بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ
Allah in His Infinite Mercy and Wisdom choose to start the year with a particular way, similar to how He ended the year, that is with two great personalities and their legacy which Allah has preserved for all times. At the end of the year we see Father Abraham (as) called upon to sacrifice his worldly love, while in the beginning of the year we see Imam Hosein (ra) being martyred. Many of us might not understand the circumstances surrounding this incident, and even for us who know, let us examine history to see how this event occurred.
After the demise of Rasoolullah (saw) the governance of the Muslim world was done by a system of Khilafat, from which, came the four Great Khalifas. During the reign of the first Khalifa Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra), Yazid had been deputed to conquer Damascus. After its conquest Yazid was made its first governor. Mawiya was with his brother Yazid during the campaign. On the death of Yazid, Muawiya became the governor. He showed such unusual ability and foresight that Hazrat Omar made him the governor of the whole of Syria. During Othman’s caliphate, Muawiya’s power immensely increased. He controlled Northern Iraq and Armenia. While the other governors had to seek permission before implementation, Muawiya could do so on his own, i.e. he was given a free hand in administration. He took advantage of this opportunity and started building up power for himself and the Omayyad’s. He knew that he was going to be fired so he prepared himself for this event by;
(a) Gathering around him a strong band of relatives and close friends
(b) Marrying a lady from the powerful Syrian tribe of Banu Kalb
Thus his strength was increased and he was formidable against anyone who might try and oust him. At the murder of Hazrat Othman (ra), Hazrat Ali (ra) became Khalifa and his first act was to fire all provincial governors including Muawiya. Muawiya’s plan was to retaliate against Ali’s plan because he had a powerful support. It should be noted that Muawiya was no match for Ali in learning, piety, and the art of war.
Muawiya never acknowledged Ali as caliph and posed as legal heir of Othman. He demanded revenge for the death of Othman which gave him the guise of the champion of legal authority. At the death of Ali, his eldest son Imam Hassan was appointed Khalifa. He was an extremely peace loving man and instead of fighting against Muawiya, he succumbed to a compromise, i.e. vacate the Khalifa for Muawiya in return for handsome pensions and estates for himself and his relations.
With Muawiya’s rule, he used public purse to capture and stay in power. He was soon surrounded by power hungry men ready to support him in anything, in return for a share in power. The piety and simplicity of the caliphate was gone. They were replaced by the glory and diplomacy of royalty. Islamic belief is in equal justice for all and makes merit the sole yardstick of a man’s position in society. The first four caliphs faithfully lived up to this. Muawiya dealt a fatal blow to it. I believe that Islam has been unable to recover from that blow up till today.
Muawiya’s eldest son was also named Yazid. He was a dissolute young man given to the soft pleasures of the haram. He grew up in the laps of luxury. The over indulgence of his parents and the flattery of the attendants kept him out of touch with the realities of true life. He inherited none of the great qualities of his father. He developed a strong passion for wine and women and gave himself to a life of ease and merriment. His education did nothing to prepare him for the job his father had in mind for him. True Islam expects a caliph to be the top man in piety and political wisdom. He had neither of these two qualities. He was drunk most times and was surrounded by people of his kind.
With this type of ruler, the Muslims in Qufa could not see the real Islamic way surviving so they invited Imam Hosein (ra) to Qufa. Despite the many warnings not to go, Imam Hosein (ra) started the journey, never forcing anyone to go with him. On the 1st of Muharram he crossed into Iraq and camped at the foot of a hill. Yazid’s troop under the command of Hur and with orders to check Hosein’s advancement camped in front of Hosein. All PRAYED SALAAT BEHIND HOSEIN. After discussions with Hur, Hosein learnt that he could neither go forward nor back home, but it was suggested to him to take a neutral course. He started to go to Nineva where on arrival he set up camp. Ibn Ziad, the minister of defense in the government of Yazid, sent a letter to Hur stating that Imam Hosein (ra) should be allowed to camp where there was no grass or water. The journey continued towards the Euphrates River and Hosein was forced to camp in the plains of Karbala, some distance from the river.
From the onwards negotiations took place up till the 9th Muharram. On the 10th, battle started. Hosein’s army, a mere 72 men, fought an army of 5000. It should be noted that Hur, the general of Yazid’s army defected and joined Imam Hosein (ra). Thus Imam Hosein (ra) was martyred on the 10th day of Muharram. As his body lay on the ground his blood reddened the sands of Karbala (a picture shown to his grandfather Rasoolullah during his lifetime). Shimar the accursed cut off his head and took it to Ibn Ziad, and then to Yazid.
Imam Hosein (ra) lived a life of truth and so to did his family and followers. They lost their lives trying to revive the prestigious days of true Islam. Power is a strange thing that can blind a human to such an extent that he can reject truth and obey falsehood. Allah tells us in Surah Mu'minuun;
“Those who reject truth among the people of the book and among the polytheists will be in the fire to dwell therein forever, they are the worst creatures.”
Again, in Surah Buruuj Allah tells us ;
“Surely, those who persecute the believing men and women then do not repent, shall have the penalty of hell and the penalty of burning fire.”
A good eye opener for us is:
Everyday Karbala presents itself before us when we are faced with decisions of truth and falsehood.
What are the choices we make especially when Shaitan decorates the falsehood.
As a new year has embraced us let us take note of the warning Allah gives us in Surah A'raaf;
‘O you children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you, in the same manner as he got your parents out of the garden, stripping them of their raiment, to expose their shame : for he and his tribe see you from a position where you cannot see them:we made the satan friends to those without faith.’
Perhaps three salient points coming out of this incident;
1. Illuminating personalities are not appreciated
2. The type of treatment rendered to ‘good leaders’
3. Imam Hosein (ra) preached truth, lived truth and died for truth
May Allah always guide us to truth.