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Imam Hussein’s revolt, the causes - Part 2

There are many people who might claim the upholding of this religious obligation. Imam Hussein (A.S) demonstrated this on the ground, “I seek to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil and follow the traditions of my grandfather and my father.” This is the parable of Islam that might be a source of pride for many a man. And yet, there have been Muslims whom Islam holds dear and feels proud of.

The various titles, which were earned by many luminaries, such as “Fakhrul Islam – the Pride of Islam”, “Izzuddin – the Glory of Religion”, and “Sharafuddin – the Honour of Religion”, are indicative of this meaning. Abdu Thar, Ammar bin Yasir, [among the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH)], and Ibn Sina (Avicenna), [(980 – 1198 CE), the famous Muslim philosopher and physician], were brought up on the ideals of Islam and thus have become a source of pride for it. Islam, in return, feels proud of some of its sons, who had been moulded in its image, so much so that they have earned an international renown, not least because they have left their mark on the human civilization.

The world cannot deny the contribution of Khawaja Nasiruddin at-Tusi, [(597 – 672 AH, 1201 – 1274 CE), the Muslim philosopher, vizier, and theologian], to the human civilization, because the credit goes to him for some discoveries relating to the moon. So, it can be said that Imam Hussein bin Ali (A.S) has indeed given the required momentum to the tradition of “enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil”. And when it is maintained that this institution raises the weight of Muslims, this does not come from a vacuum. The Holy Qur’an has stated this,

“You are the best of peoples evolved for mankind. Enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah.” (3/110).

Just ponder the couching of this verse, especially with regard to the quality bestowed on “the best people”. That is, it is merely by virtue of their upholding the religious duty of “enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong”, they have earned that sublime praise. So, the worth of this umma (community) is in its upholding this obligation.

However, insofar as Imam Hussein’s revolt is concerned, it is the Imam who has conferred that sublime honour on this obligation by the sacrifices he personally made, and those of his family and companions. However, it is not enough that we, Muslims, are not up to the responsibility of upholding this religious obligation; we are proving to be a liability to it.

It is regrettable that people have paid much attention to not so important things, such as growing one’s beard and prohibiting the wearing of gold [for men], and paid lip service to significant matters that should be upheld.

In contrast, Imam Hussein (A.S) revolted to keep the principle of “enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong” live in all spheres of life. He used to say that Yezid was the epitome of rejection and that he should be effaced from the world of Islam.

He further affirmed that the Imam of Muslims must be the one who upholds the injunctions contained in the Book of God, [i.e. the Holy Qur’an], administer justice, and follow the true religion.

Imam Hussein sacrificed everything in the way of safeguarding this institution and enforcing it. The Imam gave a more sober meaning to death in this cause. It has become to imply grandeur and honor. Since he set out on his journey from Medina to Kerbala, he was always talking about death in dignity and honour, i.e. the death in the cause of right, truth, and justice. Such a death is akin to a beautiful necklace that adorns the neck of a young woman.

The Imam often recited a line of poetry en route in his fateful journey to Kerbala. The poem read something like this: Despite the fact that this life is sweet and beautiful, yet, the next life is sweeter and more beautiful. Since, in the end, man will leave behind, after death, all his worldly possessions, the good comes out of giving away one’s wealth in good causes, instead of hoarding it.

By the same token, since the human body would turn to dust after death, why should not man die a sweet and honorable death? Thus, dying with the sword in the cause of God is much greater and lovelier.

On the other side of the equation, the example of Abu Salama al-Khallal, who used to be dubbed “the Minister of the Household of Muhammad” in the court of the Abbasid Caliph, serves the reverse of the above-mentioned honorable death. His story goes like this: When he fell out of favour with the Abbasid Caliph, an incident which he later paid with his life for, he wrote two letters, one to Imam Jafar Sadiq (A.S) and the other to Muhammad bin Abdullah al-Mahdh, offering them his services and those of Abu Muslim, [i.e. intending to stage a palace coup]. This was his message to them: Should you be prepared for this, [i.e. taking over the caliphate], and accept our offer, we will kill those, [i.e. the Abbasid rulers].

The immediate impression the contents of this letter gives is that the writer is disloyal because he addressed his letter to two different people, but only when his relationship with his masters turned sour.

As soon as Imam Sadiq received the letter and read it, he burned it before the eyes of the emissary who carried it to him. When the messenger asked the Imam as to his reply, the Imam informed him that he had nothing to add to what the messenger had just seen, [i.e. of burning the letter].

The Abbasid killed Abu Salama before he could meet with his messenger. Some people seem to raise the objection as why the Imam did not respond positively to the invitation of Abu Salama who called on him to rise to assume power with his help. That is, while the intension of Abu Salama was known; he was not sincere in his appeal as he wrote his letter immediately after he had fallen out favour with the Abbasid Caliph, who was sure that he could not be trusted any more.

Thus, he met his violent death soon after. Nevertheless, if Imam Hussein (A.S) turned a blind eye to all those letters he had received from the Kufans, inviting him to go to them and set up an Islamic government there, he would have never escaped similar criticism. In Imam Hussein’s case, he responded positively to the Kufans’ appeals when he realized that they were genuine in their call for him to come to them. Thus, it became incumbent on him to respond.

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