Friday 17 December 2010

A brief history of Karbala

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.

Thursday 9 December 2010


بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

The month of Muharram has begun and Allah says in relation to this blessed month in Surah Tawba;

‘Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred, (i.e. the 1st, the 7th, the 11th and the 12th months of the Islamic calendar) that is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein, and fight against the Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) collectively , as they fight against you collectively but know that Allah is with those who are Al-Muttaqûn.’ (9:36).

We are all aware of the great importance that placed in this scared month. Even at the time of ignorance the Arabs would refrain from fighting and they would also honour this month by fasting on the 10th day of Muharram; the blessed day of Ashura. As such, we as Muslims should also honour and respect this month by increasing in the performance of good and refining our personality to ward off evil thoughts and actions.

The previous nations paid great significance to the day of Ashura. As mentioned earlier the Arabs would observe fast during the period of Jahiliyyah, the Jews would also observe a day of fast and the Christians would make the occasion by observing peace and celebrations.

Allah , through His Grace and Mercy, granted special mercies / favours on the 10th of Muharram. Some include; Hazrat Adam (as) was granted forgiveness, Hazrat Idris (as) was lifted to a high abode, Prophet Noah (as) and his followers was saved from the flood, the fire that was created to kill young Prophet Abraham (as) was extinguish, Prophet Yunus (as) was freed from the belly of the whale, the Israelites’ was saved from Pharaoh due to the parting of the Red sea, Hazrat Isa (as) was taken up to the heavens’, and Allah created the first of creation. These are just a few of the great things Allah bestowed on various persons and nations.

If all these beneficial things happened on the 10th of Muharram then we should honour this day by observing the recommendations lay out by Prophet Muhammad . Mu’awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan (ra) relates: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah say: "It is the day of ‘Ashura. Allah has not made fasting obligatory for you but I am fasting. He who likes to observe fast among you should do so, and he who likes not to observe it (does not have to) observe it.’

Another point to note is that another year has come and gone which means that our time in this world is diminishing gradually. What have you done to get closer to your Lord during the last year? Remember that one day we will return to Him and insha Allah we would all like the meeting with Him to be pleasant and beautiful. Analyse your own status, do you feel that you can leave this world in a pleasant manner or will there be difficulties.

Make a resolution that this year will be a bit different in that you would strive to get closer to Allah and you would not get districted. May Allah make this New Year a one filled with blessings and prosperity. May He save us from the temptations of Satan and may He forgive us, guide us and allow us to rise with the righteous on the Promised Day.

Thursday 2 December 2010


بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ

We cannot fathom the Holy Qur’an and Allah bears testament to this in Surah Al Israa;

‘Say: "If the mankind and the jinns were together to produce the like of This Qur'an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they helped one another.’ (17:88)

One of the beauties of the Qur’an is that it came to take mankind out of darkness into light. One way of achieving this is that Allah has shown man the workings of nature. For example He says in Surah Yaseen;

‘And a sign for them is the night, We withdraw therefrom the day, and behold, they are in darkness. And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term (appointed). That is the decree of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing. And the moon, we have measured for it mansions (to traverse) till it returns like the old dried curved date stalk. It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. They all float, each in an orbit.’ (36:37-40)

There are many messages that can be derived from these ayats. One of these messages is that everything that has been created is going about their respective missions. We have to benefit from the creations of Allah and use the blessings and favours He has bestowed upon us for our own welfare.

If you happen to die now what will happen? People may miss for some period of time but at the end of the day life goes on. All creatures are fulfilling their purpose; what about you. What are you doing to earn the garden?

Even Muslims will be thrown into the pits of hell and when they have been punished for their wrongs Allah will remove them and place them in paradise; and even then their title will be ‘the dwellers of hell’. Assess your own situation. Which direction are you heading in? Do you feel that you can cross the bridge of pul sirat with ease or will you have problems? Beg your Lord now not then. Beg for forgiveness and for guidance.

When Prophet Sulaiman (ra) was at the peak of his knowledge and understanding he made a beautiful dua to Allah , and we should all make an effort to learn this prayer and recite it regularly;

‘My Lord inspire and bestow upon me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favours which You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds that will please You, and admit me by Your Mercy among Your righteous slaves.’ (27:19)

Brothers and sisters the year is coming to an end. Take stock of your own selves. Make amends for the shortfalls that you would have made. No one knows when they will be leaving this world so let each and every day be a day of preparation so that if perchance Allah decides to take us back we will be prepared.

We have to leave this world one day, the only issue is that we are not sure when. Be serious and prepare properly so we’ll have hopes of a beautiful meeting with our Lord.

We are all slaves of Allah. A slave is someone who has no say of his own. Satan was not a true slave, Pharaoh was not a true slave and we see how their end was. Be like the companions of Prophet Muhammad (saw). Whenever they were asked a question, even if they knew the answer, their response was always ‘Allah and His Rasool knows best’.

May Allah forgive us all and bless us and enable us to rise with the righteous on that promised Day and may He allow us to get close to Him, insha Allah.