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Karim al-Mahrus46

Karim al-Mahrus46

‘The month of Muharram is one of the months during which the people of

pre-Islamic or pagan times prohibited fighting. Later, in the same sacred

month, our blood was spilt and our inviolability was violated and our

progeny and women were made captive and our tents were put to the torch

and our belongings were plundered and no inviolable thing that the

Messenger of Allah had in us remained but it was violated. The Day of

Husayn has blooded our eyes and let flow our tears and humiliated our

beloved. The land of Karbala47, the land of tragedy and affliction has made

us heirs to tragedy and affliction until the last day. So let the weepers weep

over the like of Husayn, for weeping over him is a mitigation for grave


These are the words of Imam ‘Ali ibn Musa al-Ridha alayhis-salam in

which he depicts for us the extent of the recidivism of the Ummayad

regime and the indelible mark that the slaughter of Imam Husayn alayhissalam

left on the people of the Prophet’s household or his Ahl-ul-Bayt

alayhis-salam. Such an immense tragedy it was and such a stain on the

face of Islam.

However, one of the secrets of the magnitude of the day of Ashura lies in

Imam Husayn’s alayhis-salam knowledge of the fate that awaited him and

the pure people, his household. He had certain knowledge that he would be

martyred and he had alluded to this on many occasions in his sermons and

speeches during his exit from Mecca and Medina, stating clearly that he

was reconciling himself to meeting Allah and that he was determined to

expend his lifeblood in the way of Allah and in the aid of the truth and in

reviving the Islamic religion. Through this knowledge and certainty, we

can see the secret of the divine protection and concern afforded to this

45 This is the translation of an article that appeared in the Arabic Kuwaiti periodical ‘al-

Minbar’, issue 11 (2nd Year), April 2001, p.18. Translated by Ali Adam, London.

46 A researcher in The Centre for Islamic Education, London.

47 The name Karbala is a contraction of karb and bala’, an Arabic compound name literally

meaning tragedy and affliction.

Benefiting from Ashura


uprising and we can see the greatness of this spirit and the correctness of

his reading of the state of the Islamic nation and government.

The Imam alayhis-salam put his hand on the pulse of both the nation and

the government and when he found that the government was deviating

from the way of the true religion, he took hold of the nation to straighten

this deviation. He alayhis-salam said:

‘I have not come forth out of pride or arrogance, nor to cause corruption,

nor as an oppressor, but I have come forth to seek the reform of the nation

of my grandfather Muhammad. I wish to order the good and forbid the evil

and follow the way of my grandfather and my father ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib.’

He alayhis-salam also said:

‘Now, I summon you to revive the features of the truth and to slay

innovation. If you answer my call then you will be guided to the ways of


He alayhis-salam also said:

‘And I summon you to the book of Allah and to the way of His prophet. If

you hear what I say and follow me I will lead you to the path of


In the thought of the supreme religious authority (marji’) Grand Ayatollah

Sayyid Muhammad Husayni al-Shirazi, we can clearly sense today the

effects of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn alayhis-salam and the extent of

its influence on the survival of the Islamic religion and in protecting it

from the guiles of the enemy, all because of the historical stance that he

took and the sacrifice he made on the day of al-Taff.48 We can also discern

with ease from amongst these effects that the power of government,

however great and developed that might be, can never compare with the

power of the nation. The power of government is partial and is derived

from the power of the nation above which there can be no power as long

as the nation remains firmly upon the religion and follows it. The Imam

alayhis-salam, alongside his knowledge by divine will of what would

happen to him and to his family on the day of Ashura, also knew of the

outcome of events and of the future. His uprising did not only uncover the

scandals and crimes of the Umayyad regime but there was a mission

behind this uprising; namely to make clear the reality of the Islamic

48 Al-Taff is another name for Karbala.

Husayn – The sacrifice for mankind


religion and to clarify its features for everyone. The result of the battle of

Karbala was the uprooting of the Umayyad government despite its

tyranny, influence, power, wealth and military might at a time when the

society was not even allowing itself to consider the question of

overthrowing the Umayyads because of their might and despotism. The

events at Karbala renewed life for Islam and corrected the religious beliefs

that had arisen due to the Umayyad’s fabrication of prophetic traditions or

hadith and their adoption of ideas from false philosophies. Ideas such as

predeterminism (jabr) - the idea that men are compelled by Allah in their

actions; delegation (tafwid), and theomorphism (tajsim) - the idea that

Allah has a bodily form, and others like them, which served to shore up

the pillars of their illegal regime. Hence Islam appeared once again,

shining in the true form in which Allah had revealed it to His noble

messenger salla-llahu-alayhi-wa-aalih, in the form of the madhhab or

school of the Ahl-ul-Bayt alayhis-salam after being cleansed of the

detritus of Umayyad falsehood.

This uprising was and remains a model for all other liberationist uprisings

in the world against oppressors. This uprising was the ‘big bang’, which

prepared the way for a succession of revolutions and motivated those

involved in the struggle to defend the sacred values of Islam and taught

them the art of combating tyranny and to be steadfast in the struggle until

they achieved a life of nobility and freedom. The nation then is a great

power, and government has no power if the legality of its existence has not

acquired the approval of the sacred law (shari’ah) and the nation. The

nation must grasp however, that for the legal government to be righteous

the nation must also be righteous. On this note, the renowned scholar

Sheikh al-Baha’i says:

‘There is no fault in the religion of Islam itself, rather the fault lies in the

Muslims themselves.’

Imam Husayn alayhis-salam, through his uprising, pointed out the way for

the future generations and made clear the path to solving the problems of

society and attaining the happiness of this life and the nobility of the next.

When Islamic society indeed put into practice some of these Islamic

teachings it lived a life of prosperity and nobility as history witnessed in

the days of Sayyid al-Murtada and Sheikh al-Mufid and Allamah al-Hilli

and Sheikh al-Karaki and Sheikh al-Baha’i and Allamah al-Majlisi (May

Benefiting from Ashura


Allah venerate their souls)49. Then society was living an honourable life

without being afflicted by any of the problems that afflict the Muslims

today. On the contrary, it was the enemies of Islam who suffered from

these crises since they were drowning in the seas of ignorance and

backwardness and the like. ‘Husayn is the lantern of guidance and the ship

of salvation,’ as the Messenger of Allah salla-llahu-alayhi-wa-aalih said.

This hadith or prophetic tradition depicts the world in the finest of ways in

order to bring us closer to understanding the true nature and reality of this

world. It likens this world to the dark depths of the ocean from which there

is no salvation except by means of a ship and there is no way to escape

from its glooms except by a lantern. This is a splendid simile. Man in this

world is in need of a lantern to light for him the way otherwise he will be

lost in the darkness of ignorance and poverty and illness and will fall into

the abysses and will not be able to perceive and hence avoid the wild

animals and beasts which seek to prey on him. He is also in need of a ship,

which will preserve him from drowning and perishing in the clashing

depths of the seas of the world and will take him to the shores of

tranquillity in safety and peace. What is it that functions as the lantern to

guide mankind in the world and the ship to rescue him from its depths? It

is none other than that which was specified by divine revelation and which

was pointed to by the Messenger of Allah salla-llahu-alayhi-wa-aalih

when he said:

‘The people of my household are as the stars, which ever

one of them you seek guidance from, you will be guided.’

He salla-llahu-alayhi-wa-aalih also said:

‘The similitude of the people of my household is as the ship

of Noah, whoever boards it will be saved, and whoever

tarries behind from it will drown.’

These two descriptors; the lantern and the ship, apply to all the fourteen

impeccable personages namely; The Prophet Muhammad salla-llahualayhi-

wa-aalih, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib alayhis-salam, Fatima al-Zahra’

alayhas-salam, Hasan al-Mujtaba alayhis-salam, Husayn al-Shahid

alayhis-salam, ‘Ali al-Sajjad alayhis-salam, Muhammad al-Baqir alayhissalam,

Ja’far al-Sadiq alayhis-salam, Musa al-Kadhim alayhis-salam, ‘Ali

49 They are some of the most eminent authorities in Islamic sciences and hadith, who lived

over the period ten to fifteenth centuries. Their researches and works in the teachings of Ahlul-

Bayt alayhum-as-salam still form the basis of many contemporary investigations and


Husayn – The sacrifice for mankind


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