SHAFAQNA- Imam Hussain (A.S) was steeped in the moral, ethical and spiritual standards set up by his grandfather the Prophet (PBHU) and his father Imam Ali (A.S). The entire course of events that led to the battle of Karbala shows that at each and every step Imam Hussain (A.S) tried his best to avoid direct conflict and consequent bloodshed. All his actions were open and transparent. He never resorted to deceit or secret plans.
At the time of Imam Hussain (A.S)’s departure from Medina to Mecca, several of his friends offered to accompany and support him. Instead of increasing his armed forces by encouraging more people to join him, Imam Hussain (A.S) dissuaded them saying that Yazid was only after his (Imam Hussain (A.S)) blood, and that knowing the cruel nature of Yazid he did not wish to expose them to any harm and that it was not obligatory for them to join him.
The Meccans received Imam Hussain (A.S) with great love and reverence as they had seen the Prophet (PBUH) openly showing his love and care for him before. They also remembered the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) oft-repeated words that Hassan (AS) and Hussain (AS) are the two masters of the youth in the Paradise. They gathered around him in great numbers, seeking guidance in Islamic philosophy and other religious matters. They were enamored of Imam Hussain (A.S)’s way of discourse, ethics and manners. Every day the gathering swelled to greater proportions.
Al-Haj Moulvi Ghulam Abbas Ali Sahib wrote: “Hussain (AS) never attempted to gain any land or disturb the government by any rebellious movement, in spite of the love and power he was commanding at Mecca. He only lectured to his disciples on various rites and ceremonies of Islam inculcated by the Quran and the Prophet, on allowable and objectionable articles of food, and on ethical principles. His chief aim was to train people to be godly and pious and strict observers of the Islamic Principles. The more he heard of the irreligion of Yazid, the greater was his zeal in ordering his disciples to follow the Quranic injunctions.
In Medina, Imam Hussain (A.S) had received hundreds of letters and personal representations complaining against the tyranny and un-Islamic character and conduct of Muawiyah and his men. After Muawiyah’s death, Imam Hussain (A.S) received at Mecca over twelve thousand letters from the people of Kufa, complaining against the oppressive, vicious and merciless killing of innocent persons by Ibn Ziyad, Yazid’s governor of Basra, for criticizing his irreligious ways of life and distortion of the Qur’an and the Sunna. They pleaded with Imam Hussain (A.S) to save Islam from being distorted and misinterpreted by the unethical usurpers of power.
The people of Kufa were disgusted with the oppressive nature of the Umayyad rule and the ignorance of the governors in religious matters. The complaints to Muawiyah and later to Yazid about the incompetence in administration, the excessive partiality, the discrimination and the incompetence of his governors even to perform the daily prayers properly fell on deaf ears.
Though several letters had promised military assistance to remove the governor of Kufa, Imam Hussain (A.S) was not impressed by the prospect of his taking up such venture as it was against his principles. Therefore, Imam Hussain (A.S) totally ignored such letters. It is the special aspect of the last mentioned letter written by the people of Kufa calling upon Imam Hussain (A.S), as the Imam of the time, to come to the aid of Islam that led him to make up his mind and abandon the safety of the Kaaba and to proceed to Iraq, despite knowing the dangers involved.
One of the obligations cast on the Imam (A.S) was to stand up against corruption in faith when the oppression, tyranny, and aggression of the rulers became excessive and when collectively people called upon the Imam to rise in defense of the faith. It is this part of Imamate that the people of Kufa stressed upon in their letters which made it obligatory on Imam Hussain (A.S) to leave the safety of Kaaba and proceed towards Iraq. Therefore, it is not that Imam Hussain (A.S) wanted to achieve power, but his departure to Iraq was in response to the call of the people to redeem the faith from being corrupted and to protect the common man from oppression, tyranny and cruelty of the state perpetrated on the poor and the innocent. The importance of this aspect of the Imam’s obligation stressed in the letters written by the people of Kufa and Imam Hussain (A.S)’s response to the demand can be appreciated only with a proper understanding of Imamate.
Imam Hussain (A.S) replied to the last letter that is extracted by Al-Haj Moulvi Ghulam Abbas Ali: “In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. This letter is written by Hussain son of Ali (AS) to the believers and Muslims of Kufa. Hani and Sa’eed brought to me your last letter. From this and your previous letters, I understood your unanimous declaration that you have no Imam for your guidance. I considered all my relatives and friends, but found none more learned and pious than my cousin Muslim son of Aqeel. I am sending him to you and have commanded him to intimate your real affairs. If he writes to me that most of you are desirous of following the right path and supporting the truth, and if the wise and virtuous among you unanimously agree with you as you have represented in your letter, I shall be soon among you, God willing. I should enlighten your minds with the fact that an Imam or true guide is one who acts according to the Divine Percept, keeps himself steady on the path of justice and righteousness, and who binds himself with the laws laid down by God and God’s Prophet (PBUH).”
Imam Hussain (A.S)’s reply brings out three salient points; firstly, that the people of Kufa had unanimously declared that they had no Imam to guide them, in which event it became obligatory for the Imam to fill the void, secondly that Imam Hussain (A.S) did not plan to go to Kufa as a conquering Caliph, but as an Imam not exercising unbridled power but as one who fetters his powers with the chains of Divine Laws to act justly and righteously. In such case, all his actions would necessarily be within the framework of the Divine Laws and there would be no possibility of any injustice being meted out to friend or foe, and thirdly, he was not an opportunist to empower himself with the support of the disgruntled and impatient masses. Therefore, Imam Hussain (A.S) proposed to send a worthy representative to act as his ambassador. This shows that there was neither caprice nor haste in the Imam’s action, but a desire to act justly on the basis of the true state of affairs.
At Mina, Imam Hussain (A.S) gave a sermon to the huge congregation of Hajjis who had assembled around him. Then the Imam Hussain (A.S) said: “You are fully aware of the tyranny and oppression of Muawiyah and his son Yazid. I wish to tell you something and request you to affirm if what I say is right and to correct me if I am wrong. By God and by the close relationship between me and the messenger of Allah, I ask you to bear witness about what I shall say, standing here before you, and to write it down, remember and propagate this my speech and message to everyone in every tribe, village, town and city. I am doing this because I apprehend that the truth will be buried and falsehood will be made to prevail over the truth. But, God has promised to protect His light, though the infidels may dislike it.”
After glorifying Allah and reciting the numerous Quranic verses, which were revealed about the Ahlul Bayt (A.S), Imam Hussain (A.S) narrated the various traditions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) eulogizing Imam Ali (A.S) and his progeny. The entire course of Imam Hussain (A.S)’s actions is strictly within the parameters set out in his reply. His sermons to the people of Kufa and Syria and his dialogues with Yazid’s army assembled in the battlefield at Karbala bring out succinctly the principles on which Imam Hussain (A.S) maintained his actions.
The Hidden Truth about Karbala, A.K. Ahmed B.Sc. B.L