Five lessons we learn from Imam Hussain (AS)’s Revolution

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 [1].

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

1. Imam Hussain (AS)'s Sacrifice for the Sake of the Religion of Allah

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He announced: “Don't you see that truth has been replaced by falsehood?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.”

2. Live the Life of a Freeman

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” [2].

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 [3].
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” [4]. 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.

3. Significance of the Enjoining the Right (Amr bi-l-maʿruf) and Forbidding the Wrong (Nahy ʿani-l-munkar) for Imam Hussain (AS)

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)” [5]. 

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4. Imam Hussain (AS)'s Patience

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” [6].

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” [7].
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.

5. Imam Hussain (AS)'s Loyalty

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” [8]. 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 [9]”. 

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 [10]”.


[2] Tohaf-al- Uqoul, P. 245
[3] Biharol Anwar, Vol. 45 , P. 83
[4] Biharol Anwar, Vol. 45, P. 51
[5] Biharol Anwar, Vol. 44, P. 329
[6] Biharol Anwar, Vol. 44 , P. 366
[7] Biharol Anwar, Vol. 44 , P. 297
[8] Biharol Anwar, Vol. 44, P. 392