Rafed English

Karbala: The True Hajj - Part 1

The month of Dhil Hijjah has just passed and the sorrowful month of Muharram has emerged, bringing along with it all its grief, sadness, and mourning as the New Year commences. It was in the year 60 A.H. when Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) and his family made the intention to perform Hajj in the sacred Haram. However, just before the commencement of the pilgrimage, he suddenly left Mecca without performing Hajj! This was the time when huge crowds were entering Mecca for Hajj that Imam Hussein was going out of that Holy City with his family and followers. This strange event must have elicited questions in the minds of everyone as to why the grandson of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) was leaving Mecca just on the eve of Hajj without performing Hajj. Why did he leave Mecca, when he embarked on this spiritual journey in order to complete what is one of the best deeds in Allah's eyes? Why didn't he wait just a fir few days until he finished the necessary rituals of pilgrimage? After all, based on our human judgment, nothing could be more important than the pilgrimage that would deserve interruption or cancellation – right?

History tells us that the Imam discovered that some of the followers of Yazid had entered Mecca as pilgrims, with the mission to kill him during the rites of Hajj with the arms they carried under their special pilgrimage dress (the Ehraam). So Imam Hussein shortened the pilgrimage rites and decided to leave. Amidst the vast crowd of people, he stood up and announced in a speech that he was setting out for Iraq, he declared that he would be martyred, asked the Muslims to help him in attaining the goal he had in view, and to offer their lives in the path of God. The next day, he set out with his family and a group of his companions for Iraq. But it was not his own life that he was fearful for; rather, it was the life of Islam that Imam Hussein had his eyes set on! The proof for that is that he knew very well that he would be killed in Karbala and was literally walking towards his own death! So why interrupt his Hajj only to die in another land, if not for a noble reason?
The prime reason for leaving Mecca was that Imam Hussein did not want to be killed in a manner that the tyrants might remain hidden and undetected. In the huge rush of pilgrims assembled from all corners of the world, it would have been impossible to apprehend the killer, and particularly to ascertain the real killer behind the curtains.

Secondly, Imam Hussein's ultimate aim was to expose Yazid, and the Imam was determined not to give his allegiance to this corrupt oppressor. In this way, the question of why Imam Hussein refused allegiance to Yazid came to the forefront of discussion among all individuals and groups who assembled for Hajj as they noticed that Imam Hussein left Mecca without performing the Hajj. If the Imam were to be killed now, it would be assumed that Yazid must have arranged his killing – and this is what actually happened. Yazid stands clearly, openly and directly exposed as the perpetrator of the crimes which formed part of that tragedy and his un-Islamic ideas; the beliefs and acts lie exposed to the world. The very people who had been silenced by fear and awe of the murderous tyrants were so moved to the core of their hearts by the tragic events of Karbala that they began picking up courage to express themselves against Yazid. In a very short time, there was a widespread uproar of protests against him and his government. This was possible only because of the superb way in which Imam Hussein carried out his plan of meeting Yazid's violence with the strength of his character.

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