My Sermon will be on the Islamic month; especially the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic Calendar which is the Yaum-e-Ashura. It is an historical date and deeply memorable in Islam whereby lots of events, in addition to the one at Karbala, took place in the past, and also whereby other events will take place in the future. It is a day which is full of the blessings and on this day, Allah accepts and fulfils prayers made with sincerity. It is recommended to obtain a fast on this day and also one on either the eve or the next day of the Ashura.
On the day of Ashura, perform Ghusl (a complete bath); trim your nails, put on clean clothes and enable yourself to enter a state of Ibaadat (worship of Allah). On this day, besides the obligatory prayers, do some recitations of the Holy Quran, then read two cycles of voluntary prayers by reciting in each cycle after the Surah Al-Fatiha, ten times the Surah Al-Ikhlaas (Qul Huwallaaho Ahad…); After the prayer, read one time the Verse of the Throne (Ayatul Qursi) and nine times the Darood Ibrahim (which we read daily in our Salaat); afterwards ask of Allah whatever you want (which is permissible in the eyes of Allah). Invoke Him with sincerity!
Hazrat Muhammad (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “On the day of Ashura, the one who reads four voluntary cycles of prayer, and in each cycle, after the Surah Al-Fatiha reads eleven times Surah Al-Ikhlaas, Allah forgives him all his sins and will build for him an illuminated minbar.” This form of prayer purifies a believer from all his sins, and elevates him in his faith, and attracts on him the blessings of Allah. It is recommended to observe two fasts, that is, the 9th and the 10th day of Muharram. Hazrat Muhammad (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “After the obligatory fasting of Ramadhan, comes the greatness of the Ashura fast, and the latter wash away the sins of the preceding year.”
It is also highly recommended on this day to perform other forms of worship to seek the pleasure of Allah, for example: to help the needy people in any way, to feed the poor, give away Sadqua (charity), etc.
The 10th of Muharram will always remain engraved in the mind of each and every Muslim so that they may always remember the drastic days which befell upon Hazrat Imam Hussein. Before I expound on his life and his martyrdom, I will give a brief of what happened before he was martyred.
Imam Hassan and Ameer Muawiyah
Hazrat Ameer Muawiyah was the governor of Syria during the Caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq, Hazrat Umar till the Caliphate of Hazrat Ali (May Allah be pleased with them). The Rightly Guided Caliphs knew his value and that is why they let Muawiyah govern Syria. When it was the turn of Hazrat Imam Hassan to take into his hands the Caliphate, it is then that some problems crop. The hypocrites seized this opportunity of spread disorder among the Muslims. But Hazrat Imam Hassan was very intelligent. He preferred to hand over the Caliphate to Hazrat Ameer Muawiyah (May Allah be pleased with him) so as to prevent war between Muslims, and to bring about peace between them. Hazrat Ameer Muawiyah (May Allah be pleased with him) took over the Caliphate in 42 Hijri and he reign as Caliph for eighteen years. During his Caliphate, lots of works were accomplished. As he was a companion of our beloved Prophet (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him), he did his best that his Caliphate be fulfilled in such a way to please Allah and His Messenger (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him).
And we must be aware also that, after the death of Hazrat Ali (May Allah be pleased with him), the Muslims accepted Imam Hassan as their Caliph. He became the Chief and the Commander of the Muslim army in Kufa. But during the same period, Hazrat Ameer Muawiyah (May Allah be pleased with him) took a Muslim army under his command, and came at Kufa. Upon reaching there, he sent a message to Imam Hassan to tell him to accept him (Hazrat Muawiyah) as the Caliph for as long as he is alive. Afterwards, as per his conditions, after his death, it will be Imam Hassan who will become the next Caliph. In this situation, Imam Hassan used his intellect; and to prevent a severe confrontation between two Muslim groups, he accepted the proposal of Muawiyah.
Upon signing this agreement, some Muslims who were in the group of Imam Hassan got angry with him, and thereupon Imam Hassan explained to them the prevailing situation; that he signed the agreement only to prevent a conflict between the two Muslim groups.
The Caliphate of Imam Hassan (May Allah be pleased with him) was of a duration of only six months. In these six months, he made such accomplishments which became an example of each Muslim and especially for the so-called Ulema. Everything was at his disposal and he used to control the treasury. He was a great and brave warrior, and even his soldiers were brave and they were ever ready to sacrifice their life for the cause of Allah.
Like we all know, it is the truthful ones, the pious who work only for the pleasure of Allah; it is them who have lot of enemies. And it is the enemies who plotted to put poison in the water bottle of Imam Hassan. That poison was so intense that when Imam Hassan drank it, he felt all his insides tear in pieces. He then called his brother Imam Hussein (May Allah be pleased with him) by his side. When Imam Hussein (May Allah be pleased with him) saw his brother in such state, he immediately understood that he has little time left to live. Thus, Imam Hussein consoled him and told him: “Congratulations, soon you will be joining the Messenger of Allah (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him), Hazrat Ali (May Allah be pleased with him), Hazrat Bibi Fatima (May Allah be pleased with her), Hazrat Hamza (May Allah be pleased with him) etc.”
Imam Hassan then told Imam Hussein: “O my brother, I am seeing such creatures which I had never seen before.”
Afterwards, he told his brother (Imam Hussein) to have a lot of patience for his turn will come when the inhabitants of Kufa will kill him (make him a Martyr) at Karbala. Imam Hassan (May Allah be pleased with him) suffered for many days. He died on the 5 Rabi’ul Awwal 49thHijri at the age of 45 years 6 months and few days.
Dreams concerning Imam Hussein
Hazrat Imam Hussein (May Allah be pleased with him) was born on the 5th Shabaan in the 4th Year after Hijra at Madina Shareef. According to a Hadith, once, the paternal aunt of the Messenger of Allah (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him), Hazrat Ummal Fazal (May Allah be pleased with her) made a dream and she came to Hazrat Muhammad (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him) to relate her dream. She said: “O Messenger of Allah (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him), I made a bad dream; I saw a piece of your body come off and it landed in my arms.”
Hazrat Muhammad (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him) told her: “O Aunt, you made a good dream. This is indicating to you that my daughter Fatima will give birth to a boy and this boy will grow in your arms.”
Ummul Fazal (May Allah be pleased with her) relates that true to the word of the Holy Prophet (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him), Hazrat Fatima (May Allah be pleased with her) gave birth to Imam Hussein (May Allah be pleased with him). After some time she came to visit the Prophet (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him). Hazrat Muhammad (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him) took Imam Hussein (May Allah be pleased with him) and put him in her arms, but while he was putting him in her arm, his tears were rolling down his cheeks. Upon seeing this, Ummul Fazal asked the Holy Prophet (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him): “O Messenger of Allah (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him)! Why are you crying?”
The Holy Prophet (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him) replied: “Hazrat Jibreel (on him be peace) came to inform me that my Ummah will assassinate this child and Jibreel (on him be peace) brought some of the soil where Hussein will be martyred.”
This Hadith indicates us clearly that Almighty Allah gave the knowledge of the invisible (Ilmé Ghaib) to the Messenger of Allah (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him), whereby he came to know from Him that Hazrat Fatima (May Allah be pleased with her) will give birth to a son.
Yazid, the Accursed
Hazrat Ameer Muawiyah like I just told you what type of person he was, but unfortunately among his children, there was one who was known as “Yazid”, and Yazid was the opposite of his father. He was a person who possessed all sorts of vices, bad character, bad manners and his life is engraved in history as a great criminal towards Islam.
In a Hadith, Hazrat Muhammad (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The first person in my Ummah who will destroy my Sunnah will be a person from Banu Ummayya.” This prediction of the Holy Prophet (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him) was without doubt concerning Yazid, who was from the Ummayya family. Yazid was born in the 25th year after Hijra.
After the death of Ameer Muawiyah (Yazid’s father) in the month of Rajab in 60 Hijri in Damas, at the age of 70 years, Yazid took the Caliphate in his hands and in his letter, he told the concerned governor, to make all people accept him, Yazid, as Caliph and to coax them into taking the pact of allegiance in his hands. Moreover, Yazid précised that such eminent people like Imam Hussein, Abdur Rahman bin Abu Bakr, Abdullah bin Umar, and Abdullah bin Zubeir must at all cost take the pact of allegiance from his hands, because these people were liable to become Chief as they are well educated, possess good character and they are not arrogant.
Under the command of Yazid, Walid bin Uqba called Imam Hussein (May Allah be pleased with him) in the governor’s house, where he read out Yazid’s letter in the presence of Imam Hussein. Imam Hussein (May Allah be pleased with him) refused categorically to accept Yazid as his Caliph; thus, the Governor of Madina called Marwaan bin Hakam for advice. Marwaan told him that if they refuse to make the pact of allegiance in Yazid’s hand; thus kill them!
Imam Hussein (May Allah be pleased with him) knew very well the danger which awaits him if he refuses Yazid as Caliph. Yazid and his group represented a great threat to him and the other Muslims, but nevertheless, he did not hesitate to refuse Yazid as Chief. The Governor told him that if he does not accept Yazid as his Chief, then severe sanctions will be taken against him.
When the Governor of Madina informed Yazid about the refusal of Imam Hussein, Yazid became red with anger and he ordained that Imam Hussein (May Allah be pleased with him) be killed. The Governor informed Imam Hussein (May Allah be pleased with him) about the decision of Yazid, but Imam Hussein maintained his position and refused firmly to accept Yazid as Chief. In the meantime he contacted the Companions of the Holy Prophet (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him) to leave Madina for Mecca. The inhabitants of Madina were very sad when they got the news that Imam Hussein and his family were leaving Madina. When Hazrat Imam Hussein and his family reached Mecca, they lived there for some time in peace and joy along with its inhabitants.
Invitation to Kufa
Afterwards, Imam Hussein received a letter from Hazrat Imam Muslim, which is informing him and his family that the situation in Kufa is really good; thus Imam Hussein decided to go there along with his family. There were eighty-two persons in all, and amongst them there were old people, young girls, children, babies and young boys.
Along the way to Kufa, the caravan of Imam Hussein met with several other people who came from Kufa and were heading towards Mecca. They advised Imam Hussein not to go to Kufa, for the situation has changed and now it is very dangerous there. But Imam Hussein insisted to go there for he feared that the inhabitants of Kufa may lose their faith by the reign of Yazid. Still on the way there, Imam Hussein got the sad news of the martyrdom of Imam Muslim and his two sons. This was shocking news for him and for his family members. But more determined than ever, they continued their way to Kufa, till they arrived on its borders.
Upon reaching there, Ubaidullah bin Ziyad already sent an army to hinder the way Imam Hussein and his caravan from entering Kufa. One of the Chief Commanders of the army, whose name was Hoor, came before Imam Hussein along with a thousand soldiers. It was the first of Muharram of the Year 61 Hijri. Imam Hussein told Hoor that many people from Kufa sent him letters to ask him to come to Kufa so that they may not lose their faith. When he presented the letter to Hoor, some of the names mentioned in the letters were the names of some of the soldiers in the rank of the army of Hoor. The concerned soldiers’ face were full of shame when they found out that Hoor came to know of it, because it was too late for them! Hoor said that he was not at all aware that such a letter was written to the attention of Imam Hussein. The order which he received was that not to let Imam Hussein enter Kufa.
Imam Hussein then took his caravan to Karbala and by then, Hoor received a letter from Ibn Ziyad which stipulated not to let Imam Hussein go any further and to make him stop on a land where there were neither food, water nor protection. When the family and wives of Imam Hussein heard this, they began to cry for they knew of the prophecy of the Messenger of Allah (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him) concerning the martyrdom of Imam Hussein in this very land.
Martyrdom at Karbala
When Imam Hussein observed that war was inevitable, on the 10th Muharram 61 Hijri, a Friday, after they have all performed their Salaat Fajr in congregation, he made a discourse in which he said that their martyrdom was without any doubt written in the hands of their enemies. He told his family and companions that he gives them permission to go back home and that there will be no blame on them if they go back home. He told them that the enemies wanted only him; not them! After his martyrdom, they would be left in peace.
At this moment, Hazrat Abbas and his brothers in unison said: “Can we truthfully go away and after your martyrdom live in peace? No! O Almighty Allah, do not show us this day! We promise in the name of Allah that we will fight with the enemies till we give our lives.”
The companions of Imam Hussein fought bravely along with Imam Hussein till all of them were martyred (with the exception of Ali bin Hussein, also known as “Zainul Abedeen” (The Best of Worshippers) who was ill, and did not participate in the war). They also fought and killed many of the soldiers of the army of Yazid. After many of them were martyred, then came the turn of Hazrat Imam Hussein. Before he went to war, he tied the turban of the Messenger of Allah (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon him) around his head, then took the sword of Hazrat Ali (his father), and also the shield of Hazrat Hamza; thus he prepared himself fully and courageously to be martyred.
Ibn Ziyad sent a great and arrogant Syrian soldier to kill Imam Hussein. He took his sword in his hand to finish Imam Hussein, but Imam Hussein was quicker than him. He attacked that Syrian soldier in a flash and decapitated him and let him fall in the mud. Other great soldiers came to kill him, but even though Imam Hussein did not eat or drink for so many days, he fought with them till he killed one by one.
Ibn Sa’ad observed the tactics of Imam Hussein, and realised that if they continue to fight with him one by one, then all will be killed. Thus he devised a plan whereby a group of soldiers will encircle him and kill him. Thus, they executed their plan and rained many arrows on him, and his body was hurt and lots of blood oozed out of him. In his state of suffering a malefactor came and planted an arrow in his forehead. Filled with blood, Imam Hussein received in all seventy-two wounds on his body, and thus he fell on the ground completely out. Seizing this situation, another soldier came and planted a spear in to his stomach.
Imam Hussein fell into prostration and at this moment a soldier by the name of Nadhir Ibn Kharshah approached him to separate his head from his body, but his hands quavered till his sword fell on the ground. Another soldier by the name of Khuli bin Yazid, Shabil bin Yazid or Shimr came to decapitate him. Hazrat Imam Hussein became the last martyr on the land of Karbala. It was a Friday 10th of Muharram and Imam Hussein was 56 years, 5 months and 5 days old. Inna lillahé wa inna ilayhi raajioune. The enemies put the heads of the martyrs at the top of the spears and began to beat the drums to manifest their joy on the victory of Yazid in this war. And they put the head of Imam Hussein on a tray and presented it to Ibn Ziyad, and the latter took a stick and beat the lips of Imam Hussein Shaheed with it.
Hazrat Imam Hussein (May Allah be pleased with him) along with his family and companions got martyred in Karbala on the day of Ashura; they spread their blood for the sake of Islam, and it is through their sacrifices, that Islam has spread to the four corners of the world. Allah blessed this Ummah and engraved their names in history as the heroes of Islam, and Insha-Allah, Islam will continue to spread to the four corners of the world in spite of the plots of the enemies of Islam. (Inset: Shrine of Imam Hussein at Karbala).
And I tell you O enemies of Islam; continue to terrorize the true Muslim believers (Islam), but there will come a day where Allah and His sincere servants will be victorious, not you! Destruction over destruction from Allah will befall you. Ameen. And also concerning that which you are doing with our brothers and sisters of Palestine, I am warning you O Israel and all those who support you in this crime, you will be not be able to finish the religion of Allah. Allah’s punishment will befall you quickly. Insha-Allah.
- Friday Sermon of January 09, 2009 delivered by the Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius.