Some Sayings of Imam Husain (‘a)

The Almighty Allah had bestowed Imam Husain (‘a) with beautiful eloquence and spontaneity of speech, as if he issued a flood of maxims, advices and exhortations for his tongue. Some of his shorter sayings are mentioned below:

1 – His Eminence (‘a) said: “The wise does not speak to one whom he fears he shall be belied and he does not ask anyone of anything if he fears he shall not give. And he does not repose hope on one whom he does not trust.”[1]

2 – His Eminence told his son Ali ibn al-Husain: “O son! Beware of oppressing the one who has none to repel your attack except Allah.” [2]

3 – His Eminence said, “Allah does not take power from anyone but He takes away from him His obedience. And He does not take anyone’s strength but that He ends his responsibility (duty).” [3]

4 – His Eminence said, “Beware of that for which you have to regret later. Because the believer neither commits a mistake nor seeks forgiveness and the hypocrite commits a mistake everyday and seeks forgiveness…[4]

5 – His Eminence said, “Leave that which puts you to doubt towards that which does not put you to doubt because lying creates doubt and truthfulness accords comfort.” [5]

6 – His Eminence said: “O Allah, do not test me by bounties and do not punish me with difficulties.”[6]

7 – His Eminence said, “If one does not have these five things there is no good in him: Intellect, religion, etiquette, shame and good manners.”[7]

8 – His Eminence said, “The miser is the one who is miserly in saluting…”[8]

9 – His Eminence said, “If a person hopes for something in Allah’s disobedience, it won’t last for long and what he fears will soon come to him (punishment).[9]

10 – His Eminence said, “From the signs of acceptance are company of intelligent people and among the signs of ignorance is debating with people other than the infidels. And of the signs of the learned is to criticize is own statements and its knowledge of arts and sciences.”[10]  

[1] Raihaanatur Rasool, Pg. 55
[2] Tohafful Uqool, Pg. 46
[3] Tohafful Uqool, Pg. 46
[4] Tohafful Uqool, Pg. 46
[5] Ansaab al-Ashraaf, Vol. 3/143
[6] Kashful Ghumma, 2/31
[7] Raihaanatur Rasool, Pg. 55
[8] Raihaanatur Rasool, Pg. 55
[9] Tohafful Uqool, Pg. 246-248
[10] Ibid

11 – His Eminence said, “The believer considers Allah as his refuge and their statements as a mirror for Himself. Thus sometimes He looks at the qualities of believers and sometimes He pays attention to the arrogant ones. On the basis of this in fine things and in himself in recognition and about his consciousness and about his purity shall be utmost tranquility.”[1]

12 – His Eminence said, “Whenever you hear that a person is speaking ill of others then you shall try that he does not recognize you.”[2]

13 – His Eminence told a person who backbited in his presence: “O man! Do not resort to backbiting as it is the diet of the dogs of Hell…”[3]

14 – A person began to speak to His Eminence and said: If one does good to an undeserving person it is wasted. His Eminence said, “It is not so. Because goodness is like rain that reaches both the good and the bad people…”[4]

15 – His Eminence said, “He is commanded to speak about these bounties of religion that Allah had given.”([5])\ ([6])

16 – His Eminence said, “Death with honor is better than a life of degradation.”[7]

17 – His Eminence said, “Weeping for the fear of Allah is salvation from the fire (of Hell)…”[8]

18 – His Eminence said, “One who remains worried and all his tricks fail, then his key is caution (softness).”[9]

19 – His Eminence said, “One who accepts your goodness has helped you in goodness.”[10]

20 – His Eminence said, “On the Day of Judgment a caller will announce: O people! Anyone who has any arrears upon Allah may rise up. Then except for the righteous ones, no one would arise…”[11]

21 – His Eminence said, “No deed of the nation is such that it is not presented to Allah, the Mighty and the Sublime, every morning.”[12]

Here we conclude our discussion about some of the important sayings that are rich  

[1] Tohafful Uqool, Pg. 246-248
[2] Raihaanatur Rasool, Pg. 55
[3] Bihar, 78/117, Tohafful Uqool, Pg. 245
[4] Tohafful Uqool, Pg. 245
[5] Surah Zuhaa 93:11
[6] Tohafful Uqool, Pg. 246
[7] Bihar 44/192
[8] Nuzhatul Nazir Fi Tanbihatul Khatir, Jame al-Akhbar, Pg. 97, Mustadrak al-Wasail 11/245
[9] Ibne Asakir, Tarikh 4/323, A’laamud Deen, Pg. 298, Biharul Anwar 78/128
[10] Bihar 78/127
[11] Bihar 93/347
[12] Bihar 93/347

in wisdom, morals and good manners that are related from His Eminence. For the sake of conciseness and to avoid verbosity we do not wish to prolong the discussion about the captioned sayings.

Among the Poems

Historical sources and Arab literature has mentioned many poetic compositions of His Eminence, Imam Husain (‘a). In some of those compositions, His Eminence has quoted other poets to emphasize his points, even though in our view some of them may be forgeries. A few poems are quoted below:

1 – A Bedouin arrived at the Mosque of the Holy Prophet (s) and approached His Eminence, Husain Ibn Ali (‘a) and stood before him while he was surrounded by some people. Then he asked about him and was informed that it was Husain bin Ali. He said, “My aim is also same; they speak and they have eloquence in their speech and I have passed through deserts, mountains and caves and have come here to speak to him and ask him about the intricacies of Arabic.” One of the Imam’s companions said, “If you have come for this you may pose your questions to this young man,” pointing towards His Eminence, Husain. He went towards His Eminence and stopped near him and saluted him. Imam (‘a) replied to his salutation and asked him what he wanted. He replied, “I have come to you from Harqal, Ja’lal, Ainam and Hamham.”[1]

The Imam smiled and said, “Except for the experts none knows about the meanings of the words you have spoken.”

The Bedouin said, “I will tell more of these words, can you reply according to what they say?”

His Eminence, Husain (‘a) said, “Say what you like, I would give you the appropriate reply.”

He said, “I am a Bedouin and most of my speech consists of poetic couplets that are part of Arab collections.”

His Eminence said, “You say whatever you like and I would reply you. The Bedouin began to recite the couplets:

“My heart is attracted towards vain pastimes while the time of my youth is over.

While during the time of youth it (my heart) used to be extremely joyful.

There were kids, pleasures and what a joyful time it was.

And when old age has grayed the edges of my head

And compelled me to use hair dye

I have refrained myself from vain pastimes and given up all such things.

There is surprise for the man who has seen both the periods.

If man who is intelligent in the true sense uses his intellect in that matter.  

[1] Words of tribal dialects

He would gain a lesson that would be useful for him in life.”

Imam Husain (‘a) recited the following couplets extempore:

“All the signs, whose effects have been destroyed, do not aggrieve me.

That is like the dust and sand is scattered by the wind to all sides.

Winds that whistle, and cold winds that pile clothes upon clothes (to protect it).

And a cloud that moves towards the sky and comes near.

A black cloud that comes up, and through it blessings rain.

The cloud has such a lightning that does not have any deficiency.

The rain of that thunder is capable of flooding when it rains.

After that it is exhausted and no sign remains of its owner.”

When the Bedouin heard these words he was perplexed and said, “I have never heard a more eloquent and beautiful composition.”

Imam Husain (‘a) told him, “O Bedouin!”

“The youth whom God has purified from the two grandfathers and exalted him.

And the brilliant Sun has dressed him with its light.

And I have made my couplet strong and made its rhymes firm.”

When the Bedouin heard these words of Imam Husain (‘a) he exclaimed aloud, “May Allah bless you! People have not recognized you. May Allah bestow you a good reward.” Then he went away from there.[1]

This example shows the great literary accomplishments of the Holy Imam but there is some doubt in some portions, like it seems highly improbable for a Bedouin to have come all the way only to ask those things from the Holy Imam.

2 – The following couplets overflow with wisdom are also attributed to the Holy Imam (‘a):

“When the world causes you trouble, do not pay any attention to the people. And except for the Almighty Allah, Who is the distributor of sustenance, do not ask anyone for anything.

If you remain alive and roam from the east to the west.

You would not find anyone who could make you happy or unfortunate.”[2]

These couplets emphasize the quality of contentment and show that it is very important not to repose faith on others. And it also warns people not to ask anyone for anything except from Allah, Who is having control of all affairs.

3 – His Eminence (‘a) said:

“Become needless of the creatures through the Creator. You will become  

[1] Matalib al-So-ool fi Manaqib ar-Rasool, Pg. 28-29
[2] Kashful Ghumma 2/34-35, Al-Fusul al-Muhimma, Pg. 180

needless of the liars and the truthful.

And seek your sustenance from the Beneficent Lord as except for Allah no one bestows sustenance.

One who thinks that people make him needless, has no reliance on God.

Or if he thinks that he has obtained wealth, his step would slip from the heights.”[1]

In these couplets, there is invitation to take refuge in Allah, Who is the Creator of the world and the bestower of life; and to seek needlessness from other than Allah, because one who takes refuge from anyone other than Him, his pursuit would fail and he would become deviated from truth.

4 – Imam Husain (‘a) went to visit the graves of martyrs in the Baqi cemetery of Medina and recited the following lines of poetry:

“I call out to the inmates of the grave and they did not reply. Then dust of their graves replied in their lieu.

It said, “Do you know what I have done with my inmates? I have punctured their flesh and rent their garments.

And filled their eyes with dust even though they used to become restless with a mote in the eye.

As for the bones I have punctured till their joints and seams separated.

We separated them from each other and left them in this condition so that they may continue to rot for ages.”[2]

These couplets are full of invitation to gain lesson from the condition of man and that when he is buried in the dust he is soon scattered and his form and beauty is destroyed. Then in a short time he turns into worthless dust.

5 – Aashi has attributed these couplets to Imam Husain (‘a):

“Sorrow and problems increase in direct proportion to wealth.

O you who blackens the life. I have recognized you. O one who is the destroyer and annihilator of all houses.

It is not possible for a pious to achieve piety when he finds it difficult to maintain the family.”[3]

In these couplets, the Holy Imam (‘a) has spoken of some special points about the creation of life which is that as much man is involved in worldly mater as much sorrow he shall have and he would have exerted more for the affairs of his life.

In the same way, the Holy Imam (‘a) has said regarding someone that life is having some attachment to piety, because he does not move towards it while responsibility  

[1] Ibne Asakir, Biography of Imam Husain (a.s.), Pg. 231
[2] Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 8/208, Biography of Imam Husain (a.s.), Pg. 233
[3] Ibne Asakir, Biography of Imam Husain (a.s.), Pg. 232

of the family was heavy on him, as his involvement in these things stop him from piety of the world.

6 – Irbili has narrated that the Imam (‘a) recited the following couplets describing the defects of oppression and injustice:

“Those whom I loved have gone away and I remain among those I do not like.

I find myself with one who denounced me on my back while I do not say anything against him.

As much as they can they try for my destruction although I try my best for their well-being.

The evil trait person defames me continuously while I do not say the same for him.

He sees the dirty flies around me that they are humming and he does not chase them away from me.

Whenever the malice of his heart is cured, he tries to fan the flames of hatred.

Does he not benefit from his intellect and does he not seek help of reason?

Does he not see that how bad his deeds are and how due to this evil is turning towards him?

O my Lord! In front of those I fear, he is sufficient and the oppression is sufficient for the oppressor.

And it is rarely that he is oppressed and that the help of the Lord does not reach him”[1]

In these couplets, Imam (‘a) has described about the evil qualities of human beings and one of them is oppression. That whosoever is involved in it he continuously steps to speak ill to his brother and to oppress him and to spoil his affairs and the when the malice of the heart reduces he tries to fan the flames more so that he could reach up to its daring.

Imam (a.s) in this way gives lesson to someone that if he refers to his own intellect and ponders on his own condition, he obtains that his oppressing his own brother is going to turn towards himself and he would be the recipient of its sin and loss. And it is natural that if he thinks like this continuously he would be able to uproot these defects from himself as the scholars of ethics have opined.

7 – Abul Faraj Isfahani has claimed that Imam Husain (‘a) composed the following couplets regarding his daughter Sakina and her mother Rabab:

“I swear by your life, I love the house itself where Sakina and Rabab reside.

I love both of them and am prepared to sacrifice all I own on them and I do not care if someone flays me for it.”[2]  

[1] Kashful Ghummah 2/34, Raihaanatur Rasool, Pg. 48
[2] Al Aghani 16/139

And others (excepts Abul Faraj) have added the following couplet:

“Thus I would never leave them whenever they are away. Whether I remain alive or am put below the earth.”[1]

These couplets, in our view are of the forged ones, because Imam Husain (‘a) is much higher that he should make public his love and affections for his daughter and wife. It is not in consonance with his ethics. He is much above it. These lines were concocted and falsely attributed to the Holy Imam in order to decrease the position of Ahle Bayt (‘a).

8 – And from the lines composed by His Eminence are the following:

“And Allah what that is in the hands of Yazid, actually from others.

And that he has not obtained it with honesty and honor.

And if you seek justice with a clear conscience you would understand a subtle point.

And his mischief was nearer to him than his good deeds.”[2]

Here we conclude our discussion about the meritorious qualities of the Holy Imam (‘a). His Eminence was an incomparable example unique in human intellect and a prominent example Islamic prophethood having all the good qualities that become the foundation of all virtues.  

[1] Zikri al-Husain (a.s.) 1/139, Al Bidayah wan Nihayah 7/209
[2] Raihaanatur Rasool, Pg. 49