Imam Hussain [A.S] in Iqbal’s work


By Dr. Ibrahim Ayati

Dr Muhammad Iqbal (1877- 1938) known to the world as the Poet-Philosopher of the East, devoted his life to awaken the Muslim Ummah and to make it pursue the path of spirituality, knowledge, jihad, sacrifice and martyrdom.

Dr Iqbal had an abiding faith in Ahlul Bayt (the Chosen Descendants of the Holy Prophet PBUH). He was intensely moved by the tragic events of Karbala so much so that in many of his couplets he carried a universal message to the mankind for emulating Imam Husayn who sacrificed his life at the altar of Truth. His elegies on the martyrdom of Imam Husayn stand unmatched and are an eye-opener to all those who are giving a mere lip-service to Islam.

In the following couplets Dr Iqbal gives vent to his sentiments and feelings on Imam Husayn (AS):

جس طرح مجھ کو شہید ِ کربلا سے پیار ہے
حق تعالی
ٰ کو یتیموں کی دعا ہے پیار ہے

Dr Iqbal expresses his extreme love for Imam Husayn. Just as Almighty Allah loves to listen to the invocation of the orphans, he also has the same kind of love for the martyr of Karbala.

رونے والا ہوں شہید ِ کربلا کے غم میں میں
کیا درِ مقصود نہ دیں گے ساقیِ کوثر مجھے

Dr Iqbal has a sincere and genuine faith in Imam Husayn. The hero of this episode Imam Husayn, the brave son of the bravest of the brave Ali and grandson of the Holy Prophet, took up a firm stand not to acknowledge Yazid as the Caliph of Islam. It is a fight for the preservation of the principles and tenets of Islam. Imam Husayn arrived in Karbala on the 2nd of Muharram 61 A.H. along with his small children, women, and some comrades numbering 72 only. On the l0th of Muharram he was brutally killed. This was the tragedy over which Iqbal sheds tears. He believes that mourning and wailing over him would lead to his (Iqbal’s) salvation. He also believes that Saqi-e-Kauthar Lord of Kauthar (Cistern in Paradise) Imam Ali loves those, who weep for Imam Husayn. He hopes and prays that since he sheds tears out of grief for Husyan, Imam Ali would give him all the help he needs.

غریب و سادہ و رنگیں ہے داستانِ حرم
نہایت اس کی حسین ابتدا ہے اسماعیل

Dr Iqbal says that the event of the construction of Kaba is very simple and interesting. Prophet Ismail suffered great pains in its construction. The Holy Prophet purged it from the idols that were in it, and so raised its glory. The first stone was laid by Ismail indeed. He offered for sacrifice his own life but the sacrifice was not completed as he was replaced by a ram and according to the Holy Qur’an the great sacrifice or Zibh-e ‘Azim was to come later and completed by one of his descendants, Husayn. So in fact culmination of the spirit of love for Allah was manifest when Imam Husayn sacrificed his life and preserved the dignity of the Holy Kaba.

حقیقتِ ابدی ہے مقامِ شبیری
بدلتے رہتے ہیں انداذِ کوفی و شامی

Dr Iqbal here compares two things Shabbiri or Husayniyat, i-e. principles enunciated and adhered to by Imam Husayn, and Yazidiyat, i.e. worldly power and authority. Husayn was the symbol of devotion to and love for Allah, i.e. submission to none except Allah.

The spirit as shown by the rulers of Kufa and Syria, is always changing since it tries to gain strength through fraud, dishonesty, and political expediency and manoeuvring as against this truth never changes. So the place Imam Husayn has achieved, is a reality which shall be hailed and acknowledged for all times to come.

قافلہِ حجاز میں ایک حسین بھی نہیں
گرچہ ہے تابدار ابھی  گیسوئے داجلہ و فرات

Dr Iqbal was distressed to note that Iraq was under the yoke of the British. He was disappointed that the Muslims had lost courage and were suffering humiliation. The land of Tigres and Eupharates called some staunch devotee of Islam who could relieve them of their serfdom. Iqbal only wished a man, a follower of Imam Husayn might come up to help the Muslims of Iraq!

صدقِ خلیل بھی ہے عشق صبرِ حسین بھی ہے عشق
معرکہ وجود میں بدر و حنین بھی ہے عشق

Dr Iqbal says that love of Allah manifests itself in many ways. Prophet Ibrahim had to suffer many difficulties in the cause of Allah. He accepted being thrown into the fire, and the fire was turned into a blooming garden.
It showed his intense love for Allah. Our Holy Prophet conquered the Battles of Badr and Hunayn through his ardent love for Allah. Similarly Imam Husayn showed his patience in the battlefield of Karbala where he, with his family and comrades, not only suffered the pangs of three days’ thirst, but willingly sacrificed his life for the cause of Truth and love for Allah. Love for Allah is a quality, a force, an impetus, which creates in us extraordinary patience and forbearance.

اک فقر ہے شبیری اس فقر میں ہے میری
میراث ِ مسلمانی،سرمایہِ شبیری

Dr Iqbal says that the life of a dervish is a very noble way of living but it is different from the life of a mendicant or friar who lives on begging or in seclusion. We should learn from Imam Husayn who while passing the life of a dervish had no other consideration except love of Allah and submission to His will. Our treading the path practised by Imam Husayn will bestow on us the title of Chief among the people. A Muslim has inherited this wealth from Imam Husayn, and we should make the best use of it. Imam Husayn has given us the lesson of self-sacrifice, patience, and forbearance and submission to none except Allah.

آن امام عاشقان پور بتول
سرو آزادی ز بستان رسول

Ān Imam-e-āshiqān pooray Batool

Sarvay āzādi ze bustān-e-Rasul

Now Dr Iqbal opens his praises for the son of Lady Fatima. He was the chief of the lovers of Allah, and an evergreen tree from the garden of the Prophet. Imam Husayn who stood against the forces of evil, refused to acknowledge Yazid as the Caliph of Islam, and upholding the dignity of Islamic principles sacrificed his life along with a small band of 72 of his followers, at the battlefield of Karbala.

اللہ اللہ بای بسم اللہ پدر
معنی ذبح عظیم آمد پسر

Allah Allah Bāey Bismillah pidar
Ma’niye zibh-e-azim āmad pisar

In a state of supreme bliss Dr Iqbal says, “O’ Allah, what an exalted position Imam Husayn possessed, as his illustrious father (Imam Ali) was the first letter of the Qur’an! A tradition says that Imam Ali said, “What is in the Holy Qur’an is in the first chapter (Surah Fatiha); what is in this surah (chapter) is in the first verse (Bismillah); what is in Bismillah is in its first letter (Ba) and I am the dot below ba. Doubtless Imam Ali was acknowledged to be the best expounder of the Holy Qur’an. The Holy Prophet had himself declared: “Ali is with Qur’an, and Qur’an is with Ali”. Imam Husayn was the son of such an eminent personality. It is Imam Husayn’s Martyrdom which is referred to as Zibhe Azim the greatest sacrifice in the Holy Qur’an. Imam Husayn was the direct descendant of Prophet Ismail and had offered himself for sacrifice at Karbala to save Islamic principles from annihilation. The Holy Qur’an says that Zibhe Azim, the great sacrifice of Prophet Ismail was left over for the coming generation. Dr Iqbal alludes to this and says that Zibhe Azim in the Holy Qur’an means the sacrifice of Imam Husayn.

بہر آن شہزادہ ی خیر الملل
دوش ختم المرسلین نعم الجمل

Bahray ān shahzādaey Khayrul milal
Dosh-e-Khatmul mursalin ne’mul Jamal

Dr Iqbal here alludes to an event stated by Tirmizi and others. Once Imam Husayn mounted the shoulders of his grandfather, the Holy Prophet. Somebody said, “What a good carriage it is!” The Prophet said, “And what a good rider it is!” Dr Iqbal mentions this event to show what affectionate feelings the Holy Prophet had towards his grandson.

سرخ رو عشق غیور از خون او
شوخی این مصرع از مضمون او

Surkh roo ishq-e-ghayoor az Khoon-e-oo
Surkhiye in misra az mazmoon-e-oo

Dr Iqbal says that it is because of Imam Husayn’s blood that the modest love has gained honour and dignity. This couplet can well serve a title for the episode of the Tragedy of Karbala which shows how piously and valiantly Imam Husayn defended the tenets of Islam, sacrificed his own life along with his kith and kin, sincere followers, and comrades, and raised the honour of love to its acme.

در میان امت ان کیوان جناب
ہمچو حرف قل ہو اللہ در کتاب

Darmiyān-e-Ummat ān Keywān janāb,
Hamchu harf-e-Qul Huwallah dar Kitāb

Dr Iqbal shows here the position of Imam Husayn. He says that among the followers of the Holy Prophet Imam Husayn is like the Divine phrase QuI huwallah (Say He is Allah) meaning that Allah is One, in the Holy Qur’an. Since the entire Holy Qur’an turns to this verse -QuI Huwallaho Ahad (Say that He is One) similarly the whole Islamic world turns towards Imam Husayn who is the source of our guidance. Dr Iqbal knows the tradition of our Prophet: “Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn” i.e. Husayn is his grandson and that he (the Prophet) would be made known by him, and his mission would be fulfilled by Imam Husayn who sacrificed his life to immortalize Islam and its tenets.

موسیٰ و فرعون و شبیر و یزید
این دو قوت از حیات آید پدید

Musa o Firaun-o-Shabbir or Yazid
In do quwwāt az Hayāt āmad padid.

Ever since the creation of life two opposing forces have been at war with each other- virtue and vice, Right and wrong. Musa (Moses) rose against Firaun (Pharoah) and Shabbir (Imam Husayn) rose against Yazid. These struggles were between the Right and the wrong. Consequently the Right prevailed upon the wrong and it was proved that Right is might.

زندہ حق از قوت شبیری است
باطل آخر داغ حسرت میری است

Zindah haq az quwwat-e-Shabbiri ast
Bātil ākhir dāgh-e-hasrat miri ast

Dr Iqbal says that Truth or Islam exists today because of the strength shown and the spiritual power exercised by Imam Husayn. In other words Imam Husayn made Islam immortal. The wrong was crushed to annihilation in spite of its apparent success. Yazidism or the principle enunciated by Yazid is looked down upon by all, but Husayn’s blood spilled at Karbala still enlivens our hearts and makes us feel that his sacrifice to support the Right against the wrong was unparalleled in the history of mankind.

چون خلافت رشتہ از قرآن گسیخت
حریت را زہر اندر کام ریخت
خاست آن سر جلوہ ی خیرالامم
چون سحاب قبلہ باران در قدم
بر زمین کربلا بارید و رفت
لالہ در ویرانہ ہا کارید و رفت
تا قیامت قطع استبداد کرد
موج خون او چمن ایجاد کرد

Choon Khitlāfat rishtah az Qur’an gusikht
Hurriyat ra Zahr under Kām rikht
Khāst ān sar Jatwaey Khairut Umam
Choon Sahabe Qibtah Bārān dar qadam
Bar zamin-e-Karbala Bārid o raft
Lalah dar wirānaha Kārid o raft
Tā qayāmat qat’ay istibdād kard
Mauje Khoone oo chaman ijād kard

Dr Iqbal says that when the Islamic Government severed its relation with the injunctions of the Holy Qur’an the Muslims suffered moral degradation. It marred their freedom. When the rulers indulged in all sorts of vicious habits and satisfied their carnal desires against the clear-cut injunctions of the Holy Qur’an the whole social structure was impaired. Nobody could utter a word against the tyrant ruler and his associates. Then arose that chief of the Muslims (Husayn), like blessed cloud with rain of mercy under his foot. It rained blessings on the sands of Karbala and turned that desert into a garden. It is the place where Imam Husayn with his kith and kin, children and comrades, numbering 72 only, faced a huge army and courted martyrdom after three days starvation and thirst on the l0th of Muharram 61 A.H. Husayn was undoubtedly the saviour of freedom and Karbala has become the symbol of struggle against tyranny. Husayn’s role at Karbala was so magnificent that it eradicated for ever the savage idea of cruelty and cold-bloodedness. The wave of his blood has created a garden which is symbolic of his sacrifice for the preservation of freedom and Truth.

بہر حق در خاک و خون غلتیدہ است
پس بنای لاالہ گردیدہ است

Bahre haq dar Khāk-o-khoon ghaltida ast
Pas binā ey lā illah gardida ast

Dr Iqbal says that Imam Husayn voluntarily gave his life at Karbala for the sake of Allah or Truth. So it goes without saying that Husayn laid the foundation of the cardinal Principle of Islam -the belief that there is no god except Allah. Since Islamic principles were being twisted, distorted and exterminated it was Husayn’s blood which gave it a new life.

مدعایش سلطنت بودی اگر
خود نکردی با چنین سامان سفر

Mudda ā yash saltanat boody agar
Khud na hardy bā chunin sāmmāne safar

That Imam Husayn’s only aim in refusing to accept Yazid as Caliph of Islam was to preserve Islam, can be borne out from the fact that while he left Madina for his journey towards Kufa he had a small band of his relations and followers, including women, and children. Had he the intention of fighting a political battle he would not have gone there with such people as he took with him. Those who accompanied Imam Husayn included his sisters, wives, children (even a six month old child was with him) and some followers, some of whom were more than eighty years of age.

دشمنان چون ریگ صحرا لاتعد
دوستان او بہ یزدان ہم عدد

Dushmanān chun rig-e-sahra la tu’ad
Dostān-e-oo bā yazdān ham ‘adad

In the Battle of Karbala the number of the enemy was as countless as the particles of sand, but the number of Imam Husayn’s friends was only 72.

تیغ لا چون از میان بیرون کشید
از رگ ارباب باطل خون کشید
نقش الا اللہ بر صحرا نوشت
سطر عنوان نجات ما نوشت
رمز قرآن از حسین آموختیم
ز آتش او شعلہ ہا اندوختیم

Tigh-e-lā choon az miyan buroon kashid
Az rag-e-arbābe bātil khoon kashid
Naqsh-e-Illallāh bar Sahra nawisht
Satre-unwān-e-najat-e mā nawisht
Ramz-e-Qur’an az Husayn āmokhteem
Za Ātishe-oo Shoalahā andokhteem

Imam Husayn took up his sword of ‘La’ or ‘No’ that is, there is no deity (except Allah) and crushed infidelity. He imprinted the mark of Illallah (Tawhid), or monotheism in the wilderness of Karbala. It was a title for our salvation. In fact we have learnt the lesson of Tawhid or monotheism from Imam Husayn, who taught us in a practical way the secret of Qur’an by sacrificing his life for the sake of Allah and for completing the mission of his grandfather, the Prophet. We have gathered warmth from the fire of love for Allah that Imam Husayn possessed. Dr Iqbal means that the love for Allah shown and the sacrifice made by Imam Husayn at Karbala should serve as the best lesson for all the people of the world.

شوکت شام و فر بغداد رفت
سطوت غرناطہ ہم از یاد رفت
تار ما از زخمہ اش لرزان ہنوز
تازہ از تکبیر او ایمان ہنوز

Shawkat-e-Shām-o farray Baghdad raft,
Satwat-e-Ghamata ham az yād raft
Tār-e-mā az zakhma ash larzān hanooz,
Tazāh az takbir-e-oo Imān hanooz

Dr Iqbal says that kingly grandeur gained through political battles never survives. The pomp and vanity of the thrones of Syria and Baghdad which were once seats of great kings is no more present. Nobody remembers the splendour of Gharnata in which was the seat of Spanish Kings. But the reverential call of Husayn at Karbala – his call of La Illāhā Illāllāh is still echoing in our ears and thrilling our hearts.

ای صبا ای پیک دور افتادگان
اشک ما بر خاک پاک او رسان

Ay sabā ay payk-e-dūr uftādagān,
Ashk-e-mā bar khāk-e-pāk-e-oo rasān

Iqbal’s intense love for and faith in Imam Husayn is apparent from this couplet. Fondly addressing the breeze that proverbially carries the message of the lover to the beloved who is at a remote place. Iqbal asks her to carry his tears to the sacred tomb of Imam Husayn. Dr Iqbal weeps in sad and blessed memory of Imam Husayn and wishes to place his tears over his Imam’s grave.

 

Our Imam Hussain


By Syeda Qudsiya Mashhadi

Like every year, this year too, Moharram came and went. A few TV channels aired programmes on Imam Hussain’s life while others completely ignored the importance, or failed to understand the relevance of this month. There were various processions mourning the martyrdom of Imam Hussain [A.S.] [R.A.] in almost all the major cities of the country by the followers of Fiqah-e-Jafaria and some of the followers of Ahle-Sunnat. Elegies were read and the whole incident of Karbala was narrated by the Zakirs in an emotional and dramatically stylized way. As soon as the day of Ashura ended, the very next day, one saw the same old revelry, merriment, dance and music on the TV channels. The Muslims were done with the duty of remembering the grandson of their beloved Prophet [صلی اللہ علیہ والہ وسلم].

Like every year, this year too, my mind was pounded with painful questions.

“Is Moharram the only time we should be remembering the members of the Prophet’s lineage?”

“Does Imam Hussain [A.S.] [R.A.] belong only to the shias?”,

“Why does the rest of the ummat-e-Mohammad [صلی اللہ علیہ والہ وسلم] goes on as if nothing had happened?”

“Don’t they love their Prophet?”

“If they do, why don’t they show any affiliation to the person who was one of the most beloved family members of the Prophet [ صلی اللہ علیہ والہ وسلم]?”

For most of the Muslims, life goes on as if this was an isolated incident, which happened by chance in history. I looked at the people around, in my life, at work, at social gatherings, people who would deem it necessary to comment on the most trivial occurrences in their lives. How they went to the tailor last night, how they couldn’t find the matching lace for their dress, or how chilly it was that day. What they failed to do was to even hint upon one of the greatest historical events that was of tremendous importance for the Muslims world over. If you even try to mention the names of any members of the family of Prophet Mohammad [صلی اللہ علیہ والہ وسلم ] who were inhumanely martyred in Karbala, they give you a look saying, “You too?”, “Are you a Shia?” This question irritates me to no end. I am dumbfounded by their ignorance and arrogance! My eyes bulge out in disgust! What the heck is this? I am a Muslim, alhamdolillah also a Syed. And I DON’T belong to any sect! I revere and love my Prophet [صلی اللہ علیہ والہ وسلم ]. I also have great love and respect for his family who sacrificed their EVERYTHING to save the religion of their grandfather. And I cannot even talk about them?

Come on people, the Ahlul-bayt are not the property of any one sect! We all love them and SHOULD love them! Because without it, our Imaan is incomplete. I can quote hundreds of ahadith about the importance of loving the Prophet [ صلی اللہ علیہ والہ وسلم] and his family members but I need a whole new blog for that! I will, though, quote a few extremely well-known and famous ones. First, some verses from the Quran:

  1. “(Muhammad), say, “I do not ask you for any payment for my preaching to you except (your) love of (my near) relatives.” Whoever achieves virtue will have its merit increased. Allah is All-forgiving and Appreciating. (42:23)”
  2. “Allah only desires to keep away uncleanness from you, O members of the House! And to purify you a (thorough purification).” (33:33)

And some of the ahadith:

  1. “Hussain is from me and I am from Hussain, Allah befriends those who befriend Hussain and He is the enemy of those who bear enmity to him.”
  2. “Behold! My Ahlul-bayt are like the Ark of Noah. Whoever embarked in it was SAVED, and whoever turned away from it was PERISHED.”
  3. “I m leaving among you something which is very important and should be followed, you will not go astray if you get hold of it after I am gone: Allah’s Book, which is a rope stretched from Heaven to Earth, and my close relatives, who belong to my household. These two will not separate from one another till they come down to the reservoir (Al-Kauthar), so consider how you act regarding them after my departure.” [Hadith al-thaqalayn]
  4. “Say, ‘O Allah, send blessings on Muhammad and on the kith and kin of Muhammad.’”

{References for the above are all over the net]

I know that majority of the Muslims passionately and irrevocably love the Holy Prophet [صلی اللہ علیہ والہ وسلم ]. But how can one love a person so much and not love that person’s family? And saying that this is not any ordinary family is the understatement of the entire Eternity. It is gut-wrenching for us to see a six-month old baby killed heinously in a state of hunger and thirst, even if that baby is of a Mushriq or Kafir. Now imagine if this happens to a close family member of yours. What will be your reaction? The thing that is even worse than this is that it actually happened to the progeny of your beloved leader, your guide, your role model, your inspiration, and the Imam of all the Prophets, Mohammad [ صلی اللہ علیہ والہ وسلم]. Just think with a cool mind and try to absorb the magnitude of this event.

It is extremely painful for me when I see that the children of today are clueless about this great historical event which is closely related to our Prophet [صلی اللہ علیہ والہ وسلم ]. It hurt me to no end when a child of Grade 5 asked me on 8th Moharram, “Only shias believe in Hazrat Ali and Imam Hussain?” Another asked, “Are the shias, kafir?

What in the hell are we teaching our children? There is no tolerance for other sects! There is zero Islamic education at homes. If something is taught, it is hate against the other sects. Only we are Muslims, the rest are Kafirs. Brilliant. What do you expect from these children when they grow up? They will certainly not act as mature beings, nor will they be true believers. And for Allah’s sake, tell your children that Imam Hussain [A.S] [R.A] belongs to all of us, just like Prophet Mohammad [صلی اللہ علیہ والہ وسلم ] is the prophet of the entire mankind. It should be enough for us that the Prophet [صلی اللہ علیہ والہ وسلم ] called Imam Hassan [A.S.] [R.A.] and Imam Hussain [A.S] [R.A], his sons and the leaders of the men in Jannat. Just try and imagine the pain that he went through when Archangel Gabriel [A.S.] told him about the fate that awaited Imam Hussain [A.S.] [R.A.] in the desert of Karbala. Any parent and grand parent can understand it fully well. Imagine that the child who is the apple of your eye, some day will be homeless, hungry and thirsty and in that condition will be brutally killed and dismembered along with his innocent children and kin. Yes, right, you cannot even think about it.

I will say one more thing. Just believing in Allah alone will not guarantee entry in Jannat. Spiritual connection with Syedi Mohammad [صلی اللہ علیہ والہ وسلم ] is the ONLY salvation for any Muslim. Just ask yourself can you have any spiritual relationship with the Prophet without truly loving him? And can you claim to truly love the Prophet WITHOUT loving and revering and remembering his family? I think not. If you have no spiritual connection with the Prophet, then I am really sorry for you because you are NOTHING in front of Allah. All your prayers, zikr, fasts, recitation of the Quran, zakat, Hajj and Nauwafil are utterly useless without the love of Mohammad [صلی اللہ علیہ والہ وسلم ] and his Ahlul-bayt. So think about it. Relate the incident of Karbala to your young ones, educate them, because after all, this is the real education. Make them truly respect and love the Prophet [ صلی اللہ علیہ والہ وسلم] and his family, and specially that grandson who breathed a new life in Islam.

In the words of Khwaja Muin-ud-din Chishti:

شاہ است حسین بادشاہ است حسین
دین است حسین دین پناہ است حسین
سر داد نا داد دست در دست یزید
حقا کہ بناے لا الہ است حسین

“Hussain is the king, indeed he is the king of kings
Hussain is Deen and also the protector of Deen
He gave his head but not his hand of allegiance in the hand of Yazid
Indeed he was the founder (like his grandfather) of the concept of One God”

And I wait for that day, O Allah, when,

انسان کو بیدار تو ہو لینے دو
ہر قوم پکارے گی ہمارے ہیں حسین

INSAN KO BEDAR TOH HO LENE DO,
HAR QAUM PUKAREGI HUMARE HAIN HUSAIN [AS]

Just let the mankind awake,
Every community will say Hussain belongs to us.

May Allah make it possible for all of us to love the Prophet and his Ahlul-bayt as much as they should be loved. Ameen.