of faith and purpose, patience and courage where ordinary mortals would give in or be cowed down, the sacrifice of ordinary motives to supreme truth in scorn of consequence. The martyr bears witness, and the witness redeems what would otherwise be called failure. It so happened with Al-Imam Al-Husayn, the Master of the youth of Ahlul Jannah. For all were touched by the story of his martyrdom, and it gave the deathblow to the tyrant politics of Yazid bin Mu’awiyah and all the oppression it stood for. Al-Imam Al-Husayn remains alive, more alive than ever, not only externally but living profoundly deep in our hearts, in our souls, and in our minds, has still the power to ignite the light of truth in the heart of all free souls, to send a message to the courageous not to bow down to evil, and to teach people not to give in to political tyranny masquerading as a religious one as well, to stand firmly against the abuse of religion as a tool of violence and wars where in fact the goal is political and financial gains.
There are those who until today believe that forgeries, fancy words, self-awarded titles, outer-looks, public speaking skills, and plagiarized books can mask the shining truth. Persistent attempts to distance, sideline and marginalize Al-Imam Al-Husayn and his Seerah away from the Muslims are ongoing, and more intense, and serious than ever. Modern Yazidi’s, regardless of what banner or name they choose to brand themselves with, fear the message of al-Husayn, because it may impact their political, social and financial gains from the religion, they would no longer be able to fool the people and use the religion to instill hate, division, self-righteousness, superiority, and even push them to do violence and kill others in the name of God. Their scare tactics, labeling, and “intellectual terrorism” would be weapons of the past, and no longer effective for those who see. While we must pray for their guidance, we shall never fall as victims to such miserable models of opportunistic and selfish misguidance. Hence; Al-Husayn was, is and will always be the lantern of light, the direction of Haqq, and the ark of salvation as part of the Itra, after the Qur’an and the Authentic Prophetic Sunnah.
Many also, use the example of Al-Husayn to justify killing of political opponents, thus killing the very message of al-Husayn once again. While the heart of the message of al-Husayn is to stand up to oppressors and tyrants, no matter of the price. But that price was not other people’s blood, money, property destruction, mayhem, confusion, etc. If anyone was going to sacrifice for this principle, it was al-Husayn and his very close circle themselves. Al-Husayn did not call for the killing of his political opponents, never. Al-Husayn did not solicit foreign or others to support him in his mission, did not beg the rest of the world to stand with him in return for some money or promise of a position, al-Husayn did not try to use the crisis to garner fame and name as a hero and a “revolutionary”!!. In short, al-Husayn did not sell his Deen for little Dunya. Al-Husayn’s movement was a renaissance (Nah’da) not a revolution (Thawra), and what a difference to those who know. Al-Husayn called for reform and dialogue with the political religious tyranny of his time. Even after they assembled the armies and killed his children and companions, al-Husayn insisted during his last hours in the battle field to remind them with the Haqq and open channels of dialogue. Al-Husayn never called the “Ummah” for “Jihaad” or Nafir Al-Aam, like some calls nowadays, who do a “call for hit and run” style Jihad and lead the youngsters of the Ummah into death, hate, destruction and hellfire. He left Makkah on 8th Dhil Hijjah without saying a word to the massive masses gathered for Hajj. Al-Husayn did not call for the faceoff in Karbala, despite knowing it was inevitable. Al-Husayn did not seek the help of all Shayateen against his political “religious” opponents. Al-Husayn did not solicit everybody else from the major powers back then to “bomb” and “kill” and “remove” his political “religious” opponents, so he can sit on that chair instead. Al-Husayn did not flirt with all the tyrants of the world back then to beg them to attack his political “religious” opponents. Al-Husayn did not seek refuge with other tyrants and made it a base to fight yazid’s tyranny. Al-Husayn did not call for the mass destruction of the property of the Yazidi state, infra-structure, clansmen, but instead called to preserve all life, property, and dignity. Al-Husayn did not take political money and privileges from others to destroy yazid’s tyranny. Al-Husayn called for simple dialogue to explain reform. He did not terrorize his opponent. Al-Husayn’s call and rise was the epitome of a non-violent revolution which symbolizes Islam. Don’t ever compare the Nah’da of al-Husayn which is Rabbani and Muhammadi to some of the deformities of some of marketed “revolutions and revolutionaries” nowadays. Al-Husayn was a Nah’da for construction, forgiveness, mercy, love and live, not a revolution for destruction, vengeance, hate, and death.
In the upcoming very sad days in our lives, and the life of every free human being, I urge myself and you to: Express sympathy, love and sorrow (versus mourning) for the massacre of the dearest and purest of the Family of the Beloved Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalih wa sallam, by re-pledging to Allah Ta’ala your pledge of sincerity, transparency, devotion to Him, and channel the expression of your sorrow into positive action. It is customary to many families of Ahlul Bayt starting from Zaynab al-Kubra bint Ali on, and many of those who love them to show sadness during this month by remembering the grace of Allah Ta’ala upon them and re-pledge to internalize and carry out the Prophetic Message in a better way. Al-Husayn’s doesn’t need us to have “black” flags & bloody scenes to show grief, devotion, and faithfulness, but needs us to have pure hearts & inner peace, whereby we and all humanity prospers. Through the events of Karbala you will see the WORD winning over the SWORD, the tears defying spears, the true heirs versus stolen chairs, and the genuine Amirs versus the Deen auctioneers. Among al-Husayn’s mission’s multiple tragedies is that some sidelined him & his mission/sacrifice because it’s simply too painful to face up and too hard to talk about. Others let him down and started mourning and crying instead. He, may Allah Ta’ala be pleased with him and please him, wanted an Ummah of braves, an Ummah of leaders, an Ummah of hardworkers, an Ummah of selfless sacrificing, devoted youths with strong resolve, an Ummah who resorts to love not hate, unity not division, peace not violence, and merit based leadership not just the opportunistic will to be. Butal-Husayn’s message and mission is between those who buried it and have a hypersensitivity reaction upon merely hearing it and others who turned it into wailing, bloody scenes and divisive speeches, Killing al-Husayn over and over again.
Expressing sorrow should be manifested by sincere intentions of repentance, believing that if you were with them, you would have been on the side of Imam Husayn, and therefore you try to be Huysani when you choose what to say, do, think, everyday of your life. Al-Husayn is not about the past, but very much the present and the future.
Learn the Seerah of Imam Husayn, try to benefit from it, love it and live it. But don’t limit it to Muharram only. Let Muharram be your great start to be with al-Husayn during your life choices.
Love your family and loved ones, be generous to them, spend from that which Allah Ta’ala gave you, when you bring water ( remember on this day Yazid’s army prevented Imam Husayn from drinking water). Al-Husayn’s is a story of life, don’t turn it into history.
Be thankful to Allah Ta’ala, and ask Him to gather you with al-Husayn
and the lovers of al-Husayn in this Dunya, and Akhira.
Be on the Haqq. Justice & Freedom side, and check yourself.
Make the month of Muharram a month of Allah Ta’ala in your life, a month of Sunnah, a month of Al-Husayn in your life, in a step to eventually make every month a month of Al-Husayn, Grandfather of Al-Husayn, Father of Al-Husayn, Mother of Al-Husayn, Brother of Al-Husayn, and those who love and follow Al-Husayn. This is your chance to drop the rest and follow the best. This is your chance to connect with Al-Imam Al-Husayn. Take time, purify your heart and connect. His story purifies our emotions. We can best honor his memory by allowing it to teach us courage and constancy.
The sacrifice of Imam Husayn comes after the Sacrifice of his father, Sayyiduna Amirul’Muminin wa Imam al-Mutaqqeen Ali bin Abi Taleb, and the sacrifice of Imam Hasan, and the line of sacrifice and martyrs among Ahlul Bayt is still a line enlightening the way for generations to come. They are like stars; you will not succeed in reaching them with your hands. But like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guiding stars, and following them you will reach your destiny. Al-Imam Al-Husayn’s message was simple and clear: Is life so dear or so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty Allah! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me Haqq, or give me death!
“It is better to die on your feet
than to live on your knees”
Love Allah, Love people
Dr. Muhammad b. Yahya al Husayni al Ninowy