Imam Hussein (as) leader of the martyrs

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SHAFAQNA-Reynold Alleyne Nicholson

(1868-1945) Sir Thomas Adams Professor of Arabic at the University of Cambridge.

“Husayn fell, pierced by an arrow, and his brave followers were cut down beside him to the last man. Muhammedan tradition, which with rare exceptions is uniformly hostile to the Umayyad dynasty, regards Husayn as a martyr and Yazid as his murderer.”

[A Literary History of the Arabs, Cambridge, 1930, p. 197 ]

THE COMMEMORATION OF IMAM HUSSEIN HAS been observed by the followers of “Ahl Al-Beit” (members of the House of the Prophet) for centuries; yet many Muslims resent it, thinking that this commemoration divides or increases the division of the Muslims, To my understanding, this argument is unsound for the following reasons:

1. The Imam Hussein and his opponent Yazeed are on opposite ends of the Heavenly scale. There is no Muslim school that doubts the purity and qualification of the Imam. Righteous Muslims know that Imam Hussein is a dear grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, and that he is a leader of the youth of paradise. On the other hand, Yazeed is unacceptable to any Muslim. All Muslims condemn him, and will continue to do so, for his transgression and for the crimes he committed against Ahl Al-Beit. With such a clear distinction between the two parties, there should be no confusion among the Muslims on account of the commemoration of this great Imam. No Muslim party should be angered by hearing the truth about the Imam Hussein and his opponent Yazeed.

2. Imam Hussein and the rest of Ahl Al-Beit did not receive in their lives the fairness and respect due to them on the part of the Muslims, while the rest of the companions of the Prophet received of that as much as they deserved (or more). The members of the House of the Messenger were denied even the right to live or feel safe. The Muslims, therefore, should try to correct the mistake of history by uncovering the virtues of these distinguished people.

3. To keep the names of these people alive is in the interest of the Muslims. The Messenger of God, Mohammad, said when he was returning from his Valedictory Pilgrimage, while at Ghadir Khum:

“I am about to be called (by the Lord to depart from this world) and respond (to His call). I am leaving for you the Two Valuables (one of them is bigger than the other): The Book of God and the members of my House. Beware how you shall treat the two after me, because they will not part with each other until they join me on the Day of Judgment.”

Thus, honoring their memories and informing people about them would be in accord with the advice of the Messenger, and would provide the Muslims with what they need of guidance.

4. The history of this great Martyr is a school for the seekers of the truth. Every Muslim can learn a great deal from the supreme sacrifice and courage of the Imam. The Muslims are still living under similar conditions now as before. Corruption is still prevalent in our society, and tyrants, like Yazeed, are no rarity in Muslim and non-Muslim countries, but we do not have men like the Imam Hussein. Fortunately, his commemoration is providing the Muslim world with some of his excellent students.

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