To understand the story of Karbala, one must take into cognizance that Islam is a religion, nay, away of life, revealed by Divine Grace, inviting all mankind to the Blessings of Allah, the Supreme.Islam, consisting of a complex structure of thought, practices, statutes, and transcendence,spread among diverse peoples, from the West Coast of Africa to the islands of the Pacific, withina matter of a few years, an unheard of phenomenon, as a ‘miracle’ from the Divine. It changedthe perceptions of right and wrong, and the foundation of societal interactions of precedinggenerations. Islam was challenging man to reach beyond himself to reach stages of the highestprosperity, spirituality and inspiration. This could not be accepted easily by the existing power structure. Ingrained base emotions especially of jealousy and vengeance raised its evil head inthe form of rebellion against the Prophet’s legacy. As long as members of the family of theProphet remained, they was always a threat that Hussain (AS)’s supporters would come to power and, therefore Hussain (AS) had to be eliminated forever from the Caliphate. Hussain was alarmed when Yazid wasdesignated his successor. Hussain (AS) was resolute against the imposition of dynastic rule inIslam and decided to oppose Yazid by giving support to his own followers, no matter what thecost. Hussain (AS) had previously been offered largesse and many gratuities to stay away fromthe struggle which he had stridently refused. Hussain (AS) wanted to save Islam from corruption,and if necessary, by shedding his own blood, and that of his children. Hussain (AS) was invited to go to Kufa from Medina to become their leader. Having reached theoutskirts of Kufa, beside the Euphrates river, with a group of around 175, he and his immediatelyfamily and the other direct descendants of Prophet Muhammad (SWS), and their followers, weredenied water for 3 days in the desert and ultimately brutally killed by an army numbering a fewthousand.
The story of the Battle of Karbala is actually the age old story of the struggle in man between hishigher virtues that reach out to heaven, and his vices that pull him down into the abyss of ignominy, despair and defeat. Hussain (AS) showed that one must fight and strive to establishtruth and justice in the land, and for it, must be prepared to offer the supreme sacrifice. Throughhis legacy he established firmly the basic foundation of the religion – readiness to sacrificeeverything for achieving closeness of Allah, which is best for the hereafter, and is the goal of thedevout.To understand the decrepit state of Islamic society today one must examine it through the lens of Karbala. Power hungry men devoid of the love of Allah, the Prophet and the Ahle Bayet, unableto grasp advances in other branches of knowledge of the last 5 centuries, and fostered by acrude zeal to acquire the ‘former glory of Islam’, not for its virtues of achieving closeness to Ahle Bayet for achieving worldly power, are terrorizing not only their own communities but the peace of the entire world. Misleading the Ummah in the garb of devoutness, they borrow from history for the sake of glory. They have no appreciation of the proper qualities of leadership as personifiedby the Ahle Bayet, the Close Companions, and the learned ones of society, no reflective study of the literature available on Islam, and above all, no willingness to offer self sacrifice either for theUmmah or for Allah.
Today, as never before, we need to know the ideals of Hussain (AS), and remember thesorrowful days of Karbala not for worldly gain but to attain the love of Almighty Allah. Every timethat we remember the gallant Shahadat of Hussain (AS), we celebrate Hussain (AS)’s victoryover the depravity of Yazid and Islam becomes victorious. Each time we shed a tear for Hussain(AS), the doors of Allah’s Blessings open once again on the tortured and wavering souls of modern day Muslims. To keep the spirit of Karbala and Islam alive in our hearts, we must learnto observe the Muharram in a manner that befits the great traditions of Islam as laid down by the Prophet.