By Yusuf M. Abdullahi
In the name of Allah who states " Surely the number of months with Allah is twelve months in Allah’s ordinance since the day when He created the heavens and the earth, of these four being sacred; that is the right reckoning; therefore be not unjust to yourselves regarding them, …. "Q9:35
May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His noble servant, our master Muhammad and his purified progeny.
Congratulations to the world on the advent of the New Islamic 1439th year. Though very vital, the year is ignored due to ignorance, colonial legacy and perceived Western supremacy. Consequently, a lot is missed from social and spiritual perspectives. Many lessons are tied to the historic event such as the prophetic mission, migration and the unfortunate Ashura tragedy. Allah states "He it is Who raised among the inhabitants of Mecca an Apostle from among themselves, who recites to them His communications and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom, although they were before certainly in clear error" Q62:2. The monotheistic mission was rejected by idolatrous Meccan leaders who were very instrumental and beneficiary of the polytheism. The rejection and intense persecution meted against the noble Prophet and his followers led to his migration to Medina. Earlier on, some companions were forced to migrate to Abyssinia. It is noteworthy that despite the propaganda against the religion by the enemies, the prophet was warmly received by his host community leading to establishment of the first state and nation on full scale Islamic system which was evidently the most peaceful and stable in history. The Islamic calendar as a living schedule therefore, acquaints conscious Muslims with historic events, making them responsive to the social and spiritual lessons there from.
On the unfortunate Ashura tragedy, the Islamic Movement, as usual, mourns through special sessions and peaceful processions where the public is enlightened on the hidden atrocities against the honourable progeny of the Great Messenger! Imam Ali al-Ridha has said "with the beginning of Muharram, my father would never smile. He would be dominated by depression for ten days. The tenth day would be of his misfortune, sadness and weeping. He used to say on such day Imam Husain (AS) was slain". Imam al-Sadiq (AS) has said "on the ninth day of Muharram, Imam Husain along with his companions were besieged in Karbala when the Syrian horsemen surrounded him leaving for him but a narrow area. The son of Murjanah, Ubaydullah son of Ziyad and Umar son of Sa’ad were delighted with high number of horsemen who participated in that encounter against him. Thus, the enemy became sure that no supporter would join the army of the Imam and the people in Iraq in particular would not back him. Imam Sadiq then added, may I sacrifice my father for the weak stranger!"
There are special prayers on the tenth night including a 100 raka’ats as the Imam’s companions spent the night praying to draw closer to Allah in their last moment. The martyrdom of the Imam occurred on the tenth. Believers are required to mourn the misfortune in form of consolation ceremonies as they do to their dead beloved. It is also recommended to visit his tomb, leave the earthly benefits and weep for the tragedy. Ibn Abbas narrated that, I have accompanied Imam Ali (AS) in Dziqar. He took out a paper comprising the dictations of the Holy Prophet (S), handwritten by the Imam. He read some segments of that paper and I heard it contained the story of Imam Husain’s martyrdom with full details of the way he would be killed, the person who would kill him, those who would support him and those who would be martyred with him. Imam Ali (AS) then wept heavily and caused me to weep! Anas son of Harith, narrated that the prophet (S) delivered a sermon while Imams Hasan and Husain were sitting before him. After his address, he put his left hand on Imam Husain and raising his head towards heaven said “O my Lord! I am Muhammad thy slave and thy prophet, and these two are the distinguished and pious members of my family who would fortify my cause after me. O my Lord! Gabriel has informed me that my son Husain would be killed. O my Lord! Bless my cause in recompense for Husain’s martyrdom, make him the leader of the martyrs, be though his helper and guardian and do not bless his murderers”
When the prophet informed his daughter Fatima of her son’s martyrdom, she bursted into tears and asked, “O my father! When will my son be martyred? In such a critical moment the prophet replied “when neither I nor you or Ali would be alive” This added to her grief and inquired again “who then my father would commemorate Husain’s martyrdom? The prophet said “the men and women of a particular sect of my followers who will befriend my Ahlul-bait will mourn for Husain and commemorate his martyrdom each year in every century”. Ibn Sa’ad has also narrated that Imam Ali (AS) once passed the desert of Karbala on his way to Siffin. There, he stopped and wept bitterly. When interrogated on the cause, he said, one day he visited the apostle of Allah and found him weeping. And on his inquiry to the messenger he said “O Ali, Gabriel has just been with me and informed me that my son Husain would be martyred in Karbala, a place near river Euphrates. This moved me so much that I could not help weeping”. Narrations like these were very numerous in Mustadrak, versions of Maqtalul Husain by Khwarizmi and many others. Having arrived at the scene, the enemies of the messenger cut water supply to the Imam’s camp which comprised of ladies, innocent children and babies from among the prophet’s family! Thus, all the people were subjected to intense thirst and hunger. This happened on the seventh Muharram, 61 years after hijra, or 50 years only after the demise of the noble messenger! The followers responded “O our master! We are all ready to defend you and your Ahlul-bait, and to sacrifice our lives for the cause of Islam”
No doubt, ground was prepared for the unfortunate Ashura tragedy. That was why murder of Imam Husain was directly related to the event of Saqeefa. What a paradox that some try to equate the two conflicting parties together! It is completely illogical to claim the love of Imam Ali and that of Mu’awiya not to talk of Imam Husain and Yazid who did not love one another to their last minutes. Mahatma Gandhi, the India’s political and spiritual leader though not a Muslim said “I have carefully read the biography of Imam Husain and have contemplated the events of Karbala. I am sure Indians must follow his ideas on the path to victory! In contrast to the widely circulated stories, Ashura, ought to be marked as the day of sorrow based on historical relevance and unprecedented tragedy that befell the pure household of the noble Prophet in the plain of then Karbala, Iraq, when Imam Husain and handful members of his family and followers were brutally murdered by the Yazid’s army.
On various occasions, the prophet has said and repeated “Husain is from me and I am from Husain, O Allah do love he who loves Husain. Husain is the grandson of the prophet as were the offspring (Assbat) of Prophet Jacob”. While taking his way out for reform, the Imam said “I have not risen up, but to safeguard the religion of my grandfather, the Prophet.” If not for the great sacrifice of the Imam and his followers, Islam would have been a thing of history. The Umayyad innovated festivities after their perceived victory at Karbala, which was knowingly or unknowingly spread across the world. However, we are very grateful to Allah with the growing understanding despite illogical attempts to equate oppressors with the oppressed. Imam Husain, his children, relatives and followers could never be compared with their murderers under Umar son of Sa’ad as instructed by Yazid’s tyrannical regime in which corruption, sycophancy, flattering and adulation were the order of the day! The mourning culminates on the 40th day, 20th Safar at Karbala as the most significant part. At the climax of the event, millions of people converge from all nooks and corners of the world! No doubt, it is the greatest peaceful human gathering on earth.
A prominent companion -Jabir bn Abdullah was the first to trek in love to pay homage to the Imam at Karbala, a tradition maintained by the lovers of Ahlulbait directly or on symbolic capacity. A great number of such trekkers from Iraqi neighboring provinces such as Ahwaz and Aberdin move from Iran in a ten to fifteen day journey to Karbala just like their counterparts from distant areas within Iraq. Similarly, such trekkers move from Lebanon to the mausoleum of Sayyidah Zainab, the brave sister of the Imam in Syria as their distant counterparts from the latter. Beside hundreds of brothers and sisters from Nigeria and neighbouring countries that visit the Imam at Karbala annually, millions embark on such symbolic trek from designated points to Husainiyyatu Baqiyyatullah, Zaria before it was destroyed by the el-Rufa’i administration in 2015. The episode generally, proves moral victory of the right over wrong, virtue over vice and justice over oppression. The Yazid’s heartless murder of the Imam and his followers reawakens the Ummah of his tyranny and that of his predecessors which undoubtedly continues to the end of time. Evidently, Ashura is not a bygone historic event, but an everlasting war between right and wrong, true and false and of course tyranny and justice, as Imam Khomeini said "every day is Ashura and every place is Karbala”.
While extending condolences to the Great Messenger, his brother and son in-law; commander of the faithful, Sayyidah Fatima, elder brother of the chief martyr, master of our age (AS) and the great religious authorities, I use the medium as usual to reiterate the need of the unconditional release of Sheikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky and all his disciples. May the peace of Allah be upon Husain, Aliyu son of Husain, children of Husain and the companions of Husain, and His endless curse on their murderers to the day of reckoning.