Lessons that we can learn from Imam Hussain (a.s.) and Kerbala

Among so many lessons mentioned that we can learn, we’ve choosen only 14 for today, in the name of 14 infallibles a.s.

1. DON’T ACCEPT HUMILIATION : In one of his speeches, Imam Hussein a.s. said that the authorities in Kufa had given him only two options - humiliation or death. He carried on to say, ‘And we do not accept humiliation’. A tradition reported by Imam Sadiq a.s records that, other than not accepting humiliation, Allah Almighty has given to believers a choice in all matters.

2. BROAD-MINDNESS : This means thinking independently and being just in one’s judgements. Not simply following others blindly and keeping one’s eyes closed. On the Day of Ashura Imam Hussein a.s. addressed Yazid’s troops: “O followers of Abu Sufyan, if you are not following the teachings of Islam then as freemen, be independent of judgement. On what basis do you fight me now?”

3. A WIDER UNDERSTANDING OF DEATH : Few people desire death. The Holy Qur’an challenges the Jews for not welcoming death in view of their alleged special relationship with Allah s.w.t. Imam Hussein a.s. extended our comprehension of death by drawing attention to the three points below:

a) Death is written for everyone and no soul may escape it. He said: “Death is an adornment of life as a necklace is an adornment of a beautiful woman.”

b) Death with dignity is preferable to a life lived in humiliation.

c) Dying for the cause of Islam is martyrdom and a great honour. In his farewell to relatives in Madina, Imam Hussein a.s. said: “Whoever joins us will be martyred, those who remain behind will miss the victory.”

4. AWARENESS : Desertion is discouraged via military courts martial and firing squads. A commander has never given troops permission to evade the battlefield before or after Imam Hussein a.s. The Imam himself would like them all to be aware of the consequences of the impending action before any accepted the challenge.

5. SUPPORT THE TRUTH : Imam Hussein a.s. announced: “Don’t y see that Truth has been replaced by falsehood. We must be prepared to sacrifice everything that is precious in support of Truth!” Truth is the ‘essence’ of Islam and fortifies the values emphasized in the Holy Qur’an. Hazrat Ali Akbar asked his father Imam Hussein a.s.:”Are we not supporting the Truth?”. Imam a.s. replied in the affirmative Hazrat Ali Akbar said: “then, it makes no difference if death comes to us or if we approach death.”

6. IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO REPENT : Hur Riahi, the first commander to surround Imam Hussein’s troops and prevent their access to the water of Euphrates, provides an excellent illustration of repentance. Regretting his action, he asked Imam Hussein a.s. if his repentance would be accepted. Imam Hussein a.s. told him that it is never too late to repent. Hur joined Imam Hussein’s camp and was honoured by being one of the first martyrs (Peace be upon Him).

7. FIDELITY AND LOYALTY : Fidelity is a characteristic admired by all. If friends meet in times of comfort and wealth but leave when hardship and difficulty strike, it is clear that their friendship is not true. On the day of Ashura, Imam Hussein a.s. told John, a servant of the renowned companion Hazrat Abu Dhar: “You have accompanied us all the way but now you may go.” John replied: “It is not fair that I benefit from your company and hospitality but abondon you in your hardship?” His attitude exemplifies fidelity, loyalty and true friendship.

8. LADIES PARTICIPATE : Without Lady Zainab’s participation in Karbala, the mission of Imam Hussein a.s. could not have been fulfilled.

9. TO PLEASE ALLAH : The objective of all believers should be the pleasure of Allah Almighty. Imam Hussein a.s. said in one of his speeches that the only objective of the Prophet’s household is to please Allah. Whenever he saw family members martyred he would utter “It’s bearable only because Allah is its witness.”

10. GIVING PREFERENCE TO THE NEEDS OF OTHERS : In Islamic terminology, giving preference to the needs of others is referred to as “Ithaar”. On the Day of Ashura, the actions of Hazrat Abbas, brother of Imam Hussein a.s. exemplify “Ithaar”! Hazrat Abbas a.s. battled bravely to gain access to the water of Euphrates. Although he gave no consideration to his own thirst but strove instead to bring water to the tents for the women and children.

11. PATIENCE IN ADVERSITY : Allah tells us in the Holy Qur’an that only those who remain patient will receive reward without measure. Imam Hussein a.s. brought up to understand the Quran that is why he was happy to ‘remain patient’ in hardship and endurance and to await his Lords reward. His patience wasn’t out of weakness or helplessness but a demonstration of his steadfastness and bravery. Those who saw Imam Hussein a.s. on the Day of Ashura reported. ”We have never seen a man remaining as composed as Imam Hussein a.s. whereas his relatives and children were slaughtered before his eyes.”

12. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF AMR BIL MAROUF : Imam Hussein a.s. declared in a speech that the only objective of seeking this reform is to emphasis the significance of ‘Amr bil Marouf and Nahy anil Munkar’. (Enjoining good and forbidding evil).

13. THE USE OF LAWFUL MEANS : Imam Hussein a.s. tried to stop Umar ibn Sa’d from pursuing his evil objectives. He said to him: “You are promised government over ‘Ray’(Tehran today) yet you will never eat the wheat of that area.” Ibn Sa’d responded: “Its barley will suffice!!” Realizing that he couldn’t change Ibn Sa’d’s mind, Imam Hussein a.s. said: “Those who use unlawful means to achieve their objectives never attain them.”

14. CHASTITY AND HIJAB: After the tragedy of Ashura, women and children became prisoners of war and were taken first from Karbala to Kufa and then to Damascus. They were tortured on route and forced to walk behind the soldiers who carried the heads of Imam Hussein a.s. and his companions mounted on their spears. When they arrived at Yazid’s headquarter in Damascus, Imam Sajjad a.s. asked that the ‘heads’ be removed from the proximity of the women and children in order to protect them from spectators.

“Glory be to your Lord, the Lord of Honour, beyond what they describe. And peace be upon the Apostles. And all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.”