Imam Hussain’s (AS) life and sacrifice are replete with lessons about life; lessons that we need to learn more than ever before. Lessons we think each one of us: students, parents, teachers and every other member of the society, must learn from the amazing life of Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS). He was a 7th century revolutionary leader who made the ultimate stand for moral justice. His legacy inspires millions to strive for a just society. Imam Hussain (AS) was born in 626 AD in the city of Medina, where he was raised by a family renowned for their honesty, compassion & justice. As a young child, Imam Hussain (AS) witnessed his grandfather – the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) – strive to establish a morally just society. It was in this context Imam Hussain (AS) developed his principles and as a young man was widely respected across the lands for his integrity.
Imam Hussain (AS) was the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and son of Ali Ibn Talib (RA), one of the most revered of companions of the Holy Prophet. And yet, Hussain’s (AS) life was humbleness personified. Besides his ancestry, Hussain (AS) was himself a man of exemplary character.
Imam Hussain (AS), saw the injustice that was imposed upon the Society of his time and realized how the rulers called Islam was, far from the true teachings of Islam. Oppression, tyranny, unjust use of public property, etc. made life miserable for people. So, instead of remaining silent and doing nothing, he decided to improve the society. He practiced courage in standing up against what was wrong, and in accepting the dangers of his decision. He never gave up his human virtues for the sake of furthering his purpose. While his enemy was impatient to start the war, he did his best to prevent it by negotiating and bringing awareness to them. Imam Hussain (AS), tried to show that being just is far more important than being courageous. If everyone is just, then no right would be taken away, and you do not need to be courageous to stand up against it. According to Imam Ali (AS), courage is dependent upon three virtues which complement each other. These are self-sacrifice, not bowing down to humiliation and oppression, and not being after making a name for yourself. In his movement, Imam Hussain (AS) exhibited all these virtues. He sacrificed his life and family, did not surrender to the injustice his enemies were imposing, and never cared about his fame but was entirely devoted to Allah’s cause.
For Imam Hussain (AS), nothing was more important than Allah’s satisfaction and reviving the true teachings and peaceful message of Islam in the corrupt society of his time. He was courageous for the right cause. Neither was he after usurping the throne, nor manipulating people for his own sake.
It takes courage and spiritual strength to endure the pain of losing your beloved ones. Imam Hussain (AS) lost many of his family members and friends in the battle of Karbala, including his brother and two of his sons. However, while he felt a deep pain in his heart, he never lost his control and power of reason. And he never regretted his action, nor doubted his cause. He was sure that what he did was for the sake of Allah’s satisfaction, and his movement will forever inspire those who are seeking what is right.
A key lesson and one that is probably the most important that we must learn from Imam Hussain’s (AS) life should be that of exercising patience, even when things are not going your way. From the breach of contract that initiated tensions with Ameer Muawiyah to the time he was denied water at the banks of Euphrates, Imam Hussain (AS) never let go of his hold on patience. He had the forbearance to leave his matters with Allah (SWT) even when the tyrants killed a six-month-old Ali Asghar, the imam’s youngest child. Today, we Muslims engage in the harshest of quarrels and lose faith over the most trivial of things, hence the condition of our society. Imam Hussain’s (AS) life teaches us to be patient in adverse times, whether they be bad grades, loss in business or domestic problems.
No matter the enormity of challenges, Imam Hussain (AS) was not the one to back down from his rightful stance. He was offered to swear allegiance to Yazid in return for security of the life of him and his family on several occasions, even at Karbala. Yet, Imam Hussain (AS) knew it would defy the principles of Islam and stayed put on his decision of not to do so. Even when faced with death. Even when threatened with the life of his family and children. Such is a steely determination we must learn to develop if we are to succeed in life. No matter how hard you look, there is hardly an example of courageousness throughout the pages of history that can be half compared to the valor of Imam Hussain (AS). Despite being surrounded by an army of 30,000 and faced with certain death, Imam Hussain (AS) did not bow down to a corrupt ruler’s unjust demands.
Imam Hussain (AS) forgave even the worst of his enemies. Despite him leading, Imam Hussain (AS) and his party to the battle site of Karbala, Imam Hussain (AS) did not hesitate once when Hurr bin Yazid realized his mistake and sought repentance. Imagine any of us in a situation one tenth as bad as that of Imam Hussain (AS). Would we be willing to forgive so easily........?. Today Muslims are killing other Muslims for unpaid debts of as little as Rs 100, and then claim to be Muslims still. Hazrat Ali (AS) said, “the first to forgive is the strongest”. And Imam Hussain (AS) showed the world he was the strongest among mere mortals. Imam Hussain (AS) had the same attitude towards power as his father. He did not seek a leadership role unless, for the sake of eliminating injustice and corruption from the community. And that’s why Imam Hussain (AS) did not take the oath of allegiance to Yazid, the ruthless caliph of that time.
Hussain (AS) did not want Yazid ruthless forces to attack his city and risk civilians lives. Along with his family and 72 companions, Hussain (AS) made his way towards the East seeking to gain support for his uprising whilst avoiding violence. It was on this journey Imam Hussain (AS), his family and companions were forced to stop by an army of over 30,000, on the hot plains of a land called Karbala (present day Iraq). Yazid’s forces cut the supply of water for Imam Hussain’s (AS) family and companions, including women and children. In 680 AD, after three days of no water and food in the scorching heat, Imam Hussain (AS) stood and fell valiantly in what is known as The Battle of Karbala. Imam Hussain (AS) died defending those around him being oppressed and whilst standing for his principles.
Through this tragic end but heroic act of sacrifice, Imam Hussain (AS) was ultimately victorious. His death became the catalyst for revolutionary change and led to the collapse of Yazid’s tyrannic rule. Imam Hussain (AS) stood by his principles till the very end, and his legacy continues to inspire millions around the world.
From civil rights leaders to volunteers at local charities – centuries later, people across the world are empowered by his selflessness, courage and determination. The story of Imam Hussain ibn Ali (AS) stands as an inspiration to all, no matter what colour or creed. Hussain (AS) laid the foundation of the revolution with his blood and that revolution changed the world forever. This great Imam (AS) presented a movement to the entire humanity which was peerless and unprecedented throughout history and which will never be forgotten. This movement is a model. He showed self-sacrifice on such a large and grand scale for the sake of achieving the divine goal. This self-sacrifice means laying down one's life and the lives of one's most dear, the captivity of the family of the Holy Prophet's (SAW) under terrible and disastrous circumstances and enduring this difficult event so that Islam would be preserved and so that fighting against oppression would remain a principle in the history of Islam and humanity. This is an event which will be peerless forever.
He could have saved his life as well as that of his family’s and companions’ by accepting Yazid’s allegiance. But this would have been at the cost of ruining their dignity and living a life of humiliation. Never would he put up with such disgrace. So a little at a time, let us ourselves strive to gain that strength. Let us try to become a little better each day. Let us try to be more like Hussain (AS), the greatest martyr the world has ever known.
“DEATH WITH DIGNITY IS BETTER THAN A LIFE OF HUMILIATION.”...Imam Hussain (AS)
(M Ahmad is a regular writer for this newspaper and can be reached at email@example.com)