Another Arba’een, another epical fervor (5)
Condolences to you all on the doleful day of the anniversary of Arba’een or the 20th of Safar, the traditional 40th day of the immortal epic of Ashura, the martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS), the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (Blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
This grand ceremony revives our grief for history’s most heartrending tragedy as we commemorate the supreme sacrifice of the Martyr of Karbala that saved Islam and all humanitarian values. Thus, whether from near or afar, we salute Imam Husain (AS) from the depth of our hearts, while those fortunate enough to undertake this spiritual journey, are already there at his holy shrine in Iraq to pay their respects.
According to reports, scores of millions have converged upon Karbala today from all over the globe, to make it the largest assemblage of human beings anywhere in the world. Last year, there were around twenty million pilgrims, and this year the number of devotees is estimated to be over 25 million and perhaps 30 million.
The following is the fifth and final episode of our series, titled: “Another Arba’een, another epical fervor”.
Arba’een is the 40th day of martyrdom of the person who sacrificed whatever he had for the survival of Islam; the man to whom humanity is perpetually indebted. Arba’een thus reminds us of the glorious martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS), who refused to give his hand in allegiance to the illegitimate and ungodly rule of the tyrant Yazid, by preferring immortal death in manly combat. It reminds us of the valour of the Imam’s companions and his kinsmen, including his youthful son Ali Akbar (AS) and his brave brother Abu’l-Fazl al-Abbas (AS).
Atiyah was one of the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt and accompanied the Prophet’s aged loyal companion, Jaber ibn Abdullah al-Ansari, to Karbala on learning of the martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS). He relates:
On Arba’een, we reached Karbala for pilgrimage to the grave of Imam Husain (AS). Jaber took a dip in the River Euphrates, cleansed himself from the dust of the journey and put on neat clothes. He then moved at a slow pace, with tears flowing down his eyes, towards the holy grave of the Prophet’s grandson. At every step, he would supplicate to God and glorify Him for having bestowed this blessed opportunity. On reaching the grave, Jaber, who had almost lost his eyesight, asked me to help me place my hand on the grave. Upon touching it, he cried and fainted. On regaining consciousness, he cried out three times, Ya Husain! Then he said: “Doesn’t a friend know his friend?” Then he said: How can Husain (AS) answer while his jugular vein has been cut off and his head separated from his body? I testify that you are the Son of the best of the Prophets, the Master of Messengers.”
After sometime, Jaber turned towards the graves of the other martyrs, saying, “Greetings to you, O blessed souls that reside beside Husain (AS). I testify that you truly maintained prayer, gave alms, enjoined good, forbade evil, waged jihad against the infidels, and properly worshipped God, thereby reaching the status of certitude.”
Then he said, “By Him Who granted prophethood to His Messenger, we share in what you achieved (of the rewards).”
Atiyah asked Jaber, “How do we have a share, when we were not present on that day in that place, didn’t go through any hardship and didn’t fight with the sword, while these dear ones sacrificed their lives, their heads were separated from their bodies, and their children imprisoned!”
Jaber said: Atiyah, I heard the Messenger of God say, “Anyone who (whole-heartedly) supports a group will be resurrected with it (on Judgement Day) and anyone who supports the deed of a person will have a share of it.”
According to a narration, on day of Arba’een, while Jaber was in Karbala, the caravan of the released captives also arrived from Damascus at the grave of Imam Husain (AS), led by Imam Zain al-Abedin and his aunt Hazrat Zainab (peace upon them). Jaber embraced Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) and the two wept bitterly recounting the magnitude of tragedies that had befallen the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt. They stayed in Karbala for three days and held mourning ceremonies for the Imam and the rest of the martyrs.
After the event of Ashura, the Ahl al-Bayt played a vital role in awakening the dormant conscience of the Ummah. Yazid had tried to depict the martyr of Karbala as a rebel, and by parading the survivors in the streets of Kufa and Damascus, thought that he has humiliated the Prophet’s Household. But his plot miserably failed thanks to the dynamic sermons of the Prophet’s 4th Infallible Heir, Imam Zain al-Abedin, and his aunt, the Immaculate Aunt, Hazrat Zainab (peace upon them).
The two exposed Yazid and the Omayyad regime as heathens, while expounding the God-given merits of the Prophet’s Immaculate Progeny.
Arba’een reminds us of the famous sermons that Lady Zainab (peace upon her) had delivered earlier in Damascus before the whole court, by saying:
“O Yazid! You think that you have made our life miserable and existence unbearable and you have made us prisoners, and because we have been presented in your court you feel elated. You think that we have been disrespected and dishonoured by God and that you have been honoured and elevated to this position by Him. This apparent success of yours is the result of your worldly might and this makes you puffed with pride at our disaster. You feel that you have conquered the whole world and feel that you are well set in power and control. Only time will teach you a bitter lesson. (Ayah 177 of) Surah Aal-e Imran points out to people like you who are destined to go to hell, when God says: “Let not those who disbelieve, think that Our giving them respite is good for themselves. We only give them respite so that they may increase in sins and for them is a disgraceful chastisement.”
The Prophet’s granddaughter knew that Husain (AS) and his mission didn’t belong to a specific region or a certain period of time. In fact, it was universal and for the awakening of all humanity, and would inspire every oppressed nation and person in history. She and her nephew Imam Zain al-Abedin (peace upon them) thus institutionalized and internationalized the message of the Martyr of Karbala. The dynamism of the sermons of Lady Zainab (peace upon her), forced Yazid to release the noble Ahl al-Bayt from detention in Damascus, and allow them to go in peace to their hometown Medina, even via Karbala, if they wish to visit the graves of the martyrs. Part of her sermon, reads:
O Yazid, you have done what you wished to do, but remember that you are doomed to perish and you will be cut to pieces. Then (on the Day of Judgement) you will be taken in to the presence of the Prophet and you will be burned with the sins you have committed by shedding the blood of his progeny and dishonouring the sanctity of his family. You will be taken in the presence of the Prophet to a place where his family members will be gathered and you will undergo a horrible punishment and then there will be no escape for you and your accomplices. O Yazid! Do not be inflated with pride after slaying the Prophet’s progeny. Do you know what the Qur’an says about such people who have been martyred (ayah 169 of surah Aal-e Imran)? Think not of those slain in God’s way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the Presence of their Lord.”
Arba’een is thus the day of renewal of allegiance to the ideals of Imam Husain (AS). That is why millions converge on his shrine on this day, while the faithful, anywhere around the globe, make it a point to hold commemorating ceremonies and to salute him with the standard form of salutation for this particular day, as taught by the Prophet’s 11th infallible Heir, Imam Hassan Askari (AS).
As a matter of fact, Imam Askari (AS), says that there are five signs indicating the firm faith of a believer, and the Ziyarah or salutation of the Day of Arba’een, is one of them.
We pray to God to help us steadfastly tread the path blazed out for the guidance of humanity by Imam Husain (AS), and enable us to defeat the oppressors, the modern-day Yazids, whose prominent faces are the US and the illegal Zionist entity. Amen.