In Hussain’s footsteps; Freedom through martyrdom

For any nation to march forward it must have a clarity of purpose, a road map and good guidance derived from doctrines, ideologies and experiences of others. The Islamic Ummah needs to develop seriously so that it achieves its full potential as a source of good to the world. For this to happen it must make full use of its religious and human resources. Freedom is one of the basic requirement of development. Free people can contribute immensely in their roles as responsible citizens. Imam Hussain sought to put the Ummah back on track when he assumed his role as the legitimate Imam (leader). He has seen how the community had been forced to deviate from Mohammed’s path and traditions half a century earlier. He saw with his own eyes how an alternative religion was being imposed on the Ummah immediately after the prophet’s demise. He witnessed the wars by those forces that had been implicated in the counter-religion campaign, championed by senior figures including Mu’awiyah, the founder of the Umayyad dynasty.

When Imam Hassan ibn Ali died in 60 AH, the Umayyad dynasty had already been established by Mu’awiyah. But when his son, Yazid was imposed on the Ummah, Hussain protested and refused to acknowledge him as the leader of the Muslims. He became the target for the counter-religion leaders. Yazid knew that his rule would not flourish if the senior members of the Prophet’s household remained opposed to his rule. Imam Hussain was the figurehead of the Mohammedan Islam. He was aware of the need to present a solid front in the developing conflict against the Umayyad dictatorship. He was ready to take up the challenge. His mission was noble as he declared it from the onset of his movement. My mission is to reform the legacy of my grandfather. To be a reformist is an honour in a world full of corruption and deviation. He was also aware that his position would not be envied by many who preferred the life of ease and comfort as opposed to that of struggle and pain. To him pain is a sign of correctness. Nothing of value is achievable without serious struggle that is often associated with deep pain. The Imam first felt the pain when he was forced out of his homeland in Medina, near the grave of Mohammed, the founder of the new religious and political Islamic entity. After consulting with his senior relatives he travelled to Mecca. But the agenst of Yazid were there to catch him “even if he were holding onto the garments of the holy Ka’ba”.

As the pilgrims were performing their duties, Hussain was forced to leave Mecca towards Iraq where he had many followers. Eventually he was abandoned to his fate by many who had urged him to come to Iraq. In Karbala he had only a few who braved the situation and took a stand to the end. On the day of Ashura Hussain made his last stand, raising the slogans of freedom, justice and right in the face of an authoritarian tribal dictatorship. Historically, these events helped raised the awareness of people about these concepts which form the core of the Islamic doctrines which regulate the public life of the people. Imam Hussain considered sacrificing his soul as a means of reviving the fundamentals of the religion a necessary step. For the sake of God, Islam, truth, justice and mankind the Imam was ready to confront the sources of evil in the half century period following the demise of the holy prophet. The events of Karbala were sacred catalyst to achieve sacred aims; the freedom of mankind, the purification of religion, the upholding of the Mohammedan Islam and the final defeat of the Jahiliya (the era of ignorance prior to the advent of Islam. It is thus the duty of Hussain’s lovers to ensure that his message is delivered in its perfection and that the rituals that have become associated with the event remain on its periphery. The core is to achieve the resurrection of the Imam’s message in order to uphold the true religion of Mohammed which is the only way to free mankind from the evil of dictatorship, tyranny and despotism

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