Date :Wednesday, September 19th, 2018 | Time : 08:57 |ID: 71408 | Print

Who is Imam Husayn (AS)?


Imam Husayn (AS)

Shafaqna – The third Shiite Imam, Husayn, was the second son of Ali  and Fatima . He was born in 626 AD. He was named in a ceremony similar to the one held for his elder brother Hasan in the presence of the Prophet Muhammad .

“My two children – Hasan and Husayn – are leaders of Umma (the Muslim comunity). They can either rise up or not,” the prophet had said. The most important even pertaining to Imam Husayn  was his sacrifice and martyrdom in Karbala. The Ashoura uprising remains stuck in the minds.

Even significant events in the world are forgotten after some time and they may be marked only in history books. However, there are exceptional events that are not forgotten easily. Examples of such events are the sacrifice of God’s messengers and revolutions led by divine leaders. These events are tied to humanity’s temperament.

Imam Husayn’s movement and the bloody Ashoura uprising are lasting events and they have not been overshadowed by the turn of time. The Ashoura uprising has three outstanding features as follows: 1) the reason for Imam Husayn’s uprising; 2) the quality of Imam Husayn’s revolution and movement and 3) the ramifications of the movement.


Why Imam Husayn rose up against Yazeed

The foremost reason for Imam Husayn’s uprising was linked to deviation in the Islamic government. These deviations were visible in the way the Umayyad men were ruling. The Umayyad party – led by Abu Sufyan – pretended to have accepted Islam as his religion when Mecca was being conquered. But he held blasphemy and hypocrisy in his heart. When Othman was in power, Mu‘awia told a private meeting of Umayyad seniors: “Now that the Umayyad is in power, seize the caliphate and pass it to one another, and try to avoid any extinction of the Umayyad dynasty…I swear that there is no Heaven or Hell.”[1]

The Umayyad party openly campaigned against Islam. After the Mecca conquest, this party continued its activities clandestinely. Under cover of Islam, it was trying to eradicate religion. Imam Ali’s five-year rule undermined the Umayyad party, but it failed to fully root it out. After Imam Ali’s martyrdom, Abu Sufyan’s son Mu‘awia took power in the Muslim world and appointed his cruel agents like Ziad, Amru As and Marwan to handle Muslims’ affairs. A large number of freedom-seekers like Hijr bin Adi, Rushayd al-Hajrari and Maytham Tammar were brutally killed for their protest against his tyranny.

During his 20-year rule, Mu‘awia strengthened the basis of his son Yazeed’s rule. Yazeed, a symbol of corruption, came to power after his father’s death. He was fiercely opposed to Islam.

A government which was supposed to represent Muslims was taken over by a corrupt man who openly denied the prophecy of Muhammad and shared his grandfather Abu Sufyan’s view that Islam was just an illusion.[2] Yazeed was inclined to Christianity. He was a badly trained reveler who lacked any foresight.[3]

The difference between Yazeed and Mu‘awia was that the father apparently believed in Islam, but the son did not even feign piety. He openly ignored Islamic teachings and did not steer clear of any revelry. He used to organize parties and get drunk.  The self-declared poet recited the following sentences: “My friends in drinking! Stand up! Listen to singers and get drunk. These beautiful songs make me forget the call for prayers. I am ready to exchange heavenly angels with my drink.”[4] He candidly insulted Islamic sanctities and never covered his inclination for Christianity. “Drinking may be forbidden in the religion of Ahmad, but you can drink it under the religion of Jesus bin Mary.”[5] Yazeed’s court was the center of corruption and sin. He did not even keep Mecca and Medina safe from his mischievous acts.[6]

At that time, Husayn saw the conditions conducive to a revolution because the Umayyad rulers could no longer paint a wrong image of the objectives of Husayn’s  revolution in the public opinion and describe it as a struggle for power. Ordinary people were observing how the ruling government was flouting Islamic teachings. That prompted Husayn to call on his follower across the world to rise up. This uprising was designed to revive Islam and Islamic traditions and not seizing power and caliphate.

After the martyrdom of Imam Hasan  in 670 AD, the Iraqi Shiites started writing letters to Husayn  asking him to unseat Mu‘awia. Imam Husayn noted in response that he could not renege on his treaty with Mu‘awia. However, after the death of Mu‘awia in 680 AD, Imam Husayn  found the conditions ripe for a constructive and useful uprising. He described the attributes the governor of Muslims is required to have: “Imam and ruler of people is he who makes judgments based on Koran, who promotes justice, follows divine religion and exercises patients on the divine path.”[7] In one of his speeches near Karbala, the Imam explained his revolutionary motives as follows:

O people! The prophet of God said: “Anyone who sees a tyrannical governor who breaks his pledges to God, opposes the traditions of His messenger, and rules with force on people, is obliged to oppose him with words and deeds. If not, God will send him along with the governor to Hell.” O people! Yazeed and his followers have chosen to obey to Satan. They do no longer obey God and they promote corruption and flout Islamic rules. They have seized public wealth…I am the mst qualified to oppose this government.[8]


Imam Husayn’s conscious uprising

The important issue in the Husayn revolution is to know if it was an uprising or an explosion. Those who always want to underestimate all sacred events describe the Husayn uprising as an explosion[9]. They apply the law of the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa. Probably the most commonly cited example of this is the change of water from a liquid to a gas, by increasing its temperature. There has also been an effort to apply this mechanism to social phenomena, whereby population increases result in changes in social structure. The society can tolerate oppression up to a certain extent. After the martyrdom of Imam Ali , the Umayyad rulers stepped up their tyranny against Muslims until the society reach the point of explosion. This group of exegetes says Husayn’s uprising was the symbol of this forceful explosion.

Such a judgment about the movement of Husayn is inaccurate and originates from the views of materialists. Had these exegetes studied the history of Imam Husayn uprising and had they been a bit realistic they could not have make such baseless judgment about the valuable movement of Imam Husayn . These exegetes have accepted the principle of “transition from quantity to quality” for all natural phenomena and they have had to justify the Husayn  uprising with this view. Had they not applied this principle to all world phenomena they would not have named Husayn-led revolution an involuntary explosion in order to underestimate the event. The problem with this group is that they interpret every movement based on materialist scales. Every time they see an uprising does not meet their standards they prefer their own thesis.

In materialist logic, the explosion of a society is like the explosion of a boiler whose safety valves are fully blocked. In that case the explosion will definitely happen. An example of explosive uprising is a man filled with inferiority complexes. He will vent his frustration involuntarily and he will regret it later. In that event, an uprising lacks any moral value and the hero of such a revolution does not merit any praise because all participants in the uprising will be only spectators and not players.

Materialist exegetes believe that conflicts in the society need to be increased so that the boiler of the society will explode much sooner and overthrow the government in power.

Two questions are raised here:

  1. Are explosive battles of any moral value?
  2. Was Imam Husayn’s uprising a conscious one or an explosive one?

In response to the first question, it would be enough to know that anything outside our authority will lack any moral value, no matter how useful they are. Consider a wild animal preparing to attack a man to maul him. At the same time, someone else who is not aware of the presence of that man kills the animal. The shooter could not be praised in this context because he was not aware of the result of his act. As far as social unrest is concerned, revolutionaries who lack any authority and freedom are motivated to rise up against the ruling government. Such a revolution lacks any moral value.

Throughout the Spain Conquest by the Corps of Islam, the commander-in-chief of the corps ordered all ships to be burnt and their foodstuff to be thrown away. Then the commander told the troops that they had no option but to fight because they were surrounded by sea and enemy forces. Staying in that point had no result but death. Everyone decided to combat and they triumphed over enemy. This action of the commander drew praise worldwide as he went to the heart of the enemy, but it lacks moral values because mankind should always have two options and choose the virtuous one freely.


Husayn bin Ali and his conscious uprising

After the departure of Imam Hasan, the grounds were gradually prepared for his brother Husayn and his Shiite followers to rise up. Imam Hasan used to object to Mu‘awia for his crimes against Muslim community. From time to time, the Imam wrote letters to Mu‘awia, threatening him against uprising and movement. When Mu‘awia died and his corrupt son succeeded him, the cores of Husayn movement began taking shape. The Imam invited Muslims to revolution in different ways.

Imam Husayn had worked out all necessary mechanisms before inviting his followers to rise up. How can one describe this uprising as an involuntary explosion and compare it with valueless revolutions?  There is also historical evidence that Imam Husayn’s uprising was voluntary.


  1. Imam Husayn’s speech delivered when Mu‘awia was trying to seek peopl’s allegiance to Yazeed

After having Imam Hasan killed, Mu‘awia convinced a group of influential people to endorse his son Yazeed as his successor. But Imam Husayn told him: “I’ve heard a description of perfection and skillfulness of your son Yazeed. Are you going to mislead people? Apparently you do not know your son. Or maybe you have information which we don’t about him. Yazeed has already proven his incompetence for this post. He plays with dogs and pigeons. He is passing his time with women and playing music. You had better reconsider your decision so that your sins will not become heavier…”[10]



  1. Imam Husayn’s letter to Mu‘awia

Imam Husayn wrote a letter to Mu‘awia detailing his crimes, above all the murder of senior Companions and pious people. “I regret I have not risen up against you due to some shortcomings. It is possible that my excuses would not be acceptable to God,” he wrote. The Imam noted in his letter that Mu‘awia’s big mistake was that he won endorsement for his son who gets drunk and plays with dogs.[11]


  1. Imam Husayn’s address in Mena

In the last days of Mu‘awia in power, Imam Husayn  gathered nearly 1,000 people, including senior Hashemite figures, in Mena and delivered a speech about the formation of an Islamic government. He highlighted the crimes committed by Mu‘awia against the Islamic community, particularly the Shiites.

In his speech, Imam Husayn recited Koranic verses about the prophet’s household and asked the influential figures in Mecca, Medina and other cities to endorse him.[12]

The Imam preformed his hajj pilgrimage individually and left for Iraq. “Death hangs like a Sword of Damocles and I love my ancestors… From here, I am looking at the point I will be martyred and the wolves will maul my body,” he said. “Those who are ready to donate blood in this way and join their Creator can accompany me. I am leaving early in the morning.”[13] Is it still correct to interpret Imam Husayn’s  movement as an involuntary explosion while he let his followers decide to combat or return on the last night?


Ramifications of Imam Husayn’s uprising

The results of Imam Husayn’s uprising and its reflections are too many to be written down. Here, we briefly mention the most significant of them.

  1. Scandalizing the ruling government

We mentioned earlier that Imam Husayn decided to rise up against the ruling government because he openly flouted Islamic teachings, got drunk candidly and was friendly to animals. Religion had become a plaything in the hands of Yazeed and his followers. The martyrdom of Imam Husayn  at that time gave an important lesson to people that Islam is preferred to life and family. Muslims are obliged to sacrifice everything in the face of corrupt governments. Husayn sacrificed his life for Islam and Koran. Moreover, the martyrdom of Imam Husayn  shed light on the mischievous nature of the Umayyad dynasty. Famous Indian poet Mu’een al-Din Kashmiri has described Husayn as the second promoter of monotheism after the prophet Muhammad.


  1. Revolutions and Riots


After the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, the spirit of revolution was revived in the Islamic community and revolutions happened in rapid succession. It was indicative of deep abhorrence of the Umayyad rule.

The first unrest following the martyrdom of Husayn was the Tawwabeen uprising led by Sulayman bin Surd, an ally of the prophet. A group of senior Shiite figures participated in this uprising under the slogan of “Revenge! Husayn!” They first went to the tomb of Imam Husayn and stayed there one full day. They were regretting why they had not assisted Husayn. They demanded apology to God.

The Mukhtar uprising came after. More uprisings and revolutions happened until the Umayyad was fully unseated.


  1. The school of martyrdom

The school of martyrdom was founded by the Koran and the Prophet Muhammad. But after his death and the ensuing development of Islamic countries, some incompetent governments took power. Even Abdullah bin Umar justified his agreement with Hajjaj on the grounds that opposition to the ruling government will cause division and trigger sedition and bloodletting. Such an attitude will push the society to be obedient to any tyrannical regime.

With his martyrdom, Imam Husayn changed the rules of this game and revived the school of martyrdom in the Islamic community and taught Muslims the lesson of resistance, courage and uprising. To that effect, Mus‘ab bin Zubayr told his wife Sakeena, who was the daughter of Husayn: “Your father stripped all free people of any pretext and taught the Muslim world that a red death is much better than a shameful life.”

[1] Esti’ab

[2] Al-Bedaya va al-Nahaya

[3] Moravej al-Mazhab

[4] Tazkara al-Khavas, Ibn Jozi

[5] Tatema al-Montaha

[6] Moravej al-Zahab

[7] Ershad

[8] Tarikh Tabaree

[9] This interpretation is based on one of the four dialectic principles

[10] Al-Imamat va al-Siasat

[11] Al-Imamat va al-Siasat

[12] Asl Salim bin Qais

[13] Lahouf

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