Imam Hussain (AS) is one of the important figures in Islam whose brilliant and lofty character together with his inspiring movement has been praised by many famous characters of the world. In this regard, Mahatma Gandhi said that: “My admiration for the noble sacrifice of Imam Hussein (AS) as a martyr abounds, because he accepted death ..., but did not submit to unjust authorities. I learned from Hussain how to attain victory while being oppressed.” . Antoine Bara, a thinker, scholar, Christian and Syrian who wrote a book titled, “Imam Hussein in Christian ideology,” said that: “I am a Christian but call on humanity to follow the holiness of Imam Hussein as he is the conscience of all religions.” . These quotes and others indicate that Imam Hussain (AS) is not an exclusive role model for Shi’a or Muslims, but belongs to the whole world. One might ask in what ways is Imam Hussain’s (AS) uprising an inspiration for human beings. We try to explain that through the following lines.
Yazid’s reign was corrupted and illegitimate from the beginning. According to the peace treaty made between Imam Hassan (AS) and Mu’awiyah, the latter was forbidden to designate anyone as his successor after his death. But after the martyrdom of Imam Hassan (AS), Mu’awiyah broke the treaty. He appointed his son Yazid as his successor because he thought no one would be courageous enough to object to the decision of caliph. Hence, Yazid became caliph illegally after the death of Mu’awiyah . Besides, according to historical resources, Yazid had a corrupted immoral character. He dared to act against Islamic rulings openly and perform forbidden deeds (Haram) in Islam publicly .
Imam Hussain (AS) was observant and aware of Yazid’s acts and intention. So, he refrained from pledging allegiance to Yazid. Moreover, oppression, tyranny, unjust use of public property, etc. had made life miserable for people . Imam Hussain (AS) believed that Yazid’s manner and governing style was obviously against Islamic teachings and would eventually alter and spoil Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH&PH) Sunnah. Hence, he stood up against Yazid to prove that his reign was illegitimate and to unravel the truth. Therefore, he (AS) said that he would never take the oath of allegiance to Yazid, even if there would be nowhere safe on the earth for him to go . He never intended to take on the leadership and come to power, instead aimed at eliminating injustice and corruption.
One might wonder why Imam Hussain (AS) did not pledge allegiance to Yazid to calm down his hostility so that he would have more time to make plans and find more companions to defeat Yazid. The reason was that Yazid’s behavior and deeds were too far from true Islamic principles and moral values such that Imam (AS) could not ignore them. Moreover, he (AS) did not want to play a trick as it is denounced in Islam.
Imam (AS) had other possibilities to defeat Yazid and take over the leadership, but he (AS) refused to do so. Through his missionary in Kufa, Muslim ibn Aqil, Imam (AS) could kill Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad [i] before the battle of Karbala and before the enemy declared war against them. But, as a man who had stood up for justice, he did not act unfairly. Imam’s (AS) reaction was in the same manner as well; before the battle started when the enemy was fewer in number and easier to defeat, one of his (AS) companions recommended fighting them. He (AS) replied that he would rather defend if a war were imposed on him instead of initiating it. Moreover, when the enemy was impatient to start the battle, he (AS) did his best to prevent it by negotiating and bringing awareness to them by revealing the truth .
These examples demonstrate that Imam (AS) did not want to reign at any price; the same was true for other Infallible Imams (AS). This is of the traits of true divine leaders; unlike oppressive unjust powers. They never take the lead, whatever the cost.
Up to now, we found out about two reasons that make Imam Hussain’s (AS) uprising a worldwide inspiration. Firstly, one should be alert and sensitive to what happens around him\her. Then, to take the right action for the sake of justice and humanity. Secondly, even if one holds a noble intention, it does not mean that he\she is allowed to achieve that by any means; the end does not justify the means.
Imam Hussain’s (AS) movement has other lessons for human beings that we will discuss in the second part of this title.
[i] The governor of Kufa during the reigns of Yazid, who executed Aqil, sent troops to intercept Imam Hussain (AS) when he arrived near Kufa and was one of the leaders of the battle against Imam (AS) in Karbala.
Judaism in Islam is considered as one of the most significant monotheistic religions, and many verses of Quran are dedicated to describing the fate of the followers of this religion. In different verses of the Holy Quran, when Allah wants to mention people of Moses, He calls them “Children of Israel” (Bani-Israel). The reason for which is that they were the generation of Prophet Jacob or Israel (PBUH), who at the time of Prophet Joseph (PBUH), migrated to Egypt and settled there for years .
After Pharaohs gained power in Egypt, they started violence against the immigrant generation of Israel by “slaughtering their sons and sparing their women” (28: 4).
Then after so many years, during which Bani-Israel were waiting for a deliverer, Moses was appointed to save them and deliver them from Egypt to the holy land: “O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has ordained for you, and do not turn your backs, or you will become losers’” (5: 21). They did not accept to enter the holy land as they were afraid of the people of that land. Therefore, they lost their opportunity and were wandering in the deserts for years. There was no promise that if children of Israel do not act according to God’s orders, they will still inherit the holy land.
“We dispersed them into communities around the earth: some of them were righteous, and some of them otherwise, and We tested them with good and bad [times] so that they may come back” (7: 168).
Like any other monotheistic religion that has good or bad followers, the followers of Judaism are either virtuous or sinful according to the above verse of the Holy Quran.
The bad Jews, mainly known to be Zionists, are those who are committing great sins and have huge racist beliefs. Since they believe they are the higher race and others are somehow their properties. Zionism is not a religion, but a political branch that tries to gain power using any tools, even the religion of Jews.
The Holy Quran introduces all prophets as Muslims . Quran strongly defends Jewish believers like the believers of other religions; “Indeed the faithful, the Jews, the Christians and the Sabaeans - those of them who have faith in Allah and the Last Day and act righteously—they shall have their reward from their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (2: 62).
Quran confirms the book of Moses and says: “We sent down the Torah containing guidance and light” (5:44). And in another verse, it says: “Yet before it, the Book of Moses was a guide and mercy, and this is a Book in the Arabic language, which confirms it…” (46: 12).
Although Quran confirms that all the prophets were from God and they had the same message, the problem, according to the Quran, is that the book of Moses was distorted by those ignorant and arrogant followers of him.
Accordingly, Islam was sent down to the followers of all prophets and the people of all nations and lands as a final and most complete religion, which was fundamentally the same as their religion. But all true believers and true followers of prophets should now be united in the way of worshipping One God and follow the book of Muhammad (PBUH), who has been mentioned in their books (7: 156-7).
God also warns Muslims that when they wish to convey His messages to the followers of other prophets, they should be respectful towards them: “Do not argue with the People of the Book except in a manner which is best, except such of them as are wrongdoers, and say, ‘We believe in what has been sent down to us and in what has been sent down to you; our God and your God is one [and the same], and to Him do we submit’” (29: 46).
As mentioned in the article on monotheism, from the Islamic point of view, the followers of other religions should realize the perfectness of Islam “despite the distorted image of Islam” in today’s world. They need to reach complete faith based on a firm understanding of Islam as the last and the complete way of life .
Since Jews were waiting for the last prophet and when some of them found him rise from among Arabs and not from amongst themselves, they denied him, since they had this thought that Islam must belong to a specific land or specific people, and it cannot be a complete universal religion for all lands at all times.
God mentions the rabbis with so much respect in the Quran and expects them to enlighten their people in worshipping one God and not to be fighting against each other while they worship the same God: “We sent down the Torah containing guidance and light. The prophets, who had submitted, judged by it for the Jews, and so did the rabbis and the scribes, as they were charged to preserve the Book of Allah and were witnesses to it...” (5: 44).
Going through the story of Prophet Moses (PBUH) and explaining it in details in the Quran had two major reasons:
1. Since when Muhammad was assigned as a prophet, Jews annoyed him in every possible way, God kept sending revelations regarding their past actions and their behavior towards Prophet Moses from whom they had seen many miracles.
2. The story of Jewish people and how they saw the miracles of their prophet and yet, they kept denying him, is repeatedly explained in the Quran, to be a lesson for Muslims. Muslims should remember that they had hard times, too, like the Jews, and they should not become arrogant because the last prophet was raised amongst them. Muslims should not make complaints against God’s orders, and by remembering the history of Jews, they should keep in mind that if they decline Allah’s commands, they will lose their opportunities since blessing is given to those who are God-wary:
“If the people of the towns had been faithful and God-wary, We would have opened to them blessings from the heaven and the earth. But they denied; so We seized them because of what they used to earn” (7: 96).
- The Quran, Yousof (12), 93
- The Quran, Al-Shourea (42), 13
- jews in Islam
It takes courage to live in this world. Because if you are alive, then you need to take action. And for taking a decisive step, you need to be courageous. The courage to stand up for an oppressed person, the courage to stand up against discrimination, the courage to stop violence against animals, the courage to preserve the earth, or even the courage to listen to the news of genocide and wish to have the strength to do something for it.
But many of us do not take action. Or do not even care. We may be afraid or may wait for someone else to do something. Say a superman or someone beyond us.
Many philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to modern thinkers regard courage as one of the most vital human virtues. For Plato, courage is “what allows reason to rule, both in the individual and in society.” Aristotle also believes that courage is not just about taking risks but thinking wisely in the face of danger . Taking risks is courageous, but knowing why you are risking is even more critical.
Islam, also, values the attribute of courage highly [i]. In Islam courage is the result of many other virtues. Even more, the reason behind your courageous deed is of more importance than having courage in itself. In other words, you are courageous if you are taking action for the right cause. That is, what you have found belief in after in-depth and rational investigation [ii], and do not forget to be moral along the way.
Imam Hussain (AS) Was Courageous in the true Sense of the Word Because He…
Imam Hussain (AS), saw the injustice that was imposed upon the society of his time and realized how what the rulers called Islam was far from the true teachings of Islam. Oppression, tyranny, unjust use of public property, etc. made life miserable for people.
So, instead of remaining silent and doing nothing, he decided to improve the society. He practiced courage in standing up against what was wrong, and in accepting the dangers of his decision.
Surrendering to and accepting the injustice and oppression, is considered a huge sin in Islam for someone who is capable of standing up against it and can improve the situation. That is one of the reasons why enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong (Amr bi-l-maʿruf and Nahy ʿani-l-munkar) are among the practical principles of Islam; to improve the society and bring awareness to people.
Imam Hussain (AS) was courageous and stood up against what was wrong. But he never gave up his human virtues for the sake of furthering his purpose. In other words, for Imam Hussain (AS), “the end does not justify the means.” While his enemy was impatient to start the war, he did his best to prevent it by negotiating and bringing awareness to them .
He was not afraid of fighting, yet, for him starting a war with the enemy was not the end. Instead, leading them to what is right, toward a life of honor and dignity rather than humiliation and oppression, was his ultimate purpose. Imam Hussain (AS), tried to show that being just is far more important than being courageous. If everyone is just, then no right would be taken away, and you do not need to be courageous to stand up against it [iii].
According to Imam Ali (AS), courage is dependent upon three virtues which complement each other. These are self-sacrifice, not bowing down to humiliation and oppression and not being after making a name for yourself . In his movement, Imam Hussain (AS) exhibited all these virtues. He sacrificed his life and family, did not surrender to the injustice his enemies were imposing, and never cared about his fame but was entirely devoted to Allah’s cause [iv].
In Islam, the intention always comes before the action. Imam Hussain (AS) knew well why he was taking action. For him, nothing was more important than Allah’s satisfaction and reviving the true teachings and peaceful message of Islam in the corrupt society of his time [v].
He was courageous for the right cause. Neither was he after usurping the throne, nor manipulating people for his own sake. In that case, he would not be courageous anymore but selfish. As Charles Dickens admitted, “If Husain (as) had fought to quench his worldly desires…then I do not understand why his sister, wife, and children accompanied him. It stands to reason, therefore, that he sacrificed purely for Islam” .
Imam Hussain (AS) did take a risk in furthering his purpose, but he never acted unwisely and on his whim. When people sent thousands of letters from Kufa to Imam Hussain (AS), to ask for his help and declare their devotion to him, he did not accept their invitation immediately.
Instead, he first sent a representative to their city to validate their claim. Also, on the day of Ashura, despite his enemy's insistence on war, and while he was not afraid of fighting with them, he first tried to reason with them. You cannot be called courageous if you let go of your insight and wisdom and act recklessly [vi].
As said earlier, Imam Hussain (AS) was not willing to go to war with his enemy. While he was fully capable of fighting with them, and he courageously did it with only 72 people against thousands, he was never in favor of making war without any good reason. He was a courageous leader and guide, not a ruthless tyrant.
Thus, he first tried to guide his enemy toward the true teachings of Islam through speaking and reasoning, but when he saw their insistence on being ignorant, he was forced into a war.
It takes courage and spiritual strength to endure the pain of losing your beloved ones. Imam Hussain (AS) lost many of his family members and friends in the battle of Karbala, including his brother and two of his sons. However, while he felt a deep pain in his heart, he never lost his control and power of reason.
And he never regretted his action, nor doubted his cause. He was sure that what he did was for the sake of Allah’s satisfaction and his movement will forever inspire those who are seeking what is right.
[i] Imam Ali (AS) said, “Generosity and courage are great attributes that Allah bestows upon whoever He loves most and has examined before”
[ii] “In Islam, faith is nothing beyond human’s reason and understanding; in other words, the axioms of this religion are the fundamental principles that are rational by themselves and can be ascertained by people’s common sense. So stepping onto the stage of this faith depends on the submission that is gained through preliminary investigation of its axioms” .
[iii] Imam Ali (AS) said, “ Justice is better than courage. Since if every person is just toward other people, then they won’t need to be courageous” 
[iv] On the cause of his movement, Imam Hussain (AS) said,“O' God! Surely you know that whatever we did was not a competition to gain worldly positions and not for the worthless physical attractions of the world. But to show the signs of religious ways and to remove corruption from your lands, so that the oppressed feel secured and act according to your traditions and rules.” 
[v] Imam Hussain (AS) said, “My revolution aims to reform the society and revive the true teachings of Islam.” 
[vi] Imam Ali (AS) said, “ negligence and not having foresight, spoils the courage” .
- al-Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Irshad, p.253.
- Ibn Shu'ba al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-'uqul, p.322.
- Ibid. p.239.
- Ibid. p.243.
- The Islamic Axioms
- HUssain (AS)
- Abd al-Wāhid b. Muḥammad al-Āmidī, Ghurar al-hikam wa durar al-kalim, p.375.
- Ali ibn Muhammad Laithi Vaseti, Oyun al-Hikmah va al-Mavaez, p. 182.
- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, The interpretation of Nahj al-Balaghah, vol 20, p.333.