11 Muharram 1431 (28 Dec., 2009)
Courtesy: Dr. Syed M. Inayatullah Andrabi
In the Painful Remembrance of Hussain’s Martyrdom:
As more and more men and women with healthy minds start looking through the thick clouds of history to find out the pristine teachings of Islam as brought by the Noble Prophet, Mohammed Rasul-u-llah(SAAW), the blurred but a very real distinction, rather contradiction, between Arab imperialism inspired by Arab nationalism/tribalism and the political agenda of Islam also starts showing up. The purpose, great and lofty as it was, behind Imam Hussain’s expedition, becomes easier to grasp. What happened at Karbala is already universally mourned by Muslims, and the number of mourners will keep growing, but no amount of tears can wash off the bloodstained fields of Karbala.
However, the unique and historic moments of that Muharram have a lot to teach, but are we ready to learn? Let us briefly talk about one such great lesson:
Real Freedom: Only sincere and true faith can deliver it.
Two outstanding instances from human history:
One from the court of Firon (Pharaoh) when the expert sorcerers called by Firon to counter Prophet Musa(ASWS) turned against Firon declaring their total allegiance to Musa, and
The other from the battlefield of Karbala, when Hurr, the commander of Yazid’s army turned against him, and openly came out in support of Imam Hussain ibn Ali (AS.
First instance: When Firon called his expert magicians to counter what he thought were the magical tricks displayed by Prophet Musa (AS), the magicians first wanted to sort out what will be the returns in case they prevailed over Musa, to which Firon replied :
"You shall certainly be of those who are near (to me)." With this assurance of getting a higher place at the royal court, the magicians started displaying their skills, and created a huge impact on the audience by their mighty enchantment. Then came the turn of Prophet Musa (AS) to display the clear Divine signs he was sent with. As Musa threw his staff, it swallowed all the deceit and falsehood. The magicians upon seeing the Truth and its Bearer in the most pure form, fell down in prostration saying, "We believe in the Lord of the worlds, The Lord of Musa and Haroun".
Enraged and frustrated, Firon asked these new supporters of Musa, how come they dared to do that without seeking his permission first. He would cut off their hands and feet on opposite sides, and would then crucify them all together, the tyrant threatened. The one-time Firon loyalists and now active supporters of the Divine mission of Musa and Harun, replied calmly but firmly, "Surely to our Lord shall we go back."
Second instance: Hurr ibn Yazid Al-Riyahi was the commander of Yazid I’s regiment, who had obstructed Hussain ibn Ali’s way near Kufa. He was present in the enemy’s forces in Karbala. On the morning of 10th Muharram, Hurr with his son and a slave, dashed out of the enemy’s ranks and started to approach Hussain ibn Ali little by little. Al-Mouhajer ibn Awss asked him, "What do you want to do? Do you want to join Hussain?" Hurr began to tremble and Al-Mouhajer said, "You arise my doubt; I swear by God that I have never seen you like this in any situation and if someone asked me about the most courageous man in Kufa, I would have never chosen anyone else other than you. But what happened to you today?"
Hurr replied, "For God’s sake, I am choosing between heaven and hell and by God I’ll never choose but heaven even if I am to be cut into pieces and burnt." When the fight against Yazid's army began, Hurr was the first one who went into the field against the enemy and charged bravely and laid down his life, after killing more than forty of his enemies. Hussain rushed to him and found him with a large cut on his head. Hurr asked Hussain, “Did I do well, are you satisfied with me?” The last thing Hurr heard before he died was Hussain telling him your mother made the right choice by naming you Hurr (Free), you are free in this life and the beyond.
Common thread running through the two instances
The events mentioned above are separated by a vast stretch of time and space, the individuals involved in the events are also unrelated and different.
However, a common thread runs through both: a real event of complete and instant human transformation.
One would say it is a case of switching sides which is a common phenomenon, but that is not correct. Sides are switched for better worldly gains, not the other way round, as is obviously the case here. Well again, one may argue that what Firon’s magicians and/or Hurr did was an emotional outburst, a fanatic decision, as if they were overwhelmed and overtaken by ‘something’, and afterwards if they were asked to explain why they did what they did, they could not say anything, because there was no rational input in the decision. That too is incorrect, and we have enough evidence that these great believers knew absolutely well what they were doing, and why.
Consider what magicians-turned-believers said after being threatened by execution. They said: "Surely to our Lord shall we go back, and you do not take revenge on us except because we have believed in the communications of our Lord when they came to us! Our Lord: pour out upon us patience and cause us to die in submission". As one can see, these are the words coming out from a cool but firm mind with a clear sense of direction, and fully aware of why they are facing what they are facing now, and, accordingly, what they should worry about: steadfastness on the path they have chosen, and mercy from Allah (SWT).
Now see what Hurr says when fatally wounded and lying before Imam Hussain: “Did I do well, are you satisfied with me?” These are the words coming out from the mouth of a person who is just about to die, so there cannot be any duplicity or hypocrisy involved here. Hurr’s last words clearly demonstrate he was absolutely clear in his mind what he was doing, and knew that supporting and safeguarding the righteous Imam was the right thing to do at the right moment, and all he wanted to confirm was if he did that job successfully.
So, what both of these events illustrate is a point which is very important and basic to our understanding of Islam. The point is:
True and sincere faith has a tremendous power to liberate human beings from all the bonds, howsoever, strong and age-old they are, and set the human soul free for the worship of its Creator, or in other words, restore it to its original natural state in which it was created. Man is born free, free to worship Allah(SWT) alone, and it is only in this state that man’s humanity can develop, flourish and reach its perfection. Wedded to gods like wealth, power and prestige, ancestral pride, class/tribal/national status and loyalties, the human being will simply lose its humanity and degenerate into lowest of the low. That is why, when it comes to human rights, i.e. the rights of ‘Insan’, the freedom to worshipping Allah (SWT) is the foremost right, because on it depends the nourishment of one’s humanity.