Heartfelt condolences to you on the occasion of Arba’een, the traditional 40th day following the anniversary of the heartrending tragedy of Ashura, or the 10th of Moharram, on which in the year 61 AH, Imam Husain (Peace be upon him), the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny), was martyred in Karbala, Iraq, in the most brutal manner by the ungodly forces of the Omayyad tyrant Yazid. Following is an exclusive feature in this regard:
The 40th day has special significance, according to the holy Qur’an and the Hadith. In the heavenly scripture in ayah 51 of Surah Baqarah, God admonishes the Israelites for their wrongdoing in the absence of Prophet Moses, saying:
“And when We made an appointment with Moses for forty nights, you took up the Calf [for worship] in his absence, and you were wrongdoers.”
In another ayah related to Prophet Moses, God says in ayah 142 of Surah A’raaf:
“And We made an appointment with Moses for thirty nights, and completed them with ten [more]; thus the tryst of his Lord was completed in forty nights. And Moses said to Aaron, his brother, ‘Be my successor among my people, and set things right and do not follow the way of the agents of corruption.’”
It is also mentioned that Prophet Jesus was entrusted with his mission after 40 days of fasting. Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) has informed us in a famous statement:
“Indeed the Earth laments over the death of a true believer for the period of 40 days.”
If the earth mourns for an ordinary believer, then how about the lamentation for the Prophet’s grandson and his 3rd Infallible Successor, Imam Husain (PuH), who in order to keep alive Islam and all humanitarian values sacrificed not only his life, but the life of his dear and near ones, including sons, brothers, nephews and companions?
The Martyr of Karbala’s grandson, Imam Mohammad Baqer (PuH) informs us in a famous hadith:
“Indeed the sky lamented over the death of al-Husayn for a period of 40 days.”
Thus, ever every year on the 20th of Safar, for the past 1375 lunar years, the faithful have been commemorating Arba’een, which refreshes our grief for the immortal martyrs of Karbala. Those who can afford the journey and have the time, travel to Karbala to pay homage to the Chief of Martyrs, while those who cannot commemorate Arba’een in their homes, towns, villages, and cities, by holding mourning ceremonies and reciting the special Ziyarah or standard form of salutation for Imam Husain (PuH). This year, an estimated 20 million mourners from all over the world have assembled in Karbala, and many of them have marched on foot from great distances of hundreds of kilometers. This is all acknowledgement of the service done to humanity by Imam Husain (PuH), who had said:
“I am seeking to bring about reformation of the Ummah of my grandfather, the Messenger of Allah and to enjoin the good and to forbid the evil…”
Imam Husain (PuH) needs no introduction. Even non-Muslims have been inspired by his epic uprising to enjoin good and forbid evil in society for the sake of God, in order to restore to its original form the pure monotheistic message of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) that had been distorted beyond recognition within half century of the passing away of the Messenger of Mercy.
What factors led to such a distortion of Islam and who were the culprits that were responsible for such a cardinal sin is not the purpose of this brief radio programme. The fact that till this day, Karbala and the symbols of mourning for history’s most bloodcurdling tragedy continue to be the target of terrorists is proof of the fact that Imam Husain (PuH) drew a permanent line between truth and falsehood till eternity. That is the reason millions of people from all over the world flock to Karbala to pay homage at the shrine of the person who for safeguarding humanitarian values sacrificed everything – brothers, nephews, cousins, and sons, including a six-month infant. The devotees, especially those from the northern and western parts of Iraq who trekked on foot for the rendezvous of martyrs, and some of them happily courted martyrdom themselves as a result of the grenade and rocket attacks, have indeed passed the test of faith, because of the Ziyarah of the Day of Arba’een for Imam Husain (PuH) is one of the five signs of a true believer.
The Prophet’s grandson had acted justly and fairly, and put his heart, mind, soul and life at the disposal of God to liberate the people from the yoke of ignorance and the evil of bewilderment. Indeed God has made his shrine the gateway to paradise for which every pilgrim strives to achieve. So intense are the consciousness of God and the love of the Ahl al-Bayt of the Prophet in their hearts that the pilgrims are unfazed by the terrorists trying to waylay them and take their life. The devotees of Imam Husain (PuH) know that no modern day Yazidis will be able to dampen their spirits or obstruct their journey to the shrine of the Leader of the Youth of Paradise. They know the importance of performing the ziyarah of the day of Arba’een, which according to a famous hadith by Imam Hasan Askari (PuH), the Prophet’s 11th Infallible Heir, is one of the five characteristics of a true believer. The other four are: reciting Bismillah-hir-Rahman-nir-Rahim in a raised voice during the obligatory ritual prayers, prostrating on sand during the prayer, wearing ring in the right hand finger and reciting every day 51 rak’at of Salat – 17 obligatory and 34 recommended.
Imam Husain (PuH) is certainly the creed of the faith of humanity. He was neither a cult leader nor did he divide the people on a sectarian basis, as the deviationists have done in Islam and all other religions. As the symbol of unity he strove to enlighten all – not just the people of his age but also of all times and places, as is evident by the commemoration of the tragedy of Karbala every year in the months of Moharram and Safar. The message of the Martyr of Karbala is for all humanity. He attracts and does not dispel. It means that those who repel but does not have the power to attract cannot be considered the followers of the Prophet’s grandson, and indeed their claim to be true believers is open to doubt. This is what we learn from the mission of the lady, who along with her nephew, universalized and immortalized the message of her martyred brother. On Arba’een we thus salute Hazrat Zainab (PuH) and Imam Zain al-Abedin (PuH), as sincerely as we salute Imam Husain (PuH).
“And I bear witness that you kept your promise made with Allah, and strived in His way until what was certain came upon you, so curse of Allah be on those who killed you, and curse of Allah be on those who oppressed you, and curse of Allah be on the people who came to know of it and approved (of all of it).”
Heartfelt Condolences again to all listeners on the Arba’een of the Martyr of Karbala, and here is a tribute in verse to the Martyr of Karbala by Iran’s English language poet, Dr. Hassan Najafi:
Arba’een a strong radiant dart
Shoots on each life’s each part.
Your blood howl humbled in the dust
And there from rose Islam - the just
See how stubborn sticks they, name complain
Instead, we undergo patience for their pain,
We are sure your guide us to a better state
In your memory at your threshold we wait.
Ali Asghar; dart half the lustre of your eyes
Enough to us your six months old side,
There is no shortage of Shimr and Yazid
Only Husain is absent, yet tyrants proceed.
Why not heaven its terrors show
And deal its angry vengeance on the foe.
O tyrants! Feeble race, what ills to you await
Even death will be no refuge to you from the fate.
Joy dimples and woe weeps
Except tears today every passion sleeps.
Over desert without heads scattered the bodies
Whose belongs to whom on divine knowledge reliefs,
Imam Sajjad decides and directs
Burial proceeds, pain the sun reflects.
Around the graves gathered women
Started wailing that brought down heaven,
As sickly plants betray a niggard earth
Arba’een displays the enemy’s illegitimate birth.
Long live the Poet in your court
Your mood time to time to court.