Ashura, the battle of right and wrong
History has always been witness to the confrontation of truth and falsehood. Truth has been manifested by divine messengers and leaders while falsehood has been personified by disbelievers and oppressors. Among the confrontations of truth and falsehood, Imam Hussein’s battle against Yazid was no doubt the most fateful and most harrowing event in the history of mankind.
It was the 10th of Moharram, 61 AH. Hussein (AS) was standing with his 72 loyal companions. He was looking at the hordes of the Umayyad commander, Umar Sa’d. Umar Sa’d began to change the arrangement of the flags to scare the troops of Imam Hussein with showing them the spears and flags. At this time, Imam Hussein (AS) stood in front of the enemy hordes, and said in a loud voice, “O people! Listen to my words and do not make haste as I am going to advise you concerning what is your right upon me; so that I tell you the reason for my movement from Mecca towards you. Thus, if you are fair and accept my reasoning, sure you will end in success and the way of war with me will be closed to you! But if you reject my reasoning and do not find my argument enough, then gather your opinion and those of your partners so that your affair does not remain hidden for you. Then, with no respite, engage with me and finish your affair! Do know that God is my Owner and Guardian who has sent the Holy Qur’an and He assumes the affairs of righteous people.”
After that, Imam Hussein expressed gratitude to God and greetings to the Prophet and continued, “First consider my genealogy and see who I am and then refer to your senses and reprimand them! See if it is deserving for you to kill me. Is it permitted for you to violate my sanctity? Am I not the son of your Prophet’s daughter? Am I not the son of your Prophet’s legatee and cousin who was the first believer and accepter of the Messenger of God and what had been sent down to him from God? Has the word of the Prophet not reached you when he said about me and my brother, ‘These are the Masters of the youth of paradise.’? If you are in doubt about this, are you also in doubt that I am the son of your Prophet’s daughter?! By God, nowhere in the east or west of the world is there any son of a Prophet among you or others except me. Woe upon you! Have I killed any of you so that you have gathered for retaliation? Have I seized any property of you or inflicted injury upon you that you have come to revenge?
They were dead silent. Imam Hussein went on, “No, by God, I won’t give you the hands in humiliation and will not accept your oppression like slaves. O servants of God! I take refuge with my Lord and your Lord that you may hurl stones at me! I take refuge with my Lord and your Lord from any arrogant who does not believe in the day of reward and reckoning.”
It was the midday of Ashura. Imam Hussein’s companions one by one went to the battle field to defend humanity and freedom. Everyone wished to have several souls to sacrifice for the immaculate grandson and successor of the Prophet and his pure family. Imam Hussein (AS) asked the enemy a few moments to perform midday obligatory prayer but the enemy rejected his request. The Imam, however, stood for prayer as the arrows of the enemy were raining on him and his companions. Two of his companions tried to act as shelter for the Imam Hussein so that he finished his prayer.
As the Imam’s companions were all martyred, Imam Hussein’s son Ali Akbar asked his permission to go to the battle field; but before leaving the encampment, the Imam asked him to walk before his eyes. Then Imam Hussein said, “O God, be witness that now a youth goes towards this people who is the most similar to the Prophet in countenance, morals and speech. Whenever we remembered the Prophet we would look at him.”
When Ali Akbar stood in front of the enemy forces, he said in an expressive voice, “I am Ali son of Hussein son of Ali. I swear by God that this mean person [Yazid] should not rule us. I will bring this spear down upon you in a way that it will be bent and I will strike you with this sword so strongly that it will be twisted.”
So, he started fighting. Although he had lost his power due to excessive thirst, he killed many of the enemy hordes. Everyone was astounded at his bravery. Then he went back to the camps to bid farewell to the Imam and sisters and aunts. As he returned to the battle field, a group attacked him from ambush and Ali Akbar fell down from the horse. Then the enemies circled around him and struck him with swords, spears and stones till he attained martyrdom.
As Imam Hussein’s kinsmen and companions were martyred one after the other, he remained lonely among thousands of enemy forces. At this moment, his voice resonated, “Is there a helper to help me? Is there a defender to defend the sanctuary of the Prophet?”
At this moment, the voice of the 6-month infant Ali Asghar was heard crying in the cradle. As if he wanted to say father I am still alive. Imam Hussein (AS) went to the camp and asked Lady Zeinab, “Give me the little infant to bid him farewell.” Then he took the infant in his arms while Zeinab said, “Brother, this infant has not drunk water for a while. Take some water from this army for him.”
Imam Hussein (AS) took Ai Asghar towards the battle field and addressing the Godless hordes of Yazid, said, “If you do not have mercy upon me, have mercy on this suckling infant. Do you not see how he is opening and closing his mouth out of excessive thirst?”
No sooner had Imam Hussein finished his words that Harmala, upon the order of Umar Sa’d, targeted the tender neck of Ali Asghar with the three-pronged arrow. The arrow pierced the neck and Imam Hussein cried, saying, “My God, You Yourself judge between us and this people. They invited us to help us, but they are determined to kill us.” The Imam filled his palm with the blood of his little son and sprinkled it toward the sky, saying, “Every calamity that befalls on me it is easy to endure it as it is before the eyes of God.” Then Imam Hussein dug a small grave behind the camps and buried Ali Asghar.
In the afternoon of Ashura, the ground in Karbala was covered with blood. Then the voice of Imam Hussein echoed everywhere as he was supplicating to God, “My God, I am satisfied with Your determination; submissive to Your affair; there is no god but You; o Refuge of those who seek refuge; o Living that has no end; o Reviver of the dead; o God who reckon everyone with their deeds, judge between me and these people as You are the best of Judges.”
A few hours later, the most horrendous event of history occurred. The younger grandson and third infallible successor of the Prophet was killed by the ungodly hordes of Yazid and his severed head was mounted on lances. But his luminous path and pure blood keeps teaching the free-spirited people in the world the way of freedom and fight against tyranny and oppression.