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ASHURA: THE DAY LOVE DIED By: Dr. Mahmoud Tajar Imam Hossein’s(A.S.) martyrdom in 61 A.H (680 A.

D) was a shining example of how the true lovers of Allah and the prophet will react, in order to protect their own and human dignity, even if that means sacrificing their own lives, as all the heroes in history have done. To understand Imam Hossein’s(A.S.) story as narrated in his own words:
“I am not a rebelnor a lawbreaker, but rather I feel the responsibility of upholding the lofty prI ncIples of the religion of my grandfather the Holy Prophet Mohammad, which is Islam, and the human dignity, which is the duty of all the responsible citizens in a humane society. I don’t see death under these circumstances, but an honorable choice, and living under the oppressors, to me is shameful! For the freedom of the Indian people from the evil clutches of the British Imperialism, I have no other example, better than the struggle of Imam Hossein, against the oppressive government of Yazid!”

And Dr. Shariati has this to say about Imam Hossein(A.S.) (and Ahle-Bayt(A.S.)). “In the struggles of this world, those who die for their beliefs are like the Great Imam Hossein, those who are left behind, should continue the struggle as did Zainab, the great sister of Imam Hossein, otherwise they are categorized as Yazid’s (the silent majority, who do nothing, and thus they allow the oppression to go on unchecked)”. I offer the following verses in memory of the Great Imam Hossein(a.s),
“The head of all the martyrs. The fighter of the oppressed, Hosain gave all that he had got, that no one should ever be suppressed.”

It was a day just like any other day, yet it became a day unlike any other day, in history. On the day of Ashura, Imam Hossein, the most beloved grandson of Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H) died a hero’s death, in the most heroic way, in Karbala in 61 A.H. (680 A.D.). The Small vs. Large Army In the heroic battle of Karbala, Imam Hossein and 72 of his loyal followers “defeated” not only an army of 30,000 strong men, but the entire system of the Caliphate of the Ommaya Dynasty. Among the soldiers of Imam Hossein were some fighters as old as 70 years (Habib Mazahir) and some as young as 6 months old (Ali Asghar, the baby of Imam Hossein) and many others. Revolutionary, Not a Rebel

Imam Hossein(A.S.) died the death of a revolutionary man. As we all know, he was born into the great family of Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H.). His father was Imam Ali(A.S.), and his mother was Fatima Zahra, the beloved daughter of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.). The Holy Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H.) had no living son; he treated his grandsons as his own sons (in the same manner that he used to call his own beloved daughter Fatima Zahra “the mother-to-her-father”. That is how deep the love was between the family of Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H.) or the Ahle-Bayt (A.S.)) The Prophet(P.B.U.H.) loved Hossein(A.S.) so much that everyday, before going to the Mosque for the daily prayers, or after the prayers, he would make sure to visit his beloved grandson Hossein(A.S.) and his elder brother Hassan(A.S.); but the center of attention was mostly Hassan’s little brother Hossain (“the little cute one”). He was named Hossein, because the prophet (P.B.U.H.) often used to say:
“This little cute one of mine will be tragically murdered, in a land called Karbala, one day that none of my family members will be around to help.”

Every Muslim, both in the neighborhood of Madinah, as well as those in the far flung areas, who had heard the message of Prophet Mohammad, knew of the “ tragic story of Hossein’s martyrdom, long before it took place, as it was prophesied by the honorable Prophet himself.” But Why? The reason for Imam Hossein’s martyrdom was his “brave stand against the tyrannical and repressive forces of Yazid, son of Mo-awaia, son of Abu-Sufian, the dominant anti-Islamic family that used to control Arabia, financially, culturally, and even politically.” After the death of the Holy Prophet(P.B.U.H.),the old oligarchs of Arabia, led by the Umayyad family, and represented by Mo-awaia and later onby his son Yazid, started to regain the power that they had lost during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) Imam Hossein(A.S.) being raised and trained by the Holy Prophet(P.B.U.H.) himself, was determined to protect “the growing tree of Islam, that was planted by the loving hands of the Holy Prophet(P.B.U.H.)” from being uprooted by the pre-Islamic jahilyah system, led by the Banu-Umayya. While the Umayyad family under “Khalifa Yazid” was extending its deadly tentacles around the Muslim society and the Islamic state, and almost choking it to death, by controlling every aspect of Muslim life, Imam Hossein had to “fight that corrupt political structure, and to dismantle its foundation, as did his grandfather, the Holy Prophet, earlier in Mecca and Madinah”, several decades earlier. Now, let us listen to what Imam Hossein himself had to say about his own movements:i
“I am not a rebel, nor a lawbreaker, but rather I want to protect the Islamic society, as it was started and led by my beloved grandfather, the Holy Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H.).”

“Don’t you see that truth and justice is not being observed (under the rule of the Umayyads) and falsehood is not being challenged?” “I am not a rebel nor a lawbreaker, but rather I feel the responsibility of upholding the lofty principles of the religion of my grandfather, the Holy Prophet

Mohammad(P.B.U.H.), which is Islam, and human dignity, which is the duty of all responsible citizens in a humane society.” “Woe unto Islam and the Muslim citizens, if the society is led by an abusive ruler like Yazid, son of Mo-awaia!” “I don’t see death under these circumstances, but an honorable choice, and living under the oppressors, to me is shameful!” “If you, the followers of the oppressor Yazid, have no religion (fear of God) then at least be honorable and dignified citizens!” From Martyrdom to Victory While to most people, victory only means winning in a war against their opponents, killing them and eliminating their forces, to the grandson of the Holy Prophet(P.B.U.H.) victory came in the form of “self sacrifice, for a worthy cause” just as all the martyrs of history and the honorable heroes of all nations have done, before and after. Socrates, for instance, died a hero’s death, but his ideals live forever, long after his murderers were gone. The Muslim heroes in the history of Islam also died, yet their ideals are forever living and Imam Hossein(A.S.) is known in the History of Islam, as “the Sayyid AlShohada” (the leader of all martyrs). In the history of the Philippines, all those Muslim freedom fighters against the Spanish, American and the Japanese invaders, died the hero’s death, but they live in the hearts of all of us. The Philippines’ national heroes like Jose Rizal, Andres Bonafacio, Ninoy Aquino, and many other freedom lovers, died while fighting against injustice and oppression, but their deaths brought life and freedom to their countrymen, who are forever grateful to them. Imam Hossein’s martyrdom in the year 61 A.H. (680 A.D.) set an example for all the succeeding generations, to follow the continuous path of struggle of “good versus evil” which has been a constant part of human life on this earth, right from the very start, when the two brothers Cain and Abel fought, which ended in the martyrdom of the “Good Abel” in the hands of the ‘Evil Cain”! This war between light and darkness will go on in this world, as long as there is a day and night! But again going back to Imam Hossein’s exemplary martyrdom, I would like to quote Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the Indian struggle against the British colonial empire. Gandhi, who was not even a Muslim, but a Hindu, was so inspired by Imam Hossein’s martyrdom that he even said, and I quote2: “For the freedom of the Indian people from the evil clutches of the British Imperialism, I have no other example, better than the struggle of Imam Hossein(A.S.), against the oppressive government of Yazid!” In closing, I would like also to quote the most prominent Muslim sociologist of the 20th century who was also martyred in his own struggle against the Shah of Iran, and his ally the US Government. He was Dr. Ali Shariati, the eminent professor and lecturer at the Tehran University in Iran, the great writer and lecturer par excellence. While lecturing to his students, Dr. Ali Shariati said, and I quote: “In the struggles of this world, those who die for their beliefs are like the Great Imam Hossein, those who are left behind, should continue the struggle as did Zainab, the great sister of Imam

Hossein, otherwise they are categorized as Yazid’s (the silent majority, who do nothing, and thus allow the oppression to go on unchecked)”.
“O’ Allah! Teach me how to live a meaningful life and then I shall know how to die a useful death!”

And true to his own words, Shariati, lived a purposeful life, and then he also died a meaningful death, as he had learned this lesson also from Imam Hossein(A.S.). When in the year 61 A.H. (680 A.D.) Imam Hossein(A.S.) and his entire family members died fighting against the oppression of the oligarchy and the anti-Islamic practices of the Ummayads, they were full of love for the cause of Allah (S.) and the Mission of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.) and the Muslim society as a whole. This great love for truth and freedom gave them that indomitable power to fight till death so that the Islamic society, with its justice and freedom, shall live forever in peace. That is why I say, those great martyrs, who loved Allah (S.) and great human values above everything, including their own temporary lives, died a hero’s death. And with the death of those brave men and great lovers of truth and justice on that tragic day of Ashura, in 61 A.H. (680 A.D) love also died! And here is a eulogy to their memory:
“The head of all the martyrs, The fighter of the oppressed, Hossain, gave all that he had possessed, That no one should ever be suppressed.”

ABSTRACT (The day when Love died) The enemies of Islam on the path of relentless assault… Forging on their blades like tongues of fire of dishonor and bloodlust... The Imam crying for the Supreme God, Allah(S.)… The story of the grandson of the prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H.) was as tragic as similar stories of the past. It laments with pain but then again glorifies the name and greatness of Allah(S.). Somehow I have this notion of things

better forgotten than reliving the painful past. In the month of Muharram 61 AH (approx. 20 October 680 AD), an event took place in Iraq at a place known as Karbala on the banks of the river Euphrates. The leader of the small band of men who were martyred in Karbala was none other than Hossein(A.S.), son of Ali bin Abi Talib(A.S.) and grandson of the Holy Prophet(P.B.U.H.). There were disputes between the group of Imam Hossein(A.S.) and a certain Yazid who deviously planned dangerous plots against Hossein(A.S.). This event was later known as Ashura. Upon marching in Karbala, Shimr shouted:

“Oh Hussain! You are in a hurry to go to hell fire before the day of judgement!”
Hossein(A.S.) retorted:

“Is not this Shimr bin Thil al-Jawshan;” he was told that it was him,Hussain then retorted "Oh son of goatherdess! You are more deserving to burn in it".
Qaiyim bin Haseen Al-Fizari declared that:

water will be denied. This was achieved by stationing 500 horsemen between Imam Hussain's(A.S.) camp and the River Euphrates.
Imam Hussain(A.S.) was forced to ask his brother Al-Abbas to bring them water on two occasions before the 10th of Muharram. The enemy troops made it exceptionally difficult for Imam Hussain(A.S) and his band to get water supplies on the night and day of 10th Muharram.

“Oh p e o p l e! Retrace my lineage. Relate me and consider who I am. Then look back and remonstrate with yourselves. Consider whether it is right for you to kill me and encroach upon my integrity. Am I not the son of your Prophet's daughter and the son of his viceregent and cousin, the first of the believers in Allah(A.S.) and his Messenger?” said the Imam.
Qays b. al-Ash'ath implored that he doesn’t know what the Imam is talking about, rather warning him to submit to the Umayyads (authority) or else punishment shall be upon them. Zuhair retorted:

“Oh Men! The sons of Fatima have more right to be friend and support than the son of Sumayya. If you do not

support them I pray to Allah(S.) that He guard you against killing them. You are therefore, requested to demobilized this man from Yazid; upon my life! He will be contented with your obedience without the killing of Hussain(A.S.)”
Shimr shot at him with an arrow and said:

“Shut up, may Allah silence your camel; we are fed up with your excessive talk”.
At forenoon of the tenth of Muharram when the heat of the sun started scorching the earth, Hossein , his household and companions began to feel the severity of thirst. The enemy was adamant to give them access to the water of the River Euphrates. Imam Hossein (A.S.), feeling the strain of thirst, mounted his horse and opened the Qur'an over his head and stood in front of the belligerent camp and shouted:
(A.S.)

"The Book of Allah and the Sunna (tradition) of my grandfather, the Messenger of Allah(S) are the arbiters between you and me". The people believed in him. He then asked them;

what made them to decide on fighting him. It was because of disobedience to the Umayyads.
Omar bin Sa'ad drew nearer to the camp of Imam Hossein(A.S.) launching multitudes of arrows to Hossain's camp, causing injuries among the companions of Imam Hossein(A.S.). Having made sure that the enemy is intent on fighting them, Hossein(A.S.) ordered his followers:

"Rise to certain death; may Allah have mercy on you; the arrows are the messengers of those people to you".
During this battle, most of the Imam's followers were brutally murdered, causing even more chaos in Karbala. The screams and wailing of the wives of the men who were killed were heard everywhere. Blood, massacre, and martyrdom are the three sisters singing in unison. Since none of the companions who fought with Hussain (A.S.) was spared, members of his immediate family got ready to make the ultimate sacrifice. With pure determination and bravery so overwhelming, they bade farewell to each other, the first to come forward was Abul Hassan Ali al-Akbar who was twentyseven years old. He took permission from his father, Hossein(A.S.) and mounted his horse and met the Kufans in combat. After Abu Bakr al-Qassim, came the turn for his brother al-Qassim who was just a boy. When Hossein(A.S.) looked at him, he embraced him and wept. He gave him permission to fight. His face exuding with light, sword in hand, wearing a shirt and a loincloth, and a pair of sandals. As he was engaged in combat, his sandals snapped. Paying scant regard to the enemy soldiers, he stopped to tie it up for he did

not want to be seen bare-footed by the enemy. Hossein (A.S.) hurried to him as if he were a furious lion and struck Sa'ad with his sword; he lifts his arm to protect his head, only to be severed from the elbow. He sent out a loud cry. When the troops heard it, the horsemen launched an attack to evacuate him; he was knocked down and trampled on by the horses and was killed. Abbas returned to his brother Hossein(A.S.) to advise him how the enemies were adamant in their refusal to give them water. In the meantime, he heard the children crying of thirst. He could not take it any more; his Hashimite ardour left him no room for manoeuver or more forbearance, He took the skin water container with the intention of bringing water. He was surrounded by some 4,000 troops who shot at him with their arrows. He did not fear their multitudes. He managed to reach the waterline of the river Euphrates with fortitude, but died then and there and never drank from the water due to his empathy to the Imam and the others. At this moment, the Imam raised a child in front of the enemies but the enemies fired an arrow at the child. After burying the child, the Imam got ready for battle and bade farewell to the women and children who were still alive. Imam Hossein(A.S.) made to attack the enemy; but before he could engage anyone in combat, he died. He received many wounds all over his body mainly as a result of arrows. Omar bin Sa’ad with a group of soldiers were approaching the scene as Imam Hossein(A.S.) was at the point of death. Zainab shouted at him,

"Yes Omar! Abu Abdillah is being killed and you are standing watching him perish?!"
He turned his face away from her with his tears streaming down his beard. She said:

"Woe unto you! Is there not amongst you a Muslim?"
Nobody replied! Thereupon Ibn Sa'ad ordered the crowd, "Descend upon him and administer the mercy shots to him". Shimr initiated the attack; he kicked him, sat on his chest, got hold of his blessed beard, dealt 12 sword blows to his body, and finally beheaded him.

The Battle of Karbala happened in the 10th of Muharram, which is 680 A.D in our modern era. Imam Hussein((A.S.) wore the coat of arms of his grandfather, the Holy Prophet(P.B.U.H.), and carried the sword of his father, Imam Ali (A.S), the Thul-Fiqar or TwoPronged sword. They prayed their early Morning Prayer in preparation for the upcoming battle. Imam Hossein(A.S) addressed his companions prophesying that they will be killed on that very day and that they must be firm in their fighting. Imam Hossein’s(A.S) companions were composed of only 45 horsemen and 100-foot soldiers. The company was divided into two units. Zuhair bin Alqain was the commander of the right flank. Habib bin Mudhadir was the commander of the left wing. Abbas (A.S), the brother of Imam Hossein(A.S), was the flag bearer. The family of Imam Hossein(A.S) was protected at the center. The company of Imam Hossein(A.S) set into fire the trench that they made surrounding the back of their camp immediately after the war broke out and the battle begun. The enemy camp was led by Omar bin Sa’ad with 30,000 troops. Amir bin alHajjaj az-Zubaidi was the commander of the right flank. Shimr bin al-Jawshan was the commander of the left flank. The horsemen were commanded by Izra bin Qais al-Ahnasi. Shinth bin Ribi commanded the archers. The company of Imam Hossein(A.S) was denied access to the water of Euphrates days earlier before the battle of Karbala. This denial was accomplished through the

stationing of 500 horsemen between the river Euphrates and the camp of Imam Hossein(A.S). Abbas(A.S) fetched water for the camp on two occasions before the battle. The two parties negotiated. The party of Imam Hossein(A.S) asked for freedom and to be left alone. The party of Omar bin Sa’ad demanded that they surrender in peace and become loyal subjects of the enemy or fight and die. Imam Hossein(A.S) tried every means to persuade the enemy camp with reasons and logic. He even traced his lineage from the family of the Prophet(P.B.U.H.). All those pitiful appeals simply ended in deafened ears. Many times did Imam Hossein(A.S) appealed for Allah’s(S.) help and protection. Many times were those prayers heard; but oftentimes, those prayers were not immediately answered. The main reason of the enemy is aptly expressed by Qays bin al-Ash’ath: “Submit to the authority of your kinsmen (the Umayyads). They have never treated you by anything but what you liked.” When the negotiation almost ended, many valiant warriors from the enemy camp decided to defect to Imam Hossein's(A.S) camp. The defections were due to the effect of Imam Hossein’s(A.S) well-presented logic and appeals. The enemy started the battle inspite of Imam Hossein’s(A.S) appeal for peace. After more than an hour of intense battle with the enemy, 40 of the elite warriors from Imam Hossein(A.S)died.Imam Hossein(A.S) was touched by the outcome that he prayed:
“By Allah(.S)! I am not going to give in to them until I meet Allah(.S) blood-eyed. ”

Included in the martyrs who died in the battle of Karbala was the wife of Wahab bin Abdullah al-Kalbi. She was truncheoned on the head while weeping at her husband’s death. Children participated in the defense of Imam Hossein’s(A.S.) cause. The children were Amr bin Junadah al-Ansari(A.S.) and Abdullah bin al-Hassan(A.S.), both eleven years of age. Abdullah, the infant child of Imam Hossein(A.S.), was also killed while being carried by him. Abbas(A.S.), the valiant brother of Imam Hossein(A.S.) defied the 4,000 arrows rained by the troops that fought him and was killed as a result of deception. He died with no arms, an arrow on the chest and his skull crushed, with his brains strewn on his shoulders. Imam Hossein(A.S.) was the last to expire. In his first engagement in battle, he was almost tempted to satisfy his thirst and nearly neglected his family. However a voice from nowhere reminded him:
“Do you enjoy drinking water whilst the integrity of your family is being violated.”

He returned to his family in haste consoling them. The second fight of Imam Hossein(A.S.) proved to be his last. Abdullah bin alHassan, Imam Hossein’s(A.S.) eleven-year-old nephew, ran to protect him but was killed embracing the lap of Imam Hossein(A.S.).

An arrow was lodged on his forehead. He was shot in the mouth and throat, hit in the shoulder, the spear lodged in the collarbone and stabbed in the loin. Before Imam Hossein(A.S.) died, Shimr killed him by kicking him, sitting on his chest, dealing twelve sword blows to his body while holding his beard, and finally beheading him. `Imam Hossein(A.S.) shouted his immortal call:
“is there anyone who can come to our rescue? Is there anyone who can protect the sanctity of the family of Allah’s (.S.) Prophet(P.B.U.H..)? ”

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Shariati Ali, “Imam Hossein(A.S.)” (pp 25, 28, 81, 92,) Gandhi Mahatma, “My Religion”

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