(Surat aal-Imran: 178)
Let disbelievers not think that our giving them a respite is a good thing for them, indeed we give them a respite so that they may increase in trespass; and a crushing punishment awaits them.
We always remember the calamity of Aashura. There is no grief like it. There is no sorrow like it. It was such a tragedy that Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA said, “toolaz zamaane bukaai” (I will grieve the tragedy of Imam Husain SA throughout my life).
Especially as we approach Imam Husain’s SA Chehlum, we also remember those who survived Karbala and the calamities that befell them.
Imam Ali Zainul Aabedeen SA – the successor of Imam Husain SA – survived Karbala despite all odds. It is said that not for forty days, but for forty years after Aashura, whenever a cup of water was placed before the Imam, his tears would not stop. The wounds of Karbala never healed.
With Imam Ali Zainul Aabedeen SA, the Haram of Imam Husain SA – Maulatuna Zainab, Maulatuna Umme Kulsoon, Maulatuna Sakina and all the widowed ladies and orphaned children – were enslaved and taken from Karbala to Kufa (approx. 85 KM). There they were paraded before Yazeed’s governor in Kufa, Ubaydullah bin Ziyaad, who was the one who had days before orchestrated the massacre at Karbala. Imam Ali Zainul Aabedeen SA and all his Ahle Bayt, without parda, were made to stand before Ubaydullah in his court. It is at this time that Ubaydullah bin Ziyaad blurted, “Did God not murder Ali?!” The Imam responded by reciting the Quranic Aayat, “It is Allah Ta’ala who gives wafaat to souls upon death.” As Ubaydullah instructed the executioner to draw his sword, Maulatuna Zainab AS – the daughter of Amirul Mumineen the Lion of Allah - stood before the Imam for protection. She resolutely dared the executioner that he would have to pass through her first to get to the Imam.
The Haram of Imam Husain SA was then driven by Yazeed’s army from Kufa to Shaam (Damascus) – some of the Ahle Bayt were on foot and those who were on camels sat without saddles or seats. They covered a distance of over 900 Km until they reached the court of the Umayyad caliph, Yazeed bin Mu’awiyah. When they entered Shaam, the heads of the Shuhadaa’ were raised on spears and displayed as they marched through the market, and the Ahle Bayt were paraded in the streets. Then, the Ahle Bayt were brought before Yazeed and the head of Imam Husain SA was placed in a plate in front of him as he sat on his throne. It was there in Yazeed’s court that Maulatuna Zainab SA delivered a khutba that shook the very foundations of the court. She spoke with the grace and dignity of her mother, Maulatuna Fatema SA, and the eloquence of her Father, Amirul Mumineen SA. The text of the khutba is presented this week on Fatemidawat.com and a longer excerpt is presented below in Sijill. Then the Ahle Bayt were imprisoned for many months in Shaam before they were finally released and allowed to return to Rasulullah’s Madina.
The ordeal of Imam Ali Zainul Aabedeen and the Ahlul Bayt is beyond expression - as though Karbala was not enough. Their sabar, fortitude and resilience is an inspiration for humanity.
It is also remarkable – though in hindsight it was clearly destined – that although Imam Ali Zainul Aabedeen SA was a captive for so many months and yet, as Imam Husain’s successor and as Imam-uz-zaman, he survived. Not only did Imam Ali survive, but so did the 3rd Imam, Imam Mohammadul Baaqir who had also been in Karbala and who had also been held captive with the other Ahle Bayt. This is the strongest proof that the Imamat survives no matter what. Though it is self-evident now, imagine the months in which the Imam remained captive; imagine living through those times.
Hindsight is 20-20: we understand past events with clarity – today, there is no question in our minds who was right and who was wrong in Karbala, or that truth would ultimately prevail. However when we are going through troubled times, it is a challenge to see clearly right from wrong and to keep our faith in Allah Ta’ala. It is in these times that we need to seek inspiration from Maulatuna Zainab who, stood in Yazeeds court without a parda declared to Yazeed with unmatched fortitude and faith in Allah Ta’ala “You raise your nose and look around yourself gay and happy when you see this world gathered to you, all its affairs, like a herd of camels, flocking to you. Beware! This is but a respite, these are the few moments you can breathe easy, before the punishment descends. God has said [and this is another quote from the Qur’an] “Let disbelievers not think that our giving them a respite is a good thing for them, indeed we give them a respite so that they may increase in trespass; and a crushing punishment awaits them.” It is in these times that our faith in Allah Ta’ala needs to be the strongest, our faith in Allah Ta’ala that He will protect His light. This light is our guidance and it is our good fortune that we have it to illuminate our path and our souls.
If the remembrance of Imam Husain, Ahle Bayt and Ashaab, and the remembrance of their unmatched and unfaltering stand for the Truth and Principles does not ignite a spark within us to act -- then what will?