Remembering Hz. Imam Hussain during Muharram: The beloved of the beloved

The martyrdom of Hz.Imam Hussain, his struggle for truth, justice and the greatness of Islam is still remembered and commemorated today.

Islam, the Religion of Peace, Truth, Justice and Freedom came to a place and time where oppression was the rule, slavery was a tool to humiliate the weak, killings a way to solve problems.

By Haji Syed Salman Chishty

“Among the Believers are Men, who delivered their promise to Allah” – (Ayah 23/ Surah Al-Ahzab)

On the 10th of Muharram, 61 after Hijrah (680 AD) Hz. Imam Hussain was martyred by the army of Yazid. This tragedy shook the Islamic world and continues to be remembered by all those who love the Prophet (pbuh) and his family. The martyrdom of Hz.Imam Hussain, his struggle for truth, justice and the greatness of Islam is still remembered and commemorated today.

This year the Day of Ashura would be observed on 09th August 2022 in Ajmer Sharif which tends to be clearly looking to welcome a very enthusiastic sea of devotees from across India around the sacred surroundings of Dargah Ajmer Sharif to participate since it’s going to be publicly observed after almost 3 years due to Covid precautions and lockdown restrictions.     

Hz. Imam Hussain ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib was the grandson of the Prophet (saw). As a young man He was very pious, intelligent and extremely handsome. Historians have said he looked very similar to the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) loved his grandson very much. On one occasion The Prophet(pbuh) leading the prayer, as he went into prostration (sajda), the young Hz. Hussain climbed onto the Prophet(pbuh)’s back. The Holy Prophet(pbuh) of Islam remained in that position for a long time until the young boy climbed down. On another occasion the Prophet(pbuh) was passing his daughter Hz. Bibi Fatima’s(ra) house and heard young Hz.Hussain crying, The Prophet(pbuh) stopped and went into the house and said, ‘Fatima, don’t you know it hurts me to hear Hussain cry.’

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In a very famous Hadith, the Beloved Prophet(pbuh) says: “Hussain is from me and I am from Hussain”. The meaning sheds light that Hussain is like me, Hussain’s line is similar to my line, Hussain’s message is my message, Hussain is from me and I am from Hussain.

Hz. Imam Hussain learned his knowledge from his father Hz. Mawla Ali. He inherited virtues and chivalrous character from his father.

If history has taught us anything, it has certainly delivered a message with unequivocal resonance; Haqq and freedom are not something that is given. Haqq and Freedom are things people take and people are as free and on the Haqq as they want to be.

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Islam, the Religion of Peace, Truth, Justice and Freedom came to a place and time where oppression was the rule, slavery was a tool to humiliate the weak, killings a way to solve problems. A society fueled by tribal feuds, raging by violence, and merely being born in the wrong family could mean eternal slavery, oppression, and stripping of any and all rights.

Haji Syed Salman Chishty

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) emerged as the voice denouncing those ways while striving to ensure justice and equality. He gave us one of the most precious monotheistic gifts, namely the collective duty of self-criticism, speaking the truth though against your ownself. Support and Stand with the Haqq (Truth), denounce Batil (Falsehood). Stand up to oppressors and tyrants, no matter of the price that one can end up paying to stand with Truth and Justice.

The Prophet (pbuh) has taught us many things and among those many, He taught us an important lesson. One that the Holy Quran amplified numerously: It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather a profoundly faithful few, who are keen to uphold the truth and sacrifice for it. To be the example of a candle that burns itself illuminating the way for others, to give the ultimate sacrifice to enlighten the path of the truth, as the truth and only the truth shall set you free.

This is the month of Moharram and in a few days the Day of Ashura comes. A day where the Beloved of the Beloved demonstrated the highest of nobility, and offered the ultimate of Sacrifice. It is no wonder, that He is the grandson of the beloved Holy Prophet (pbuh), the son of Amir ul Mominin Hz. Ali and Hz.Bibi Fatimah Az’Zahra(ra) .

There was a noble reason that demanded the martyrdom of Hz. Imam Hussain. The simple and obvious reason is simply to preserve Islam from being contaminated by vices, falsehood of Yazid. The sacred month of Moharram is a reminder to people that one should fight against oppression and tyranny and help the cause of the oppressed.

Islamic virtues of Truth, Justice, Equality, Freedom and Liberty are all precious values that demanded precious Sacrifices. That is the supreme significance of Martyrdom, Hz.Imam Hussain chose the path of danger and hardships with duty and honor ,and never swerved from it giving up his life freely in the absoulute bravest of ways ever known to Mankind.

In the history of Islam, Hz. Imam Hussain-the martyr of Karbala, wrote one of the most brilliant chapters; a chapter which still and after more than thir­teen centuries, echoes in the minds and hearts of people everywhere.

The tragedy of Karbala took place in 680 AD on the banks of the Euphrates in Iraq but Karbala has a universal appeal and in today’s climate of violence and injustice it is more relevant than ever. The tragedy of Karbala and its spirit of non-violent resistance and supreme sacrifice has been a source of inspiration to the likes of Mahatma Gandhi in his own words – “I learnt from Hussain, how to be oppressed yet victorious”.

The observance of Muharram ceremonies in South Asia in general and India in particular have attracted the deep reverence and devotion for the performance of its rituals and customs by the Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Thus, the observance of Muharram ceremonies has introduced Islam as the harbinger for interfaith understanding in South Asia.

Imam Husain’s great sacrifice is commemorated by Muslims everywhere in the world, but it is observed with great emotional intensity in Indo-Pak sub-continent. What is particularly striking about the observances of the month of Muharram in India is the prominent participation of Hindus in these rituals. 

 In India, many elders, brothers and sisters from Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Christians communities observe Muharram ceremonies with great devotion. Varanasi, one of the holiest city of Hinduism in India and the city of famous Ghats and Vedic saints, has a mixed tradition of commemorating Muharram where some respected Hindu families participate in the procession of Taziya Sharif. This also happens in Lucknow, Allahabad, Kanpur, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Amroha, Indore, Nagpur, Jaipur, Ajmer Sharif, Bhopal and other major cities and towns. I have personally many friends who observe and participate in the majlis (Muharram congregations); they also take part with enthusiasm in making the Taziyas Sharif (replicas of the Hz.Imam Husain’s mausoleum in Karbala).

Hussaini Brahmin community is also famous for their devotion and respect of Imam Hussain, located mostly in Punjab state in India, also known as Dutts.

Unlike other Brahmin clans, the Hussaini Brahmins have had a long martial tradition, which they trace back to the event of Karbala. They believe that an ancestor named Rahab traveled all the way from Punjab to Arabia and there developed close relations with Imam Hussain. In the battle of Karbala, Rahab fought in the army of the Imam Hussain against Yazid. His sons, too, joined him, and most of them were killed. Imam Hussain, seeing Rahab’s love for him, bestowed upon him the title of sultan or king and told him to go back to India. It is because of this close bond between their ancestor Rahab and Imam Hussain that the Hussaini Brahmins got their name and feel immense pride of their sacred ancestral legacy.

Hinduism, like other religions, urges its followers to support those who are oppressed or facing cruelty and injustice. According to the Bhagavata Purana, if a man persecutes another human being, God won’t be pleased with him even if he is a devout worshipper. The everlasting sacrifice of Hindu Rahib Dutt in support of Imam Hussain proves that peace-loving and God-fearing people are present in every society who, regardless of their religious or geographical affiliations, used to stand for safeguarding truth, principles and justice.

The inspiring personality of Imam Hussain played a key role in the struggle against British imperialism in the Subcontinent. At the time of British invasion, Muharram was marked with great solemnity in different Hindu and Muslim states. Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi, was one of the leading characters during the War of Independence 1857. She also followed the path of Imam Hussein who preferred to sacrifice her life but never accepted the British occupation.

Even today a large number of Hindu followers observe Muharram to recall the sacrifice of Imam Hussain. In order to promote interfaith harmony and show solidarity with Muslims, they also condemn Yazid’s deed.

Many Hindu poets, such as: Jai Singh, Mathur Lucknawi and Kunwar Mohinder Singh Bedi, also paid tribute to Imam Hussain through their poetry.

Kunwar Mohinder Singh Bedi ‘Sahar’ shares emotional notes and heartfelt tribute to the supreme sacrifice of Hz. Imam Hussain (as):

Lub pe jab Shah-e-Shaheedaan tera naam aata hai

Saamnay saqi-e-Kausar liye jaam aata hai

Mujh ko bhi apni ghulami ka sharaf day dijio

Khota sikka bhi to aaqa kabhi kaam ata hai

When your name comes to my lips, O King of Martyrs

I see the saqi of the river of paradise offering me a goblet

Give me, too, the benefit of serving you as a slave

Contemporary young Arab poets and poetess are also writing and expressing their devotion towards the supreme sacrifice of Hz. Imam Hussain (as).

One such graceful poetess from Saudi Arabia, in the spirit of commemoration of Ashura, and the martyrdom of the Imam Hussain, poetry by Jeddah based Saudi resident poetess Alicia Ali, which honors the family of the Prophet Muhammad and reminds us of his struggle against false political ideas. 

Zainab’s Sigh by Alicia Ali:

Howling winds of a desert sky
Pin drop silence
I hear children cry
In a thirsty camp
Zainab’s sigh
My Hussain Our Hussain
My Hussain Our Hussain……

Awakend humanity a Divine decision
Men and Women of unattainable glory
Karbala etched as an epic grand story
History stained with Hassan’s Hussain
My Hussain Our Hussain
My Hussain Our Hussain

Allama Muhammad Iqbal says:

Imam Hussain uprooted despotism forever till the Day of Resurrection. He watered the dry garden of freedom with the surging wave of his blood, and indeed he awakened the sleeping Muslim nation. If Imam Hussain had aimed at acquiring a worldly empire, he would not have traveled the way he did (from Medina to Karbala). Hussain weltered in blood and dust for the sake of truth. Verily he, therefore, became the bed-rock (foundation) of the Muslim creed; La ilaha illa Allah (There is no god but Allah).

Ronay wala hoon Shaheed-e-Kerbala key gham men main,
Kya durey maqsad na dengey Saqiye Kausar mujhey”

”I am one who weeps at the plight of the Martyr of Kerbala
Won’t the reward be given to me by the Keeper of Kauser’’ 

The Martyrdom has also prompted a vast body of literature in a multitude of languages all over the world, a phenomenon that continues to this day.

Outstanding examples of this are the Mersiye (elegies) written by Mir Anis, one of which holds the world record for the longest verse for the past two centuries.   

The heart rendering and soulful recitation of “Salam-i-Akhir” which was written by Syed Nasir Jahan and often being recited during the final day MersiyeKhani –

Bachay to aglay baras hum hain aur yeh gham phir hai
Jo chal basay tou yeh appna salam-i-akhir hai”

One of the most recited and famous Persian poetry in the Honour of Hz. Imam Hussain was written by the great Sufi master Hz.Khawaja Syed Moinuddin Hasan Chishty(ra) :

“Shah ast Hussain, badshah ast Hussain
Deen ast Hussain, deen panaah ast Hussain
Sar daad, na daad dast dar dast-e-yazeed
Haqu-e-binney la ilaahaa ast Hussain”


”King is Hussain, King of Kings is Hussain
Faith is Hussian, Protector of Faith is Hussain
 He gave his Head, but not his Hand in the hand of Yazid                                                         

Verily, truth is nothing but Hussain”

(The author is Haji Syed Salman Chishty – Gaddi Nashin of Hz.Khawaja Gharib Nawaz(ra) – Dargah Ajmer Sharif, he is Chairman – Chishty Foundation. Email:  Twitter: @sufimusafir) 

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