One of the questions that arises about Imam Hussain’s (AS) movement, which is of great importance especially in the modern days, is whether he desired to form an Islamic community, and if so whether the people willingly wanted to accept his leadership or not. In other words, did Imam Hussain (AS) actually want to rule over the Islamic community? Did he seek power? Did people join Imam Hussain (AS) of their own free will or they were forced, enticed or threatened to do so? The answers will reveal the core message of Imam Hussain (AS)’s revolution for us today.
To answer these questions, we should first find out what the idea of the infallible Imams (AS) was about power. If we carefully look at their lives, we will come to know that they did not struggle for power nor did they have a craving to attain it. At the same time, though, whenever there was a public demand to govern over people, they did not refuse that request. Power or governing a community in the infallible Imams’ eye is nothing but a duty to serve people, protect their rights and bring justice among them.
They considered power as the means of reviving and expanding the divine goals and principles and preserving the moral values. So having political power was not of inherent value to them. You can see the proof in the following account:
“This world of yours is no better than the sneezing of a goat to me.”
After the death of the third caliph, Uthman, the crowd of people rushed to Imam Ali (AS) and asked him to take up the reins of government. But Imam Ali (AS) replied: “It is better for me to be your vizier and advisor rather than a ruler… leave me and go to others” . In fact, if it was not for the sake of justice and people’s frustration and call for help, Imam Ali (AS) would have never accepted to be the ruler, as he said: “In my view this world of yours is no better than the sneezing of a goat” .
Or in another occasion, he said to one of his companions that his worn-out patched shoes were dearer to him than ruling over people unless for the fact that he may establish right and ward off wrong .
Imam Hussain (AS) had the same attitude toward power as his father. He did not seek a leadership role unless for the sake of eliminating injustice and corruption from the community. And that’s why Imam Hussain did not take the oath of allegiance to Yazid, the ruthless caliph of that time.
Clearly, it is every individual’s duty to fight against oppression and injustice in society. In other words, standing against tyranny is a moral and virtuous act in itself that is not entirely dependent on the companionship of others. However, when it comes to the issue of gaining power or accepting people’s leadership to fight against tyranny, the morality and value of this uprising depend on whether the leader is merely seeking reformation, or he struggles to gain supremacy over people. Such arrogance in leadership, in the latter case, can be eliminated by the presence of people.
When people of Kufa heard Imam Hussain (AS) had not pledged allegiance to Yazid’s government, they got impressed and sent thousands of letters to Imam Hussain (AS) asking him to go there and serve as their leader to fight against the tyranny. He did not take their request for granted nor did he accept their invitation right away. Instead, he decided to send his representative, Muslim ibn Aqil, to them to confirm their loyalty. That’s because in Islam the relationship between people and the government is a two-way street. On one way is the voting public -those who decide who becomes their leader and have to be loyal to him- and on the other path is the government, who also needs to be loyal to people and care about their well-being. And this is one of the important aspects of democracy in its true sense of the word.
Here another aspect of Imam Hussain’s (AS) movement is revealed which is beyond the mere fight against oppression: the necessity which made Imam Hussain (AS) decide to take power, i.e., people’s will and invitation.
Imam Hussain (AS) thought it was necessary to accept the people’s leadership because they had asked him to do so.
If Imam Hussain (AS) had sought supremacy, he would have accepted people’s leadership at any cost. But he fulfilled what God told him in the Holy Quran:
“Do not be like those who left their homes vainly and to show off to the people, and to bar [other people] from the way of Allah” (8:47)
He also said: “Indeed, I have not risen to make mischief, neither as an adventurer nor to cause corruption and tyranny. I have risen solely to seek the reform of the Ummah of my grandfather (PBUH&HP)” .
He expressed it manifestly in his speeches that he would accept people’s leadership only if the elites of the community were all agreed on that invitation. He repeated it once again when he was faced with Hur’s army on his way to Kufa and emphasized that the people of Kufa had invited him by sending thousands of letters and requested him to take over the affairs. He explicitly stated that if the people of Kufa regretted their decision, he would return. He did not want to impose himself on people!
People of Kufa had invited Imam Hussain (AS), they had chosen him as their leader. But they were too weak to stand for what they had asked for. They were threatened and enticed by the tyrant governor of Kufa and could not keep their promise. Their hearts were with Imam Hussain (AS), but in practice, their swords were against him. They left Imam Hussain’s (AS) side and so the democracy they wished for was not materialized among them.
Finally, in the Islamic view of democracy, there has to be a balance between the rights and duties of both people and the rulers. Otherwise, there would be a disaster.
Many times in a democratic scene, there is a ruler who oppresses a lot of people. However, in the tragic story of Imam Hussain (AS), there is a group of people who choose and invite their leader, and promise to support him but go back on their pledge and fight against him, which ultimately resulted in the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS), one of the most righteous people on earth.
Ramadan is one of the most important months in the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims perform fasting (Sawm), one of the key practices in the religion of Islam. However, aside from being a month of fasting, Ramadan provides Muslims with the opportunity to engage more in their routine religious activities and have a fuller experience of an Ideal Islamic life. There is more to this month, then, that makes it a special time. Let’s see.
Ramadan is a door that has been opened to get Muslims nearer to Allah and to feel His presence more in their lives. This is the time when Allah forgives most and rains down His blessings more than any other time which can wipe away our sins and mistakes [i]. If we knew the real value of this month and were aware of all its rewards, we would wish every month to be Ramadan, as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) believed .
We are so close to Allah in this month and so occupied with his divine remembrance that no time will be left for us to think or do what is not good for us, or what is against Allah’s command. So the inward and outward evil stay far from us in this month of mercy, and it has been promised by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) that in Ramadan, “the gates of hell are sealed, and the gates of heaven are wide open, and the devils are chained” .
Ramadan begins with mercy, continues to bring forgiveness from Allah and ends in granting our wishes and salvation from what has contaminated our souls . It is a time to think about our past mistakes and to make up for them, to make them right.
One of the prominent attributes of Allah is His excessive forgiveness and mercy which reveals itself manifestly and in a fuller sense in the month of Ramadan. It is as if Allah has held us tightly in His embrace and washed away whatever has separated us from Him, and we would be like a child who has just been born, like a soul united with its source. So, when is a better time to be forgiven than this month? .
In this beautiful month, the whole content of the Quran was revealed to the heart of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in an immediate revelation [ii],  & . Therefore, this month can be considered as the birth of the holy Quran [iii], and Muslims celebrate this birth through dedicating more time and attention to this holy book.
Thus, reading the Quran with careful consideration and pondering on its deep meanings is highly recommended during the month of Ramadan and it is considered to be more rewarding, to the extent that reading one verse of the Quran is equaled to reading all of it [iv]& [v]. In the month when Allah is closer to us more than ever, He desires to speak to us through the Quranic words, just as we speak to Him, through our prayers.
There are three nights in this month [vi], called the nights of Qadr [vii], one of which is considered to be the night when Quran was revealed to the heart of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in an immediate revelation by the Archangel Gabriel. However, we are not sure which of these nights is exactly the night of Qadr. Therefore we commemorate all of these three nights.
According to the Quran: “The Night of Qadr is better than a thousand months”(97:3); in other words, the reward of any good deed in this night is a thousand times more than any other night or occasion . Muslims celebrate this night by staying awake throughout the night until the time of Dawn prayer (Salat al-Fajr), supplicating to Allah and asking for His forgiveness of their past deeds and guidance for their future actions.
The night of “Qadr is a celebration to commemorate the arrival of the final guidance for humans. It is a tribute to the commencement of the message revealed to mankind by their Creator, a message which shows them the way to achieve happiness in both worlds” .
Aside from being the night in which our sins are forgiven, according to some narrations (Hadith), the night of Qadr is also the night of our destiny; the night in which our fate in the next year is foreseen by Allah [viii], .
Finally, life is too short, and chances are slipping away from your hands like spring clouds . Ramadan is one of these chances, to look back and build a better future. It is a starting point, or shall we say a turning point! So embrace this holy month.
[i] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “The month of Ramadan is the month of Allah, and a month in which Allah highlights the virtues and wipes away the sins, this is the month of blessing” .
[ii] It is believed that there are two kinds of revelation for the Quran, the immediate revelation that occurred in one of the nights of Qadr and the gradual revelation which sent down to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in the span of twenty-three years of his prophethood .
[iii] Imam Baqer (AS) said: “There is a spring for everything, and the spring of Quran is the month of Ramadan”. 
[iv] Imam Reza (AS) said: “whoever read a verse of Allah’s book [Quran] in the month of Ramadan, it would be equal to his/her reading of the whole of Quran in other months” .
[v] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Read Quran abundantly during the month [of Ramadan]” .
[vi] 19th, 21st and 23rd of Ramadan.
[vii]. Qadr literally means measure.
[viii]. Note that the concept of destiny or Qadr is not in conflict with human beings freedom of choice in Islam. For more information see Men and Destiney by Murtada Mutahari.
- Bihar al-Anvar, vol.93, p.340, 346 & 348.
- Usul al-Kafi, vol.4, p.67.
- Sheikh al-Sadugh, Amali, p.53.
- (44: 3), (97:1), (2:185)
- For further information, see: Al-Mizan, vol. 8, pp. 130-134; vol. 2, pp. 14-23; vol. 13, pp. 220-221.
- Usul al-Kafi, vol.2, p.360, Hadith no. 10.
- Sheikh al-Sadugh, Fazail al-Ashhar al-Salasah (the benefits of three months), p. 95.
- Muhammad ibn Hassan Tussi, Tahdib al-Ahkam, vol.4, p.332.
- Imam Ali (AS), Nahj al-Balaghah, wisdom no. 21.
- Shaykh as-Saduq, A Shi'ite Creed, p. 60.
It might have happened to you that when there is a ladder leaned against a wall and as you want to pass under it, someone calls you and says: “Do not pass under a ladder!” You might think it's crazy, or you might find it acceptable and even follow it. Which one is true? If you decide to follow Islam as your faith, should you follow those superstitious beliefs or ignore them all at once?
Collins Concise English Dictionary defines superstition as an irrational belief usually founded upon ignorance or fear and characterized by obsessive reverence for omens, charms, etc. . Superstitious beliefs are not limited to a particular faith or region; all nations and clans have their own beliefs, followed by their fears and ignorance. They are mostly routed in the past of a nation, transferred from generation to generation.
Islam defines superstition as all the words, manners and beliefs without a religious or logical base and backbone .
The Quran defines superstition as a burden put upon the human mind and soul by his/her own hands. It introduces Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) to us as the last messenger of Allah, responsible to make things clear for his followers to see what to do and believe in, and what not to do and ignore .
"Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him - it is those who will be successful.” (7:157)
Shackles are those beliefs human beings had or might have, which made them do things and stop doing some others with no definite reason or scientific study and research. It is the duty of Islam to guide people to accept everything they believe in with their hearts and minds sure of it, which requires research and reasoning.
Well, there was a time when superstitions were limited to passing under a ladder or seeing a black cat. But now, superstitions are more woven in the lives of people. Reports have shown that a quarter of adults in the United States consider themselves to be so. American Youths are more superstitious than the elders, and 70 percent of them rely on luck charms for better academic results. According to some scientific research, this occurs because people think superstitions can relieve their anxieties, improve their performances and help them pay the extra costs of an adverse outcome, be it financial, mental, or whatsoever .
As you might also conclude, superstitions have not only been less common, but also they are becoming more frequent among young Americans. There are ways to overcome those beliefs which we are going to discuss in our next article. Still, aside from that, these words uncover one fact: when you follow superstitions and believe in them, they will take the lead in your life and the life of your children, family, friends, etc. One day you might come up with the fact that many of your friends' fears passing under a ladder, too.
The other outcome of following superstitious beliefs is a weaker mental belief in a superpower. Put simply, when you believe in superstitions, you see other powers, be it of Satan, natural elements, or any other thing, stronger and more effective than that of Allah. You might not mean or think that way, but being superstitious makes you so.
One last important aftermath of this system of thinking is a feeble religious mind, one which is easily broken, misled, and gone far away from the straightway of truth. Superstitions weaken your faith, and then they weaken you. A weak person goes forward with a slow speed.
These are the least consequences of superstitious beliefs. You might think about the ways of overcoming these thoughts and getting rid of them which we will discuss later.
So, Are you still afraid of passing under a ladder?
- Collins Concise English Dictionary at Word Reference Online Language dictionaries
- Mokhtaripour, Marziyeh Islam, Superstitions and their Prevention Pasdar Islam, Vol. 385
- Makarim Shirazi, Nemuneh Interpretation of Quran, Vol 1, P 184
- Sandoiu, Ana How do Superstitions affect our Psychology and Wellbeing September 2019