The Day of Ashura is the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar, which marks the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS), the holy Prophet’s (PBUH&HP) grandson, and his companions in the battle of Karbala. They were all slain in such a horrific way that it is difficult to find such cruelty alike in the history of humankind. They were violently martyred after they were besieged and prevented from obtaining water to drink, and so they departed this life thirsty- this was for no crime other than their refusal to swear allegiance to Yazid, the notorious tyrant of the time .
Imam Hussain (AS), along with his family members and companions, showed the highest degree of moral standards in dealing with calamities they went through. He made any effort to clarify the truth and goals for which they rose up and were ready to sacrifice their lives. This article focuses on some of the most prominent virtues Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions displayed on this day; the ones that –if practiced- will finally lead to the salvation of humankind:
Imam Hussain (AS) taught the faithful believers, in practice, that they should not hesitate to sacrifice everything for the religion of Allah to protect it when it is at risk. He rose up against Yazid when he noticed this dictator openly violated the commandments of Allah.
He announced: “Don't you see that truth has been replaced by falsehood? We must be prepared to sacrifice everything precious in support of Truth!”. Ali Akbar (AS), Imam’s eldest son, asked him in this regard if they were on the right path. Imam (AS) replied in the affirmative. Ali Akbar (AS) then said: “Then, it makes no difference if death comes to us or if we approach death.”
Imam Hussain (AS) believed that living under a tyranny was nothing but living in hell:
“To me, death is nothing but happiness and living under tyrants nothing but living in a hell” .
In Karbala, when Imam Hussain (AS) was placed in a dilemma by the oppressors to be humiliated by swearing allegiance to Yazid or to fight and die with glory, he said he would not accept humiliation and obedience to mean people .
In another famous narration, he said: “If you don't believe in any religion and don't fear the Resurrection Day, at least be free in this world” . In other words, if you do not follow a specific religion or believe in the Hereafter, at least be humane in your worldly affairs. This saying of Imam (AS) invites the whole world to reject submission to oppression; to practice freedom.
The most important social message of Imam Hussain (AS)’s revolution is fighting against people’s unawareness. The tyrants of that time had done everything to diminish the limits between right and wrong, and Imam Hussain (AS) intended to redefine that for the society:
“I never revolted in vain, as a rebel or as a tyrant, but I rose seeking reformation for the nation of my grandfather Muhammad (PBUH&HP). I intend to enjoin good and forbid evil, to act according to the traditions of my grandfather, and my father Ali ibn Abi-Talib (AS)” .
Imam Hussain (AS) and his loyal companions were all patient in the face of traumatic events, among which are: being surrounded in the hot desert and prevented from obtaining water for three consecutive days by the enemy, martyrdom of his six-month-old infant son, his young son, Ali Akbar (AS), his brother Abbas ibn Ali (AS), his relatives and companions before his eyes, etc.
Imam (AS) never complained about these and instead would say: “We, the household of the Prophet (PBUH&HP), are subservient to whatever Allah has destined us. We will be patient on this calamity, which has happened to us. Of course, Allah the Almighty will give us the reward of the patients. We will be surrounding the Prophet (PBUH&HP) in the Paradise” .
On the day of Ashura, when the battle was in full swing, he told his companions: “Be patient O ' the son of the nobles. Death is only a bridge that takes you from misery and loss to the vast Paradise and the eternal graces” .
Imam Hussain (AS) and his blessed companions were living examples of what the Quran taught: “So be patient, with a patience that is graceful” (70:5); patience which was not out of helplessness or weakness but was a demonstration of steadfastness and bravery.
Fidelity and promise-keeping was the other prominent feature of Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions. See how Imam (AS) described his companions on the night before Ashura: “I do not know companions more loyal and better than my companions” . That night when Imam (AS) told them they were free to leave and give up before the battle, his brother, Abal-Fazl al-Abbas (AS), said: “Why should we do such an act? To live after you, never! May Allah forbid such a day!” The others, too, unanimously said they would never betray their Imam.
Or, in another example we see, on the day of Ashura, after Abbas (AS)’s right hand was cut off by the army of Yazid –when he had gone to get some water for the children and women- he bravely recited these epic verses: “By Allah, if you cut my right hand, I will never stand back, and I will protect my religion, and I will support the Imam who stands firm in his belief and is the grandson of the pure and truthful Prophet ”.
These were only a few examples of what made Ashura and Imam Hussain (AS)’s uprising an epic that will never fade from the memory of humankind. Every year, millions of people around the world commemorate this tragedy, express their sorrow, and remind themselves to firmly stand against tyranny as Imam Hussain (AS) did. This has also affected the people of other faiths, as Mahatma Gandhi has said:
“I learned from Hussain (AS) how to be wronged and be a winner, I learned from Hussain (AS) how to attain victory while being oppressed ”.
Many of us experience situations in our daily life when we get oppressed by other people, or we witness an act of injustice. We might prefer to keep silent to prevent the probable consequences, not realizing that this may keep us away from immediate harm, but it will be followed by greater consequences and damages later on.
One may ask how keeping silent against oppression and injustice will harm us later on? And what would have happened if Imam Hussain (AS) paid allegiance to Yazid, instead of putting himself and his family in such a horrible situation?
This article tries to explain the importance of standing against oppression and injustice by learning lessons from Imam Hussain (AS)’s uprising.
As we know, Imam Hassan (AS) remained silent and signed a peace treaty with the ruler of his time, Muawiaya. The main reason was that although Muawiaya had started to bring some changes in some of the rules of Islam, he still preserved his Islamic attitudes in public. Therefore, being in peace with him did not lead to so much damage to religion. But his son Yazid had no intention even to present an Islamic behavior in the Islamic society. Yet, Muawiaya chose him as the ruler after himself.
If Imam Hussain (AS) kept silence and paid allegiance to Yazid, it would have meant that he approved of his behavior. As a result, all the rulings and laws of Islam that the Prophet (PBUH&HP) had suffered to teach people for a more prosperous life would gradually disappear over time.
As Yazid forced Imam Hussain (AS) to pay allegiance to him, he notified his reasons for which he could not accept Yazid’s ruling over the Islamic society. The most important reason was that he was not behaving as a Muslim and had stood up against Allah’s orders.
It is clearly mentioned in the Quran that it is prohibited for Muslims to accept the ruling of a non-Muslim or a non-believer:
“O! You who have faith! Do not take those who take your religion in derision and play, from among those who were given the Book before you, and the infidels, as friends, and be wary of Allah, should you be faithful.” (5: 57)
However, Imam Hussain (AS) did not mean to start a war, and therefore, he took his family and left Medina for Mecca. Yazid knew that Imam had a significant impact on Muslims’ decisions and was afraid that Imam’s decision would spread among the Muslims and lead to their uprising against him. Thus, he sent his people to bring the Imam (AS) and to take his allegiance.
Imam left Medina for Kufah and then to Karbala. He was surrounded by the massive army of Yazid and had to choose. Should he have paid allegiance by force and teach a lesson to people that all he did to stand against oppression and injustice was wrong? Or should he have done what he did?
Based on his ideology and belief, and the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) that he had grown up with, Imam Hussain (AS) chose never to surrender against the injustice acts of Yazid. He, therefore, did not give up his duty to stand against injustice and along with his companions and sons, defended his household until they were all martyred.
The beauty and magnificence of his free spirit and his uprising started to spread throughout the world after his martyrdom.
He reached his goal to conserve the true religion of Islam and the pathway to prosperity by unveiling the real character and aims of those who desired to rule over the nation.
After the event of Karbala, his message on ‘standing against injustice and being free-spirited’ spread all over the world. He became a symbol for all those who care about their spirit, don’t want to accept oppression, tyranny, and injustice for the sake of their benefits in the short life of this world; people like Gandhi, the great leader of India.
From Imam Hussain's (AS) lifestyle, we learn that neglecting some mistakes may bring significant harm to society and, consequently, to our lives. Therefore, we should be wise and realize in our daily life to speak justice where oppression is taking place. That might be in our relations with our family members, our colleagues, or on a larger scale with those in power.
“Prophets and Imams (PBUT) are vivid examples and leaders that true believers should practically follow and not just worship. The example of Imam Hussain (AS) teaches us the lesson of standing against tyranny and injustice, the movement of honorable believers who preferred martyrdom to humiliation, and who have shown us what it means not to surrender.” 
"Indeed Allah and His angels bless the Prophet; O you who have faith! Invoke blessings on him and invoke Peace upon him in a worthy manner." Quran (33:56)
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was the last messenger sent by Allah to guide human beings toward a more prosperous and meaningful life. His life was full of challenges and difficulties. However, he never gave up on his holy mission and strived to save as many souls as he could. His characteristics were unique and exemplary, which made him the best choice for prophethood, the beloved of Allah (Habibullah).
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was the son of Abdullah and Amina, the grandchild of Abd al-Muṭṭalib and from the Banu Hashim clan. He was born in Mecca about the year 570 A.C, in the month of Rabi’ al-awwal . Being taken care of by his paternal grandfather, Abd al-Muṭṭalib, and then by his uncle Abu-Talib, father of Ali (AS), who loved him a lot and regarded him dearer than his own children , he learned a little about the merchandise. He was well-known and called Al-Amin, meaning the trustee, due to his honesty and faithfulness . This reputation attracted Khadijah, and she proposed him for marriage. He married this 40-year-old woman at the age of 25 . This was a happy marriage, by all means. They lived a happy life, and they had many children, of which all the male ones passed away, and their most famous daughter is Fatimah (AS). Little is known about his youth before becoming a prophet. One fact is certain; he was absolutely against the discriminating behaviors and beliefs of the people of his era.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was a kind and generous man. He was known for his modesty, honesty, and trustworthiness. He never disrespected anyone and cared a lot about his appearance in society; although his clothes were mostly ragged, they were neat and clean. His hygiene was another important fact in his life. Family, as the smallest unit of society, was the most important thing for him. He had a deep respect for his wife and her daughters, especially Fatimah .
His political life started with inviting the members of his family and clan to Islam, and then, publically announcing Islam as the true faith sent by Allah for human beings. Soon after the public announcement, many of the heads of clans began to rise against him, and he migrated to Medina, and there, he formed the first Islamic government. His strategy was friendship and peace, and the Quba mosque was the center of his government . He never forced anyone to convert to Islam. Instead, he brought logical words and verses of the Quran and spoke gently with the people he wanted to invite. Even when he tried to ask people of the other religion to convert to Islam, he used their own words and verses from their holy books. All in all, he followed the steps Allah had taught him to guide human beings to the right path:
“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and proper instruction, and argue with them in the best way. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided." (16:125)
It was a tradition among some Hashemi Arabs, Called Hunafa, to go to the Harra cave during the month of Ramadan and then come back after the end of the month. Actually, it was Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH&HP) grandfather who made it up. Muhammad(PBUH&HP) was not an exception.
On the contrary, he was one of the fans of staying alone in that cave and worshiping Allah, his only God and the God of his fathers, up to prophet Abraham . On one of those nights of Ramadan, Gabriel descended to him and asked him to read. Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “I can’t.” Gabriel repeated, and he again denied. Then Gabriel recited the first verses of the Quran sent by Allah:
Recite in the name of your Lord who created -
Created man from a clinging substance.
Recite, and your Lord is the Most Generous –
Who taught by the pen -
Taught man that which he knew not. (96:1-5)
Muhammad’s (PBUH&HP) great mission had started. He found out that it was not a typical experience. He came back home and then returned to the cave. All of The Holy Quran descent to him in one of those holy nights:
"Indeed, We sent the Qur'an down during the Night of Decree." (97:1)
That Quran was descended to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in one night and that he became able to read in a few minutes is not the only miracle of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). He had other miracles like dividing the moon into two, reviving the dead, the testify of stones in the palm of his hand, etc. we are going to discuss these miracles in our next articles broadly .
The fact is that the events of that night of Ramadan made Muhammad (PBUH&HP) a prophet. Later on, people interacted with him, saw, felt, and understood his truthfulness, and stepped on the path of Islam. His lifestyle, social, political, and even family interactions carried badges of acceptance and appreciation that were imitated by the truth-seeking people. He was not the prophet belonging to centuries ago, but of all guided human beings.
- "Early Years". Al-Islam.org. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- Baqdadi, Ibn-Sad Tabaqat Al-Kubra Vol. 1, P 96
- Shirazi, Huhammad Sadiq The Prpphet Muhammad, a Mercy to the World at: <https://www.al-islam.org
- Ibid 2, P. 105
- A survey on Prophet Muhammad’s Behaviours, Hossun, Vol. 9 at:< https://hawzah.net
- Azizi, Musa Political Life of Prophet Muhammad Noghte PArgar Magazinem Pp 84-96 at: <http://hablolmatin.dmsonnat.ir
- Video Lecture of Yasir Qadhi at: < http://lifeofprophet.com/a-few-good-men-the-hunafa/>
- Abu Ibraheem. "Miracles of Prophet Muhammad". Why Islam. ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America). Retrieved 29 April 2019.