The valour, humility, and sacrifices from some of the best people in history to stand against injustice, Imam Hussain (as), Hazrat Abbas son of Ali (as), and Imam Ali ibn Hussain al-Sajjad (as).
The story of Karbala is not just a battle or historical tragedy – Karbala is a movement that has changed the course of history as we know it. The story of Karbala has become central to the Islamic call of justice and goodness to defeat the ills of oppression, tyranny and hypocrisy. Today, we outline three heroes of Karbala whose eloquent sermons and valorous actions saved the message of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Islam itself.
Imam Hussain (as)
After the assassination of his father, Imam Ali (as), and brother, Imam Hassan (as), Imam Hussain’s (as) refused to give allegiance to the tyrant of his time. In his travels to Makkah, Imam Hussain (as) planned to avoid conflict with others, and delivered a powerful sermon to the people, in which he said, “You have taken lightly your duties as leaders. You have neglected the rights of the oppressed and the lowly, but have assiduously pursued what you regard as your personal rights.” (The Sermon of Mina).
Growing up in the house of the prophet, Hussain (as) was highly regarded for his just nature, compassion and morality. From his youth up until his adult life, Imam Hussain (as) lived with humility and in remembrance of his ever so beloved grandfather, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Imam Hussain (as) was steadfast on the path of true Islam – the Islam that does not prioritize rulers or dynasties. His call for justice and unity of the ummah was central in all of actions, both on and off the battlefield.
Hussain’s (as) actions on the fields of Karbala were nothing short of perfect Islamic morale and in the best of his character. Upon his travels to Kufa, Imam Hussain’s (as) caravan was intercepted by an army in favour of the tyrant of the time. Instead of fighting, acting in bitterness and in emotions of betrayal, the Imam (as) offered water to the horses and soldiers of the opposition. This is one true example of the man Imam Hussain (as) was. His selfless acts of kindness were unfortunately returned with the army cutting off the supply of water, leaving Hussain (as), his family, and his companions crying out in thirst for days.
Hadhrat Al-Abbas ibn Ali (as)
Abbas (as), the half-brother of Imam Hussain (as), is highly revered and known by many as one of the bravest companions of Imam Hussain (as) in Karbala. Abbas (as) demonstrated the highest level of loyalty and bravery for Imam Hussain (as) in his plight against tyrannical rule. Al-Abbas (as) was entrusted by Imam Hussain (as) to bear the flag of the Ahlul Bayt (as). He earned the title Qamr Bani-Hashim, the moon of the Bani Hashim, as he acted as a guiding light for Hussain (as) and his companions in Karbala. His bravery was especially evident in his task to fetch water from the Euphrates river.
Imam Hussain (as) made it clear to Abbas (as) not to fight, only defend himself if necessary and fetch water for the children in the tented camps in Hussain’s (as) army. Faced with a difficult fate, Abbas (as) filled his hide with water for the children, picked up the river water with his hands, but did not drink any – he followed the exact instructions given to him by his brother. While on the way back to the camp, Abbas (as) was struck by arrows of the opposition, one of them piercing the hide of water meant for the children of Al-Hussain (as).
Imam Zain Al-Abideen (as)
Imam Zain Al-Abideen (as) is the son of Imam Hussain (as) and the fourth holy Imam. Narrations have reported that the Imam was severely ill in Karbala. Despite being severely ill, he supported the cause of Imam Hussain (as) and stood against oppression. Imam Zain Al-Abideen (as) was taken as captive along with the women and children to Damascus. In spite of his illness, he delivered his eloquent speech of truth that highlighted the injustices and wrongdoings of the time.
Years after his release from imprisonment, he compiled a book of sayings from his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), regarding the rights of all things, peoples and positions in Islamic law and theology, Risalat Al-Huquq. It was through his literary works and sermons that Imam Zain Al-Abideen (as) kept his father’s and grandfather’s message alive. Imam Zain Al-Abideen’s (as) Imamate is a miracle from Allah (swt) that fulfilled the promise of 12 successors to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Learning and understanding the plights of the Imams of Ahlul Bayt (as) is a practice that we should all strive to implement in our lives. As mentioned earlier, we cannot look at modern day struggles and not compare these issues to the plight of the Imams, especially Imam Hussain (as). We often hear the saying, “every day is Ashura, and every land is Karbala” – this figurative saying also has a literal meaning, in which tragedies occur around the globe daily. Children do not have access to water, and human beings are denied their basic rights. Yet, there are people who have the spirit of Hussainiyya and are ready to sacrifice what they have to make a difference for their brothers and sisters in the name of Islam and the Ahlul Bayt (as).
The Zahra(s) Trust Canada is committed to facilitating those changes that desperately need to be made. We thank you, our donors, for your generosity and pray that we all can answer the call of the Imam of our time (ajfs).
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