Imam Husain's (a) uprising was certainly a great one, with unlimited impact and without divergent objectives. It was not confined purely to taking power, though political power was of extreme importance in the view of Imam Husain (a) for positively changing the social conditions and reforming the community. His mission had several short term and long term objectives. He viewed political power as his father Imam Ali (a) did: "O Allah! You know that what we have done wasn't a contest to take power, or aimed at seeking to possess the remnants of worldly trivia. We wanted, indeed, to restore the lost aspects of Your faith and revive Your laws that were being ignored, so that the oppressed may feel secure." As soon as Imam Husain (a) stood against the regime, he was sure that his movement would not succeed militarily, but that it would be the starting point of a large-scale opposition. The Ummah began to feel the weight of having abandoned Imam Husain (a) to the hands of the oppressors.
Imam Husain's (a) uprising was certainly a great one, with unlimited impact and without divergent objectives. It was not confined purely to taking power, though political power was of extreme importance in the view of Imam Husain (a) for positively changing the social conditions and reforming the community. His mission had several short term and long term objectives. He viewed political power as his father Imam Ali (a) did:
"O Allah! You know that what we have done wasn't a contest to take power, or aimed at seeking to possess the remnants of worldly trivia. We wanted, indeed, to restore the lost aspects of Your faith and revive Your laws that were being ignored, so that the oppressed may feel secure."
Imam Husain (a) had the following aims in mind when he started his uprising:
- Changing the political conditions, the ruling system and the way of administering civil affairs, and treating the Ummah (Muslim community) in accordance with the Divine standards set forth by Islam.
- Awakening the political conscience of the Ummah and making a powerful overseeing body out of it, lest the ruler deviates or neglects Islamic laws (Shariah).
- Emphasizing the legality of military opposition to the unjust ruler
- Re-educating the Ummah in line with Islamic laws.
- Rectifying deviation and putting into practice the Shariah.
- Breaking down the wall of fear and terror that was imposed on the Ummah and stirring the spirit of revolution and sacrifice within in it.
As soon as Imam Husain (a) stood against the regime, he was sure that his movement would not succeed militarily, but that it would be the starting point of a large-scale opposition. Accordingly, explosions and upheavals commenced and the regime reached the edge of collapse. The government swayed and lost the last threads connecting it to the Ummah. It then resorted to oppression and terror as a means of silencing any opposing voice and suppressing liberties. The Ummah began to feel the weight of having abandoned Imam Husain (a) to the hands of the oppressors. A series of armed uprisings sprouted, weakening the Umayyads and ending in the fall of that regime. Thus Imam Husain’s (a) holy blood was the key element for the downfall of Umayyad's regime.
Imam Husain (a) confronted a regime that threatened to destroy Islam and the Islamic aspect of the Muslim Ummahh. When Yazid succeeded his father, Muawiya who was known as the 'Command of the Faithful' by the tribes and provinces, his throne was not secure until he received the homage of the four most notable personalities of Islam, whom Muawiya, in spite of his utmost efforts, could neither buy nor coerce to recognize his heir apparent. Without their recognition Yazid's authority couldn't be firmly established. They were as follows:
- Abdullah bin Al-Zubayr
- Abdullah bin Umar
- Abdulrahman ibn Abi Bakr
- Husain bin Ali
These were the sons of the most prominent companions of the Holy Prophet (a). Of course, Imam Husain (a), being the grandson of the Holy Prophet (SAW), enjoyed greater esteem than the other three.
It was this insistence on the recognition and this demand for allegiance (bay'at) on the part of Yazid's government, and the flat refusal of Imam Husain (a) to give allegiance to Yazid that finally led to Imam Husain’s (a) martyrdom and that of his 72 loyal companions and the captivity of the women and children of his household.
It is an undeniable fact that at no time in history, before or after the Karbala tragedy, do we find a group of more than 100 men, women, and children so strongly united in purpose and determination. There wasn't the slightest disagreement among them regarding their ultimate goal and the necessity of self-sacrifice. We know that on several occasions, Imam Husain (a) addressed his enemies and advised them to reconsider their decision to kill him, but never, did he speak to his companions for the purpose of raising their spirit of loyalty and courage. Neither in Medina nor Mecca, nor during his journey towards Kufa, did he ever try to add to the number of his supporters. On the contrary, he repeated his advice to them to leave him and save themselves. But despite this, not a single person left him to join the enemy, while some left the enemy's ranks to join him and chose to be martyred along with him. There were no signs of weakness or regret on the part of his companions throughout this tough trial. On the contrary, they were all happy and in good spirits at the prospect of the precious opportunity to be martyred with their Imam (a).
The tragedy of Imam Husain (a)'s martyrdom sent a wave of resentment throughout the Muslim lands against Yazid's oppressive regime. The tragedy of Karbala opened the eyes of the masses and awakened the public mind. The martyrdom of Imam Husain (a) and the great courage and outspoken criticism of the captives, particularly Hazrat Zainab (a) [Imam Hussain's sister], shook the masses out of their submission to oppression and tyranny.
Imam Husain (a), his family and his companions set a sublime example of human resistance against oppression and injustice for the Muslim Ummah and all other mankind. Up to the present day, one hears with a mixture of wonder, sorrow, and admiration of the tales of indomitable courage, generous self-sacrifice and unlimited patience in severe hardships for the attainment of a sacred goal. Imam Husain (a) not only saved Islam from deviation, distortion and corruption by the forces of apostasy and oppression, but he also revived the institution of martyrdom in a world of cowardly men who were willing to bear even the utmost disgrace and indignity for their fear of death and love of the life in this world. His words echoing through the long distance of centuries.
Imam Husain’s (a) martyrdom gave rise to a series of popular insurrections, which decades later, ultimately resulted in the collapse of the Umayyad dynasty. He deprived the caliphate of its dangerous aura of undeserved sanctity that threatened to obliterate the Divine faith by degenerating into a hereditary monarchy.
The message of Karbala has preserved its power in spite of the passage of 1,000 years. The endurance of its message is characteristic of all the things connected with man's divine attachment and sublime human goals. If the following Qur’anic Verses have motivated the future generations and aroused our generation, it is because of the sacrifices of the martyrs of Karbala whose blood saved the purity of the Divine Message. The Holy Qur'an thus says:
"Certainly We sent Our apostles with clear arguments, and sent down with them The Book and The balance that men may conduct themselves with equity." (57:25)
"And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and children, of those who say: Our Lord! cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper." (4:75)
Thus, Imam Husain (a) remains forever a slogan for the revolutionaries, a lighthouse for freedom, and a source for struggle and liberation.
This article originally appeared on the AhlulBayt Islamic Mission website [www.aimislam.com]. It has been republished here with permission.