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A glimpse at Imam Husain’s(a.s) magnificence

Imam Husain (a.s.) is the source of divine blessings. Since the advent of Prophets (a.s.) on this earth for the guidance of humanity, the Creator of the Universe has made him (a.s.) as the cause of divine blessings and favours.

When we raise our hands in prayers and present ourselves before the Almighty and beseech Him by saying ‘For the sake of Your Husain’, then Allah’s mercy gushes and leads to an everlastingchain of favours on His grateful servant. This progression of endless blessings from Allah— and there’s none like Him — is due to Imam Husain (a.s.) and Allah has declared him as His trustee.

Therefore, till the time we don’t attain recognition of this benefactor of humanity, we’ll be unable to do justice to the one with magnificent and unparalleled qualities. He is that distributor of divine blessing which provides comfort to the heart.

His remembrance keeps the light of hope shimmering brightly in life. His manner of prostration is a lesson – not only for us but even the angels – in making one’s self humble in front of Allah. We find a light rising from the dust of his shrine, which carries a message of non-violence, peace and reconciliation. His recognition takes one towards the correct belief in Divine Uniqueness, Needlessness, Mercifulness and Justice; and which can elevate the person to a status from where he is worthy for intercession.

It will be our privilege and good fortune if we try to focus our thoughts on the factors that enhance Imam Husain’s (a.s.) recognition. Thus, we will concentrate on the following five things: Remembrance, Prostration, Place of Sacrifice, Certitude& Tranquillity.

1. Remembrance (Zikr)

Speech, oration, manner of answering, intention, understanding, thoughts, expressions, contemplation, regret etc. are the attributes that come to our mind when we look for the meaning of remembrance (zikr). Otherwise, the meaning of this word is difficult to specify.

In the light of these meanings, we will make an effort to articulate how the word is harmonious with Imam Husain (a.s.) and how in the light of remembrance, we can gain recognition of Imam Husain (a.s.).

Imam Husain’s (a.s.) Remembrance:

Imam Husain’s (a.s.) remembrance is

1. Key for selflessness, 2. Nourishment for the soul 3.Life of the heart 4.Provision for life 5.Illumination for the heart 6.Refinement for the heart 7. Cure for the soul 8. Key to affection 9.Security from discord 10.Love 11.Chastity, 12. Tranquillity of the heart and 13.Large heartedness

Types of Remembrance:

First, let’s look at the relation between remembrance and the individual (doing the zikr). Then, we will see how it fits with Imam Husain (a.s.). Remembrance is that rope – which if done regularly and incessantly – is a source of security for an individual in his lifetime.

A person is always engrossed in some form and level of remembrance irrespective of him being awake or asleep, aware or negligent, mindful or unmindful. His intensity of remembrance will be proportionate to his mental state of existence.But none is exempt from it.

Allah has made “remembrance and pondering” as means of adornment for a person, his character and his personality. It makes his behaviour strong and firm as well as makes him attractive and appealing, and also lifts his standard – from politeness to nobility. It removes him from the darkness of ignorance and brings him into the light of guidance-thus it imparts him with an endless ability to soar towards the aim and purpose of his creation.

All this and more is bestowed on a person by his Creator when his ceaseless remembrance leads him to the realm of thankfulness. But if a person intentionally turns away from the domain of gratitude and treads the sphere of ingratitude and ungratefulness, then it triggers a wave of divine chastisement and rebuke. Remembrance then turns into wrath.

When a person’s senses and physical strength deteriorate with the passing of age and death clutches him in its steely grip, then in those last moments – trapped in fear and agony like a prey in the grasp of its predator – he murmurs ruefully “Why did I kill Hujr Ibn Adi – the innocent? (In the clutches of death Muawiyah would repeatedly utter this).The example leads us from the micro to the macro. Yazid too would tear his hair and say, ‘Why did I get Husain killed. What wrong had he done to me?’

Muawiyah – the son of the accursed Yazid said, ‘I reject the crown and throne on which are the blood stains of Husain the son of the Messenger’. Indeed, what an excellent thing to say. But Marwan Ibn Hakam had him killed. It seems that even today, Muawiyah Ibn Yazid -the prince of remembrance and gratitude, is inviting countless visitors in the city of Damascus towards good and upright remembrance; while every impartial historian and researcher curses Marwan Ibn Hakam— the most despicable and debased of unbelievers.

If remembrance is categorised in two parts – the noble and the disgraceful -then it is obvious that there is a line of distinction between the two. That is, one remembrance leads to guidance while the other to deviation.

The Creator sent His infallible representatives with the remembrance of guidance so man may not remain in doubt and uncertainty. These divine representatives clashed with the conspiraciesof the devious and the power hungry and as a result faced severe tribulations. Yet, they kept putting forth their arguments for the man that he should perceive the evils and deviations around him and thereby save himself from eternal chastisement. If he doesn’t forego his wayward and rebellious ways, the doors of remembrance and guidance are shut on him.

Allah is very benevolent with His creatures. If it wasn’t so, He wouldn’t have fixed a place and a time where one man – with all his might and determination – would stand up and confront the errant and deviated Yazid Ibn Muawiyah Ibn Abu Sufiyan and wage a war against him. A man, who was the minaret of guidance, infallible, the beloved of both – Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.a.) as well as Chief of the women of paradise(s.a).

He who remembers Imam Husain (a.s.)will also have the ability to distinguish between the prohibited and the permitted. He will also make distinction between cleanliness and impurity. He will also avoid bad morals and will exhibit good morals. He will never forsake the recitation of prayers in the most testing times after observing how the worshippers in Karbala fulfilled their religious obligations under the scorching sun on the day of Aashoora.

While talking about Karbala, it comes to the mind that Allah the Almighty – through the Holy Quran – gave his beloved Messenger (s.a.w.a.) the task of purifying the self of men, and to teach them knowledge and wisdom. Finally, He declared that He will appoint His servants, who were made weak in this earth, as inheritors of the earth.

Under the aegis of this verse, remembering Karbala, remembering the martyrs of Karbala, remembering Imam Husain (a.s.) prophesies a dawn when the oppressed will look into the eyes of the oppressor and will shatter the emblems of oppression.

O Husain! From where do I muster the strength? From where do I get the words to write about your remembrance? How steadfast were you and how courageous was your speech when you wholly confirmed the honour of being the inheritor of H. Ibrahim (a.s.)!

It is narrated that when Imam Husain (a.s.) was in midst of the battle, so intense was his thirst that he couldn’t see a thing. His blessed heart and his liver were like a parched piece of land with myriad cracks. But such ferocious was his attack with the sword that the last ranks of enemy were colliding with the wall of Kufa. At that moment, Jibraeel wished to shield Imam Husain (a.s.) with his wings. Imam Husain (a.s.) said: “O Jibraeel! Don’t come between the Lord and His servant.This is the time of examination.” Here, was Imam Husain (a.s.) giving an exam, verbally and practically. It was the same Husain (a.s.) about whom the Chief of Messengers (s.a.w.a.) had said, “I am from Husain.”

Quite rightly, he was alluding to the forgiveness of his grandfather’s nation with his Creator. Explaining the verse, wherein Allah says, “The status of Imamat will not reach the oppressors” the exegeses say: This (rank of Imamat) is for the patient ones.For, the remembrance of Husain (a.s.) is remembrance of Ali (a.s.). The remembrance of Ali (a.s.) is the remembrance of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and the remembrance of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is remembering Allah.

Remembering Allah is worship.It is the guarantee for the existence of humility,the most lofty symbol of worship,the ascension of the fearful ones, the honour of the pious, the light of the conscience of the righteous, the illumination of the faith of a believer, an honour for the tears of the admirers, respect for the needy, an aid to the contentment of the poor, an insult for the rebellious, wretchedness for the haughty, a fitting reply for the loose-tongued and much more. But a lot more is established with the remembrance of Husain (a.s.).

Peace be upon you, O Master Husain! Prayers are answered beneath the dome of your shrine. Although supplication means remembering Allah yet its soul is its acceptance.

2. Prostration (Sajdah)

It’s not known about the ray of light that emanated from Hazrat Adam’s (a.s.) forehead and which compelled all the angels to fall in prostration. Allama Iqbal (Lahori) wasn’t a miser when it came to describing a true prostration. He said:

“What else is there in the realm of Islam except the assault by the hand of Allah (i.e.Imam Ali (a.s.)) and the prostration of Shabbeer?”

This couplet of Iqbal is a bolt from the blue. By saying ‘except’ he has surprised us all. It seems that he was frantically probing or searching for something in the annals of Islam but when he got exhausted and couldn’t find anything he was compelled to say “What else is there in Islam except…”

This couplet has an ocean of meaning. It is equivocal in its connotation. A soft approach can transform a rude behavior. It can create two contradictory conditions in a believer. The same poet says:

‘Among the circle of friends he is soft as silk, but while fighting for the truth, a believer is as strong as steel.’

A believer who is as soft as silk can also be as tough as steel. By saying ‘except one prostration of Shabbeer,’ the honourable Allama– for the sake of praising and extolling the prostration of Imam Husain (a.s.) – has exercised his intellect, insightfulness, thought, understanding, knowledge, action, judgment and justice

In front of Allah’s Lordship, Creatorship, Kingship, Absolute Power, Infiniteness and Eminence, man’s meekness, frailty, fragility, disgracefulness, lowliness and helplessness is like a book of accounts on which the prostration of Shabbeer is a seal radiating in full grandeur.

It means that the final prostration of Imam Husain’s (a.s.)in Karbala is the yardstick by which the sincerity of all prostrations of mankind shall be judged and measured.

Importance of Prostration

It’s worth mentioning that since the creation of man till the Day of Judgment, the axis of Allah’s will as well as the purpose of creation of the universe is prostration.

Allah has declared that “prostration”is the means of salvation for the His creation. In the Holy Quran He has mentioned it in various places:

“Everything in the heavens and earth prostrates in front of Allah.”

“Have you not seen that whatever is in the heavens and the earth – the people who possess wisdom and understanding -and the sun and the moon and the stars, and the mountains and the trees, and the animals and many of the people; all are prostrating before Allah while there are many on whom chastisement has been proven.”

(Surah Hajj: Verse18)

There are many such clear verses of the Holy Quran in which prostration is discussed.The one who prostrates and the place of prostration carry a lot of significance. Lot of emphasis is given to it to the extent that there are some verses after which prostration becomes obligatory.

The way to prostrate is to place the forehead on the ground (or on which prostration has been made permissible) while Allah is praised and glorified.

The religion of Ahle Bait (a.s.), which has imbibed in us the ability of molding our worldly life, has laid paramount and absolute emphasis on servitude of Allah. They (a.s.) have warned us to abstain from all false and pseudo ideologies that result in the deviation of man from the path of humility. (Even today – just like before – but with a higher degree, we do come across believers whose words and phrases make the soul tremble. While some subscribe to the ideology of “malangs” (sufi saints) there are some others who follow Sufi practices). From the persona of Imam Husain (a.s.), emanates a voice that says that the lovers of Imam Husain (a.s.) should understand the importance of prostration in the light of Holy Quran and join the ranks of those who prostrate.

Furthermore, ponder over the last prostration of Imam Husain (a.s.). It is that prostration which saved Islam and ensured its immortality.That prostration is the essence of the entire message of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). It was and is the leaderof the past and present of humanity. It is the guiding light towards the stages of patience and contentment. It is the summary of the inheritance of the Prophets (a.s.).

O Husain (a.s.)! May our parents be sacrificed on your last prostration! For, your final prostration is the yardstick for judging the prostrations of all Prophets and Messengers (peace be on them all). And it has granted the deprived and destitute Shias a lesson in humility.

O Allah! We come to You through the means of your last Proof (a.t.f.s.) for it is due to his sacredness, purity and chastity that we have acquired the understanding of Your servitude. We, the nation of mourners of Imam Husain (a.s.), are flourishing due to the prayers of Janabe Zahra (s.a.). Let us gain the recognition of that last prostration of Imam Husain (a.s.) — the beloved son of Imam Ali (a.s.) and Janabe Zahra (s.a.).

O Allah! I thank You like the one who is embroiled in troubles. All thanks and praises are for Allah on severest of difficulties.O Allah! Make me fortunate enough to be eligible for Imam Husain’s (a.s.) intercession on the Day of Judgment and keep me firm footed in Your love and that of Imam Husain (a.s.) and the companions of Imam Husain (a.s.)who sacrificed their life for Imam Husain (a.s.) while helping him. Aameen!

3. Certainty

When the name of Imam Husain (a.s.) is uttered, then every pure soul’s reaction is something which only that individual can experience and to describe that feeling in words is impossible.

The truth is, even if all the inhabitants of earth were to use their intellect and try to comprehend the attributes and qualities that Allah has conferred on Imam Husain (a.s.), they’ll fail in their quest.

The intention of Imam Husain (a.s.) followed by his uprising, patience and liberty, are all lessons that one has to comprehend minutely. From the aspect of the strategy that he (a.s.) adopted, it is imperative to analyse the help that he received, his conveying of the message of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), the profound meaning of the words that he spoke as well as the letters that he wrote, his steadfastness in all acts of worship throughout his grueling journey, his cordial behaviour with the companions – both inside and outside and the radiant glow of love on the faces of his companions. Thus, the entire existence of Imam Husain (a.s.) is radiating with a divine glow. Then, if any individual wishes to fulfill the aim of creation and wants to live a life free of corruption and evils; wants to remain secure from calamities and difficulties; as well as attain the highest levels of eternal life, then it is essential that he evaluates and studies the event of Karbala. If he does this, then even today, he can hear the plea of help that Imam Husain (a.s.) sent to his companions and has the right to say “Labbaik” and can offer his help and assistance. All this is possible even today. Great and profound secrets of man’s creation and that of the universe have been manifested for those who have firmly and resolutely believed in the Prophethood of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), mastership of H. Ali Ibn Abi Taalib and the selflessness of Imam Husain (a.s.)

This certitude is that lamp which illuminates the dark and frightening life with glow of serenity. It lights the path on which its traveller will never be deviated nor shall he be deceived by the illusions and deceptions of people like Saameri – the rebel of Hazrat Moosa’s (a.s.) people.

To sum up, the secret of a successful life lies in the splendor of certitude. Therefore, certitude is the fountainhead of Divine recognition as well as the infallible Imams (a.s.). But, how can anyone – without exception – ever get a glimpse of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) greatness if his certitude and conviction is not in harmony with the highest level of certitude of Imam Husain (a.s.)? But what is this certitude, which is on the tip of everyone’s tongue and is repeatedly uttered in different languages?

How can this be understood and how can it be felt within? How can the one with a limited sense of understanding comprehend this? How can one gather the courage to pen down the unwavering certitude of Imam Husain (a.s.)? The reach of this essay is very limited. The pen is very weak. However, for the readers we can at least give a gist of this.

What is certitude?

Certitude is that in which doubt cannot be entertained; where ambiguity does not exist; where false impression and suspicion cannot interfere. Certitude is the light of the heart. It resides in a virtuous hearts.

Following are the different aspects of certitude.

1.    Insightfulness: That clear-sightedness which is the hallmark of intellectuals.

2.    To reach the root of wisdom steadily.

3.    To take lessons from the advice: If it’s a place of lesson then our conscience should be stimulated and stirred.

4.    To act on the manners and traditions of good and virtuous individuals who have lived before us.

If we cast a glance on the mentioned areas then we’ll know how our existing manners have gained the splendid blessing of certitude. Not only this but we have even savored the fruits of certitude and we’ll get good tidings for the hereafter in this worldly life.

What are the fruits of certitude? We can’t really open this door and explain in detail.But we can at least mention a sentence or two in this regard.

The fruits of certitude

a.    Patience: This is the basic mandatory requirement for certitude. When patience shines and emanates from certitude then one gets an indication of the power of the Creator.

Further, this light of life has a strange effect on the bodies made of clay. It becomes the dress of beauty and the person experiences a strange taste spiritually. There are levels to it. When one ascends to its highest levels, he gets a glimpse of the patience of Imam Husain (a.s.).

The patience of Imam Husain (a.s.) is the index of certitude. His (a.s.) patience is the ascension (meraj) of certitude. O Imam Husain (a.s.)! Through your resplendent certitude, grant us the manner of attaining lessons (Ibrat)

b.    Sincerity: This fortifies the root of certitude. If there’s even a slightest chink in sincerity, certitude will be shaken. Sincerity strengthens religion because the foundation of the religion is certitude.

c.     Austerity and guarding against evil: Holy Quran orders: Allah only accepts from those who guard (against evil).

d.    Trust in Allah

e.    To be contented and satisfied with Allah’s decree

f.     Confronting difficulties: Don’t get afraid of tribulations because Allah does not burden a soul with more than what it can bear.

Now that we’ve spoken about certitude we need to know how to identify it because many have faltered while using this word. Every oppressor, materialist or wayward person in the pursuit of amassing wealth or fame uses this word to deceive himself at the time when he oppresses someone; or when he willingly follows the order of an immoral despot.

Such circumstances and occasions come to pass every day when people use the word of “certitude” to mislead themselves. Like when it was said for Muawiyah Ibn Abu Sufiyan that he was using his intelligence to run the government. Consequently, he was enumerated among the wise people.

Replying to this, an infallible Imam (a.s.) has said, “Muawiyah didn’t have intelligence through which he ruled. Instead, he possessed satanic deception and cunningness, which is the opposite of intelligence.” It was shrewdness through which he would conduct his nefarious activities. Otherwise, why did he get Hujr Ibn Adi murdered? All his machinations and conspiracies were to install Yazid in the seat of power. These were not acts of intellect but craftiness and deception for the sake of attaining the world. Similarly, ignorance is the opposite of certainty.

Here, we’ll make an attempt to explain what exactly we mean by ignorance.

All things are identified through their opposites and this is a general principle. Thus, certitude can either be strong, weak or intermediary. Absence of certainty too can be measured. The ability to take decisions is among the bounties bestowed by Allah upon man. As the degree of ignorance rises and overpowers his certainty, or manifests its effects in guise of certainty, man starts feeling a (false) sense of conviction. In such a situation, he starts believing in the hidden and esoteric meanings or takes refuge in excuses and (erroneously) convinces himself that he has reached a stage of certitude. Those who wrongly stand up against the truth and support and worship falsehood are familiar with this (muddled) sense of certitude and swear by it. This is not certainty; rather it is obstinacy and ignorance. Ignorance has its own army. Some of its many leaders are

a)    Carnal desires: Carnal desires propel man towards animal instincts. Today, there are many avenues to fulfill one’s carnal desires and all are considered to be an adornment and honour. This is one factor that dims the lamp of certainty within a man due to which he is oblivious and unmindful of many noble attributes of life.

b)    Greed: Amassing large amounts of wealth; living a life of luxury through legitimate or illegitimate means; not differentiating between good and bad; throwing caution to the wind in matters of religion for the sake of acquiring wealth. And finally when the physical powers wane, he starts considering himself – through some esoteric explanations – to be among the people of certitude!!!

c)    Obstinacy: To argue endlessly without being in control of one’s self; to say whatever comes to the mind – right or wrong – to prove one’s point. The youth of today cross the limits of dignity while arguing with anyone.

d)    Love of wealth: This is a very difficult and severe examination. The love of position and wealth is so intense that a person starts considering his personal views and opinions as divine. Like the case of Muslim bin Aqabah, the commander-in-chief of Yazid’s army who was responsible for the dastardly attack on Kaaba. He rained fireballs in the precincts of Ka’bah, burnt the cover of Kaaba and finally annihilated the House of Allah. The divine retribution upon him was immediate and he was involved in a fatal illness. Finally, when he was on his deathbed and about to enter the hellfire, he called his fellow soldiers and said, ‘You bear witness that I had paid allegiance to Yazid, and attacked Ka’bah on the instructions of Yazid’ This is that level of ignorance that is totally and absolutely contradictory to certitude.

e)    To live with materialistic people: One of the biggest entrapments of ignorance is to entangle the people in materialism and love of the world. It is such a vicious trap that once a person is snared in it, then even if he is inclined towards the truth, yet the steely vice of avarice and materialism prevents him from doing so.

f)     Not having faith in the Hereafter: Today, there a lot of views concerning Resurrection. Every follower of Islam claims to believe in it. Every reciter of Quran considers it to be the reward of his faith. There is no Muslim who refutes the belief of Qiyamat. Yet if they are tested and examined on this issue, then very few will remain. You will find them rebellious, egoistic and unperturbed about the day of Qiyamat.

Certitude: It is the radiance of the heart and the axis of the human soul. Piety and detachment from the world is its container. Patience, sincerity, reliance on Allah, satisfaction and being calm during difficulties are all guardians of certitude.

When we talk with certainty and our speech has some essence, insight and impact, then our thoughts travel towards the certainty of Imam Husain (a.s.) and we wonder – “What are those lofty and dazzling heights where his certitude is manifested?”

4.    Sacrifice: The land of Mina should feel proud of the martyrs of Karbala. Right from the morning of Aashoora till its afternoon, the successor of H. Ibraheem Khaleelullah (a.s.) and H. Ismail (a.s.) sacrificed seventy two of his closest relatives and followers and each time he would raise the corpse towards the sky and say “O Lord! This is my sacrifice. Please accept it”. Finally, when Imam Husain (a.s.) himself was martyred, then his sister – Zainab, the unparalleled – was standing beside him. She too lifted her hands towards the sky and said, “O Lord! This is my sacrifice. Please accept it”.

5.    Tranquillity of Heart: Every religion asserts that it is the source of the “tranquillity of heart”. But what are the avenues and approaches provided by them to attain this elusive state of existence? O Husain! When your mourners – young and old, men and women – wail and weep on your calamities, then everyone feels a sense of peace and serenity in their hearts. O Husain! You are the fountainhead of the tranquillity of hearts.

O the mourner in occultation! O Son of Hasan al-Askari (a.s.)! For the sake of the remembrance of Husain (a.s.), the prostration of Husain (a.s.), the certitude of Husain (a.s.), the sacrifice of Husain (a.s.) and the tranquillity of Husain (a.s.), bestow us with such grace that makes us worthy of presenting ourselves before Imam Husain (a.s.)! Aameen!!