The Status of Imam Hussain(AS)

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Imam Hussain Al-Shaheed (A.S.)

The status of Imam Hussein (Abu-Abdullah) (a.s.) is unparalleled, except by that of his father, mother, brother, and the Imams of his offspring, on all of them be the peace and blessings of Allah. Should a historian make a good research, collecting the stories and traditions concerning Imam Hussein (a.s.), he would certainly end up with the Imam (a.s.) as the top example among the Muslims. He would write a voluminous, great work covering this Imam. 

As much as we can, we will delve into the key points which portray the great position of Imam Hussein (a.s.) according to Islamic criteria. 

The Glorious Qur'an, the supreme divine document, which falsehood can never reach from before or behind it, expresses in many verses the lofty position Imam Hussein (a.s.) achieved in the sight of Allah, the Exalted. Following are some of these verses:

1. Verse of Purification (Tathir):

"Allah only wishes to keep away uncleanness from you (Household of the Prophet) and purify you thoroughly." 

Holy Qur'an (33:33) 

Traditionists say, regarding the reason this verse was revealed, that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) called for a shawl. With it he covered Ali, Fatimah, Hassan and Hussein (a.s.). "O my Lord," he said, "these are the members of my family. Remove uncleanness from them and purely purify them." and so this noble verse was revealed on this occasion. It is a testimony by Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, on the purity of the Prophetic house (Ahlul Bait (a.s.)) and their great stature.

2. Verse of Malediction (Mubahala):

"If anyone disputes with you about it (your prophethood) after the knowledge has come to you, say, 'Come, let us bring our sons and your sons and our women and your women and ourselves and yourselves and pray to Allah to curse the lying party." 

Holy Qur'an (3:61) 

The Qur'anic exegesists and scholars say that this noble verse was revealed when the Christians of the city of Najran agreed with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) to pray to Allah to destroy the party which stuck to falsehood. As agreed, and on time, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) went out to the place chosen for the contest. He carried Imam Hussein (a.s.) and took Imam Hassan (a.s.) by the hand. Fatimah followed behind while Imam Ali walked in their wake. "Say 'Amen' at the end of my prayer," the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) told them. But, upon seeing those brilliant faces filled with piety and grandeur, the Christians stopped short of entering the contest. They recognized the Prophet's authority, and paid the tribute.

The noble verse called Hassan and Hussein "our sons," mentioned the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), and referred to Ali as "ourselves" and Fatimah as "our women." She symbolizes the whole of womankind in this verse. Had there been other people who had higher status than these people, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) certainly would have brought them along with him. 

3. Verse of Affection (Mawada):

"...say: 'I do not ask you f or any payment f or my preaching to you, except the love f or my relatives...'" 

Holy Qur'an (42:23) 

The Qur'anic exegesists state that this verse was revealed concerning Ali, Fatimah, Hassan and Hussein (a.s.).

Jabir bin Abdullah is reported to have said: "A bedouin came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and said, 'O Muhammad! introduce me to Islam.' 

"'You should bear witness,' replied the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) 'that there is no god but Allah, Who is the only God, Who has no partner whatsoever, and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger.' 

"'Do you ask for recompense in return?' asked the bedouin. 

"'No,' said the Prophet (s.a.w.), 'except that you should love the relatives.' 

"'Mine or yours?' inquired the man. 

"'Mine,' said the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.). 

"'Hold out your hand,' said the bedouin. 'I give you my pledge of allegiance. My Allah curse whoever doesn't love you or your kindred.' 

"'Amen,' said the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.)."

It is reported in the Musnad (Book of traditions) of Ahmad bin Hanbal, the two Sahihs (Authentic books of traditions), and the exegesis of al-Tha'alibi and al-Tabarsi, that Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, was quoted as saying, "when the verse (say: I do not ask you for any payment for my preaching to you except the love for my relatives) was revealed, Muslims asked the Prophet (s.a.w.), 'O Messenger of Allah! Who are your kinsfolk whom we should love?! 'Ali, Fatimah and their two sons,' answered the Prophet (a.s.)."

Next to the verses of the Glorious Qur'an, we quote certain statements, from the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) as additional evidence expressing the lofty position occupied by Imam Hussein (a.s.) in the world of Islam and the Muslim ummah.

1. In the Sahih of al-Tirmidhi, Ya'la bin Murrah is quoted to have said, "The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, 

'Hussein is from me and I am from Hussein. Allah loves whoever loves Hussein. Hussein is a disciple of the disciples."

2. Salman al-Farsi is reported to have said, "I heard the Prophet of Allah (s.a.w.) saying, 'Hassan and Hussein are my two sons. Whoever loves them then he loves me. And whoever dislikes them then he dislikes me. And whoever dislikes me then Allah dislikes him. And whomever Allah dislikes, He will throw him into hell f ace downward."'

3. Al-Bara' bin Azib is quoted to have said, "I saw the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) carrying Hussein bin Ali (a.s.) on his shoulder. He was saying, 'O Lord! I do love him so love him.'"

4. Abdullah bin Mas'ood is reported to have said, "The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, concerning Hassan and Hussein, 'These are my two sons, whoever loves them then he loves me. And whoever dislikes them he dislikes me,"'

5. Ali bin Hussein (a.s.) said, on the authority of his father, on the authority of his grandfather (a.s.), 'The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) took the arms of Hassan and Hussein and said, 'Whoever loves me and loves these two and their father, he will certainly be with me on the Day of Judgement.'"

In our latest booklet we referred to the fact that the characters of both Imams Hassan and Hussein (a.s.) have many traits in common. Both of them received their initial stage of training before shouldering the heavy task of propagating and defending the da'wah. Both of them had one and the same education, indoctrination, and spiritual and ideological teachings, under the supervision of their grandfather (s.a.w.), their father and their mother (a.s.).

As a result, the aspects of their characters fused together personifying the message of Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, in thought, action and conduct.

In our booklet on Imam Hassan (a.s.), we cited some examples which put his character into perspective. Here, we do the same regarding Imam Hussein (a.s.).

1. His Relationship With Allah

We can better understand the depth of Imam Hussein's (a.s.) relationship with Allah, the Most High, if we don't lose sight of the fact that the Prophet (s.a.w.) himself taught him the ideology of Islam and brought him up spiritually as he had done with his father, Imam Ali, his mother, al-Zahra', and his brother, Imam Hassan (a.s.). By so doing, his path was defined and his character was formed. 

One day he was asked, "How great is your fear of your Lord?" 

"No one would be secure on the Day of Judgement except those who feared Allah in this life," he replied.

His face would turn pale, and he would tremble at the time of doing his ablution. He was asked about this and answered, 

"Whoever stands in the presence of the Almighty Allah is not to blame if his color turns pale and his limbs shake."

On the night before the tenth of the month of Muharram, Imam Hussein (a.s.) asked the Ummayyad army to delay the battle till the following morning. He said, "This night we want to offer our prayers to our Lord, and we want to ask His forgiveness. He knows that I love to offer my prayer to Him, recite His Book, and pray much asking f or His forgiveness."

During the most critical and horrifying hours of the last day of his earthly life, he realized that it was midday and he had to perform his prayer. The battle of Karbala' was in full swing. He asked the enemies to stop fighting so as to let him and his followers offer their prayer. No better testimony than this can reflect the depth and strength of his relationship with Allah and his love for Him. 

He used to recite this supplication, "O Lord! Grant me the desire for the other world, till I realize that it is a real thing in my heart, through my apathy to this world. O Lord! Grant me perception with regard to the other world so much that I will seek the divine reward with acute longing, and flee from the bad deeds out of fearing You, O Lord...".

We Will address this plea more elaborately when we cover the uprising of Imam Hussein (a.s.) and his heroic, and matchless sacrifice for the sake of Allah, the Most High.

2. His Relationship With People

A look at the ethical side of Imam Hussein's (a.s.) character would be enough to shed light on the vividness of his relations with the ummah, for he was the most perfect and exemplary leader during his time. We don't mean that Imam Hussein (a.s.) was different from the other Imams in this respect. The nature of the relationship between the Imam and the ummah is actually outlined by the Divine Message. Imams represent it, as personified in their daily life.

Following are some examples of that great, high and brilliant relationship. 

A. His Humbleness

Once Imam Hussein (a.s.) passed by poor men eating crumbs of bread on a mat. He greeted them and they invited him to their meal. He sat among them and said: "If your food were not alms, I would have eaten with you. Come home with me," he asked them. There, he fed them, clothed them and provided them with money.

One could easily detect the depth of his humbleness through examination of this vivid testimony, particularly when we take into consideration that Imam Hussein (a.s.) was the political and ideological figure who was appointed as the legitimate leader of the Muslims by Allah, through His Messenger (s.a.w.).

As for his social position, he was so matchless and unique, that Ibn Abbas, the revered companion of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), used to hold the stirrup of his horse when he would mount it. Ibn Abbas was older than Imam Hussein (a.s.), but he did this out of his respect for him.

It is because of his glorious social status that the people would dismount from their horses and camels, on the way to Mecca to perform their pilgrimage, as long as he would travel on foot.

Another example reflecting his humble nature is that of his acceptance of an invitation to having food with the poor. He encountered a number of poor men. Having had their food they hastened to ask him to share with them. He dismounted from, his horse saying, "Surely, Allah doesn't like the haughty." He partook of their food and said: "I have accepted your invitation. Won't you accept mine?"

"Certainly, we Will," said they. He took them to his house and said to al-Rabab, his wife, "Bring us what you have been storing."

He did care for the people. He would always help them, even though, for the most part, they wouldn't recognize his legitimate right. Shu'aib bin Abdul-Rahman is reported to have said: "On the way of al-Taf (battle of Karbala', wherein he was martyred) a mark was seen on the back of Hussein bin Ali (a.s.). Imam Zain al-Abideen (a.s.) (his eldest son, and the son who survived the battle) was asked about it. 'It is the trace,' he replied, 'of the bag, which he puts on his back (carrying food) to the house of the widows, orphans and the poor."

This fact attests to his remarkable humbleness, his care for the ummah, his awareness and deep feeling of his responsibility toward the people. 

B. His Forgiveness of the Wrongdoers

This is another one of his key attributes. Once a young servant of his did something which deserved punishment. When Imam Hussein (a.s.) wanted to punish him, the servant said: 

"Who curb their anger." "Let him go", said the Imam. 

"And those who forgive their fellow-man," added the servant. 

"I forgive you," said the Imam. 

"And Allah loves the charitable, sir," said the servant. 

"I set you free, for the sake of Allah," said the Imam. "Henceforth I am going to give you the double of what I have been giving you."

These are only brief instances of the ethical side of the character of Imam Hussein (a.s.).