Imam Hussain’s life and status in the Islamic history are formidable. Indeed, it is not of secrecy but because of the vitality and the significance of his contributions.
Imam Hussain (pbuh) was one of two sons of Imam Ali and Fatimah, the daughter of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). His father, Imam Ali, needs no introduction. The least known of him as to be acknowledged by the far and near and by his foes and fanatics. He was openly declared by the Prophet as the Commander of the faithful’s. Needless to mention his knowledge, bravery, steadfastness, brotherhood to the Prophet, justice and piety.
Imam Hussain was brought up in the Prophetic guidance where he received the direct concern of the Prophet. The ideal atmosphere where he had grown up with his grandfather, father, mother and elder brother was the highest level ever attained. Thus he acquired wisdom, generosity, bravery, and piety. He occupied outstanding posts during his father’s reign in the Islamic State. During the terror and corruption which swept the Muslim World at the hands of the Umayyads, he was the sole hope of the Muslims to restore the establishment of the Islamic laws which would bring them prosperity and peace. He never failed the Muslims, but acted as expected of a great ideological leader and discharged his duty to the best.
Imam Hussain did what no other would do; he gave up his home, family, safety, own life, and entire family for a message. What is this significant message that deserves the sacrifice of the head of one of The Prophet’s dear grandsons?
It is the message of humanity, peace, justice; the message of Islam and of God. It is the message that inspired all of humanity with divinity. Imam Hussain’s revolution was aimed at saving the people from corruption, humiliation, mortification and ignorance.
Describing the outcomes of the Revolution led by Imam Husain bin Ali, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei states: “The struggle of Imam Hussain (as) has two dimensions, therefore it can have two outcomes, both of which would be good. One outcome was that Imam Hussain (as) would be able to overcome Yazid by taking power out if the hands that suppressed the people and ruined their lives, then putting it back on the right path where it should have been. If this was achieved, the course of history would’ve changed. The other dimension is that if Imam Hussain (as) did not achieve a political and military victory, for any reason, then at this point Imam Hussain (as) would promote his words of truth like a perpetual and non-stop stream throughout history, not through a physical tongue but through the language of sacrificing his blood and being oppressed- the language that the history would never ever forget it, and Imam Hussain (as) did so.”
One might ask: How did the revolution of Imam Hussain and his sacrifice in Karbala change the course of history?
Imam Husain believed that if Yazid was to rule the society, the school of his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), would be disintegrated and the Islamic tenets would be mutated and introduced wrongly to the next generation.
Feeling the threat posed to Islamic tenets by the Yazid’s regime, Imam Husain departed to Kufa but was stopped by Yazid’s men in Karbala. He was said to pledge loyalty or would be killed there. Imam Husain was along with his family and companions who accompanied their Imam to depict a heroic revolution and color it with the blood of close members of his family and devoted men and women. His sister accompanied him to pronounce his epic revolution to the world and make sure that the heroic battle he led in Karbala lives on in the heart of history every year around the globe to send the message of freedom and bravery. In Karbala, Imam Husain obviously denied to accept the cruel regime and resorted to sword despite knowing that he would be killed since thousands of people stood against his small caravan.
The reason behind Imam Hussain’s revolution as stated by him, was to revive the Islamic Sharia (law) and Prophet’s Sunnah (tradition). He led the revolution to uphold the rights and dignity of mankind and revitalize the ethical code which was waning. He was aware of the fact that if he shook hands with Yazid, he would be condemned by the history and if he denied it, his revolution would teach the lesson of humanity, heroism, and liberty to the world.
Liberty is the key word here. The state’s structure was built on an un-Islamic basis. Quraish was born to rule, other Arabs were second-class citizens, and non-Arabs constituted the base of the society’s pyramid. That was the general social picture of the Muslim world under the Umayyad’s dynasty. Freedom of thought and expression were denied, when one dared to express an opinion contrary to that of the Umayyad’s, prison became his home, his property was robbed, and even his life was at stake, thus Karbala took the life of Imam Hussain only to bring about liberty to the Islamic world.
The way Imam Hussain and his Companions fought was a glorious record of bravery and nobility. They were only seventy fighting men against thousands of the Umayyad’s Army. Even with this imbalance of fighting power, the Umayyad’s Army used the most vicious and dishonorable methods in fighting this tiny army of men, women and children. The Umayyad’s Army went to the extent of preventing them drinking water and kept them for three days tortured in the burning heat of the desert. However, the firm faith of Imam Hussain and his followers in their cause was never shaken. Thus they set an ever-shining torch of resistance against deviation from Islamic conduct and destroyed the myth of the Umayyads of keeping allegiance to rogue regimes.
After all these centuries, the sacrifice of Imam Hussain and his family and companions only continues to shine through the darkness of oppressive regimes and corrupt elites. Imam Hussain made sure to teach the world that Ashura is not just a tragic event and that Karbala is not just a geographical location, they are both an eternal message from the brave men who gave their lives for the sake of preserving the true Islam.
The battle of Karbala which is a battle like no other in history made today possible. The battle of Karbala and the sacrifice of Imam Hussain will never be forgotten. The blood spilled in Karbala will always be the spark in the heart of every free man to raise his voice against cruelty, to accentuate integrity and to prioritize humanity.