The Holy Quran is replete with examples of men who stood for the truth and those who opposed it. The former sacrificed everything they had to defend the truth and the latter was ready to destroy everything around them to satiate their greed and selfishness.
The Book of Allah invites us to reflect upon personalities, nations, and events of the past. Whether it is pure men like Prophet Ibrahim (AS), Prophet Musa (AS) and Prophet Isa (AS) or evil men who opposed them and their mission like Nimrood, Firon (Pharoah), or Bani Israil, all of them have a lesson for us. These are not just stories to read and move on, they contain messages for our lives. And rightly so, we read in the Holy Quran:
"There is certainly a moral in their accounts for those who possess intellect. This [Quran] is not a fabricated discourse; rather, it is a confirmation of what was [revealed] before it, and an elaboration of all things, and a guidance and mercy for a people who have faith. (12:111)
Similarly, Imam Ali (AS) says: Learn lessons from past events for future events, because they are similar to one another. (Nahjul Balagha Letter 69)
One such incident of the past that changed the history of Islam forever, is the event of Karbala. No mention of Karbala is complete without Hurr ibn Yazid Ar-Riyahi. He is an example for those who reflect upon his journey, his actions and his martyrdom. He encourages, inspires and motivates the believers through his actions in Karbala.
Hurr literally means a freeman in Arabic, and truly so he lived up to his name.
Hurr Ibn Yazid Ar-Riyahi was the general of the Ummayad army dispatched from Kufa, (Iraq) to intercept Imam Al-Hussain (AS), the third infallible Imam. Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, the newly appointed governor of Kufa issued the command to guard all entrances and exits to Kufa in order to intercept al-Hussain for an oath of allegiance to Yazid. Hurr was ordered along with his 1,000 soldiers to intercept Imam Hussain(AS) and his followers before they reached Kufa.
When he intercepted Imam Hussain (AS) at Dhu Hussam, Hurr and his men had ran out of water. The Imam(AS) ordered his companions to satiate Hurr and his army, including the cavalry. Hurr and his men offered their prayers with the Imam and listened to his sermons. However, on subsequent orders from the tyrant governor of Kufa, Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad, Imam Hussain and his family were forced to encamp in Karbala. Hurr was of the notion that the Imam (AS) will not be killed in Karbala, he would somehow persuade him to go elsewhere. But he was perturbed when he realized that Umar Ibn Sa'ad who was sent by Ubaidullah had come with orders to kill Imam Hussain. On one hand was his position, family and wealth and on the other hand was the grandson of the Holy Prophet(PBUH&HP) and the son of Imam Ali (AS) and Lady Fatima (SA), supporting whom meant a certain death. These were the two options left for Hurr, just as the Holy Quran says:
"Indeed We have guided him to the way, be he grateful or ungrateful." (76:3).
Despite all odds, Hurr left the Army of Yazid, joined Imam Hussain (AS) and won the honor of being the first martyr of Karbala. All the glitter of the world, his power, rank, wealth and children did not stop him from joining his master Hussain(AS).
Ashura and Karbala were not be bound by time or geographical location. Almost 14 centuries have passes by but human beings from different parts of the world, belonging to different races and religions continue to mourn for Imam Hussain(AS) and take inspiration from him and his mission.
Just as Karbala continues to inspire us, the magnanimous personality of Hurr continues to inspire and guide us. Hurr chose good over bad, truth over falsehood, hereafter over the transient world. If we claim to be followers and lovers of Imam Hussain(AS) we need to turn towards the Hussain of our time and follow the teachings of Imam Hussain(AS). Imam Hussain(AS) gave everything he had to protect and preserve the teachings of Islam and by helping Hussain(AS) in his cause, Hurr achieved this lofty position of being Imam Hussain's(AS) helper. Thus, if Hurr truly motivates us, we need to mend our ways and make ourselves capable of helping Imam Mahdi (AJ) the true inheritor of Imam Hussain's (AS) legacy.
The Hurr of Karbala teaches us that true love is incomplete without sacrifice.
But, is the Hurr inside us ready to listen?
- A Probe into the History of Ashura, Ibrahim Ayati
Before the appearance of a group called ISIS, I always wondered if it is possible for people to easily behead men, to kill children and cut the bodies into pieces. I had repeatedly heard and read the event of the tenth day (Ashura) in Muharram of 61 AH, in which the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), who was the leader (Imam) of Muslims at his time, and the males of his family and companions were martyred, beheaded and cut into pieces.
While I was reading those events, I started thinking about what kind of a person is capable of doing such horrible acts? Who were the people of that era who stood against their leader and watched him getting martyred and beheaded, because he could not morally and ethically accept the caliphate of a corrupt leader over the Muslim society?
I found answers to my questions in the past few years when some terrorist groups began to take advantage of some of the verses of the Holy Quran and use it as a pretext for their evil purposes. These terrorist groups, the most recent of them Taliban, Al-Qaida and ISIS, are very much the same as those who considered themselves Muslims and stood against the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the leader of Muslim society, who was the manifestation of Islam, under the name of supporting the corrupt oppressor caliph; Yazid.
Having people with different attitudes who all believe that they are true Muslims makes it hard for truth-seekers to find the right path in life.
In this article, we will revise the reasons for which a group like ISIS would appear, grow and spread in the world in the name of Islam. We will try to clarify a few points by which we can make a border between the real Islam and the unreal Islam that is being used as the tool of terrorism.
To begin, let’s see what the main types of Muslims that we face these days are.
The passive depiction of Islam is the sort of Islam that is at peace with EVERYTHING in this world. Whatever happens, the passive Muslim will not show any reactions. These types of Muslims believe in having a safe and calm life. They have no considerable social or political involvements. If an issue arises in the community or the society, they prefer to remain silent and show no reactions toward it, as it may cause some harm to them or their benefits.
One may think that this type of Islam is the best as it does not harm the believer or others in the society. But the fact is that according to Islam or any other Abrahamic religion, he who remains silent, at a time when he has to stand against an oppressor or to help a human in a reasonable need, has no value in the eyes of God in this world or the other .
It is also firmly narrated by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that “whoever starts his day with no efforts on Muslims’ issues IS NOT A MUSLIM” . This is how Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) excludes passive Muslims from the true Islam.
In the same way it is stated in the Holy Quran that: “Why should you not fight in the way of Allah and the oppressed men, women, and children, who say, ‘Our Lord, bring us out of this town whose people are oppressors, and appoint for us a guardian from Yourself, and appoint for us a helper from Yourself’?” (4:75)
The wild representation of Islam is much worse, much more inaccurate and much further from the real context of Islam than the passive representation. Silent Muslims will cause damages to others by not helping them at the right time, while Wild people who act, using the name of Islam, will hurt the society, families, and a whole generation that is to come.
All terrorists who call themselves Muslims and make the world an unsafe place for human beings are amongst those wild creatures. They kill children, men and women all over the world by using their invented and wrong interpretations of a few verses of the Holy Quran, trying to demolish the religion of God.
They ignore all the verses of the Holy Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his successors that emphasize tolerance, kindness toward human beings and animals, protecting the environment, supporting the truth, gentle speaking, respecting the humankind, and observing the rights of the previous religions.
Facing this representation of Islam, one may think that these people are either very ignorant and indolent that will not even spend some time on understanding the real Islam, OR use some parts of Islam as a part of a bigger plot by which they can reach their hypocritical goals.
But put aside the passive and the wild representations of Islam, and let us find out what the true Islam is and how we can recognize the true Islam from among its different representations.
We do not insist that every truth-seeker should conclude accepting Islam as his religion, but there are hints and guidelines for every truth-seeker to realize the true path of life.
Here we will count a few of these hints:
A) Have no prejudice in searching for the truth
It is important that even those who have specific beliefs, start researching and rebuilding their mindset. If we do not keep thinking about our beliefs, we will be dogmatic people who have no logical answers to other people’s questions about their ideas.
Not being prejudiced about our views gives us an open mind. Therefore, if we face a belief that may be contrary to ours, but we find it closer to the truth than ours, we should be able to change our idea and follow the best route.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “Avoid prejudice, as it begins with ignorance and ends up in regression” .
B) Support the truth
“Do not mix the truth with falsehood, nor conceal the truth while you know” (2: 42).
Most of us experience situations in which we have to choose between our benefits and the truth. This is what we call fairness. It is essential to be careful about taking the right side even if it is against our benefits. Although sometimes by supporting the truth we may lose our worldly benefits, it is important to remember that reaching the ultimate purpose of humanity is hidden in taking the right side.
C) Listen carefully and completely
“… So give good news to My servants, who listen to the word [of Allah] and follow the best [interpretation] of it. They are the ones whom Allah has guided, and it is they who possess intellect” (39: 17- 18).
Unfortunately, the wrong presentations of Islam come from the point where people take some advice from the Quran and leave the rest instead of looking at it as a whole. For example, those who stand for the rights of Muslim women and try to revive their rights, stick to a few verses of the Quran that are about women.
They do not understand Islam’s aim of ordering women to observe the Islamic dress code, so they start campaigns against it. While if they read the Quran as a whole alongside with the prophet’s teachings, and put different pieces of the puzzle together, they will realize that the Islamic dress code, plus men’s and women’s etiquette of looking, plus men’s role in supporting the family and women’s role in calming the atmosphere of the house, and many other pieces of the puzzle are to make the society a better place for all members to live in.
D) Animals’ Rights
According to the Quran, all the creatures [including animals] have been created to serve human being (2: 29). But if we need to use animals for our needs, we should not forget that we have a huge responsibility towards them as living creatures. The rights of animals are of much importance in Islam, and we have a lot of narrations from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his successors with regards to them.
An example is a narration by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “When you stop riding an animal, do not keep sitting on them while having a [lengthy] conversation with others; instead, descend and [let the animal rest, and] then talk” .
E) Love for humanity
And finally, the Golden Rule that if we all follow, we will experience a peaceful life in this world and the hereafter is stated in the letter of Imam Ali (AS) to his son who said:
“O, my child! Make yourself the measure (for dealings) between you and others. Thus, you should desire for others what you desire for yourself and hate for others what you hate for yourself” .
At the beginning of this article, we read those who martyred Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions on the tenth day (Ashura) in Muharram of 61 AH, are the ones who took advantage of the name of Islam to gain their worldly desires. We discussed that the same thing is happening in our era and different terrorist groups, by misusing the name of Islam, try to divert people from the true guidance and the peaceful path of life.
This reminds me of the famous saying “every day is Ashura, and every land is Karbala.”; Which means the confrontation between right and wrong always exists. This may be a simple confrontation in family relations, at work or in the community, or it may be a more significant conflict between the countries.
No matter we are Muslim or Christian or Jewish. The fact is that the history repeats itself. And it is vital for us to be wise enough to realize the truth and support it. Imam Hussain (AS) on the tenth day (Ashura) faced the massive army of Yazid and told them:
“If you neither believe in religion nor fear the hereafter, then at least be free from tyranny and arrogance” .
- Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 74, p. 311.
- Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 164.
- The Quran, Chapter 4 (Al-Nisa’), verse. 75.
- Mizan al-Hikmah, vol. 4, p. 2770.
- Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 64, p. 173.
- Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 64, p. 214.
- Nahjul – Balagha; letter 31.
- wedMajlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.74, p. 91.
Feast of Fitr (Eid al-Fitr) is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal [i]. It marks the end of Ramadan, the month in which Muslims practice fasting (Sawm). This Feast (Eid) is considered one of the most prominent occasions in the Islamic calendar and is celebrated by all Muslims around the world. But what is it that makes this feast (Eid) a special day for Muslims?
“Eid” is derived from the verb “عَوَدَ: Avad’ah” in Arabic, which literally means “to go back”. In Islamic culture, days in which people have been relieved of hardships and catastrophes, and go back to good days of prosperity and happiness, are called Eid.
Two features make The First of Shawwal, Eid or as we call it the Feast of Fitr:
On this day, Muslims are again allowed to eat and drink, and the obligation to fast is lifted from them. In fact, the word “Fitr” literally means “beginning to eat and drink”. And “Iftar” means to start eating and drinking after some time. Now consider Eid al-Fitr something like daily Iftar, but on a greater scale. This is Iftar after a whole month of fasting.
Feast of Fitr (Eid al-Fitr) is a special day. A day that is chosen by Allah. After a month of submission to His will and doing what it takes to get nearer to Him, and win His satisfaction, now is the time to enjoy the outcome. Allah pardons our sins, spreads His forgiveness and rains down His blessings.
As He has promised in the Quran, “…forgiveness and a great reward” (35:33) are prepared for those who fast. This is, indeed, a blessing that comes true in this world. A pleasure that Muslims experience in this world, as well as Hereafter.
So why not be happy on this day? This is a new day for Muslims, in which they go back to the time when they had not committed any sins yet. Feast of Fitr (Eid al-Fitr) is a chance for them to start over.
To start fresh, one should put behind old habits, those actions that harmed one’s self or were harmful to others. Now that we are relieved from the burden of our mistakes, sins, and regrets, born again, pure and innocent, we should protect this gift dearly. From this day on, what counts is our future actions [ii].
On the day of Eid, Muslims are required to pay a certain amount of money if they can afford, that is called Zakat al-Fitr. Giving Zakat al-Fitr is obligatory, provided that the person him/herself is not poor. It marks the fulfillment of the act of fasting.
The amount of this kind of charity depends on the type of usual main food consumed by the believer during the year, which may be rice, wheat, barley, dates, etc. . This amount is given to the poor people of the society or those who are underprivileged.
Feast of Fitr (Eid al-Fitr) is the realization of the lessons Muslims have learned during the 30-day fasting of Ramadan. Muslims give away part of what they consume daily of food or drinks to the poor and destitute. And they learn that in this world there are things that are far more important than bodily desires. That is humanity and the love for human beings.
Moreover, Ramadan is a time for Muslims to wash away themselves from the vices of this world. Similarly, Zakat frees the soul from the weakness of depending too much on material matters and thus, is a way to complete the effect of fasting.
Allah has given us the chance to become a new person and mark a turning point in our lives. Shouldn’t we be grateful for this reward? We praise Allah “for He has shown us the Right Path.” And give thanks “to Him for that which He has conferred upon us” [iii]. This is where the prayer of Eid al-Fitr finds its meaning.
One of the recommended acts on this day is to perform a two-unit (Raka’a) prayer. Muslims all around the world, gather together in their mosques and form a great and unified social occasion. In the Qunut [v] of this prayer, we give thanks to Allah for pardoning our previous sins. And we ask for His help in doing what is good and in protecting our newly gifted purity in the future.
Imam Ali (AS) believed that Muslims should be reminded of the Day of Judgment, at the time of standing for the prayer of Eid al-Fitr. As if they are standing in front of Allah [iv].
Eid is a going back, a change to a better self. So whenever one keeps him/herself from committing sins, from lying, backbiting, slandering, offending, etc. he/ she is celebrating an Eid. Similarly, the day of Eid loses its meaning if one goes on to do whatever wrong he/she used to do. As Imam Ali (AS) puts: “Any day that you do not disobey Allah (or commit sins) is your Eid”.
[i] Tenth month of the Islamic Calendar.
[ii] Imam Ali (AS) said: “ O’ servants of Allah! Beware that the least outcome for the fasting men and women is that on the last day of Ramadan, an angel would call upon them that ‘O’ servants of Allah! I bring you the glad tidings of Allah’s pardon of your past sins, so be careful how you act from now on” .
[iii] It is a famous invocation from Imam Reza (AS) remained from Prophet Muhammad’s Sunnah:
"اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ لا إِلَهَ إِلا اللَّهُ وَ اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ وَ لِلَّهِ الْحَمْدُ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ عَلَى مَا هَدَانَا وَ لَهُ الشُّكْرُ عَلَى مَا أَوْلانَا"
“Allah is Great. Allah is Great. There is no god save Allah. And Allah is Great.Allah is Great. All praise be to Allah. All praise be to Allah for He has shown us the Right Path. All thanks be to Him for that which He has conferred upon us”
[iv] Imam Ali (AS) said: “when you leave your houses to perform Eid’s prayer, remember the time when you are resurrected from your graves and go toward Allah. When you stand to perform the prayer, think of the time you are facing divine justice and are examined for your actions. When you go back to your houses from the prayer, remember the time when you go back to your dwelling places in heaven” .
[v] The action of reciting a supplication while keeping the hands in front of the face, turning the palms facing upwards, and keeping both the hands and the fingers close together in the standing position of prayer (Salat).
- Sheikh al-Saduq, Al-Amali, p.100, hadith no. 10.
- Yasin T. Al-Jibouri, Fast of the Month of Ramadhan: Philosophy and Ahkam, p. 111.
- Eid al Fitr
- Nahj al-Balaghah, wisdom no. 428.