Who was Imam Husayn, and why was he the sacrifice for the whole of humanity?
Imam Husayn alayhis-salam3 was the grandson of the final Messenger of Allah Almighty to humanity, the holy Prophet of Islam Muhammad sallallahu-alayhi-wa-aalih4; the messenger who “has been sent as Mercy to the worlds” to paraphrase the holy Qur’an.
His father was Imam Ali alayhis-salam, the commander of faithful, who comes second only to prophet Muhammad in the excellent merits that he possessed; qualities such as piety, sincerity, charity, tolerance, vast knowledge, to name a few.
His mother was Fatima al-Zahra’ alayhas-salam5, the daughter of prophet Muhammad and, given her immaculate qualities and moral values that she possessed, the leading lady of the worlds.
After the death of his grandfather, father and brother Imam Hasan, Imam Husayn was in charge of protecting Islam, the Almighty’s final Revelation to humanity, from deviation. It was 60 H (around 680 CE). It was the most crucial time in the history of mankind. The forces of evil have been amassing all their forces, skills and expertise for fifty years, and over this period, and through all the devious means, they had managed to achieve considerable gains, but not enough to totally obliterate the teachings of Islam and its Messenger. They needed one final big push, and this task was assigned to Yazid bin Mo‘awiyah. Through threat and brute force, Yazid had managed to quell all the voices of opposition, except for one.
Husayn, the son of Imam Ali, being who he is, and the Imam (leader) of Islam and Muslims had one duty to discharge; the protection of the final revelation to mankind – and at any cost.
And this is exactly what he did. He stood up to protect the torch that was lit to guide mankind to the light of truth.
3 alayhis-salam, meaning peace be upon him. This invocation is made after the mention of the name of any of the twelve impeccable imams, out of respect.
4 salla-llahu-alayhi-wa-aalih, meaning peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his pure progeny. This invocation is made out of respect and devotion after the mention of the name of the last Messenger of Allah.
5 alayhas-salam, for feminine use, meaning peace be upon her, as above.
He left Makkah for Karbala, along with his women and children. He was joined by his devout friends, along with their families. There were also those how did not share his stance to begin with, but when they heard his call they joined in. Even some Christians joined him in his struggle when they heard his message!
At Karbala he, along with his loyal companions of not more than 100,faced the army of Yazid of more than 100,000 (some reports put this figure at several times more).
For the task of protecting this torch he did not hesitate to pay everything he had. For this he gave his life, and those of his brothers, nephews, sons, from his son of early twenties to his infant baby son of few months. This is not to mention his most devout companions who paid similarly.
What Imam Husayn achieved through his sacred movement was to rekindle and revitalise the bearers of that torch, and by offering himself and his family and companions as a sacrifice, he kept alive the message that has been sent not just to the Muslims but to all of mankind. Through his remarkable sacrifices, Imam Husayn managed to change the course of history and the direction that mankind was heading for.
The articles in this work cover some aspects of the aims and objectives of Imam Husayn’s movement, the difference between his strategy and that of his brother Imam Hasan in facing tyranny and despotism, the examples he set, and the lessons that are learnt from the events that led to Karbala, and its aftermath fourteen centuries ago. Besides, the benefits of his movement, the personality of Imam Husayn peace be upon him as reflected by the many hadith and teachings of Prophet Muhammad is also discussed.
The author has written a number of works about Imam Husayn alayhissalam,whereas this book is a collection of lectures delivered by the author. Included in this work is an interview with a Christian scholar on the subject of the Husayni ceremonies, a number of Fatawa or decrees from the most eminent Religious Authorities or Maraje‘, as well as some questions and answers about the annual commemoration ceremonies observed by the Muslims around the world on the occasion of Ashura – the Day of Sacrifice for humanity.