To advance our knowledge regarding Islam’s faith and practice, we must know the importance of Islam’s history. Many in the Western society do not regard God or religion in their everyday lives, whereas for Muslims, Islam (religion) is a way of life. It represents humility, obedience and courage. To reinforce knowledge of Muslims one must know about “Ashura” and why it is important to remember these special days of “Ashura” and what Muslims experienced in the tragic battle called, “The Battle of Karbala.” There are lessons that we will learn from the Battle of Karbala.
The blessed “Ashura” is a holiday recognized during the month of Muharram. It is on the Muslim lunar calendar, as the Hijrah calendar. Two days is prescribed for fasting on the ninth and tenth (security). They are not obligatory like the fast of Ramadan, but it shows in the hadith, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, that He laid great emphasis on these two days. “Ashura” fasting days represents one great Islamic occasion for both Shiite and the Sunnis Muslim.
Five reasons why the writings about “Ashura” is illustrated (in books, articles, and websites) and why it is to be commemorated.
The first reason holds that the day of significance when Allah delivered Musa, (Alayhe Salam) and his people from Pharaoh that day when they drowned. In fact, the Al’ Qur’an Al’ Karim narrates the story in details, as to how Allah delivered Prophet Musa, (Alayhe Salam), and the Children of Israel from the tyranny of Pharaoh and his army.
The second reason was God’s Messenger, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, observed fast on the day of “Ashura” and taught Muslims to observe it (Reported by Bukhari and Muslim).
The third reason is the saying of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, ” If I survive till next year, I will definitely observe fast on the ninth day of Muharram [as well]” (Reported by Muslim). It is also reported in the Sahih of Imam Bukhari and other authentic collections of Hadith that the Prophet, (PBUH) and his Companions used to fast on the tenth day of Muharram while they were in Mecca (before the Hijrah). It was a day on which people of Mecca used to change the covering of the Ka’ba. Quraysh also used to fast on this day. (Al’Bukhari, Hadith 1429 and 1760)
The fourth reason, relate to the first three, is fasting on the day of Ashura is a Sunna of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. A believer who follows the prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, in this regard gets a great reward, as in following him in other aspects of Sunna.
Finally, the fifth reason is that there is evidence from the hadith which proves that the two days are very important because Muslims are the real inheritors of the traditions of Musa, (Alayhe Salam) (Al’Qur’an).
There is also a known fact that some feel that the importance of “Ashura” is because of the martyrdom of the Prophets’ grandson Al’ Hussein (may Allah be pleased with him) at Karbala.
“Ashura” is misinterpreted that it is to represent mourning for the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, (may Allah be pleased with him.) To attribute “Ashura” to martyrdom of Al’Hussein is wrong. “Ashura” tradition is very ancient and it goes back a long time. Established through Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, long before the birth of this grandson, Imam Hussein.
The Ashura connects only with the Battle of Karbala because it was during those ten days of battle that Imam Hussein, fast and prayed with family members and his military comrades. The tragic era that occurred in the history of Islam consisted of celebrations, lamentations, and mourning ceremonies conducted for the memory of the martyrdom of Karbala is far from Islamic. These customs are of jahiliyya (mental ignorance of truth).
The Al’Qur’an Al’Karim along with the prophetic Sunna teaches that in the event of a person’s death, they should be patiently forbearing and say: “inna lilaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon (to Allah we belong and to Him is our return)” (Sura 2, verse 156).
Evidently this practice has crept into the community after the time of Prophet Muhammad, (PBUH), and has no basis in the Al’ Qur’an Al’Karim or the Sunna. In addition, “Ashura,” the Battle of Karbala has some customs that are contrary to the actual reason for remembering Imam Hussein.
According to the security online report, foreign government officials arrested and killed those who attempted to pilgrimage to Karbala. Many want to perform bloodletting to remember how Imam Hussein felt when he died in the battle. They slap their chest in unison and cut their foreheads and waste blood. These traditions have changed in some countries by setting up organizations to donate their blood-to-blood banks. This gives the non- Muslim society, especially those with a lack of knowledge of Islam, a better understanding of Islam. The Shiite Muslim country in Iran, bloodletting is banned and many fatwa’s (Islamic rulings) were issued declaring the custom forbidden.
The Shi’i holy city of Islam documented that it is the most important era of the history of Islam. The “Battle of Karbala” is a significant event that has left a great impact on Muslims. During the month of Muharram the Shiite perform Al’Haj to commemorate the anniversary of Imam Al’ Hussein murder and his brother Imam Al’ Abbas who was also killed in the battle. The foundation of the Muslims shook and continued its way to triumph which is a reminder for Muslims to practice Islam sincerely, honestly, and to do what is right and fear no one except Allah (swt).
Around 680, Imam Hussein opposed the caliph of Yazid, the son of Mu’awiya. Imam Hussein rejected Yazid rule and authority because of Yazid disloyalty to Islam. Yazid who claimed to act in the name of Islam would not be able to represent Islam. Imam Al Hussein (may Allah be pleased with him) was aware of the fact that Yazid violated the Islamic principles and giving him leadership would be a total disaster for the Islamic regime.
Imam Hussein had to safeguard and protect Islam, so he chose to war against Yazid despite the consequences. Imam Al Hussein had his family, friends, and companions in this army. Each member faced death for the cause of truth for Islam, which is better than submitting to the un-Islamic ways.
Imam Hussein had sent his emissary to Kufa and received good news that the Kufas were prepared to receive him as their leader. Imam Hussein continued towards Kufa, was ambushed by Yazids’ army, and they blocked Imam Hussein and his army from continuing their journey.
Another enemy force had stopped their going forward and forced them to stop at a place called Karbala. This was the second day of Muharram, Hijri 61.
On the seventh day of Muharram Umar Ibn Sa’ad in charge had surround Imam Hussein camp. In addition, he had given his commanders orders to cut off necessities to the camp such as their supply of water from the river of Euphrates. They wanted to force Imam Hussein and his army to surrender. It caused much suffering during those ten days because they were hot from heat, dehydrated, exhausted as they fast and prayed.
On the ninth day of Muharram, the enemy’s military closed in on Imam Hussein and he requested for a day of aggression. Imam Hussein and his companions spent that night in prayers. The Imam told his companions “that the enemy was interested in none but me, me alone.” I be most delighted to permit”By Allah, never, never! We will either live
Finally, the tenth day of Muharram 1425 A.H. had arrived and according on the morning of “Ashura” Imam Hussein raised his hands to pray. This conveys not only the significance but also the difference between the meaning of “Ashura” and the “Battle of Karbala.”
“O Lord! I depend on you in every affliction and am hopeful of your blessing in every hardship. In every difficulty with which I am faced, you are my only remedy and resort. There
have been many embarrassments, which weakened my heart and no remedy for it was available. The friends did not assist me and the enemies rejoiced at my misfortune. However, when I ceased to seek assistance from everyone except you and sought the remedy only from You, You provided no solace, relied, and removed the difficulty. Every blessing and goodness reached us from you and everything should be sought from you only.”
Prayer heard. Hur, the commander from the enemy camp along with two others rushed to join Imam Hussein and his companions. This upset Umar Ibn Sa’ad the leader of the enemy. He shot an arrow to start the Battle of Karbala. Umar was afraid that Allah would touch his heart or the heart of others in his camp to surrender to Allah’s Will. He would be afraid to lose his head because he had already received an ultimatum that if he did not wage war against Imam Hussein then someone else would replace his leadership and his head taken to Kufa.
As the Battle of Karbala continued, Imam Hussein’s’ son Ali Akbar, and his five brothers were killed. Abbas, his other brother, attacked and killed when he tried to bring water to the camp. An arrow killed his youngest son, Ali Asghar, when he raised the baby in the air to let them know that the baby needed water. With pain he threw his baby sons’ blood upwards toward the sky, complaining to Allah (swt), “O Allah, O my Lord! My consolation is the fact that Thou in Thine Majesty are witnessing what I am going through.”
As Imam Hussein stood alone against the forces of the enemy, they surrounded him but he kept fighting bravely and received many wounds. His first injury was to his left wrist and
hand, his second was a sword to his upper back, than a disbeliever of Allah (swt) and His Messenger Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon Him, severed Imam Husseins’ head from his body.
On top of that, Umar Ibn Sa’ad ordered his equestrians to trample upon the bodies of Imam Hussein and others, with the exception, the women, and children taken in bondage. They took the heads of Imam Hussein and his followers and placed them on tip of spears. These heinous acts were by people who called themselves Muslims who caused much pain, shame and disgrace.
The lessons from the Karbala taught Muslims that standing for the truth and fighting unto death is more honorable and valuable than submitting to the cunning and clever ways of the enemies, especially if the victory of Islam is at stake.
From the time of Prophet Musa, (Alayhe Salam) up until the twentieth- first century, Muslims have been living successfully and triumphantly because of their memories of the past regarding “Ashura” and the Battle of Karbala. The Karbala event occur around 61 A.H. after Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, (PBUH) migrated from Mecca to Medina.
Let it known that this had been prophesied from the beginning of time and it was in Allah’s Plans about the suffering and painful life of Imam Al Hussein. Just before the birth of Imam Hussein the Angel of God, Jibril, appeared before the Holy Prophet and told him to name the baby Hussein for his name is already known in the heavens. That he will suffer innumerable difficulties, miseries, tortures, wounds, and the pains of bitterest nature. He will at last, be martyred with all his faithful supporters in a desert called Karbala. Located on the banks of the Euphrates in Iraq, it will be a time when Islam will be in a crisis and the existence of this revealed religion for Mankind will rest upon the sacrifices of Imam Al Hussein.
The Holy Prophet left to leave for Medina, if his daughter Fatima has the baby she is not to feed the baby until after his return. When He returned he took the baby (Al Hussein) in his lap, and mysteriously placed his tongue in the mouth of the baby. The baby began sucking it and that was the Holy Child first feeding, by the Saliva of the Apostle of God, as the first sustenance of his holy body in this world.
Forty consecutive days Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, would place his holy finger in baby Hussein mouth to suck on his finger and the baby sustained without his mother’s milk.
Imam Al Hussein warned on numerous occasions to return and not to trust the Kufas. He did not surrender to Yazids’ military forces. Because of the pre-determined Divine Process that Imam Al Hussein received during his childhood, conditioned with divinity endowed in the apostolic physic of its Holy Grandfather, the Chief, and the Last of the Apostles of God. For Imam Al Hussein had to play an apostolic role on behalf of his Grandfather to save the Truth, Islam.
These reasons are recorded why Imam Al Hussein was martyred at the hands of those who considered themselves followers of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, for the cause of Islam.
They remember, “Every day is Ashura and every land is Karbala.” The memory of the Saviour of Islam, Imam Al Hussein, lives on.