The Hijri Calendar starts with one of the saddest events in Islamic history – the martyrdom of Imam Hussain in Karbala. It was the martyrdom of the People of Household (Ahlul Bayt) and its supporters, as Imam Hussain was the head of the family of the Prophet (pbuh) at that time. No matter which school of thought a Muslim follows, this event definitely saddens him as the personalities martyred were none other than the blood of Rasulullah (pbuh).
Quoting the great Abu Bakr Siddiq in reference to showing love for the Prophet (pbuh), he says that it is in the ethos of Muslim character to show love for the Prophet’s family as well. It can be debatable to what extent a Muslim should go in remembering the trials and tribulations through which Ahlul
Bayt underwent, but one cannot avoid the fact that whenever these are mentioned, a Muslim is overwhelmed with grief.
The event of Karbala if analysed independently without putting for it a proper context will not do justice to the sacrifices made by Ahlul Bayt in the decades before it. The decision of Imam Husain to protest against the Muslim administration of the time is not something that came to his mind overnight. The gravity of the decision can only be understood when all the events before Karbala are known in a chronological manner.
The major strife in Muslim Ummah which resulted in three civil wars during the caliphate of Hazrat Ali and was finally ended by the sacrifice made by Ahlul Bayt cannot be underestimated. The withdrawing of Imam Hassan was an exemplary step in relegating the authority to Hazrat Muawiya, thus setting the example of sacrifice for the benefit of the Ummah. For the next twenty years, Imam Hussain under the treaty banner of his brother remained aloof from any kind of politics but on hearing the news of the accession of Yazid decided to protest against the move. The change in authority, however, did create difference of opinions among the Companions of Holy Prophet (pbuh). But why was it only Imam Hussain who wanted to stand against the step taken at the administrative level? Imam Hussain wanted to convey the message to the Muslim Ummah that Ahlul Bayt doesn’t recognise the authority of Yazid. In other words, “Rasulullah doesn’t entertain it”. This resulted in revealing the dark face of the oppressive regime which despite being Muslims wanted to have the pledge of allegiance from Ahlul Bayt for making itself legal, although most of the Muslim world had accepted Yazid. However, there was a difference between a common Muslim accepting Yazid as the leader and the Ahlul Bayt accepting him as the legitimate leader. This is the reason why only specific personalities are brought into the picture while discussing the pledge of allegiance to Yazid as they belonged to the families of the prominent companions, such as Hazrat Abdurrahman who was the son of Hazrat Abu Bakr, and Hazrat Abdullah, son of Hazrat Umar, etc.
But Imam Hussain was not mere son of Hazrat Ali but blood of Rasulullah (pbuh), which is why he stood up even when all other great companions disagreed with his opinion. It is worthy to mention that the stand against Yazid didn’t make Imam Hussain discredit the companions of the Prophet as he respected their views and this shows how much Imam Hussain knew about his responsibility as the head of Ahlul Bayt, thus preserving the sanctity of Muslim ummah.
In a time where we all are divided on sectarian lines, we need to understand the message of Imam Hussain and Ahlul Bayt in the proper context. No one will ever face Yazid but the disuniting factors will always be there. It is Imam Hussain who unites all of us as he shows how to identify ourselves and choose our path, but at the same time respecting the choices of others like he respected the situation and circumstances of the companions of Rasulullah pbuh. From Madina to Mecca and then to Karbala, Imam Hussain’s speeches didn’t include any kind of polarising statement against the Muslims who differed from him. The monumental sacrifice of Imam Hussain and Ahlul
Bayt indeed has a great message for us. It should be taken as a lesson for shaping our lives, in making our decisions. Imam Hussain teaches us to collectively stand against the vices in society and at the same time respect each other’s view as all schools of thought are but different rays from the same source.