Who is Imam Hussain? Why did he launch an uprising?

Who is Imam Hussain? Why did he launch an uprising?
(Thursday, September 20, 2018) 13:44

Why did Imam Hussain (a.s.) rise up? Did Imam Hussain (a.s.) rise up only for opposing a corrupt ruler like Yazid? Which were the true dimensions of Imam Hussain's movement?

The Center of Mosque Studies- The full text of Ayatollah khamenei's speech in occasion of Imam hussein's mourning ceremony during past years is given below:

1. Why did Imam Hussain (a.s.) rise up? Did Imam Hussain (a.s.) rise up only for opposing a corrupt ruler like Yazid? Which were the true dimensions of Imam Hussain's movement?


Imam Hussain's (a.s.) movement is, indeed, perceivable via two perspectives—both of which are acceptable. Nonetheless, when put together, the two views show the extensive dimensions of this movement. One perspective involves the appearance of Imam Hussain’s action, which is a movement against a corrupt, deviated, suppressive and oppressive regime: Yazid’s Regime. But, at the heart of his action, there is a more important movement that the second perspective will lead to: the move against ignorance and humiliation of the mankind. In fact, even though Imam Hussain (a.s.) fights against Yazid, his extensive historical fight is not against the short-living and insignificant Yazid. Rather, his main fight is against mankind’s ignorance, abasement, deviation and humiliation. Indeed, Imam Hussain (a.s.) fights against such vices.
An ideal government was formed by Islam. If we want to summarize the story of Imam Hussain (a.s.) in a few lines, we can say: humanity suffers from ignorance, oppression and discrimination. The big rulings of the world, the empires of the Caesars and Kisras of the time—either in ancient Persia or the Roman Empire—were regimes of extravagance, non-democratic establishments, ruling through illogical coercion, ignorance and corruption. Smaller establishments--like those in the Arabian Peninsula-- were even worse than them; overall, ignorance reigned over the world. Meanwhile, the light of Islam managed to enlighten, first, the Arabian Peninsula, and then gradually grow to encompass all the world, by the Messenger of God, via Divine assistance, as well as massive and strenuous popular resistance. At the time the Prophet dies, this government was a stable establishment that could be a model for all humans throughout history. Had that establishment continued in the same direction, the history would undoubtedly change. That is, what is supposed to happen centuries later-- at the time of Imam Mahdi’s (a.s.) reappearance in the current situation—would have happened at that time. A world replete with justice, purity, truthfulness, and kindness is the world of the era of Imam Mahdi (a.s.); it is the time when the authentic life of humanity begins. The Authentic life of mankind in this world begins after the reappearance of Imam of the Time (may God hasten his return), and humanity will achieve great development then. Thus, had the persistence of Prophet Muhammad’s establishment been made possible, and had it been formed during the early years, the history of mankind would have changed, the final destiny of human life would have unfolded much earlier. However, this was not realized for various reasons.

The main feature of Prophet Muhammad’s establishment was that instead of relying on oppression, it relied on justice. Instead of relying on paganism and division of human thought, it relied on monotheism and focused on worshipping God. Instead of ignorance, it relied on knowledge and wisdom. Instead of promoting revengeful behavior among the people, it relied on kindness, compassion, the establishment of friendly relations, and tolerance: a neat government both in apparent aspects and innermost aspects. One who grows under such a government becomes pious, chaste, knowledgeable, insightful, active, enthusiastic, dynamic, and moves in the path toward perfection. Fifty years after [the passing away of the prophet], everything changed. The name of Islam remained; the word ‘Islam’ persisted; however, in reality, true Islam was no longer practised. Instead of the government of justice, a government of oppression was established again. Instead of fraternity and equality, discrimination, division and separation reigned. Instead of wisdom, ignorance ruled. During this period of fifty years, as we move on, we can find hundreds of examples of such cases; researchers are recommended to elaborate on them for the young and investigative minds.
Imamate was transformed into the kingdom! The essence of Imamate is contradictory to the essence of the kingdom. These two are contradictory. Imamate is moral and spiritual leadership and compassionate and belief-related bonds with the people. Whereas, a kingdom is ruling via coercion, power and deluding, without any spiritual, compassion and belief-related bonds. The two are binary opposites. Imamate is a movement among the ummah, for the ummah and in favor of rightfulness. A kingdom is an authoritarian dominance against the interests of the people, only serving particular classes of society, to fulfil the ruling group’s hoarding wealth and pleasing lust. What we see at the time of Imam Hussain’s uprising is the second case, not the first one. That is, Yazid who was in power then, had no relations with the people; he had no knowledge, no piety, no chastity, no experience of jihad for the cause of God, no belief in Islamic spirituality; his behavior was not a behavior of a believer in Islam, his words were not the words of a wise man. He was in no ways similar to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). In this situation, an opportunity rose for a person like Imam Hussain (a.s.) -- the Imam who was apt for succeeding the Prophet (PBUH)--and he rose up.

Looking at the surface of the events, this uprising was against the corrupt and unpopular regime of Yazid. However, beneath the surface, it is an uprising for the sake of Islamic values, understanding, faith, and dignity. It is for the people to be set free from corruption, subordination, lowliness, and ignorance. It was for this reason that when Imam Hussain (a.s.) left Medina, in a message to his brother Muhammad Ibn Hanafiah, and in reality a message to the history, he wrote: I am not rising out of selfishness, or lust for power, nor to cause mayhem or pain. I rise looking for the correction in my grandfather's ummah. I see that things have changed in the society that the prophet left. It is going towards the wrong direction, towards corruption. It is against the direction coveted by Islam and the prophet had preached. I rise to fight against these [vices].
Imam Hussain’s fight had two dimensions and can have two different fallouts. Nonetheless, both outcomes are good. One result was that Imam Hussain (a.s.) could defeat Yazid’s government and take power away from those who oppressed the people, and devastated the fate of the people, so he could arrange things in an appropriate way. If this had happened, the route of history would have revolved. Another dimension was that, if Imam Hussain (a.s.) could not, for whatever reason, achieve political and military victory, then he would—not by words, rather by blood, by resisting oppression, by a language that history will never forget—make his narrative flow like a perpetual and non-interruptible stream in history; this is what Imam Hussain (a.s.) did.

Of course, those who claimed to be believers, if they had acted differently than what they did to Imam Hussain (a.s.), the first case would have happened and Imam Hussain (a.s.) could have reformed the world and the hereafter at that time! But the people did not cooperate. The discussion about why and how the people did not act appropriately, is a very long and exhausting discussion, which I elaborated to some extent some years ago under the title “the common people and the elite”-- it included who failed to act properly, who was responsible for this behavior, how they behaved, and in which areas-- I am not going to mention this discussion now.
So, as a result of some people’s carelessness, the first goal was not achieved; but the second goal was accomplished. This is something that no power can take away from Imam Hussain (a.s.). The power of going to the battlefield of martyrdom; sacrificing oneself and loved ones, the grand sacrifice that is so great that no matter how big the enemy is, it will appear small and unimportant before it. This bright sun will continue to emanate more light in the Muslim world day after day till his light encompasses the whole humanity.
Today, Imam Hussain (a.s.) is known to the world more than he was 5 centuries, 10 centuries ago. Today the situation is as such that when impartial intellectuals learn about the history of Islam, and the story of Imam Hussain (a.s.), they feel humble. Even for those who do not know anything about Islam, yet they recognize the notions of freedom, justice, dignity, elevation, and lofty human values, Imam Hussain (a.s.) is an invaluable role model in seeking liberty and justice, in rising up against vices and evils as well as in fighting ignorance and humiliation of mankind.

Today, wherever humanity has undergone some defeat, either political, military or economic, the roots of it can be traced to ignorance or abasement. That is, either they do not have the knowledge and necessary understanding, or they understand but have sold themselves cheap. They have bought into abasement and have submitted to viciousness. Imam Sajjad (a.s.) and Imam Ali (a.s.) have been narrated to have said: “Oh! Man, if your essence and existence is to be sold, it has only one price, which is the divine heaven. If you sell it to anything cheaper than heaven, you are at loss.” Even if you are offered the whole world in exchange for accepting abasement and viciousness, it is not fitting. All those who in different places around the world have surrendered to coercion and money of the wealthy and powerful, and have accepted this abasement, --whatever position they are in: scholar, politician, political or social activist or intellectual-- they have failed to know their value and have sold themselves cheap. Many politicians of the world have sold themselves.

Dignity is not simply represented by holding high positions like a king or a boss. Sometimes a person is sitting on a throne, bullying a thousand people boastfully. Meanwhile, he is under the coercion of another power or center. He might be a captive of his own desires and lust; but today's political captives will not reach the latter, because they are captives of major powers.

April 14, 2000


The prophets save humans; so, in the Quran, one important purpose of prophethood is said to be establishing justice. “We sent Our Messengers with clear evidence (to support their truthfulness), and sent with them the Book and the Balance so that people would maintain justice {Quran; 57:25}.” In fact, the divine books and the prophets were sent in order for justice to be established in societies; that is, to remove the symbols of oppression, coercion and corruption. The movement of Imam Hussain (a.s.) was a movement of such nature. He said: “I rose up to reform the Muslim community of my grandfather [Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)].” (Bihar Al-Anvar: V.44, P. 329) He also said: “Whoever observes a ruler legalize what God has made unlawful, violating the covenant of God, opposing the Sunnah of the Messenger of God, and treating the creatures of God sinfully and oppressively; he who does not oppose him with his speech and action, God has a right to bring him to the same fate as that of the tyrant.” (Bihar al-Anwar, v. 44, p. 381) That is if a person sees where corruption and oppression emerge from, yet they do not do anything to oppose the source of corruption and oppression, for God the Exalted, they have the same fate as the corrupt oppressor. He said that he did not rise up for the cause of wickedness, amusement, corruption or oppression. The people of Iraq invited Imam Hussain (a.s.) to rule over them, and Imam Hussain (a.s.) answered their request. So, it is not that Imam Hussain (a.s.) did not think of creating a government; he was indeed thinking of overturning tyrannical powers; either by taking the government away from them or by martyrdom.

Imam Hussain (a.s.) knew what would his silence, his endorsement and his indifference would do to Islam if he did not take any action. When a power takes all the capacities of a community or some communities under control, and acts tyrannically, if the men of truth do not oppose him, refuting his actions, they have actually endorsed his actions. That is, oppression is endorsed by the men of truth, without them really wanting it. This was a sin committed by the elites from among the Bani-Hashem, and the children of the prominent figures of the early years of Islam. Imam Hussain, however, would not tolerate it, and hence he rose up. It is narrated that after Imam Sajjad (a.s.) returned to Medina from Karbala-- maybe ten or eleven months passed between the time this caravan left Medina and returned-- a person visited him and said: "Oh! Son of the Messenger of Allah, you see, you went and what happened?” He was right; the caravan had left while Imam Hussain (a.s.), the bright sun of Ahlulbait, so much loved by the Messenger of Allah, was among them, leading them. The daughter of Imam Ali (a.s.) had left while she was dignified and honored. The children of Imam Ali (a.s.) --Abbas and others-- the children of Imam Hassan (a.s.), prominent and talented youth of Bani Hashem had all left with this caravan. But the caravan returned with only one man -- Imam Sajjad (a.s.), with the women gone through sufferings of captivity and loss of their loved ones. Imam Hussain (a.s.), Ali Akbar (a.s.), even the baby were now gone. Imam Sajjad (a.s.) answered that man, stating: "Imagine what would have happened if we had not gone."
Yes! If they had not gone, their bodies might have survived, but the truth would have died. The soul would have died out. Consciences would have been shattered. Logic and reason would have been condemned throughout history, and even the name of Islam would not have remained.
March 18, 2002


2. Why did Imam Hussain (a.s.) take his family to Karbala? Why didn't he refuse to fight with several thousand-fighter army of Yazid, in spite of having only 72 people in his army? Why didn't he try other methods?


Imam Hussein (a.s.) brought his dear ones to the desert of Karbala in order to clarify the truth. He knew what was going to happen, yet he brought Zeinab, his wives, his children, and his brothers with him. Like the day of Mubahila, it was again a matter of clarifying the truth and promoting Islam in the real sense of the word. That shows the importance of promoting Islam. "If someone comes across a ruthless sultan who mixes up halal with haraam and breaks his promise to God, they deserve living with the sultan in the hereafter." That is to say, when someone sees such a person, they should clarify the truth through their words and actions just as Imam Hussein (a.s.) did - and he paid the price for it. Imam Hussein brought his dear ones and his wives and children to Karbala in order to clarify the truth.

Dec 13, 2009

One can clearly notice in his lifestyle all the methods that could have been used by a descendant of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) to preserve the great legacy of Islam which has been passed down by the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) and his father as well as their genuine followers. We can clearly see everything in the lifestyle of the Lord of the Martyrs (a.s.) - everything ranging from clarification, to forewarning, to promotion of Islam, to provoking the conscience of prominent figures of his time during a sermon in Mina. All these things are tangible in the lifestyle of the Lord of the Martyrs (a.s.). Later on he stood up against a great deviation and laid down his life. Imam Hussein (a.s.) was aware of the consequences of his movement. He was an infallible Imam. Infallible Imams' extensive knowledge and insight are beyond our heads. Imam Hussein (a.s.) revolted to set a role model and he refused to surrender. He asked people to help him and when a group of people from Kufa expressed their willingness to accompany him on this path, Imam Hussein (a.s.) accepted their offer and moved towards Kufa and he did not give up in the middle of the way. Imam Hussein (a.s.) stood up against the deviated current of his time, which was extremely dangerous. And this became a lesson and Imam Hussein (a.s.) himself makes the same point. That is to say, he backed up his action with the order of Islam. He said that his duty was what he was doing. He said that he had to express his opposition, no matter what the consequences were. He said, "It is good if my destiny is a victory and if my destiny is martyrdom, so much the better." This was how Imam Hussein (a.s.) acted.

This was a perfect instance of self-sacrifice and it safeguarded Islam. This move preserved Islam. This move institutionalized values in society. If Imam Hussein (a.s.) had not accepted this danger, if he had not made a move, if he had not taken action, if his blood had not been shed, if those great tragedies had not happened to the shrine of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.), to Imam Ali's (a.s.) daughter and to the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) descendents, this event would not have gone down in history. The event that could have prevented that great deviation had to shock people and history as much as the deviation did. This shows Imam Hussein's (a.s.) self-sacrifice.

Of course this is easier said than done. What Imam Hussein (a.s.) did was an extraordinary feat. That is to say, the dimensions of his action are far more than what we estimate. We usually ignore aspects and details. Once I spoke about Imam Hussein's (a.s.) patience. His patience was not limited to enduring thirst or seeing his companions being killed. These things are relatively easy to tolerate. The kind of patience that is difficult to practice is to listen to influential, aware and respectable people who keep creating doubts and telling you that what you are doing is dangerous and wrong. Who did those things? People like Abdullah Ja'far, Abdullah Zubair and Abdullah Abbas. These prominent figures of that time were constantly telling Imam Hussein (a.s.) not to do what he was doing. If it were somebody else, somebody who did not have that determination and stable character, he would have thought, "Well, I did my duty. These people are talking like this and the world is acting like that, so I should just say what I am supposed to say and do nothing else." A person who decides to stand up against such statements, such temptations, such doubts and such efforts to bend sharia and is not dissuaded from continuing his path - such a person is the one who can give rise to such a great transformation. In this regard our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) was similar to the Lord of the Martyrs. I explained this in another meeting and I do not want to go into the details now. This was how Imam Hussein (a.s.) acted as a guardian.

Jul 4, 2011


3. Did women also play a role in the event of Ashura?


 Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) is a prominent role model in history and shows the significance of a woman's presence in one of the most important events in human history. Blood gained a victory over the sword on the day of Ashura, and Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) was the cause of that victory. This was because the forces of righteousness were apparently defeated in a military fight in Karbala, but Zeinab al-Kubra's (s.a.) behavior was the factor that turned this apparent defeat into a permanent and decisive victory. That victory was due to the role she played after the day of Ashura. That is a very important point. The event proved that women are not on the periphery of history. It proved that women can have a central role in important historical events. This has been pointed out in several places in the Holy Quran as well. But Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) is a recent example and does not belong to ancient times. The story of her life is a tangible event. She played a brilliant role, making the enemies - who had apparently won the battle and slain all their opponents - feel humiliated in their own base. She branded them with permanent disgrace and turned their victory into a defeat. That was what Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) did. She proved that it is possible to turn feminine morality and modesty into glory and a great jihad.

The greatness of Zeinab al-Kubra's (s.a.) movement is reflected in what is left of her sermons. Her unforgettable sermon in Kufa's marketplace was not just an ordinary speech. It was not just the personal opinion of an important figure. Her sermon was a great and beautifully-worded analysis of the Islamic community's situation at that time. The sermon included the most profound Islamic concepts. See how strong her character was. Her brother - her Imam and leader - had been martyred in a desert just two days before. Her dear ones, her children, and many other people had been martyred. She and tens of other women and children were taken captive on the same day. They were paraded in different places. Some of the people who were watching them were cheerful and some were shedding tears. Zeinab (s.a.) suddenly started her great mission in that critical situation. She spoke like her father did when he was delivering a sermon to his people during his rule. She spoke with the same tone. She spoke using the same kind of words Imam Ali (a.s.) would use. She was equally eloquent and precise, and her words were equally profound. "O plotters and pretenders, maybe you yourselves were starting to believe that you were following Islam and the Holy Prophet's household, but you failed miserably in the test. You proved to be blind in the fitna. Do you pledge allegiance while you are planning a conspiracy? You can do nothing but engage in shifting allegiance, hypocrisy, flattery, self-humiliation, and empty talk. Your actions were different from your words. You became arrogant and wrongly thought that you were pious. You thought you were still revolutionary. You thought you were still the followers of the Commander of the Faithful. But the truth was something else. You were not able to deal with the fitna. You were not able to save yourselves. You ruined everything you had done before. Because of your lack of insight, your lack of knowledge of the situation, and your inability to distinguish right from wrong, you ruined everything you had built. You look faithful and you keep making revolutionary claims, but deep down you are empty and weak." Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) presented a deep analysis of her society's pathologies.

She spoke firmly and eloquently in that difficult situation. It was not the case that she had an audience sitting in front of her and listening in silence. She was not speaking the way an orator would speak to his audience. She was surrounded by the enemies, holding spears in their hands. There were also some ordinary people there - the same people who gave up Moslem to Ibn Ziad, the same people who wrote letters to Imam Hussein and then broke their allegiance to him, the same people who hid in their homes exactly when they were supposed to stand up to Ibn Ziad. Among the people there were also some individuals who were not courageous enough to do what they should have done, and they were watching Imam Ali's daughter in tears on that day. Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) was faced with this motley and unreliable crowd, yet she spoke in a firm manner. She was an exemplary woman in history. Such women cannot be considered weak. This faithful feminine nature may reveal itself in difficult conditions. She is a role model for all great men and women in the world. She presented a deep analysis of the problems facing the revolution started by the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) and Imam Ali (a.s.). She said, "You could not distinguish between right and wrong in the fitna. You were unable to fulfil your duty. As a result, they severed the head of the Holy Prophet's (s.w.a.) grandson and put it on a spear." We can understand the greatness of her character when we consider such things.

Apr 21, 2010

Zeinab (s.a.) played an unparalleled role on the way to Karbala with Imam Hussein (a.s.), on the day of Ashura with all those hardships, and after Imam Hussein (a.s.) had been martyred. It is impossible to find a similar figure in history. Later on, numerous events took place - during her captivity, in Kufa, and in Sham. Because of these great selfless efforts, Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) gained a prominent position before Allah the Exalted, and this is something that we cannot describe.

In the Holy Quran Allah, the Exalted mentions the names of two women as perfect examples of faith. God also mentions the names of two women as examples of infidelity. "Allah sets forth, for an example to the unbelievers, the wife of Noah and the wife of Lut: They were (respectively) under two of our righteous servants" [The Holy Quran, 66: 10]. These two women exemplify infidelity. That is to say, Allah the Exalted mentions women, not men, as examples of both infidelity and faith. "And Allah sets forth, as an example to those who believe the wife of Pharaoh" [The Holy Quran, 66: 11]. He mentions the wife of Pharaoh and Mary as two perfect examples of faith. "And Mary the daughter of Imran" [The Holy Quran, 66: 12].

A brief comparison between Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) and the wife of Pharaoh would show the greatness of Zeinab al-Kubra's (s.a.) position. In the Holy Quran, the wife of Pharaoh has been recognized as the example of faith for both men and women until the end of time. But just compare the wife of Pharaoh - who had faith in Moses' prophethood and had been enchanted by his guidance - with Zeinab al-Kubra. When she was tortured by Pharaoh - according to narrations and historical texts, she passed away due to the torture she suffered - she was frustrated by the physical pain. She said, "O my Lord, build for me, in nearness to You, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings." [The Holy Quran, 66: 11] In fact, she was praying for her death: "And save me from Pharaoh and his doings." This was while her problem was only the physical torture. Unlike Zeinab al-Kubra, she had not suffered the loss of several brothers, two children, and many of her relatives and nephews. She had not watched her dear ones go to the battlefield where they were supposed to be killed. Asiah - the wife of Pharaoh - did not have to endure the psychological pains that Zeinab al-Kubra went through.

On the day of Ashura, Zeinab al-Kubra watched many of her dear ones go to the battlefield to get martyred. She watched Hussein ibn Ali (a.s.), Abbas, Ali Akbar, Qasem, her children, and other dear ones go to the battlefield. After they were martyred, she went through all those pains: The invasion of the enemy, disrespect, and the responsibility to take care of the surviving children and women. Is it possible to compare the enormity of this tragedy with physical pain? But when she was faced with these difficulties, Zeinab al-Kubra did not tell God to save her. She did not say, "O my Lord, save me." On the day of Ashura, she said, "O God, accept this from us." While the shredded body of her brother lay in front of her eyes, tells God, "O God, accept this sacrifice from us." When she was asked to describe what she had seen, she replied, "I did not see anything but beauty." All those tragedies were beautiful to Zeinab al-Kubra because they were from and for God - because they were supposed to promote the word of God. See how different this position, this patience, and this love of justice and truth are compared to Asiah's position described in the Holy Quran. This shows the greatness of Zeinab's position.

This is the nature of actions that are carried out for the sake of God. Therefore, Zeinab's actions are currently a model, and her name and achievements will remain until the end of time. The permanence of Islam and the divine path and continuation of this path by God's servants are based on what Hussein ibn Ali (a.s.) and Zeinab al-Kubra (s.a.) did. That is to say, as a result of the great patience, resistance, and endurance of hardships, you see that religious values have gained a lot of ground in the modern world. All these human values, which are consistent with human nature in different schools of thought, are rooted in religious values. These values have been promoted by religion. That is the nature of efforts for a divine cause.

Feb 8, 2010


4. What is the use of crying and mourning the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (a.s.) after 1400 years?


"Why are you disseminating sadness, crying and tears among people?" They complain. This is not sadness and tears for the sake of sadness and tears. This is for the sake of the values. The things that lie behind the lamentation, beating the chest and the head, and shedding tears are the dearest things that one might find in the treasure trove of humanity, and they are the divine spiritual values. The Shia are trying to uphold the fact that Hussein ibn Ali (AS) is the epitome of all these values. The Shia are trying to keep their memories alive.

And if the Muslim Ummah keeps Imam Hussein's (AS) name and memory alive and follows him, it will overcome all the obstacles and the hardships. And that is why all of us in the Islamic Revolution, in the Islamic Republic, from the highest to the lowest echelons including the people, the authorities, the senior officials and our honorable Imam have relied on the issue of Imam Hussein and the issue of Ashura and people's mourning. The morning has a symbolic as well as a realistic aspect. It binds hearts together and it broadens knowledge.

Jan 9, 2008

I would like to discuss a point regarding the efforts to promote Islam in the month of Muharram. Some people may question the value of the ceremonies for mourning Imam Hussein's (a.s.) martyrdom. They may say, "If you want to speak about Imam Hussein's (a.s.) movement, just go ahead and speak about his movement. Why all the crying?" This is a wrong assumption. It will be extremely hard to move ahead on this path in the absence of this emotional connection to the infallible Imams. This is why Imam Khomeini (r.a.) recommended the traditional forms of mourning.

The Quranic verses about the role of the infallible Imams are interpreted in three different ways. Wilayat is one of these interpretations. "Your guardian can only be Allah - and His messenger and those who believe, who establish worship and pay charity, and bow down (in prayer)." [The Holy Quran, 5: 55] Another interpretation is submission and obedience. "Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you." [The Holy Quran, 4: 59]

Friendship is the third interpretation. "Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives." [The Holy Quran, 42: 23] What is this friendship? People are advised to accept their Wilayat and obey them, but what is friendship for? This friendship is a kind of assurance. After the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) passed away, those who ended this friendship gradually brushed aside the leadership of the infallible Imams (a.s.). In the absence of this sense of friendship, the Islamic Ummah will face the same disasters. Therefore, this sense of friendship is of paramount importance, and it can be achieved through this emotional connection to the infallible Imams (a.s.). Narrating the tragedies that happened to them is an attempt to establish this emotional connection. Similarly, praising their virtues [through the mourning ceremonies] is another way to form this emotional bond.

Therefore, it is necessary to hold the mourning ceremonies and narrate the events of Ashura. Some people should not adopt a so-called intellectual position and reject the necessity of these mourning ceremonies. These ceremonies are necessary, and they will always be necessary. Of course, some forms of mourning are unacceptable. For instance, tatbir [a religiously prohibited ritual in which people cut their foreheads] has been declared haraam, and it must not be practised. That is because tatbir will make the enemies more insolent and will give them an advantage over those who love the members of the Holy Prophet's household. But the common mourning rituals can increasingly strengthen one's emotional connection to the infallible Imams. These rituals are very good.

Dec 13, 2009


5. Why is the uprising of Ashura different from all the uprisings and movements of the world?


We need to read between the lines, and carefully ponder over the life story of Hussain ibn-Ali (a.s.). Many have risen up in the world; they have had a leader, and they were also killed. Among them, numerous were children of the prophets and Imams (a.s.). However, Imam Hussain (a.s.) was unique. The event of Karbala was extraordinary. The martyrs of Karbala have a special position. Why? The answer is to be searched in the nature of the event, which gives a lesson to us all, including and maybe, in particular, to you, dear [disabled] war veterans.
One characteristic of the event is that Imam Hussain's movement was solely and truly for the sake of God, the religion and rectifying the society of Muslims. This first feature is very important. Imam Hussain (a.s.) stated: "I did not rise up [leaving my homeland] out of self-interest, for the sake of seeking pleasure, corruption or oppression;”—that is, it was not for swaggering, selling himself, desiring something for himself, or a pretentious spectacle. There was not even a bit of oppression or corruption in this movement. “I rise up only for the sake of rectification of the nation of my grandfather, the Messenger of Allah."-This is an extremely important point. The Arabic word used which means 'only' indicates that there is no other intention that can contaminate the pure intention and the sun-like mind of Imam Hussain (a.s.). When addressing the first Muslims of the early years of Islam, the Holy Quran states: "Do not be like those who marched out boastfully to show off their strength to people and hinder people from the way of God {Quran; 8:47}.” Here, Imam Hussain (a.s.) says: “I did not rise up out of self-interest or for the sake of seeking pleasure.”
These are two different manners, two different behaviors. The Quran reads: "Do not be like those who marched out boastfully”, arrogantly, and selfishly. It means that this kind of behavior lacks the purity of intentions. That is, in the movement of the corrupt approach, it is only self-centeredness that matters. “To show off”: This kind of a person adorns himself, rides an expensive horse, wears pieces of jewellery, recites arrogant chants, and comes out. Toward where? Toward the battlefield. The battlefield is where this person and many like him will die. Such a person rises up in this manner. There is nothing but arrogance in him.
This is one way [of coming out]. On the other side, the best example is Hussain Ibn Ali (AS) who is pure from any form of selfishness and is not after self-interest or personal, familial, or communitarian gains. This is the first characteristic of the movement of Hussain Ibn Ali (AS). The more selfless one is, the more value does he gain in what he does. The more one moves away from the peak of selflessness, the closer they get to the peak of selfishness, egotism, self-interest, personal and seeking familial gain and such which is a whole other spectrum. Between that pure selflessness and pure selfishness, there is a vast field. Going from one side of it to the other decreases the value of our work. It becomes less fruitful, and also less durable. This is an outcome of the matter. The more defective the product, the sooner it decays. If it is pure, it will never go bad. Giving you a physical example, a piece of 100% pure gold never decays. Nor does it rust. But the more copper, iron, and other cheaper elements are added to the alloy, the more it becomes prone to decay and destruction. This is a general rule.
This applies to what is tangible. But when it comes to spirituality, these equations are far more discerning. We do not understand it because of our materialistic and ordinary vision. Nonetheless, men of vision and understanding perceive. The Critic in this matter, the Goldsmith and the Jeweler, is God the Almighty. And for sure, the Critic sees well. If there is an ounce of impurity in our work, its value would diminish accordingly, and God would reduce its lasting effect.

God, the Exalted, is an insightful critic. The work of Imam Hussain (a.s.) is a work in which there is not even a slight hint of impurity. Hence, you see this quality achievement has lasted to this day and will last forever. Who could believe that after these people were killed in that desert far from their homes, while their bodies were buried there; with so much propaganda spread against them; all killed in such a heartless manner; their hometown of Medina put on fire even after their martyrdom (the story of Harra, which happened the next year); -- this rose garden was devastated, and the petals of roses were all thrusted, yet, later anyone would feel the aroma of the rosewater from this garden? According to which rule of nature, a petal of that rose garden can last so long in the nature? However, you view, the more time passes by, the more the aroma of that rose garden spreads. There are some people who do not believe that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the grandfather of Imam Hussain (a.s.) and that he follows in his path; yet, they believe in Imam Hussain (a.s.)! Some do not believe in his father, Ali (a.s.), yet, they believe in Imam Hussain (a.s.)! They do not believe in God—the God Imam Hussain worshipped, yet, before Imam Hussain (a.s.), they are humble and respectful! This is the outgrowth of Imam Hussain’s purity.
January 16, 1994

Email is required
Characters left: 500
Comment is required