There are two men in the history of mankind whose legendary stands of dignity had profound impact, inspiring centuries of commemoration and reverence. Those two men are:
- Saint John the Baptist, known as Prophet Yahyah (pbuh), born in the late 1st century BC
- Imam Hussain ibne Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), born in 626 AD
Both were descendants of Prophet Abraham (pbuh), and were leaders of the believers of God. Owners of profound intellect and wisdom, their teachings inspired countless hearts to incline towards the path of righteousness and good and away from sin.
St. John was a classical prophet, who was exalted high by God, for his bold denouncing of all things sinful. Furthermore, the Qur’an speaks of John’s gentle compassion and love for all creatures and his humble attitude towards life, for which he was granted the Purity of Life:
“And piety (for all creatures) as from Us, and purity: He was devout,And kind to his parents, and he was not overbearing or rebellious.So Peace on him the day he was born, the day that he dies, and the day that he will be raised up to life (again)!”
-Qur’an, Surah 19 (Maryam), ayah 13-15
Imam Hussain was an exceptional figure in history, whose message can only be comprehended by both the heart and mind together.
In order to understand Imam Hussain’s stand, it is essential to know who Prophet Muhammed was. The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him and his progeny) stood up as the leader of an intellectual and social revolution to save mankind from idol-worship and superstition and to free mankind from the claws of ignorance, he gathered all of the oppressed people under his wings. At this time the people who opposed this reform movement, who were led by the wealthy of Mecca, lined up and used all of their might to destroy it. These efforts against Islam were led by the Umayyad clan, which was led by Abu Sufyan.
But, at the end, they surrendered to the influence of Islam and their complete infrastructure was defeated.
It is self-evident that this destruction does not mean that they became extinct; rather, they changed tactics.
They used to perform their anti-Islamic activities in the open, but now they performed them gradually behind closed doors. This is the plan of any stubborn and weak enemy: lying in the trenches waiting for an opportunity.After the death of the Prophet, the Umayyads tried to influence the system of Islamic leadership in order to create a movement which would lead people back to the pre-Islamic lifestyle. The more time that passed since the Prophet’s death, the easier this would be.
The customs of the Age of Ignorance which was enlivened after the Prophet passed away by people other than the Umayyads created the groundwork for an ‘ignorant revolution’.
- The issue of racism, which was completely crossed out by Islam, was brought back to life by some of the caliphs. The Arab race took on a special superiority over other races.
- Various forms of ‘isms’ which were not in congruence with the spirit of Islam appeared. The public treasury, which was distributed amongst the Muslims equally during the lifetime of the Prophet, transformed into something else. People were given unfounded merits, and the whole system of tribalism reappeared.
- The positions which were granted to people during the lifetime of the Prophet due to one’s intellectual,ethical, and spiritual worth were now given due to tribalism and were divided up amongst the tribe of the caliph.
By the time it was Imam Hussain’s period of leadership for the believers, the Umayyads [led by Caliph Yazid, son of Muawiya] had changed the entire face of Muslim nations into terrorized, oppressed, and corrupt lands.
Could Imam Hussain remain silent in regards to this serious threat against Islam which reached its peak during the reign of Yazid? Would Allah and the Prophet accept that? Was it not his duty to destroy the silence that prevailed over the Muslim society with an extraordinary show of selflessness? Was it not his duty to reveal the evil face of this ignorant movement from behind the marketing of the Umayyads? Was it not his duty to create an epic in Islamic history with his blood?
Hussain did just this. He performed his huge Islamic duties and changed the direction that Islam was taking. He destroyed the anti-Islamic plans that the Umayyads had.
This is the true face of Hussain’s uprising. From here it becomes clear why Imam Hussain’s name and history do not become forgotten. He is not attributed to one time; rather, his goal was an eternal goal.
He was martyred by the army of Yazid along the path of truth, justice, and freedom; along the path of Allah and Islam; along the path of man’s salvation and enlivening human merits. Do such concepts become old? Are such concepts forgotten? Never.