SHAFAQNA -Â Probably, the utmost form of self-sacrifice for the sake of Allah is in the case of Imam Al-Hussein (a.s.). The event of Karbala itself marks a landmark in Islam, as it shaped the history of the Islamic nation.
Imam Al-Hussein (a.s.), the grandchild of the Prophet (p), the Messenger of Allah, and His best and most devout worshipper; the son of Imam Ali (a.s.), the most pious judge and bravest warrior; the son of Lady Fatima (a.s.), the embodiment of virtue and knowledge.
What is rather peculiar and more intriguing is how the Western and non-Muslim scholars described him after studying his biography.
Edward G. Brown, the professor of Arabic and oriental studies at the University of Cambridge, praises Imam Husain in his book, â€œA Literary History of Persiaâ€ (London 1999)
â€œâ€¦ a reminder of the blood-stained field of Kerbela, where the grandson of the Apostle of God fell at length, tortured by thirst and surrounded by the bodies of his murdered kinsmen, has been at anytime since then sufficient to evoke, even in the most lukewarm and heedless, the deepest emotions, the most frantic grief, and an exaltation of spirit before which pain, danger and death shrink to unconsidered trifles.â€
According to the great poet Rabindranath Tagore, Hussainâ€™s sacrifice indicates spiritual liberation. He writes: â€œIn order to keep alive justice and truth, instead of an army or weapons, success can be achieved by sacrificing lives, exactly what Imam Hussain did.â€
Thomas Carlyle, a Scottish historian and essayist, explains: â€œThe best lesson which we get from the tragedy of Karbala is that Husain and his companions were rigid believers in God. They illustrated that the numerical superiority does not count when it comes to the truth and the falsehood. The victory of Husain, despite his minority, marvels me!â€
Charles Dickens, English novelist, writes: â€œIf Husain had fought to quench his worldly desiresâ€¦then I do not understand why his sister, wife, and children accompanied him. It stands to reason therefore, that he sacrificed purely for Islam.â€
Antoine Bara, Lebanese writer and the author of â€œChristian Ideology, said: â€œNo battle in the modern and past history of mankind has earned more sympathy and admiration as well as provided more lessons than the martyrdom of Husayn in the battle of Karbala.â€
Dr. K. Sheldrake writes: â€œOf that gallant band, male and female knew that the enemy forces around were implacable, and were not only ready to fight, but to kill. Denied even water for the children, they remained parched under the burning sun and scorching sands, yet not one faltered for a moment. Husain marched with his little company, not to glory, not to power of wealth, but to a supreme sacrifice, and every member bravely faced the greatest odds without flinching.â€
Dr. Radha Krishnan writes: â€œThough Imam Hussain gave his life years ago, but his indestructible soul rules the hearts of people even today.â€
Mahatma Gandhiâ€™s first Salt march was inspired by Imam Hussainâ€™s non violent resistance to the tyranny of Yazid. Gandhi is said to have studied the history of Islam and Imam Hussain, and was of the opinion that Islam represented not the legacy of a sword but of sacrifices of saints like Imam Hussain.
Mahatma Gandhi writes: â€œMy faith is that the progress of Islam does not depend on the use of sword by its believers, but the result of the supreme sacrifice of Hussain, the great saint.â€
Nehru considered Karbala to represent humanities strength and determination. He writes: â€œImam Hussainâ€™s sacrifice is for all groups and communities, an example of the path of righteousness.â€
Dr. Rajendra Prasad says: â€œThe sacrifice of Imam Hussain is not limited to one country, or nation, but it is the hereditary state of the brotherhood of all mankind.â€
Dr. Radha Krishnan writes: â€œThough Imam Hussain gave his life almost 1300 years ago, but his indestructible soul rules the hearts of people even today.â€
Swami Shankaracharya describes: â€œIt is Hussainâ€™s sacrifice that has kept Islam alive or else in this world there would be no one left to take Islamâ€™s name.â€
Mrs. Sarojini Naidu writes: â€œI congratulate Muslims that from among them, Hussain, a great human being was born, who is reverted and honored totally by all communities.â€
Simon Ockley, the Professor of Arabic at the University of Cambridge writes in his book, â€œthe History of Saracensâ€:
â€œThen Husain mounted his horse, and took the Koran and laid it before him, and, coming up to the people, invited them to the performances of their duty: adding, ‘O God, thou art my confidence in every trouble, and my hope in all adversity!’â€¦ He next reminded them of his excellencies, the nobility of his birth, the greatness of his power, and his high descent, and said, ‘Consider with yourselves whether or not such a man as I am is not better than you; I who am the son of your prophet’s daughter, besides whom there is no other upon the face of the earth. Ali was my father; Jaafar and Hamza, the chief of the martyrs, were both my uncles; and the apostle of God, upon whom be peace, said both of me and my brother, that we were the chief of the youth of paradise. If you will believe me, what I say is true, for by God, I never told a lie in earnest since I had my understanding; for God hates a lie. If you do not believe me, ask the companions of the apostle of God [here he named them], and they will tell you the same. Let me go back to what I have.’ They asked, ‘What hindered him from being ruled by the rest of his relations.’ He answered, ‘God forbid that I should set my hand to the resignation of my right after a slavish manner. I have recourse to God from every tyrant that doth not believe in the day of account.â€
Ignaz Goldziher, the Famous Hungarian orientalist scholar, writes in his book, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law: â€œEver since the black day of Karbala, the history of this family â€¦ has been a continuous series of sufferings and persecutions. These are narrated in poetry and prose, in a richly cultivated literature of martyrologies – a Shia specialty – and form the theme of Shi’i gatherings in the first third of the month of Muharram, whose tenth day (Ashura) is kept as the anniversary of the tragedy at Karbala. Scenes of that tragedy are also presented on this day of commemoration in dramatic form (ta’ziya). ‘Our feast days are our assemblies of mourning.’ So concludes a poem by a prince of Shi’i disposition recalling the many mihan of the Prophet’s family. Weeping and lamentation over the evils and persecutions suffered by the ‘Alid family, and mourning for its martyrs: these are things from which loyal supporters of the cause cannot cease. ‘More touching than the tears of the Shi’is’ has even become an Arabic proverb.â€
Edward Gibbon, considered as the greatest British historian of his time writes in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: â€œIn a distant age and climate the tragic scene of the death of Husain will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader.â€
Peter J. Chelkowski, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, New York University, writes â€œHussein accepted and set out from Mecca with his family and an entourage of about seventy followers. But on the plain of Kerbela they were caught in an ambush set by the â€¦ caliph, Yazid. Though defeat was certain, Hussein refused to pay homage to him. Surrounded by a great enemy force, Hussein and his company existed without water for ten days in the burning desert of Kerbela. Finally Hussein, the adults and some male children of his family and his companions were cut to bits by the arrows and swords of Yazid’s army; his women and remaining children were taken as captives to Yazid in Damascus. The renowned historian Abu Reyhan al-Biruni states; â€œâ€¦ then fire was set to their camp and the bodies were trampled by the hoofs of the horses; nobody in the history of the human kind has seen such atrocities.â€
Reynold Alleyne Nicholson, in â€œA Literary History of the Arabs, Sir Thomas Adams Professor of Arabic at the University of Cambridge, writes, â€œHusayn fell, pierced by an arrow, and his brave followers were cut down beside him to the last man. Muhammadan tradition, which with rare exceptions is uniformly hostile to the Umayyad dynasty, regards Husayn as a martyr and Yazid as his murderer.â€