Ayatollah Saafi Gulpaygani reflects on Karbala and the character of Imam Hussain

Fatwa, posted 12.24.2010, from Iran, in:
Religious Authority: 
Saafi Gulpaygani

"Think not of those who are slain in God's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord." (3:169)

The events of Karbala reflect the collision of good versus evil, the virtuous versus the wicked, and the collision of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) versus Yazid. Imam Hussain was a revolutionary person, a righteous man, the religious authority, the Imam of the Muslim Ummah. As the representative of his grandfather Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny), Imam Hussain's main concern was to safeguard and protect Islam and guide fellow Muslims. On the other hand, the staying power of the rulers (Muawiya and his son Yazid) depended solely on the might of the sword. They used brute force to rule over the Muslim empire by all possible illicit means.

The mission of Imam Hussain is a distinctly unique political and religious revolutionary movement in the history of the world. His was a tremendous undertaking which still reverberates throughout the Muslim nation. He has been a propelling force and a seminal element in events throughout Islamic history, particularly in the sphere of Jihad (the holy struggle in the way of Almighty God). Imam Hussain's example has remained vividly alive for generations and centuries. His uprising movement and ideals still have a deep impact on the conscience and awareness of the Muslim empire.

The Holy Prophet is reported to have said: "The best of Jihad is that of a word of right spoken to an unjust ruler."

Imam Hussain witnessed the deteriorating political and social situation and clearly recognized that the general policy of the authorities did not abide with Islamic principles. He was aware of the Ummah's numerous and painful afflictions and was determined to exercise his religious duty, being the duly sanctioned leader and central figure capable of restoring Islamic values. Thus he rose. His revolt is rich in lessons and divinely inspired attitudes. Imam Hussain embodied the sacrifice of self, money, family, social status, and the challenge to terror and cruelty. He patiently traversed hundreds of miles, moving both night and day. The epic protest he engendered came at the most critical political juncture. In fact, the Prophet's grandson had vowed to sacrifice himself.

Thus, Karbala proved to be a clash involving Islamic truths versus falsehood, belief versus disbelief, the oppressed versus the oppressor, and faith versus brute force. Karbala was about standing in the face of oppression, regardless no matter the cost. In Karbala, Imam Hussain, the fifty seven year old second grandson of Prophet Muhammad, sacrificed his totality and all he had, for one goal. This goal was to let the truth triumph over falsehood eventually, and he did that brilliantly. His goal was to foil the plan that Muawiya had expertly developed for his son Yazid, which was to establish a permanent Umayyad dynasty over the Muslim Ummah, but doing it in the name of Islam. Brilliantly, Imam Hussain succeeded in foiling this plan, and he exposed the disreputable nature of Umayyads, though this was at the expense of his life.

Eventually he was martyred along with his sons, most of his household, and all of his companions. The bodies were mutilated, and their heads were carried from Karbala to Kufa and finally Damascus. His womenfolk were taken prisoners and marched across the desert. He himself was expecting all that, but did not budge an inch.

An uprising led by the noblest and best accepted personality in the entire Ummah is certainly one which is uniquely distinguished as a movement abounding with spiritual, moral, and religious ideals.
Such a sublime revolution has to be studied, dissected, and fully understood. Lessons should be drawn from it. Here we note that the backward and downtrodden nations must one day follow in the footsteps of Imam Hussain if they are to challenge the despots.

Karbala never passes away. Its sun never sets in the horizon of history. Its anguish can never be effaced from the conscience of freemen by the collective conspiracy of tyrants.

At Karbala, clouds of blood rained, and generations of martyrs and revolutionaries took root and sprouted. The sound of the fearless voice of Imam Hussain still echoes in the valley of Karbala, ringing in the ears of time. It is a hurricane that chafes and shakes the tyrants. It is a volcano of blood, violently jolting the despots' thrones. It awakens free consciences and stirs within man the spirit of revolution and Jihad. His voice is still echoing in the ears of mankind:

"By God, I will never give you my hand like a man who has been humiliated, nor will I flee like a slave."