(Who to believe when everyone claims to be right?)
By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
Whether deciding about a political candidate, a theory or even personal and private matters, the process of making the final decision is hard and sometimes painful on many aspects. All sides claim to be on the right side, support the right cause, committed to the right approach and finally their statements and actions are RIGHT. Well, according to freedom of speech and personal liberties making such claims is absolutely fine, legal and socially acceptable according to many contemporary social and political behaviors. However, the issue of being morally, politically and socially acceptable is not as important as being able to make a decision that is right based on all principles and standards.
Watching a campaign commercial on TV or an election debate, hearing about an ideology or a theory is similar to a battle, where each side is trying to persuade as many followers to assert its prevalence. Therefore, the necessity to develop a set of standards and principles would prevent from thinking that everyone is right or all sides are equally correct, since correctness and righteousness is proportionate. Unfortunately, the hermeneutical perception of individuals about right and wrong has transformed into personal presumptions and comprehensions of life experiences instead of cognitive, academic, logical and sane sets of rules, principle and standards.
Danger of standards plurality
The deliberate trends to keep all powers only affiliated with human mind might seem a noble cause, yet it can be dangerous if the following notions are taken into consideration.
The ability to create resources and primary records for investigation is not in human’s hand, therefore, the methodology to investigate and dissect the resources and records must be presented and delivered by the creator. The methodology for investigation and dissection will be apprehensible by human minds, since the primary process of finding the resources requires intellect and cognition on many levels. Therefore, a primary non-human made sets of principles and standards for dissection and investigation are necessary to prevent wrong judgements and un-academic presumptions. In addition, the presence of such existing sets of principles and standards would mean the ultimate role of intellect and free mind will be put into test, which is making decision based on correct findings and perfect trails of investigation. Otherwise, if none is offered to humanity, the notion of accepting consequences and punishment is ethically unacceptable and unworthy.
The absence of clear sets of principles and standards to identify and outline right from wrong and correctness from corruption and evil can be due to several factors. The primary factor is human mind itself, since its capabilities are still limited regardless of its advancement and superb analytical powers. The idea of creating standards out of nullity is beyond the comprehension of human intellect and capability, since analyzing the correctness, effectuality and performance level of those sets must have be subjected to a methodology of investigation. Nevertheless, this process is an everlasting circle with no clear result with an assured notion of wasting time and effort.
Basing the development of standards and principles on life experiences, primitive human findings, manmade resources and even semi-cognitive presumptions will not surpass the reality of being ANALYSIS. The best capability of human intellect, is ability to comprehend and analyze information to develop a final decision, which makes intellect in needs of primary information and resources that can’t be man-made.
Human experience and understanding of his/her surrounding is bound to observation and direct interaction. Observation is inadequate since humans are unable to apprehend the past and future, and each observation holds a certain past and an unknown future. In addition, the surrounding facts of each observation are not always evident and clear, as many facts are possible to be hidden unless revealed through narration or future discovery. Therefore, any standard or principle based on observation is bound and limited to momentary findings by observation. In addition, the problem that lays within direct interaction is due to human’s tendency and behavior, which is bound to be either reactionary or pre-emptive. Although both of these behaviors can be based on analytical investigation or cognition, yet the result and consequence is temporal and provisional. Direct interaction and its findings are effected by past experiences, presumptions and the transitory encounter, which can vary from pleasant to violent or acceptable to irreceivable. Therefore, why should any sets of principles and standards created by such emotions and experiences be binding and used as a methodology to judge and determine good to evil?
To be continued
Mainstream Islam & legacy of violence against minorities
By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
Majority of observers, researchers, activists and writers have accused the Saudi regime sponsored Wahhabi sect for the contemporary phenomenon of terrorism and use of violent methods. Although, the Saudi family and their Wahhabi branch is responsible for some the most horrific crimes against humanity and free will, yet the root of these actions and ideologies was only capitalized and implemented by Wahhabism. The ideological implementations of Ibn Taymiya and other scholars within this sect are derived from earlier and traditional texts, where minorities like Sufis, Shias, Jews, Mutazilies and others were subjected to ideological and physical elimination.
Throughout previous articles the foundation of a violent trails of actions, statements and decisions was identified in the early post-Prophet Mohammad era, where certain companions carried out terrorizing acts. In addition, other decisions by the first three Caliphs and later on by the Umayyad and Abbasids became the preliminary bases for any ideological theorizing and legitimizing use of violence and force. Therefore, the early stage of Islamic history and the horrific crimes against minorities, the holy household of Prophet Mohammad and Islam itself, were only actions or organized efforts by individuals and groups to gain influence and control. However, the actions of this mentioned era was used by later scholars as mean of general ruling and fatwa extraditing tools and methods.
Early stages of theorizing violence
The early stages of legitimizing use of violence was primarily for political purposes according to many historical findings, since most scholars of those eras were linked and affiliated with political dynasties of the time. For instance the most direct and clear indication of violence legitimization is witnessed during the Seljuk dynasty and its famous Vazir Nizam Al-Mulk, who is the founder of Nizamiya School in Baghdad.
This man is considered a very wise, just, trustworthy and eloquent individual, who counseled the Seljuk king and ultimately wrote a book exhorting kings about the methods of governance and leadership. The book is named ‘Siyasat Nameh’ and has several chapters categorizing the priorities, responsibilities and governance methods for any ruler or king, which urges some historian to think that Siyasat Nameh was a book for the elites only. Regardless, the author of this book launched and initiated a systematic and planned elimination of Shia Muslims inside Iraq and other places, by alerting the king about the danger of leaving Shias alone. Nizam Al-Mulk suggests that Shia Muslims are an element of instability and chaos, and prevailing stability and headache-less rule is achieved by eliminating those rouge elements, alongside other minorities like the Esoteric sects.
The trails of Nizam Al-Mulk and his influence is transferred to individuals effected by him and his political rationale. The use of religious rationalization for political gain is later capitalized and implemented by scholars like Abu Hamed Al-Ghazali, who is considered among the greatest scholars of Sunni Islam. The affiliation of this scholar with the political entity of that time, forced him to develop a religious fundamental for eliminating oppositions and any group of minorities that were considered dangerous. Therefore, sources indicate that Al-Ghazali legitimized and set the foundation for physical elimination and total abandonment of entire groups and sects, in the name of guarding the Islamic Empire and nation.
Unfortunately, the theological rationales of such individuals was used to wage war against dynasties and groups, under the pretense of being an infidel, esoteric, Shia, non-believer, apostate or blasphemers. Saladin Al-Ayoubi used the work of Nizam Al-Mulk and Al-Ghazali and their likes to legitimize his crimes against the Shias of Egypt and other minorities under his rule. Therefore, although radical scholars like Ibn Taymiya were always condemned and challenged by other Sunni scholars, yet the traditional sources and texts of this school is filled with legitimization of hate, violence and use of force against other groups. It might be right to argue that Wahhabism and its famous scholar Ibn Taymiya and Mohammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab have placed the entire world as their nemesis, due to difference in ideology, yet what is considered mainstream Islam is filled with similar claims as well.
Fortunately, the recent years have presented several individuals with a tendency to come in Public and denounce the content of these traditional sources, which are considered as sacred and worthy of being taught. Several Arab and Muslims channels have aired debates and panels with scholars from numerous schools of thought challenging one another upon the substance of those books and their hateful ideology. Although the trend of such challenges is slow and require more time and additional cleansed resources, and alongside the challenge a healthy and complete alternative is require as well. Once contemporary free-minds and Muslim scholars start to question and challenge the content so these books, they must begin to seek answers and alternatives, as they will have to reassess the entire foundation of what is considered mainstream Islam.
The continuous trail of a bloody ideology
The heart of European Union was struck this morning by two explosions that consumed many innocent lives and left others injured. The previous attacks throughout this continent have always left the impression that the end is not near, and terror will steal security and prosperity from this part of the world and innocents again. Well, here we are in the second day of spring and 2016, yet the world and specifically the western powers would not outline and blame the source of this bloodshed and tyranny, which is called terrorism.
The explosions of Belgium would reveal some facts about the carriers of these horrendous actions, and the ones responsible shall suffer for their crimes against humanity, yet Belgium and other European powers must start to acknowledge the following:
Drying the ideological root of terrorism is more crucial than fighting the actual terrorists in Iraq, Syria and other places.
Identifying the ideological root of terrorism has been conducted and outlined by various global institutions and foundations, which place the institution of Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia in the frontline of terror sponsorship.
Engagement with domestic Muslim youths and addressing their concerns and afflictions to prevent any intrusion using their inability to advance and create opportunity. The notion of Home Grown Terrorism has been the center of many conversations in the west, which creates a necessity about the importance of observing the needs and grievances of minorities in general and Muslims specifically.
Forcing the Muslims leaders to be engaged with Muslims youths and radical elements more frequently is very important. The primary reason, radical individuals are able to persuade and recruit younger generations, is the absence of wise, elder and more knowledgeable scholars and Muslim leaders. The presence of these leaders would enable the Muslims youth to make a better choice using the information provided by those scholars and leaders, which will show them about the bogus claims of radical groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda.
Shia wisdom would like to take this opportunity to send condolences to the families of victims, and may the almighty grant them patience and tranquility. In addition, Shia wisdom and staff condemn these horrific acts in the name of Islam and stand in solidarity with the Belgian people and its officials.
Genocide in Taza (Iraq)
There are numerous dates and events in history’s calendar that will make any human wonder about the viciousness, ruthlessness and barbarism of certain individuals and groups. Unfortunately, these dates mark what the contemporary world considers as (GENOCIDES). The Darfur genocides, the holocaust genocides, the Congo genocides, the Northern Iraqi city (Halabcha) genocide and many others that are a shameful chapter in humanity’s history.
Recently the world was alerted about a new genocide, which took place in Iraq to add to the daily atrocities this country has suffered from for a long time. A small town near Iraq northern city of Kirkuk name ‘Taza’ was subjected to chemical attacks by ISIS, where reports have indicated thousands including women and children are among the dead. The majority of this town’s residents were Shia Muslims, who are considered as infidels and non-believers by ISIS and other Wahhabi groups. In addition, other minorities like the Yazidis and Christians of this town have been reported to be among the victims of this horrific genocide. Earlier, the US state department considered the crime a ‘genocide’ and a crime against humanity, where the secretary called for international legal institutions to investigate the details and trails of this horrendous act.
As mentioned in previous articles and statements by Shia Wisdom, the notion of terrorism will never be beaten by only launching airstrike campaigns and sending possible ground troops. The ideological pool of hatred and fundamentalism these groups are feeding from must be dried and prevented. In addition, all states, groups and individuals who have supported these terrorist groups by any mean (Financial, recruitment, ideology, cyber support and etc.) must be held accountable and persecuted to the full extent of law.
Shia Wisdom and staff send their prayers for the victims and their families, hoping the almighty lord will grant patience and serenity to them and may he bless the souls of all those who have fallen.
Ruqaya Bint Al-Hussein (Daughter of Imam Al-Hussein: Ruqaya)
By: Hussein Al-Hussein
Every single minute of the story of Ashura and Karbala is filled with sorrow and afflictions, which will bring the coldest hearts to tears and make anyone wonder about the types of creatures Imam Al-Hussein faced during that battle. Prior to the final battle of Imam Al-Hussein against the army of Yazid, he even called upon the army and said: “if you hold no faith, at least be freemen in your life”. However, neither the fact that Imam Al-Hussein is the grandson of Prophet Mohammad, stopped them from committing one of history’s most horrendous crimes, and neither the fact that after Imam Al-Hussein, there were only women and children left in the camp of the Imam.
Among the many stories of Ashura, one story stands out and gets mentioned on numerous occasions, as it can relate to many social classes and the level of calamity is outrageous and unbelievable. This story is about a small girl, who did not even pass four years old named Ruqaya.
Ruqaya is believed to be the youngest daughter of Imam Al-Hussein, and among the youngest children, who witnessed the tragedy of Ashura. The pains and afflictions of Ruqaya started on the day of Ashura, right after the martyrdom of her father, as the army commander (Omar Ibn Sa’ad) shouted: ‘burn the tents of the tyrants’. In addition, when Imam Al-Hussein asked the army of Yazid, why are they fighting him and aiming for his life, they replied: “we are fighting you, due to our hatred toward your father”. Therefore, instead of showing the slightest amount of humanity and mercy toward the grandson of Prophet Mohammad, they burnt the tents and lashed the women and children, they robbed the women and children and finally they placed the head of Imam Al-Hussein on a spear before his entire family and took women and children to captivity.
The women and children of Imam Al-Hussein were taken as captives in the most demeaning way possible, as they tied them all in robes and metals, and the entire way toward Kufa and Damascus, they were lashed and humiliated and cussed it.
Ruqaya Bint Al-Hussein
The story of Ruqaya, who was a small child starts, on the day of Ashura after her father was martyred, as she started crying and asking for her father, and would not stop. According to narrations, her aunt (Lady Zainab) told Ruqaya that her father had gone on a journey and he will be absent for a while. The entire way toward Kufa and Damascus, this child was asking for her father and would always complain about the weight of the metals on her shoulders and small hands. She would tell her aunt (Lady Zainab) that if her father would ever return, she will tell him how she was lashed and humiliated and how she was tied and had to carry heavy metals.
Finally when the Caravan of the captives gets to Damascus, and they are entered upon Yazid, where history narrates some of the heartbreaking details about this encounter, the family of Imam Al-Hussein are placed in a site of ruins and wreckage. The place had no roof and wasn’t a place with privacy, as people were able to pass by and stare and gaze upon the family of Imam Al-Hussein, which was Yazid’s intention to humiliate the household of Prophet Mohammad.
Sources indicate that one the 5th night of month of Safar, Ruqaya awakens from her sleep and starts crying very loudly and tells her aunt: “where is my father, I just saw him in my dream and he wanted me to come to him. Aunt Zainab, please tell me where is my father”. The screams and outcry of this child put rest of the kids and women in tears, as everyone knew that Ruqaya would not stop, unless she sees her father. Apparently the site of ruins was close to the palace of Yazid and as the weeping of the women and children got high, he was bothered and disturbed.
Yazid summons the guards and enquire about the source of the noises and weeping, and the guards tell him: “one of Al-Hussein’s daughters has awakens and she is asking for her father”. Yazid tells the guards: “if that is the case, then take her father’s head to her, maybe she would stop crying.
The guards place the head of Imam Al-Hussein in a basin and cover it with a piece of cloth and take it to the family of Imam Al-Hussein. Once Ruqaya sees the basin, she thinks that the guards have brought food and water, where she tells her aunt: “Aunt, I am not hungry, I don’t want food, I want my father”. The guards place the basin before Ruqaya and leave. Ruqaya takes the cloth away and sees her father’s head, she hugs it and falls on it.
Imam Al-Sajjad narrates that, Ruqaya hugged the head and started talking to her father: “O’ Father, who did this to you, O’ Father, who beheaded you, O’ Father, who made me an orphan at such a young age, O’ Father, you should see my black shoulders and back from the lashes of these brutal people, O’ Father, you should have seen how they burnt our tents and brought us here in this site of wreckage”. Then, Imam Al-Sajjad says: “The child cried and wept while hugging the head, as finally she stopped and there was no sound from her anymore”. Imam Al-Sajjad then tells his aunt (Lady Zainab): “O’ aunt, take my sister Ruqaya and prepare her body for burial, as she has passed away”.
That was one of the most painful nights upon the family of Imam Al-Hussein, as they had to witness that heartbreaking situation. The body of Ruqaya was prepared on that night, and it was buried in Damascus, where it still remains.
Centuries have passed by, and the tyrant of Damascus Yazid has not mark and trace there, even though Damascus was the capital of the Umayyad dynasty. Nonetheless, once one passes through the narrow allies of the old city in Damascus, he/she would come to a corner, where a small white dome is witnessed, which symbolizes the shrine of Ruqaya, the orphan of Imam Al-Hussein in Damascus. This three or four years old child, who passed away while hugging her father’s head in a site of ruins, is visited by thousands each year, and every year on the 5th’s day of month of Safar, Shia Muslims mourn the memory of this child, and remember her pain and affliction.
The Holy Household of Prophet Mohammad
By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
Imam Al-Sadiq (P.B.U.H)
The sixth Imam of Shia Muslims and the longest living member of Prophet Mohammad’s holy household lived during an era, which was politically instable and ambiguous. That era marked the emergence of the Abbasid dynasty and collapse of the Umayyad dynasty, which gave a window of freedom to Imam Al-Sadiq. Therefore, he was able to gather hundreds of pupils and teach them numerous sciences and types of knowledge, to an extent where most of today’s modern essential sciences are derived from this man’s school and pupils.
However, the reign of enlightening and knowledge did not last long, as the Abbasids prevailed and crushed the Umayyad, and the amount of oppression against the holy household of Prophet Mohammad was multiplied. According to an Arab poet, he compares the Umayyad and Abbasids dynasty by saying: Swear to Allah, the oppression of Umayyad would not be one tenth of what the Abbasids did to the household of Prophet Mohammad.
This Imam, who lived and was martyred in Medina, suffered the most at the hands of Mansoor Al-Dawaniqi, who actually ordered the house of Imam Al-Sadiq to be attacked and burnt, while there were women and children inside. Finally he was poisoned in Medina by Al-Mansoor and buried beside his father and grandfather.
Imam Al-Kadhim (P.B.U.H)
Another member of Prophet Mohammad’s family who was humiliated, beaten, cussed, prisoned and finally poisoned, and even after his death, his body was thrown at a bridge in Baghdad. Imam Moosa Al-Kadhim, who became the seventh Imam of Shia Muslims, after his father Imam Al-Sadiq, spent over seventeen years in the prisons of Haroon Al-Abbasi. He was transferred from one prison to another, and each prison was another dilemma and affliction for this great man, even in one of the prisons, three hungry lions were entered to his cell, but once the lions came close to Imam Al-Kadhim, they would only lower their heads before him and bow at his feet.
Ultimately, Haroon Al-Abbasi decided to transfer Imam Al-Kadhim to a prison in Baghdad, which was administrated by a man hostile to the progeny of Prophet Mohammad, named Sindi Ibn Shahek. This man constantly beat the Al-Kadhim, humiliated him, cussed at thim, and placed him in a dungeon, where the Imam did not know day and night time. Finally, Haroon Al-Abbasi ordered Sindi to poison the Imam and after that his body was thrown on Al-Rasafa Bridge in Baghdad.
Imam Ali Al-Ridha
The eighth Imam of Shia Muslim and also known as the (Gharib), which means stranger in English, as he was exiled and martyred in a place far from him home town and away from his family members, while having no one from his family beside him. Imam Al-Ridha, who lived during the era of Abbasid civil war between Haroon’s sons (Al-Amin & Al-Ma’amoon), was later on forcibly exiled to Khorasan province in Iran, and forced to the crown-prince of the Caliph, although he was older than Al-Ma’amoon.
Although, Al-Ma’amoon had intended to use the appointment of Imam Al-Ridha as an approach to control his movements and activities, the results were opposite. The Abbasid family were angry with Al-Ma’amoon and the popularity of Al-Ridha was increasing constantly. Therefore, Al-Ma’amoon followed the footsteps of his father and poisoned Imam Al-Ridha and buried him beside the body of his father, Haroon Al-Abbasi in Khorasan Province, in what is known today as Mashhad. In addition, once the Imam Al-Ridha was martyred, the Abbasids started pursuing and punishing the family members of Imam Al-Ridha, as many of them were scattered through different regions and lands, where they lived in hidings and many others were killed and prisoned for years.
Imam Mohammad Al-Jawad (P.B.U.H)
Although, this Imam is considered to be one of the youngest Imams, when he assumed the position of Imamate, his legacy and biography is not different than his father and the previous Imams. Imam Al-Jawad was forced by Al-Ma’amoon to marry Um Al-Fadhl, who was the daughter of Al-Ma’amoon, and he was summoned to Baghdad at a later time, to under close supervision and he was placed under house arrest. Ultimately, Um Al-Fadhl’s brother, who was the next Caliph after Al-Ma’amoon, decided to get rid of the Al-Jawad. The Caliph, used the Imam’s wife (his sister) to poison him and he was left in the house for three days after his death. Imam Al-Jawad was buried in Baghdad beside his grandfather, Imam Al-Kadhim.
Imam Ali Al-Hadi (P.B.U.H)
Imam Al-Hadi lived during the time of one the Abbasid’s most cruel and barbaric caliph, named Al-Mutawakil. This man crushed numerous uprisings, which happened due to severe economic hardships, corruption and favoritism. Al-Mutawakil is known to be one of the most hostile individuals to the holy household of Prophet Mohammad, as tried to destroy the grave of Imam Al-Hussein in Karbala several times. Imam Al-Hadi was summoned by Al-Mutawakil to Samara, and he was placed under house arrest and close supervision, and his contact with the outside world was very limited and minimal.
Finally, Imam Al-Hadi was poisoned by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mu’tazz, and he was buried in Samara, which was a military compound at the time.
Imam Hassan Al-Askari (P.B.U.H)
The eleventh Imam of Shia Muslims, and the father of Imam Al-Mahdi, who is still alive and in hiding (occultation) according to Shia doctrine. Imam Al-Askari, who spent almost his entire life in exile and house arrest, always criticized the corrupt policies of the caliph and extortion of the wealth by the Caliph and his surrounding circle. The contact with Imam Al-Askari was very minimal and limited to only certain individuals, who were among the close pupils and companions of him. Ultimately, Imam Al-Askari was martyred and poisoned by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mu’tamid, and he was also buried in Samara beside his father, Imam Al-Hadi.
The Holy Household of Prophet Mohammad
By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
Just browsing through the history of Prophet Mohammad’s household will raise enormous wonderings and questions about the limit of deceit, hypocrisy and brutality that so-called Muslims leaders had. Prophet Mohammad had given tens of narrations about the significance of his household, and the importance of abidance and sincerity to them, where the Prophet had placed the anger of Allah upon angering his household and specifically Lady Fatima Al-Zahra. However, as soon as the Prophet left this world, his household faced some of the vicious atrocities and oppressions and crimes, which makes any observer wonder if those Muslims were really believers of Islam.
Imam Ali (P.B.U.H)
This great man, who has been praised by non-Muslims more than Muslims was cursed in mosques, streets and houses for more than eighty years, by the orders of Muawiya Ibn Abi Sufyan. The first Islamic civil war was waged against him by one of the Prophet’s wives and other companions. He had to witness his wife and children being beaten and humiliated, and he was humiliated, tied and pulled to the mosque to legitimize a codetta.
Finally this man was assassinated and martyred during the month of Ramadan, while praying and yet he delivers one of the most astonishing sermons for humanity before his death, as he was severely wounded.
Lady Fatima Al-Zahra (P.B.U.H)
To trigger the tears of any Shia Muslims, it would only be enough to ask him/her, where is the tomb of Lady Fatima Al-Zahra? Imagine, the grave of Prophet Mohammad’s daughter was hidden and still remains hidden. This calamity by itself, makes any free mind wonder about the reason that makes Imam Ali hide her grave upon her request.
Her door was burnt, she was pushed behind the door, and she lost a child while in pregnancy, she was beaten, she was humiliated and cussed at before (Muslims), and yet no one dared to say: Stop, this is the daughter of Allah’s messenger.
Imam Al-Hassan (P.B.U.H)
Al-Hassan is among the individuals from the Prophet’s household, who was oppressed and personally attacked during his lifetime and after his death. He was cussed and humiliated, and his close companions betrayed him, while preparing for a battle. Imam Al-Hassan was stabbed by one of his soldiers, and later on forced to accept a seize fire with the governor of Damascus (Muawiya).
Finally, this great man’s spouse conspires against him with Muawiya, in a hope to receive prize and status and poisons him in his house. In addition, during his funeral and burial, Ayesha (Prophet Mohammad’s wife) comes out and refuses to let him be buried beside his grandfather, and his tomb gets shot by hundreds of arrows.
Imam Al-Hussein (P.B.U.H)
This great man, who will later makes history in the battle of Karbala, had to witness the calamities his father, mother and brother had to face. In addition, he was threatened in Medina, the city of his grandfather, and gets forced flee to Mecca, where later on he leaves the Haj rituals to save the city and the holy shrine from a possible catastrophe, as he knew Yazid Ibn Muawiya would not hesitate to burn the Ka’aba if he has to.
Although Imam Al-Hussein received thousands of letters and promises from Kufa, to go there and lead the people there to challenge Yazid’s corrupt rule, he was betrayed by majority of the people there. Ultimately, the army of Yazid and thousands of people from Kufa (including some of the ones who had sent letters) faced Imam Al-Hussein in Karbala and slaughtered the entire family of Imam Al-Hussein and his companions. Imam Al-Hussein’s head was decapitated and raised on a spear and taken from one city to another, while his family (women) were captive, and then taken to Damascus to Yazid. Imam Al-Hussein’s infant was also a victim of this battle, as he was shot by an arrow, when the Imam asked for some water for the child.
Imam Al-Sajjad (P.B.U.H)
It is narrated that Imam Al-Sajjad cried for the rest of his life after the battle of Karbala, where he had to witness the martyrdom of his father and his entire family, and if it wasn’t for his severe illness, he would have been among the ones slaughtered as well. Imam Al-Baqir (Imam Al-Sajjad’s son) narrates that every meal and cup of water was mixed with his tears, as he always remembered the calamity of Karbala and what happened on the day of Ashura.
This Imam was un-officially placed under house arrest, as his communication with the outside world was very minimal, and during his era the oppression of Umayyad dynasty had reached its peak. Ultimately, he was poisoned and martyred by Umayyad agents and buried beside his uncle Imam Al-Hassan in the cemetery of Bani Hashim in Medina.
Imam Al-Baqir (P.B.U.H)
This Imam was among the children, who witnessed the battle of Karbala and saw his entire family, including his grandfather, Imam Al-Hussein being massacred and slaughtered on the day of Ashura. According to narrations, he was five years old and he was among the women and children that were taken as captives to Damascus.
Imam Al-Baqir lived through reign of several brutal Umayyad caliphs and he was finally martyred and poisoned by Hisham Ibn Abdul Malek in the city of Medina and buried beside his father.
To be continued.
Arba’een, meaning “forty” in Arabic is the fortieth day that marks the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (a.s) in the Shi’ite Islamic sect. It is also commonly referred to as ‘Chehelom’ in Urdu or Persian. In commemoration of the third Shi’ite Imam (a.s), Arbaeen constitutes of a large gathering that usually occurs in the Islamic month of Safar. In Muslim traditions, Arba’een or a period of forty days is also the customary time frame that is spent in mourning a family member who has passed away and the fortieth day then marks the loved one’s death anniversary. However, Arba’een of Prophet Muhammad’s (s) grandson is no ordinary gathering. It neither the Islamic Hajj nor the Hindu Kumb Mela, it is the world’s most crowded gathering one would ever come across. Surpassing the statistics of Mecca pilgrims annually and Kumb Mela that only occurs every third year, Arba’een holds millions of visitors each year at the shrine of Imam Hussain (a.s) in Karbala, Iraq. Briefly accounting historical data, the visitors had been 8 million in the year, 2009 with the numbers increasing rapidly each year. Last year witnessed a hefty population of 20 million pilgrims in Karbala with the numbers expected to increase this year following the escalation trend. Arba’een being unique in light of its large population of visitors particularly encompasses intriguing attributes that are worth mentioning. Iraq, a region with political disturbances and home to terror groups such as ‘Daesh’ or ‘Islamic State ‘ host Arba’een’s visitors year after year. The Daesh view the Shia as their mortal enemy, however nothing deters the faith of these pilgrims who passionately carry out their commemoration surrounding the grave of Imam Hussain (a.s) despite the danger lurking in the shadows. Let us now examine a few more attributes of Arba’een. While this commemoration event is Shia-dominated, other groups including the Sunnis, Christians, Yazidis and Zoroastrians as well as Sabians also partake in the Arba’een pilgrimage (ziyarat) in addition to attending other customs, namely serving of devotees. The preceding attribute is remarkably exclusive in its religious ritual nature and articulates the following fact: regardless of religion or color, people see Hussain (a.s) as a symbolic evidence of universal, unconfined and meta-religious portrayal of freedom as well as compassion.
The Arba’een is truly amazing. The ziyarat itself constitutes a long trek to the shrine of the Holy Imam (a.s). There is a 425 mile distance to be covered from the southern port city of Basra to Karbala. Long as it is by car, it is even more difficult on foot. Pilgrims perform this journey within a full two weeks’ time frame and groups include all age groups. Whether it is the sun’s scorching heat during the day or the night’s bone-chilling cold, the pilgrims perform the ziyarat with sheer love for Hussain (a.s). Therefore, the rough regional terrain, uneven roads, dangerous marshlands and terrorist strongholds are no game against the compassion of Hussain’s (a.s) visitors who show unmatched devotion for their martyred Imam and Master. Moreover, the food served by the locals as part of Arba’een ritual is a sight to witness. For a comparative perspective, let us consider the aid offered by major organizations such as the UN World Food Programme and the military-based Operation Unified Response by United States to victims of natural disaster following the Haitian Earthquake. While the UN delivered half a million meals as their maximum effort, the collaborated efforts by United States had managed to deliver 4.9 million meals to Haitians. At Arba’een, 50 million meals per day are offered to the pilgrims with a total of 700 million covering the pilgrimage duration. And these meals are not offered by any world aid agencies; rather the Iraqi locals including poor laborers and farmers compile these meals by starving themselves the entire year in order to save food for Hussain’s (a.s) pilgrims.
Fourteen hundred years ago, the son of Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s) was martyred in an attempt to erase traces of all teachings of Ahlul-bayt (a.s) with his followers suffering a tragic end at the hands of the Umayyad empire and yet fast-forwarding the time clock, Hussain’s (a.s) mourners inspiringly gather from all walks of life in astonishing numbers every year. Therefore, if the world understood Hussain’s (a.s) message and his sacrifice, they will be enlightened about the Daesh’s ancient roots as well as its motto of death and destruction. Hussain’s (a.s) presence on the other hand has been and continues to be solidly marked by Arba’een. His legend is not only encouraging and inspiring but it challenges the greatest of champions in patience, dedication and strength to heroically serve a mission – all for the sake of his love for the divine God.
The tragedy of Karbala left the Islamic World with valuable lessons to reflect upon. The battle in Karbala took place in 60 Hijri when Imam Hussain (a.s) and his followers sacrificed everything they possessed dear for the sole sake of God. The opposing party, namely the Umayyads with the tyrant ruler, Yazid shed innocent blood on the land of Altaf (Karbala) for fulfillment of selfish motives that neither obeyed nor followed any religious teachings of the Apostle of God. Therefore, there can be many lessons that can be learned from the eloquent portrayal of dignity, sovereignty, patience and love for God that was displayed by the sacrifices of Ahlul-bayt (a.s) and his followers on the battlefield.
The first lesson involves importance that is given to Amr Bil Maroof (Enjoining Good) and Nahi Anil Munkar (Forbidding Evil). We are taught not to waiver from what is right and not panic during discharge of obligations. A believer must be firmly ready to face the consequences of his actions on the Day of Judgment as well as in the Hereafter. This also means that a believer must know and discharge only those duties that are within his capacity to carry out as that is what he will be accountable for. The results must be left to God.
- Karbala sheds light on the importance of learning Fiqh (Islamic practical laws). And this is observed from a scene with Lady Zainab (a.s). Lady Zainab (a.s) asked the Imam of the time (a.s) for edict even as the tents had been set on fire.
- We learn that importance has also been laid on spouse selection and religious upbringing of children. Two events can be described here. Firstly, Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s) chose Lady Ummul Banin as his wife and the pious marital union resulted in a progeny like Hazrat Abbas (a.s) [brother of Imam Hussain (a.s)]. Secondly, Imam Hussain (a.s) addressed the Ummayad troops; It was the fault of their forefathers that impacted the Ummayad troops’ upbringing and made them fight against the nephew of Allah’s Apostle. Furthermore, adding to the point about spouse selection, husband-wife relations have also been stressed. The Imam (a.s) was heard saying that he did not like a house that was devoid of Rabab and Sakina. Therefore, the wife is to be a ‘peace’ source for the husband.
- It is important to learn ilm (knowledge). This is so that our lives can be led as per our Creator’s will. Ziyarat Arbaeen eloquently describes Imam’s (a.s) sacrifice, “I give witness that the entire purpose of the total sacrifice was saving people from ignorance.”
- The event teaches believers the importance of Ikhlas. This means that the believer must do all of his duties for the sake of Allah only without Riya (showing off) involved. Therefore, the Aqaed (belief) in the Hereafter should be strong and this is when one can truly sacrifice material pleasures for achieving permanent benefits of the Hereafter.
- Having control over emotions has also been stressed. The event teaches us that we should control our emotions when acting for God’s sake. This is not to say that human beings must be prevented from expressing their emotions but rather, a believer must do so without comprising on the actions that are required for God’s sake.
- For women, observation of Hijab (head covering) is undoubtedly another important lesson taught by the events in Karbala. The pious ladies from the family of Ahlul-bayt (a.s) were always witnessed covered from the eyes of non-mahrem until the Ummayd’s dhulm (cruelty/oppression) pulled away their Hijab on the 10th of Muharram.
- Lastly, Karbala teaches us to submit to the will of Allah at all times and in all states. For instance, Imam Hussain (a.s) was seen offering sajda (prostration) of shukr (thanks) in all times of difficulty.