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Seerah

Two Examples of the Ziyara to al-Husayn (a.s.)

1. The First Example

It is reported from Imam Abu 'Abd Allah Ja' far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq that he said: 'When you enter the Ha'ir,36 say:

1. O God, this is a position by which you have honoured me and distinguished me. O God, through it give me my desire for the reality of my faith in You and Your apostles.

The visitation begins with thanking God for honouring and distinguishing the pilgrim by giving him the opportunity to perform the pilgrimage. Then he prays to God that He will answer him and grant him his request for the reality of his faith in God and His prophets.

2. The peace of God be with you, son of the Apostle of God and the peace of His angels be with you in the pure fragrances which come to you and on you in the evening and the morning. Peace be with the angels of God, who bring men close to God. Peace be with the Muslims who have you in their heart and who speak to you of your great virtue with their tongues.

After discharging his duty of remembering God and thanking Him, the pilgrim begins by calling for peace to be with al-Husayn. Then he calls for peace to be with the angels of God. He goes on to call for peace to be with all those who believe in al-Husayn's attitude and who declare their faith in him.

This suggests that al-Husayn is not alone, nor is the pilgrim, who believes in al-Husayn's cause, alone; they are both part of a great movement which God blesses and sends His peace to its men and women through the angels. Part of this movement are the angels who bring men close to God; part of it are those people who believe and trust in al-Husayn with their hearts and who declare their faith in him.

3. I testify that you are truthful and trustworthy. I trust in what you called for, I trust in what you came for. You are the vengeance of God on earth for the blood whose vengeance will only be attained on earth by your friends.

O God, make me love their martyrdoms and their witness, so that You bring me close to them and make me with the first of them and a follower of them in this world and the Hereafter.

At this stage of the pilgrimage, the pilgrim declares his close bond with al-Husayn in terms of faith and principles.

First, he testifies to the truth of what al-Husayn came for and called for.

Secondly, he testifies to the fact that al-Husayn, when he made the sacrifice in his true and sincere mission, did not belong to any man, nor one group of people He belonged to the whole of humanity. Therefore he is 'the vengeance of God'. His vengeance, then, is a common cause which profiteers and deviators cannot deal with. Only the friends of God can deal with it '. . . for the blood whose vengeance will only be attained on earth by your friends.'

After this testimony, which signifies the bond of reason and principle with God, the pilgrim then turns to ask that God bind him emotionally to al-Husayn . . . 'make me love their martyrdom and witness.' This is for the sake of joining them in their struggle so that he may be in their vanguard in witness and a follower of them in principle in this world and the Hereafter.

4. Glory be to God, to Whom the angels and the Kingdom of Heaven give praise, and through Whose names all His creation is sanctified. Glory be to God, the Most Holy Sovereign, the Lord of the angels and the Spirit. O God, inscribe me within the group, which has come to the best of Your places, and within the best of Your creatures.

O God, curse idolatry and tyranny and curse their parties and followers. O God, make me bear witness to all the testimonies of God with the Holy Family of Your Prophet. O God, receive me as a Muslim and give me a sure place with those surviving inheritors who inherit Paradise, where they will dwell eternally among Your righteous worshippers.

Here there is a return to remembering and glorifying God. Then there is the prayer to God that He may accept his coming and his pilgrimage to al-Husayn, so that He will inscribe him among those who have come to him. This is a result of the pilgrim having already declared the bond of principle and emotion with al-Husayn and his revolution.

The pilgrim, then, announces his negative attitude which rejects the enemies of al-Husayn and of his call, including the Umayyads and the representatives of their policy in history, who were their followers.

He returns, after this, to the prayer with a supplication which comes from the depths of a soul thirsting to meet God in purity. Thus he prays to God that He make him among the group of His righteous worshippers whose lives form a continuous chain of striving for the sake of God, the end of which comes through the faith and Islam.

5. O God, ordain faith for me and confirm it in my heart. O God, make what I say with my tongue a reality in my heart and a religious precept in my actions. O God, make me one of those who have a firm footing with al-Husayn and establish me among those who were martyred with him.

At this stage of the pilgrimage, the pilgrim returns to asking God to establish him in the true faith. Here, the prayer of the ziyara includes assurance about an important problem of the true faith, in fact the most important problem concerning this faith. It is that this faith is not a belief alone; it is belief and works, ideology and conduct. What the pilgrim aspires to, is not a theoretical faith but a living active faith. In this way it becomes clear that the pilgrimage is employed in the service of a pure and practical Islamic policy.

The pilgrim, then, returns to al-Husayn and prays to God tha the will decree that he be among those who were martyred with al-Husayn in terms of those martyrs representing the apex of the vocation in which faith is transformed into works and conduct.

6. I testify that you are the purity of the pure and pure of purity. Through you, the land is pure. The earth where you are is pure and your sanctuary is pure. I testify that you ordered and called for justice, and that you are the vengeance of God on His earth so that He may arouse the feelings of all His creation because of you. The blessings of God be with your spirit and your body. You are the sincere one, the truthful one and confirmer of truth. May God destroy those who destroy you with their hands and tongues.

Here, purity means innocence from religious and moral sins. The holiness which al-Husayn enjoys arises out of his purity, not from any other source. This purity spreads wherever the pure man settles. The places, themselves, do not enjoy any holiness; their holiness only derives from them being a centre of action and activity by the pure man.

After that the pilgrim to al-Husayn testifies that his revolution was for the sake of justice; justice was its slogan and its objective. Thus, al-Husayn is the vengeance of God, not of any particular person or group, because the justice, which he strove to establish, was the justice of God.

Then, he testifies to his practical truth: a vocation which gives corroboration through action, effort, slogans and theoretical belief. This is what made him an opponent of those in power nominally in the name of Islam, who were men with slogans; the reality of their conduct gave testimony to their insincerity.

The pilgrim goes on to reiterate his renunciation of the enemies of al-Husayn, who are, at the time, the enemies of justice and truth.

7. Peace be with you, O martyrs. You precede us and we follow you. Receive the good news of a meeting with God which has no discrepancy. God will attain your vengeance for you and He will overcome His enemies on earth through you. You are the lords of the martyrs in this world and the Hereafter.

This salutation is to the men who bore witness with al-Husayn at Karbala'. On the occasion of every pilgrimage to al-Husayn there is a salutation and a prayer for peace for the martyrs.

In this salutation, the pilgrim declares that the martyrs precede him and he follows them, that they are all-both the pilgrim and the martyrs-companions in one journey of struggle. In this way the pilgrim binds his life to the path which the martyrs traveled and for the sake of which they died.

8. Praise be to God, Who remains One in all matters. He created the creatures and none of their affairs is absent from His knowledge. The earth and those who are on it are sureties for your blood and your vengeance, O son of the Apostle of God, may God bless you.

I testify that you will have from God the support and victory which He promised you, that you will have from God the truthful promise of the destruction of your enemies and the fulfilment of God's promise to you.

I testify that those who follow you are the true ones of whom God said: Those are the truthful ones and the witnesses before their Lord, they will have their reward and their light.37

In this section, after praising God and His unity, the pilgrim makes a declaration of the cosmic nature of al-Husayn's revolution, for the earth and those on it will be the guarantors for his blood and are not transitory, for the confirmation of realities which are eternal and which extend into the future of time and of man. Similarly it has deep roots in the past and present of man and time.

Then, the pilgrim speaks of hope, for the martyrdom of al-Husayn and the end of his revolution do not bring an end to hope, nor do they throw one into the abyss of despair devoid of action. Al-Husayn's cause is the climax of war in a long uninterrupted history of the struggle for the sake of the Muslim, and for man, in general.

Therefore, the divine promise will be attained, must be attained. For this reason, the Shi'ite works for al-Husayn's policy through the inspiration of the attainment of God's promise from this hope.

This section calls to mind the words which al-Husayn wrote from Mecca when he decided to leave his brother, Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya and the Hashimites: '. . . Whoever joins me will be martyred and whoever does not join me will not attain victory.'38

At the end of this section of the prayer of the ziyara the pilgrim performing it renews his testimony of the faithfulness of the supporters of al-Husayn.

9. Praise be to God, Who has not taken a son and has no partner in His sovreignty. He created and determined everything. I testify that you called upon God and His Apostle, that you fulfilled his covenant with God and you carried out his words to God, that you strove for the sake of God until certainty came.

May God curse a people which killed you. May God curse a people which treated you unjustly. May God curse a people which forsook you. May God curse a people which abandoned you. O God, I testify in the authority (wilaya) of those whom You and Your Apostles appointed. I testify to my renunciation of those whom You and Your Apostles renounced.

O God, curse those who lied against Your Apostle, destroyed Your Ka'ba, distorted Your Book, shed the blood of Your Holy Family, spread corruption in Your land and disparaged Your worshippers. O God, redouble the torment on them for what has taken place on Your roads, Your land and Your sea. O God, curse them in secret and in public in Your earth and Your Heaven.39

In this section, the prayer of the ziyara reaches its climax. The pilgrim returns to praising and exalting God. We notice, here, that the remembrance, praise and exaltation of God permeates every section of the prayer of the ziyara. The pilgrim remembers God in a variety of ways throughout the prayer of the ziyara to al-Husayn, and his pilgrimage to al-Husayn is, itself, a kind of remembrance of God through remembering one of His righteous servants who struggled for His sake.

The pilgrim reiterates his declaration testifying that al-Husayn's revolution was for the sake of God. After this he curses all the forces opposed to al-Husayn's call and revolution: those who forsook him; those who abandoned giving him support; and those who killed him.

He, then, declares his firm life-long bond with the policy of struggle of al-Husayn, and his absolute renunciation of the enemies of that policy.

In an intense emotional manner appropriate to the psychological state which he should have reached when he comes to this stage of the pilgrimage, the pilgrim reiterates his complete and absolute renunciation of the enemies by cursing them through mentioning the features and acts which require such a curse: they lied against the Apostle; they destroyed the Ka'ba; they distorted the Book; they shed the blood of the Holy Family; they disparaged Your worshippers.

Here are clear indications of specific historical events. These include the revolt of Ibn al-Zubayr, al-Hajjaj's bringing it to an end and the destruction of the Holy Ka'ba.
* * *

This example of the prayer of the ziyara is representative of the largest part of the texts associated with the pilgrimage to al-Husayn.

It contains the following elements:

1. It remembers God and glorifies and praises Him. It declares the extent of His authority, omnipotence and magnitude;

2. It honours al-Husayn and the Holy Family as being representatives of the Islamic way of life, of the righteous conduct required by the Islamic way of life and of the true causes of a Muslim and of mankind, in general.

3. It mentions al-Husayn's revolution, his witness, and the martyrs and witnesses with him as the climax of the struggle to realise truth and achieve justice. It gives these a universal and cosmic quality in terms of those who are witnesses of it being 'the vengeance of God.'

4. It concentrates on the hope for the coming victory and it rejects despair.

5. It declares the life-long bond between the Shi'ite and al-Husayn and his policy. It also declares the absolute renunciation of all forces whose policy opposes the policy of al-Husayn.

All these elements are repeated in the prayer of visitation in several ways, in a variety of expressions and from different angles in order to attain one aim: to make al-Husayn's revolution, insofar as it is an application of Islam and its principles, something vibrant with life in man's consciousness, something which inspires him in his daily life through the ideas which are appropriate to it.

2. The Second Example

It is reported from Imam Abu 'Abd Allah Ja'far al-Sadiq that he said: 'When you come to the tomb of al-Husayn stand at the door and say:

1. Peace be with you, O heir of Adam, the chosen of God.

Peace be with you, O heir of Noah, the prophet of God.

Peace be with you, O heir of Abraham, the dear friend of God.

Peace be with you, O heir of Moses, the one addressed by God.

Peace be with you, O heir of Jesus, the spirit of God.

Peace be with you, O heir of Muhammad, the beloved of God.

Peace be with you, O heir of 'Ali, the entrusted delegate of the Apostle of God.

Peace be with you, O heir of al-Hasan, who gave satisfaction.

Peace be with you, O heir of Fatima, daughter of the Apostle of God.

In this example, the revolution of al-Husayn is presented from an angle which differs from the angle in which this revolution has been presented in the previous example.

Al-Husayn's revolution had been accused by the regime of having departed from the general policy. It was a rebellion against the legal authority and it caused dissension in the community. Therefore it was an aberration in the course of Islam and because of that it was without legality.

The Umayyads attempted to give this quality to the revolution of al-Husayn. It is indisputable that the apparatus of information at that time -the hired Traditionists and the story- tellers- attempted to give this picture of al-Husayn's revolution to the masses.

This attempt was not ordained to have its hoped for success, even though it did succeed in forming some of the insignificant views of some jurists and Sufis, fragments of which we find in some of their books, represented by unfriendly expressions towards the revolution of al-Husayn.

The Imams of the Holy Family and their followers among the scholars undertook to refute this falsification. Instead of the revolution of al-Husayn being made unlawful, the whole Umayyad regime was made unlawful. In the same way its extensions in time as represented by any regime, which bore the slogans of the Umayyads, were made unlawful. In a general way, the pilgrimage was one of the means of refuting and exposing this. This example of the prayer of the ziyara is more concerned with these points than other prayers of the ziyara.

In this example, the revolution of al-Husayn is closely connected to the movement of Islam which is deep-rooted in history of the life of humanity. It goes back in time to the first human existence which brought Islam in its first form on the earth as represented by Adam, the father of mankind. It goes on to Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad and then comes to 'Ali.

From this viewpoint, the revolution is not an event without any precedent. It is part of the movement of Islam in history. It is an extension of the movement of the prophets of God and their entrusted delegates in time, place and man.

Therefore, it enjoys legality and thus it is its right that it should receive the support of all the Muslims. Its legal and political opponent, i.e. the regime, is what does not enjoy legality. Therefore it is men's duty to destroy the latter in order to bring victory to the revolution.

This is one of the aims of this example of the prayers of the ziyara Perhaps it has the greatest importance in the view of the Imams of the Holy Family.

Another aim is that the Shi'ite Muslim should be aware that, through the revolution of al-Husayn, he is linked to Islam in its furthest extension. Since Islam has acted in steering time in this manner, it does not stop at the revolution of al-Husayn.

Rather, it takes a new impetus and a new strength from this revolution and continues to accumulate the power of an active transforming movement through the conscious act of heroism motivated by a faith, which believes in it and works for the good of mankind through it and by its guidance.

2. Peace be with you, O truthful witness.

Peace be with you, O pious reverend entrusted delegate (wasi).

Peace be with you, O proof of God and son of His proof.

Peace be with the souls who dismounted at your open field of battle and remained where you stopped.

Peace be with the angels of God, who surround you.

In the previous section the pilgrim declared his awareness of the position of the revolution of al-Husayn in the historical movement of Islam, and his awareness of its legality and the lack of legality of the regime which it rose against. After that, the pilgrim declares, in this section of the prayer of ziyara, his awareness of the qualities which gave al-Husayn and his revolution this position in the history of Islam and its historical movement.

First, he is truthful and a witness. A truthful person transforms his faith into a living actual application. He does not leave it confined to the realm of ideology, nor does he seek comfortable justifications for himself. This truthfulness leads him on to become a witness so that he seals his life with the most glorious act of truth. He seals it by witnessing with it through, and for the sake of, his faith.

This reality is the reality of truthfulness and witnessing. It is what makes it suitable that he and his revolution should be among the outstanding features of the movement of Islam in history.

Secondly, he is the entrusted delegate (wasi). He is the entrusted delegate of his brother, Imam al-Hasan, who was the entrusted delegate of his father, Imam 'Ali, who was the entrusted delegate of the Apostle of God.

He is a pious reverend entrusted delegate. Through the reality of his being an entrusted delegate, he works for the religion of God and for the umma. Thus he bears a heavy responsibility and sacrifices his life to carry it out.

Thirdly, he is the proof of God and the son of His proof. This quality comes from his being a pious reverend entrusted delegate (wasi) of God. Through this quality, he was the heir of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.

After Muhammad, he was the heir of ‘Ali and al-Hasan. They are proofs of God to His creatures. He is like them in being a proof of God to His creatures. He is a continuation of them, and his revolution is an extension of their revolutions and calls.

He explained to men and summoned them to God so that the authorities of his time no longer had any argument or excuse for shunning the guidance of God and the faithful application of the Islamic way of life demanded by God.

Finally the pilgrim takes note of the fact that al-Husayn was not alone in his truthfulness and his witness. His supporters participated with him in a degree of truthfulness and witness. They, then, are also a model which should be imitated, beacons through which one will receive light on the long journey to truth and justice. The pilgrim calls for peace to be with them to show his awareness of their rank and their great role.

The pilgrim brings this section to a close by calling for peace to be with the blessed angels who surround the grave of al-Husayn and the grave of the martyrs.

3. I testify that you have performed the salat and you have paid the alms-tax (zakat), you have enjoined the good and forbidden evil; you have worshipped God sincerely so that certainty came to you. Peace be with you and the mercy and blessings of God.40

At the end, the pilgrim declares his awareness of the essence and core of al-Husayn's life. It is living Islam. The relationship with God is represented by salat, a real relationship which always exists in daily activity. The salat is not merely the formal prayer which ends at the call for peace in it. The salat with the believer is something which encompasses within its nature the life and actions of the person praying.

The relationship with men is represented by the alms-tax (zakat) a form of giving. Thus his position with regard to men is the position of the giver, someone who sacrifices and pays no attention to himself and his own interests for the sake of others.

Movement in society is represented by enjoining good and forbidding evil. It is the movement of building society, building righteous man and a clean life.

The first feature of all these manifestations of the life of al-Husayn -in relation to God, in relation to men and as a movement in society- is absolute sincerity towards God, total absorption in God and shunning everything else except God.
* * *

These are two examples of the dozens of texts which deal with the visitation to al-Husayn and his fellow martyrs at Karbala' at all times and at specific times previously indicated.

The scope of the ritual of visitation has been broadened to include all the Imams of the Holy Family and the supporters who were martyred alongside them, or who accomplished an important area of work for Islam during the time of the Imams and at their direction.

The overwhelming majority of the texts concerned with the pilgrimages to the other Imams and their followers repeat the honour given to al-Husayn and his followers, the horror at what befell them and the renunciation of their enemies.

The pilgrimage fulfils the role which it is intended to fulfil in the formation and historical existence of the Shi'ite Muslim. It keeps him in living vibrant contact with the Imams of the Holy Family, with their vision and with their movement which provides opposition and yet is constructive.

It keeps him in contact with the Islam which confronts in order to remove injustice and establish justice among all the people -not with Islam through its official governing institutions. In the eras of the rule of Islam, neither the Holy Family nor their Shi'a have had any share worth mentioning in the official institutions of the government of Islam.

Notes:

36. Originally al-Ha'ir meant 'flat ground in which water flowed around', in the sense that there was no way for it to flow out. In the Traditions of the Holy Family, it is a name for the area surrounding the tomb of al-Husayn. It is a subject of dispute with regard to the definition among the Jurists because of it being a place for the application of the religious law which give a traveller the choice of shortening the salat and completing it in the Ha'ir. Ibn Idris al-Hilli holds the view that it is the area which runs around the wall of the shrine and the mosque there. According to some, it is the whole of the courtyard surrounding the shrine and the mosque. Others maintain that it is the area which the dome erected over the grave shelters. Yet others state that it is the enclosure of the sacred garden and the sacred building which surround it including the portico, site of the martyrdom, the enclosure and other buildings. According to al-Majlisi, the author of Bihar al-Anwar, the obvious definition is the whole of the ancient courtyard, not the area defined in the Safavid dynasty. Al-Sayyid al-Hakim regards that the restriction to the most certain extent of the meaning of Ha'ir and sacred enclave (haram) is the area which is close to the sacred mausoleum. (Cf. Mustamsak, VIII, 718.) It appears that naming the tomb together with the area around it as al-Ha'ir developed after al-Mutawakkil's destruction of the tomb.

37. Qur'an LVII, 61; Ibn Qawlawayh, op. cit., 75.

38. Ibid

39. Ibid., 194-7.

40. Ibid., 206-7.

Adapted from: "The Revolution of Imam al-Husayn (a)" by: "Shaykh Muhammad Mahdi Shams ad-Din Al-Amili"