The Fifth Luminary of the Cloak and Allamah Iqbal

The history of Islam is simple and full of lessons

It concludes in Husain while it begins with Ismail

The esteemed Hasan Sadr is the author of a book called ‘Mard-e-La Mutanahi’. This book is written on the life of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) that manifests those facets of his holy life which are such accomplishments in the ethical, cultural, social, societal, educational, intellectual and practical aspects of Islam. They are a bright lamp of hope for the people of the Third World even after 1400 years. The people of the early era lived through the light of this lamp and it is through this light that some ethical and noble individuals emerged that become an example for their downtrodden fellow-beings.

The intellectuals of the powerful nations of the world have created innumerable difficulties for the world by using oppression as a strong political weapon and continue to do so even today. They are giving rise to innovative ways of corruption every moment. Within every crusade for freedom and liberation is a devious conspiracy. In such a situation, emulating the life and character of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) can help save the edifices of the poor and innocent from the bombarding of the Zionist administrations. Perhaps, keeping this in mind the author of this book Hasan Sadr writes in his reply to the question ‘Infinite being (zaat-e-la mutanahi) only refers to Allah. How have you ascribed Ali (a.s.) with the same title?’ thus, “The Master of the Universe Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) is way beyond the boundaries of human intellect. It is enough to prove this through one small hint where he (a.s.) says that I’m more informed of the paths of the heavens than the ways of the earth.” Imam Husain (a.s.) is the son of this very infinite being, for whom even the enemies have said, “This is Husain (a.s.). Ali’s (a.s.) heart beats in his chest” while the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said about him (a.s.) “I’m from Husain (a.s.).”

Imam Husain (a.s.) is the fifth among the “People of the Cloak” (Khamis-e-Aale Iba’a). He is that seal of truth upon “Event of the Cloak” (Hadith-e-Kisaa) whose glittering writings put forth a chronicle of sacrifices in order to safeguard Islam from the prey of politicians. Allamah Iqbal has quoted this couplet regarding him (a.s.),

The history of Islam is simple and full of lessons

It concludes in Husain while it begins with Ismail

It is quite astonishing that a visionary philosopher, a poet, a genius, someone who was aware of history and whose fame spread right across galleries and exhibitions of Iran, strikes the chord of Islam and its history but restricts its details only till poetic gestures. Whereas he had a strong belief in the universality of Imam Husain’s (a.s.) personality. He recited this couplet on the superiority of the great sacrifice (zibh-e-azeem) over the sacrifice of Hazrat Ismail (a.s.),

The history of Islam is simple and full of lessons

It concludes in Husain while it begins with Ismail

He says in the detailed exposition of this couplet,

We have learnt the secrets of Quran from Husain (a.s.)

Our torches kindle from his flames

O breeze! O far away residing messenger!                     Carry my tears to his (a.s.) sacred soil

Why did this poet not write any such book on the exemplary life of Imam Husain (a.s.) which could be compared with ‘Mard-e-La Mutanahi’ of Hasan Sadr and presented before other litterateurs? A book for which it could be said, that this is Iqbal, an Indian, who has witnessed the depths and wisdoms of Holy Quran like a mystic. The history of Islam – with which he laid the foundation of his couplet and which began with Hazrat Ismail (a.s.) – how did this history continue after Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)? Where did the history – that began with H. Ismail come to an end?  Why did he not pen down the feelings of Karbala, which remains thirsty even today? These are certain pre-requisites of justice, intellect, wisdom, truth and subtlety. There is no doubt, that Allamah Iqbal’s intellectual capability, extensive research, belief in Tauheed (One God) and the power of his writings play a very important role in Islamic culture. His ideas and opinions are topics of discussions and dissections among scholars and academicians – both within and outside India. His views on Islamic morals and the differences between the cultural and social spheres found in his poetries are like those lamps which illuminate the meanings and connotations of his writings and explain them. He chose a topic of ‘poverty’ within the terminologies of Islamic society such as Falsafa-e-Khoodi; Aql aur Ishq Muqaayesah; Be tegh hi ladta hai sipaahi; Momin ka ghairon mein aahani kirdaar aur doston mein misle resham narm; Rishta aur Pewand misle tibyaan-e-wahm o gumaan; and all other similar terminologies. He pointed towards the inferiority of poverty in the material world and its excellence, virtue and superiority in the spiritual world. He has said that poverty is the soul of guidance and goes to the extent of saying that only he, whose ultimate and elevated destination is poverty, can be the leader of this nation. Hence, he says that the life of Imam Husain (a.s.) was that of poverty and treading this path will result in leadership. He has considered this leadership as the inheritance of Prophets and Imams (a.s.) for the Islamic nation. As compared to this, he describes material poverty as the prey of hunters and the cause of human indigence and destitution. If this phrase is analyzed from an Islamic viewpoint then we come across a tradition from the Master of the Universe Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) wherein he (a.s.) says, “Poverty is my honour”. All viewpoints and thoughts of the revered Allamah which are cast into poetry have been documented. He derived enlightenment from the Mastership of Ahle Bait (a.s.). He manifested this through a letter which he wrote to one of his Shia friends who was doing research on philosophy. He wrote, “Why are you studying Greek philosophy, which is only imaginative? You are a Syed and from the descendants of Haashim. Look at me, my ancestors were idol worshippers. Till date, I’ve benefitted from the radiant knowledge of your ancestors which contain the secrets of the universal creation.” In this way, he became acquainted with the divine secrets by tearing through the curtains of darkness and made himself a window of intelligence and wisdom for acquiring the recognition of Ahle Bait (a.s.).

The revered Allamah was cognizant about the holy life of Ahle Bait (a.s.). His intellect was brimming with such illuminating facets about the persona of Ahle Bait (a.s.) that it affirmed his belief about the eternal and light-creation of Ahle Bait (a.s.). He was also completely submissive in front of the honour, status and position of the pivot of Hadith-e-Kisa – Janabe Fatima Zahra (s.a.). It is this honourable lady for whom the entire Islamic world has testified in unison that based on the words of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) she and only she is the Lady of Paradise and nobody else is deserving of this title. Hence, he says regarding the Infallible Lady (s.a.), ‘Fatima whose father was the best of the mortals, whose husband was renowned and the one to whom Surah Dahr is attributed, whose elder son was the commander of the caravan of love and whose younger son was the focus of the devotees of love.’

While praising Imam Husain (a.s.), Allamah says that he (a.s) is the focal point of the domain of love. There have been many books that have been written on Allamah Iqbal’s philosophy, some of which have expounded his philosophy in a poetic manner. In his philosophy of love he (Allamah) has ascribed love to be the heart of the Holy Prophet (a.s.). Yet I have not come across any book that has been written about those who were outside this sphere of love so that the readers would become aware of their evil strategies. Nothing has been written (by Allamah) about those politicians who were prepared to destroy Islam, about those ‘muftis’ who were “bought” by the rulers and who boldly declared the atrocities of the government to be lawful. Hadith-e-Kisa has been narrated in a context which leaves behind such indelible signs which make it evident that Imam Husain (a.s.) was the fifth and last person to enter under the cloak (kisaa) along with Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a), Imam Ali (a.s), J Zahra (s.a), and Imam Hasan (a.s). After this, the doors were shut for everyone else. After this incident, none could ever claim to be included among the Ahle Bait of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a). It was only and only these four venerated personalities (a.s) that comprised the Ahle Bait of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a).  Now, is it correct to claim that others – apart from them (a.s) – should also be included among the Ahle Bait? Allamah Iqbal had a strong grip on this tradition and the exegesis of the verse of purification (Ayat-e-Tatheer) was before him. Otherwise, after ascribing Imam Husain (a.s.) as the love of Prophet (s.a.w.a.), he would have never said that Husain (a.s.) was the focal point of this love and neither would he have said, ‘That son is a focal point of love.’

The reason Allamah Iqbal acknowledges that Imam Husain is the rightful inheritor, leader and guide of “Deen-e-Hanif” is because the vision and foresight of Imam Husain (a.s) is vaster than the ever expanding horizon. The essence and basis of this foresight is the enormous patience that he (a.s) exhibited in the face of endless torments and oppressions. The courage to confront the endless waves of atrocities, expose the true character of the enemies and give them a fitting reply, everything emanated from this fortitude and patience. It may be a play of words, yet if they are not spoken, the heart remains restless. We have learnt the manner of complain and remonstration only after reading the works of Allamah Iqbal. I would like to pen a few of the priceless tears that flow due to reciting of his heart rendering couplets. Through them we would like to give a powerful reply to all those terrorists who are a blot on the religion of Islam and have caused it enormous disgrace. These terrorists are responsible for young children becoming orphans, women losing their husbands – all of them being killed mercilessly. The world watches helplessly the dastardly acts of these monsters who are hell-bent on writing the history of contemporary Islam with the blood of innocent people.  Allamah Iqbal cautions the people that it is for this very reason that Allah has kept alive the successor of Imam Husain (a.s). He (Imam-e-Zamana (a.s)) will destroy these blood thirsty beasts and herald the era of peace and tranquility.  On his (a.s) reappearance, the world will be filled with monotheism, peace, comfort and harmony. Islam will attain its lofty status and be prevalent all over the world. Allamah Iqbal has rightly said “The secrets of Quran we have learnt from Husain (a.s)” Surely you might be familiar with the famous verse of Quran in which Allah says “The Remnant (Baqiyatullah) is better for you if you believe.” We are not awaiting an ordinary person who will stand up and say “I’m the one who you were calling” Rather we are looking forward to the one who is a witness to history – right from the time of Hazrat-e-Ismail (a.s) – and who will propagate the mission of the “fifth one of the cloak” across the world, so that the gasping mankind can find solace and comfort in his reign. 


Husainiyat (the values of Imam Husain (a.s)) is the cure for the heartbroken. It is a slogan of courage and resolve for those who have been deprived of their rights. It is a symbol of strength and steadfastness for confronting those – who due to their financial might – oppress the poor and the weak and push them to the lowest level of existence. Husainiyat is a mission that has spread across the globe. It is an impregnable fortress against the countless ills, tensions – both psychological and economical, communal discords and frustrations. In short, the twenty three years of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) in which he propagated Islam can be condensed in the event of Karbala.

The holy lands of Mecca and Madina as well as the blessed earths of Najaf, Karbala, Mashad, Kazmain and Samarrah – are all landmarks and milestones where the historic caravan of guidance finally came to rest. They (Aimmah (a.s)) established minarets of guidance that radiate – even today – the message of peace and harmony for the entire world. The blessed land of Karbala is of special significance among all of them. Because in it is buried the one (a.s) who was the answer to the prayers of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) that he had made in the court of Allah. It is the land where the chapters of “submission” and “divine pleasure”   were written (by Imam Husain (a.s)). These are the two lessons that Quran propounds extensively and it is these secrets – which Allamah Iqbal says – we discover from the mission of Imam Husain (a.s)

“The mysteries of Quran we understand from Imam Husain (a.s)”

The religion of Islam, whose cornerstone is the twin principles of “peace and harmony” – as was exhibited by Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) after the conquest of Mecca – proclaimed to the world the message of safety and security.  Imam Husain (a.s) – for whom Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) has said ‘Husain is from me and I am from Husain’ –   embodied these two principles in Karbala. A poet emphasises this point beautifully when he write

“Islam survived (even) after drowning.

How will you ever realise the impact of Karbala”

But the despotic rulers who ruled the world in the name of Islam left no stone unturned in erasing the slogan of “Husainiyat”. They employed nefarious means – political strategies, false propagations, leaders who were hungry for money and religious scholars who coveted the world. The consequence of all this was that Islam was viewed as a barbaric religion and was split into many sects and factions. It was Imam Husain (a.s) – the successor of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) – who gave the world the message of peace, harmony, unity and brotherhood. He (a.s) taught mankind to be united in the face of challenges and be a support to the downtrodden. He (a.s) was raised in the lap of that noble lady (s.a) who herself was a victim of oppression and brutality. The extent of calamities that befell her was enough to turn daylight into darkness. Yet she bore all the cruelties with patience and fortitude – only because of the ‘will’ of her (s.a) venerated father (s.a.w.a) and because of her chaste and infallible character. She refrained from cursing her oppressors – who trampled the bounty of Allah – and saved them from severe torment (in this world)   

After the reign of Muawiyah, when Yazid ascended the throne of caliphate, he and his ministers were surrounded with intricate problems and dilemmas. The only recourse that came to their mind was the use of brutal force and intimidation. Thus they chose to attack towns and villages and suppress every form of rebellion. They used the sword to silence the truthful people – the ones who spoke about the teachings and propagations of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) and narrated his (s.a.w.a) traditions.

Let’s mention a few of those problems that confronted Yazid and his cronies and move ahead with our discussion. Firstly, since Yazid came to power in 60 AH, hence only fifty years had passed after the demise of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a).  Thus, the teachings of Islam and the words of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) were fresh and echoing in the minds of the people of Mecca and Madina. This was Yazid’s biggest problem. All those prophetic traditions that spoke about the greatness of Ahle Bait (a.s), the successorship of H.Ali (a.s), the excellence of Imam Hasan (a.s) and Imam Husain (a.s), the laws of shariat and his (s.a.w.a) profound teachings were common knowledge among the Muslims. They had still not started twisting and misinterpreting the words of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a). The event of Ghadeer-e-Khum – where the crown of successorship – was placed on the head of H.Ali (a.s) was still vivid in the minds of the masses. H. Ali (a.s) too recounted that event for the people on the plains of Rohbah a few years later. Words (traditions) like – “Husain is the leader of Paradise”; “Husain is from me and I’m from Husain”; “My daughter Fatima is the Queen of Paradise”; “Fatima is a part of my flesh. The one who oppresses her has oppressed me” were echoing everywhere. But immediately after the demise of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a), the oppressors – in their quest for caliphate – burnt down the door of the revered house of J. Fatima (s.a). When the news of this tragedy spread in the Muslim lands, then the people of Madina as well as the newly converted Muslims – who were fair and unbiased – could not fathom these dastardly acts perpetuated on the Ahle Bait (a.s). These were honest people, ready to speak the truth and could distinguish between truth and falsehood. Till then, neither Madina had been plundered nor was the cloak of Kaaba kindled to flames.

The clauses of the treaty signed by Imam Hasan (a.s) were clear and manifest among the people. As per the treaty, only a Bani Hashim would ascend to the post of caliphate after the death of Muawiyah. Thus, the people of Basra and Kufa were patiently awaiting the return of the beloved of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) – Imam Husain (a.s) – as their caliph and ruler. The custom of allegiance (bay’at) too was prevalent and widespread among the Muslims. Hence numerous letters were written to Imam Husain (a.s), inviting him (a.s) to Kufa so that the people could pay allegiance to him. These and many such issues were a threat and risk to the reign of Yazid. Thus on one side was Yazid and his cronies – immoral ministers and religious leaders who were on his payroll.  They were plotting strategies to weaken the foundation of Islam. They were busy in fabricating new laws and corrupting the original shariat that was brought by Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a).  On the other hand, there was a clamor – from Madina to Kufa – for Imam Husain (a.s). He was the successor of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a), the spirit of truth and propagation and the guardian of the religion of Islam. He (a.s) was that noble personality who was not embroiled in the quagmire of politics and had not tarnished his (a.s) image as a shrewd politician.  It was for this very reason that as soon as Yazid ascended the throne of caliphate; he promulgated a decree to seek the allegiance of Imam Husain (a.s). And if he (a.s) refused, then he (a.s) should be beheaded instantly.  Thus on one side was Yazid – the symbol of intimidation, threat, coercion and strong-arm tactics. On the other side was Imam Husain (a.s) – a leader who stood for patience, resilience, serenity, reconciliation and averting of bloodshed.  On one side was Imam Husain (a.s) who proclaimed to the world – that forget killing the innocent, even harassing them is not permitted in Islam. While on the other side Yazid was conveying to the world that killing the innocent was perfectly acceptable in the quest to rule the Islamic nation.

O our beloved Husain! O the leader of non-violence! O the prince of mankind!  O the tolerant! O the thirsty! O the beloved of Khatoon-e-Jannat! O Husain! O the light of the eyes of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a)! The ship of the Shias of H. Ali (a.s) is trapped in a whirlpool of calamites. For the sake of the severed hands of H. Abbas (a.s)! Rescue us from these unending tribulations and help our boat reach to the safety and tranquility of the shore. This is only possible when the world values your aims and adopts your mission. Allamah Iqbal – the great intellectual of the east – has portrayed a new dimension to the word “tears” and opened the eyes of the Islamic world. With tears flowing from his eyes, Allamah Iqbal said, “O Muslims! Tears can lift the downtrodden to lofty heights; the name of Mohammed can illuminate the entire world; Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) would often say ‘Husain is from me and I am from Husain’” Maybe, Allamah Iqbal was trying to expound the famous tradition wherein Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) said ‘The first is Mohammed, the last (a.s) is Mohammed and everyone (a.s) in between are Mohammed’

Finally, we have only one prayer before Allah, that He should hasten the reappearance of the last Mohammed i.e. Hazrat Hujjat ibn Hasan Askari.  Aameen