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He announced: “Don't you see that truth has been replaced by falsehood?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 ”.
Whatever we look at or even see, enters our mind and soul, and sticks to them. Imam Ali (AS) said: “The eye is the reporter of heart and the messenger of mind.” . It means that every act of looking profoundly affects our heart and soul. The prophet (PBUH&HP) said: “Avoid unnecessary excess looks as they grow lust in your hearts and make you heedless.” .
In another saying from Imam Ali (AS), we read that: “The eyes are the snares of Satan” . That is why Islam has special guidelines and rules about at what or whom, one is allowed or not to look. And, this is more pressing in case of Muslims living in a non-Muslim society, where they are constantly exposed to both men and women freely and improperly dressed in the streets, TV, magazines, web pages, etc. Islam has regulated looking at the opposite gender according to the two categories: Mahrams and non-Mahrams .
A man is permitted to look at the body of a woman who is his Mahram, except her private parts (Awrah). And he must not look at her body from the navel down to the knee. This means that a woman should dress decently even in the presence of her Mahrams. One’s wife is an exception to this rule; married couples are allowed to look at the entire body of each other.
It is forbidden for a man to look at the body of any non-Mahram woman but he can look at her hands and face as long as they do not have any decoration. If the woman is Muslim, then he is not allowed to look at her hair. But if she is not Muslim, looking at her hair is not forbidden as long as it is not for pleasure.
Generally, there is no sin on a man for the first involuntary look at any non-Mahram woman, but the second look should be avoided . In any case, men should remember that: “Tell the faithful men to cast down their looks and to guard their private parts. That is more decent for them.” (24:30).
This rule also extends to adolescent boys and even younger ones, who understand women’s physical attributes and might be attracted to them. They should be taught to lower their gaze, too. Since children’s minds and souls are clear lands ready to be cultivated with several types of thoughts and ideas mostly captured by eyes, we need to teach them which seeds they should plant in their lands to attain Allah’s eternal satisfaction.
A man is not allowed to look at another man’s private parts, nor a woman at those of another woman; whether Muslim or not. Besides, looking at any parts of the body of another man, even the face and arms, will be forbidden for a man if done with the intention of having pleasure. The same ruling applies to a woman towards another woman. This also means that one should always cover his/her private parts in the presence of others, even of the same gender.
A woman is allowed to look at the body of a man who is her Mahram, except his private parts, if it is not for having pleasure. One’s husband is an exception to this rule as mentioned earlier.
A woman is not permitted to look at the body of a non-Mahram man, except for the face, hands, and that amount which men usually [i] do not cover and if it is not for pleasure.
One is permitted to look at the entire body of a child until he/she reaches the age when the child’s consciousness of sex has developed, or when evidence of sexual urge is noticed on him/her; even if it is before reaching puberty. However, it is better to accustom the child to always dress properly.
As a general rule, it is forbidden (Haram) to look at anyone (even at one’s own body) or anything (including people’s photos and films, statues, etc.) with the intention of having pleasure (with the exception of one’s spouse), even if one is looking at a Mahram.
In cases of “necessity” such as in administering first aid, medical treatment [ii] or during a trial testimony where the judge requests the witness to look at a non-Mahram to identify him/her , all the rules of the prohibition of looking become void. As an instance, if a doctor is compelled to look at a part of the body of a non-Mahram woman, he must only look at that part necessary for the treatment, but not more than that. Also, if possible, the examination or testing must be performed over the clothing. Other exceptions are looking at one’s spouse as explained above.
[i] This, although following a definite limit indicated in Islamic ruling that should be respected, is based on the normal condition of each society to some extent.
[ii] In the case that a doctor of the same skill and with the same gender is not available.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 104, p. 41, T. 52.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 72, p. 199.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 77, p. 294.
- Ibn Babawayh, “Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih”, vol.3, p.474, T. 4658.
- looking to others
All of us as human beings desire a peaceful and easy death; some people consider euthanasia as a way to achieve this end. The word Euthanasia comes from Greek origin (eu: well, good- Thanatos: death) and is commonly known as the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering. It is classified into three types: voluntary (with the consent of the patient), non-voluntary (the approval of the patient is unavailable) and involuntary (against the will of the patient). Voluntary euthanasia has been legalized in some countries such as Netherlands, Belgium and some states of America. It seems that proponents of euthanasia developed a strictly materialistic view of life and death; in other words, the existence of God and the value of human life are ignored. Moreover, the patient’s condition when consenting for euthanasia is not considered at all.
The first issue that can be argued against euthanasia is that being terminally ill does not seem to have a precise definition. There is no way to determine the life expectancy of a person even if he/she is diagnosed as terminally ill. There are cases in which the patient healed miraculously and without any explanation; the proponents of it seem to ignore the God’s will in the human’s life and death.
What's more, the consent that a patient who is suffering severely gives to end his/her life is not really of much validity. Obviously, due to the health condition of the patient, he/she is in a depressed mood and cannot think clearly. In some cases, such as an older adult who has lost his common sense, the consent given by him/her is apparently not valid. On the other hand, in non-voluntary in which a patient’s relative gives permission, the patient’s will is not included; it seems more like murdering rather than helping that patient.
Euthanasia activists ignore the value and importance of human life and the fact that the more you fight for life, the more precious your soul becomes. People who support this, often say that it is already considered permissible to take human’s life under some circumstances such as self-defense -e.g., in the case of wars- while, they miss this point that when one kills for self-defense, they are saving innocent lives either their own or someone else's. With euthanasia no one's life is being saved; life is only taken . Human beings have the instinct for survival and immortality; euthanasia is clearly against the nature of human being. Somehow, it overlooks the spiritual side of human beings. Besides, it is an absolute act of suicide which many religions including Islam do not approve of .
Finally, the decision to take someone’s life is not for anybody even that person to make; God has given life to us, and He will take it as He wishes . The proponents of Euthanasia have ignored moral issues and the spiritual side of human beings. Even in the hardest situations still, we can find hope if we have faith. By committing it, we lose the opportunity to see our unpredictable future; there may be a chance to embrace a beautiful life!