Questions on Ashura (1)
Ashura is the greatest event in the history of mankind. An event in which the heroes, although a very small number against the thousands-strong hordes of the enemy, stood firmly on their divine belief and preferred red death to humiliating life.
This courageous steadfastness and valorous self-sacrifice by the grandchildren of the last divine Prophet and their loyal companions has dazzled the eyes and enthralled the hearts and thoughts since the very beginning. The Umayyad rulers announced Ashura as a great feast to erase Imam Hussein's martyrdom from the minds of Muslims and cover up the scandal of the enemies of Ahl al-Bayt. But they never succeeded. Ashura turned into a culture with resistance against oppression and corruption and self-sacrifice as its main features. This culture has turned into a danger for power-thirsty individuals throughout history, so that those who are in the ideological and intellectual front of Yazid and Muawiyah have always tried to belittle Ashura in the eyes and minds of Muslims. Forging ambiguities on various aspects of this historical event is one of their main tools to this end. In a number of episodes, we will remove ambiguities on Ashura and provide due answers to the relevant questions.
Speaking on historical events, the first question that springs to the mind is the authenticity and accuracy of their various narrations.
Historians and historiographers believe that no event in the history of Islam has as accurate written script as Ashura. The historical books and biographies, both among Shias and Sunnis and even non-Muslims, have narrated strong documents so that the main lines and accounts of the event are considered as historical certainties. But the details of the event have been narrated differently. According to the historians, more than 90% of the events of Karbala have surely taken place as they are narrated.
An important part of the information on the event of Ashura have been transmitted to us by the infallible Imams and Ahl al-Bayt of the Prophet of Islam. Not all of those who had accompanied Imam Hussein to Karbala were martyred. In other words, great personalities like Imam Hussein's son Imam Sajjad and his grandson Imam Baqer (Peace upon them) who was a young boy of almost five years, Imam Hussein's sister Lady Zeinab (Peace upon her) and a few womenfolk of the Prophet's progeny were eye witnesses to the tragic events of Ashura. These people kept narrating what they had witnessed till the end of their life. Moreover, the next Imams, like Imam Sadeq and Imam Reza (Peace upon them), left authentic narrations on Ashura and the details of that fateful day. As these Imams are immune from any sin or mistake, their remarks are absolutely true.
Some of the companions of Imam Hussein, too, were among the narrators of the events of Ashura as they sustained injuries and survived. Furthermore, in those days, it was common to appoint a scribe to take note of the events of wars. One such person was Humaid ibn Muslim who was from the forces of Umar Sa'ad and was given the mission of writing down whatever he saw. This person wrote many of the events in detail. In addition, there were some individuals who would ingratiate themselves orally to Yazid for paltry moneys. The events of the day of Ashura are so certain that no historian, Muslim or non-Muslim, has casted the least doubt on the main elements of the event. Even those who didn't consider Imam Hussein as rightful in his uprising, have confirmed the tragic events of that fateful day and cursed the killers of the Prophet's grandson. Mahmud al-Alusi was an eminent Sunni scholar of the 19th century who was at loggerheads with Shias. But, when narrating the accounts of Ashura, he says, "It is obvious that Yazid did not repent and Ibn Ziyad and Ibn Sa'ad were also like him; and as long as an eye cries for Imam Hussein, may God damn Yazid and his followers."
Ashura is so great and has affected Islam, Shiism and even mankind to the extent that historiographers and chroniclers have narrated it and even the opponents haven't been able to reject its unmatched greatness.