On the tenth of Muharram 61 AH, an unparalleled, unforgettable, everlasting event took place on the bank of river Euphrates at Karbala, which saw the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, grandson of Prophet Muhammad (saw), along with his seventy-two companions. Their families were taken as captives and paraded in towns and villages across Iraq and Syria. At the bloodstained land of Karbala, Hussain fell to arrows, spears and swords under the scorching sun of the desert, weakened by overwhelming hunger and thirst. And yet he earned that name and fame which has attracted the attention of great personalities the world over. The great Sufi saint Khawajah Muinuddin Chisti aptly described Imam Hussain as:
Shah ast Hussain, Badshah ast Hussain
Deen ast Hussain, Deen panah
Sardad na dad dast, dar dast-e-Yazeed
Haq ke Binaye La-illa ast Hussain
The same view is reflected in Iqbal’s couplet written in ‘Asrar o Ramooz’:
Bahre haq dar khak-o-khoon
Pas bina ey La-illa gardida ast
Iqbal is such a marvellous poet that he has seldom left any dimension of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain untouched. His martyrdom is referred to as Zibh e Azeem, the greatest sacrifice, in another couplet from ‘Asrar o Ramooz’:
Allah Allah Baey Bismillah Pidar
Ma’nye Zibh-E-Azeem Amad Pisar
Hussain’s blood spilled at Karbala still enlivens our hearts. According to Imam Khumainy, Karbala in its true spirit is not a battle limited to space and time but a continuous struggle. It stands as the symbol of struggle against falsehood and oppression. He says, “The Islamic Revolution of Iran is a ray of Aushoora, the great divine revolution”. The burning issues in the Islamic world like that of Palestine and Yemen are the manifestation of the fact that we have distanced ourselves from Aushoora.
The sacrifice made by Imam Hussain at Karbala should serve as the best lesson for all people irrespective of their school of thought or religion. Today, while remembering the martyrs of Karbala, by pouring out our tears and observing maatam in processions, it should be our endeavour that these lead us to respond to the call of the Imam:
Is there anyone who will come to assist us?
Is there anyone who will respond to our call for help?
—The writer is a teacher. [email protected]