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An Effort to Analyse the Excellence of Imam Husain (a.s.)

The intellect and wisdom of man, his views and opinions – like the flailing and fluttering of the broken wings of a bird – impart an enormous fortitude and courage to his hands in the form of analytical abilities and capacities.

Today, nations feel proud when they look at the giant strides taken by them in the field of scientific development. They are overjoyed when they see their satellites moving towards the moon or their missiles soaring to great heights in the twinkling of the eye and striking their targets with pinpoint accuracy after having traversed a long distance through the air. They maintain deadly stockpiles of destructive weapons in their arsenal in order to strike terror in the hearts of their opponents and other weaker nations…. so that they live in misery and despair. Before the dawn of Qiyamat, we are seeing pitiable sights around us. It seems as if the sun will rise at one moment and the next instance it will be at its zenith. As evening sets, it appears that the trumpet of Israfeel will set the mountains and valleys ablaze.

In such a frightening scenario is a person who is affected by the occurrences around him yet is calm and serene. He takes heart from the divine assurance that “Certainly by the remembrance of Allah, the hearts are comforted”. The “sajdagah” is in front of him. He prostates on it and says “All Praise and gratitude is only to Allah” and thus his intellect is illuminated. He has contemplated on the Omnipotence of Allah.It is said that the seeker found his sanctuary resting on four pillars viz. remembrance, prostration, tranquillity and intercession. The writing on every pillar was dazzling in its radiance. He went close to those pillars and rubbed his eyes and the words etched on every pillar were – YA HUSAIN!!!

One thing all of us need to understand is that this world is inconsequential before the personality of Imam Husain (a.s.). In fact his (a.s.) persona overshadows the entire universe. Let us make an effort to comprehend and explore the colossal personality of Imam Husain (a.s.) in the light of intellect and traditions.No doubt such an endeavour is vital, yet to summarise it in a few pages is like trying to sculpt on stone.

None ever knew that an atom could pack the energy to blow up and annihilate lakhs of people; and nobody could imagine that minute particles would attain such lofty etiquette that lightning would submit to their command. Scholars, litterateurs and intellectuals who have praised and extolled the glorious character of Imam Husain (a.s.) are nothing more than those tiny specks. Their literary efforts are no doubt a result of some invisible help that has added radiance, honour and life to their writings and has unveiled the curtains of divine secrets so that one gets a glimpse of grandeur. Before Imam Husain (a.s.) undertook his journey to Mecca and finally to Karbala, his (a.s.) life in Madina was peaceful and confined to the four walls of his house. His ardent followers and devotees would travel from far and wide in order to come in his presence so that they could learn a thing or two about the etiquette of life in a way that were strong, unshakable and  in conformity with their character. Thus, we find an incident in Behaar-ul-Anwaar about three individuals from Qateef (or some other place) who came in the presence of Imam Husain (a.s.). They possessed the recognition of their Imam (a.s.) and had met him earlier too. They were baffled and reeling in a sea of amazement when they witnessed the radiant personality of Imam (a.s.) and his miraculous powers. They said to Imam Husain (a.s.), “Your presence is similar to that of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and it compels us to ask you “Who are you? What is your creation? Your reply will certainly enlighten us and our recognition will rise to a higher degree of certainty.” In quoting the reply of Imam Husain (a.s.) the writer has not used the exact words but has embraced his own style to adorn the answer.

Imam Husain (a.s.) said, “You do not have the ability or capacity to comprehend the subtlest or gentlest ray of our creation. A small part of the sea can cause an upheaval in the ocean while the sea can destroy the capacity of a lake. You are powerless in encompassing the reality of my creation (like a lake can never encompass the sea). You cannot stare at the sun for a few seconds then how do you presume to perceive my creation?” Yet those people kept on insisting and volunteered the name of one of them who was more pious and strong-hearted. They requested Imam (a.s.) to show the reality of his (a.s.) creation at least to that person.Imam Husain (a.s.) lifted just a minute portion of his eyelid – equal to the point of a needle – and the man stood up in bewilderment. His nerves started to rupture and his brain was about to explode. He panicked and began to tremble. He remained in that state for a few days. He was finally cured due to the benevolence of Imam (a.s.).  This is the status of Imam Husain (a.s.)!!!

(Behaar al-Anwaar; vol. 44, p.84)

It is an indisputable fact that the Creator loves His creations immensely. He decorated the world with precious gems and pearls and bestowed His perfect and flawless bounties for its adornment. He sent infallible messengers for the guidance of His noblest creation (i.e. humans) and finally raised the last prophet Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.a.). His one profound statement viz. “Husain is from me and I am from Husain” surpasses and outshines the entire Islamic shariat. It means that till the time the name of Imam Husain (a.s.) reverberates in the world, the religion of Islam will remain secure. This shariat is under the protection & leadership of Imam Husain (a.s.). Every rebel has been annihilated in its domain. Divine preparations have been shaped – right from the time of H.Adam (a.s.) till date – for the creation of Imam Husain (a.s.). Let’s have a bird’s eye-view on all those arrangements. We will divide the entire period – from the past till the present – in three sections. We will endeavour to see where all in history, the name of Imam Husain (a.s.) was incessantly mentioned and who all obtained deliverance due to him. We have chosen to discuss only three eras since the subjects are spread out on a very vast canvas.

First Period: It is the era preceding human civilization and progress on the earth. It is the time   prior to the creation of H. Adam (a.s.) – a period of millions of years ago. The kinds of animals living in those times can be gauged from the fossils excavated from the depths of the earth or from the eggs of dinosaurs. Only recently there was a report in a newspaper about the discovery of footprints of dinosaurs and archaeologists estimate them to be millions of years old. This era is considered to be a dark and obscure part, devoid of any kind of known civilization. Thus, we will move forward and discuss about the next era.

Second Period: The Era of Hazrat Nuh (a.s.)

The second period relates to Hazrat Nuh (a.s.). Readers may be aware that the prophethood of Hazrat Nuh (a.s.) lasted for around 950 years during which he propagated the divine religion in every nook and corner of his village. Yet, everyone opposed him and refused to accept his (a.s.) advices. In the incidents pertaining to the life of Hazrat Nuh (a.s.), we find that the villagers pelted him with so many stones that he (a.s.) would be buried in them. Finally, Allah – the Powerful, the Subduer – sent His chastisement upon them in the form of torrential rains that submerged the entire world. Everyone drowned except eighty believers who boarded the ark of Hazrat Nuh (a.s.). Along with them, all those animals who climbed into the ark too survived. Human civilization advanced through these 80 individuals. Greenery and vegetation was found once again; once again the spring breeze wafted all around; once again the earth displayed her fruit-bearing abilities. Colourful vines with their beautiful buds and exhilarating fragrances could be seen on the walls everywhere. But the agony of that divine chastisement was experienced by those who drowned in that deluge – their life was slipping through their hands; their breath was halting in their throat;their liver was exploding; every nerve of the heart was being wrenched; water was gushing through their nose and mouths and they were gasping for air; waves were smacking their faces – slowly and agonizingly everyone was dying. This is the fate of those who oppose and oppress a divine representative while the punishment of the hereafter is still pending. This incident has some link with the personality of Imam Husain (a.s.):

(1)  A book by the name of “Ali or Aelia” was printed sometime back. It was written in the book that recently a few portions of the ark of Hazrat Nuh (a.s.) were found on which some names were engraved. Linguists have identified two names as “Shabbar” & “Shabbir”. Our scholars too narrate that when Hazrat Nuh (a.s.) was constructing the ark, he (a.s.) used nails that had the names of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) embossed on them. When he (a.s.) picked the last nail that had the name of Imam Husain (a.s.) etched on it, he (a.s.) began to weep involuntarily and cried till he had hammered the nail in the ark.

(2)  This famous tradition of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is widely accepted among the Muslims wherein he (s.a.w.a.) says, “The example of my Ahle Bait (a.s.) is similar to a lamp of guidance & the ark of Hazrat Nuh (a.s.).. The one who takes refuge in them shall be saved and the one who turns away from them shall be drowned (in the sea of deviation)”. These words of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in praise of the “Five cloaked ones” are like an emblem that will shine and glow till the day of Qiyamat.

(3)  More or less eighty people who had boarded the ark of Hazrat Nuh (a.s.) survived the deluge. Mankind multiplied from the progeny of these good doers and believers in divine unity. Now, visualize the event of Karbala. The ark of Islam consisted of around seventy two martyrs who safely guided it through the deluge of falsehood and hypocrisy by waging a valiant battle – from sunrise till the afternoon of Aashura – against an army of one lakh dissidents. Chengezi has nicely said

“Islam survived after sinking!! What do you know about the importance of Karbala?”

Now let’s see the fate of those who drowned in the sea of hypocrisy, the ones who received the divine chastisement and were snared by death.

It has come in a tradition that when Imam Husain (a.s.) was travelling with his (a.s.) caravan and had crossed a place named Qaadesiyyah, he (a.s.) got the news that Abdullah Ibn Hurr Johfi was present somewhere in the vicinity. Imam Husain (a.s.) personally went to meet him and said, “O Abdullah! Why don’t you accompany me in my mission?” Abdullah was a well wisher and lover of Ahle Bait (a.s.) and was aware of the greatness and majesty of Imam Husain (a.s.) but was weak hearted. He replied, “Master! I have just seen the corpse of Muslim Ibn Aqueel being dragged in the streets of Kufa. Master! I don’t have the courage to challenge and antagonize Ibn Ziyad. I have this horse which is the finest in the whole of Arabia and is second to none. You can take it with you. You can also take all the weapons that I have. But please excuse me. Neither do I have the courage nor the ability to fight this war.” Imam Husain (a.s.) replied, “I’m proceeding (towards Karbala) for safeguarding the religion of my grandfather. Enjoining goodness and prohibiting evil is the aim of my journey. Those who will assist me in my aim will be martyred. I don’t need your horse.” Saying this Imam Husain (a.s.) walked away. Suddenly, he (a.s.) turned back and said, ‘O Abdullah! Bear in mind one thing or else you will be regretful.’ Ibn Hurr Johfi said, ‘O my master! What point is it?’ Imam (a.s.) replied, ‘Go so far away from here that my pleas for help and assistance don’t fall on your ears because the one who hears my request, yet turns away and refuses to come to my aid will certainly be destroyed within three years.” This firm assertion of Imam Husain (a.s.) is similar to the ark of Hazrat Nuh (a.s.) which was the cause of salvation from destruction and annihilation. Within three years of the tragedy of Karbala, all those who had oppressed and opposed Imam Husain (a.s.) met with a humiliating end. (Details of all these will be dealt with in some other issue, Inshallah). Thus we find that only those people who boarded the ark of Hazrat Nuh (a.s.) survived the deluge.Similarly, only those people survived who did not hear the request of Imam Husain (a.s.).

Third Period: The Era of Prophet Ibraheem – Khaleelullah (a.s.)

Hazrat Ibraheem (a.s.) lived during the reign of Namrood. Baabel and Kalidaan were two famous cities of that era. Society had made great progress in both these cities. Idols were fixed in every house. Not a single monotheist could be found.Newer and exotic idols were being engraved and decorated and placed in the temples. These idols were centres of beliefs, ideologies, rituals and ceremonies. Namrood was being addressed as God and creator – the giver of life and death.  Hazrat Ibraheem (a.s.) was the first person to demolish those idols. But Imam Husain (a.s.) is the one who annihilated polytheistic ideas and beliefs firmly entrenched in the minds of the people. A few years back, a plaque of mud was discovered in Britain that belonged to the era of Hazrat Ibraheem (a.s.). A picture and some words were engraved on it. Hazrat Ibraheem (a.s.) had it made by the people of that time. Experts are of the opinion that the foundation of knowledge was laid at that time (although Allah knows best). It could be that Hazrat Ibraheem (a.s.) adopted this approach keeping in mind the capacity and ability of the people of that era.

By passing the details, it’s important to appreciate the arrangements and preparations made by Hazrat Ibraheem (a.s.) – thousands of years ago in the domain of his propagation, Prophethood and Imamat- in order to introduce Imam Husain (a.s.) and also the final link in the chain of Imamat viz.  Imam Mahdi (a.s.). These words are corroborated and endorsed by the exegesis (tafseer) of the Quranic verses.

Deen-e-Hanif: (1) The idol breaker – Hazrat Ibraheem (a.s.) – spent the early part of his life among the mountains – concealed from the eyes of the people. His height and physique increased rapidly. When Hazrat Ibraheem (a.s.) was in the prime of his youth, he (a.s.) came across Namrood – a king who claimed Godhood.   It is not possible to go into the details, yet let us narrate an incident. When Hazrat Ibraheem (a.s.) returned to Egypt, he was accompanied by his wife Haajerah (s.a.). They were presented in the court of Namrood. Both his hands were instantly paralysed when he stretched them towards Haajerah (s.a.).

A Reminder

Now let’s turn to Damascus. When Yazid proclaimed that the daughter of Ali be brought before him as he would like to speak to her personally, a black bondmaid whose name was Fizzah cried out and taunted her tribesmen. She made them hang their heads in shame. A few of them who were standing behind Yazid, pulled out their sheathed swords and jumped in front and surrounded J. Zainab (s.a) so that none could see her. When she (s.a) gave her sermon, everyone wondered if H. Ali (a.s.) had come alive and wanted to know who was ripping apart the character of the mighty Yazid into tatters.

(2)  Just as the commencement of propagation of Hazrat Ibraheem (a.s.), created a stir and tumult among the inhabitants of Kalidaan and hoards of people started flocking towards him in his support and talking his language (of divine unity), similarly when Mu’sab Ibn Umair – the envoy of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) – reached Madina carrying his (s.a.w.a.) message, the age old animosity between the tribes of Aws and Khazraj evaporated. Both the tribes accepted the message of Islam and prayed together under the leadership of Mus’ab. It was Madina, where Imam Husain (a.s.) was born and the “Tablet of Fatima” (Lauh-e-Fatima) descended from the Arsh and where he (a.s.) grew up into a fine youth. It was here that the angel Fitroos got back his wings and where Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) proclaimed, “Husain is from me and I’m from Husain”

(3) The plains of Arafah and Menaa are speaking the language of Hazrat Ibraheem (a.s.). Sacrifices are made, sheep are slaughtered and the devil is stoned. Hazrat Ibraheem (a.s.) had stayed in Arafaat. The pilgrims emulate his act even today as a ritual of Haj. The Sunnis are beseeching Allah that for the sake of the uprising of Imam Husain (a.s.), please answer our prayers. The land of Menaa proclaims this event.  When the grandson of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) carried the body of his (a.s.) son in his arms, he looked up to the sky and said, “This is my sacrifice. Please accept it”

We can only say this much and move ahead that every breath of the pure life Hazrat Ibraheem (a.s.) has been inherited by Imam Husain (a.s.). None can ever be like him (a.s.).