Hussain (Peace Be Upon Him) said, “Death with dignity is better than a life of humiliation.” 

Just over 50 years of the death of Muhammad (the last Prophet of Islam), the Muslim rulership was sliding into corruption under the tyrant Yazid, from the Ummayad family.

Hussain (Peace Be Upon Him), the son of Ali and the grandson of Muhammad (PBUH), was born in 620 AD in the city of Medina. He came from a family renowned for their strong values of justice, charity, and peace – the family of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Hussain (Peace Be Upon Him) was widely respected across the lands of Arabia and beyond for his generosity, sincerity, and wisdom.

Hussain (Peace Be Upon Him) took a stand against Yazid’s evil rule. Whilst Yazid was feared and hated for his ruthlessness, Hussain was loved and respected by society. Yazid realized this and understood that if he could convince Hussain to support him and gets his allegiance, the people would too.

A painting shows Hussain surrounded and attacked by the soldiers of Yazid

Hussain had a choice. Either supports the tyrant and lives a comfortable life full of luxury or to refuse and likely be killed for his decision. What should he do? What would you or I do? For Hussain (Peace Be Upon Him), he could not live his life as a supporter of tyranny, and the choice for him was simple. Hussain refused, he said ‘No’. He said, “I only desire to spread good values and prevent evil.”

After receiving the final ultimatum from Yazid, Hussain realized he would be killed in a matter of days. Hussain (Peace Be Upon Him) gathered his companions and urged them to escape. He explained that it was him who Yazid wished to kill, and not them. Again, Hussain’s selflessness shone through. Having been deprived of water in the hot desert, he urged his supporters to save themselves.

Map shows Hussain and his family surrounded by the Yazid’s army in the desert of Karbala

Despite this, Hussain’s men (who were 72 in numbers against the million soldiers of Yazid) stayed loyal to him and stayed true to their principles. Within a few days, Yazid ordered his army to kill Hussain and his companions. When the dust settled, Hussain and his companions were killed. Throughout the forces of Yazid promised him he could leave freely if he chooses to support Yazid, but every time Hussain refused and was eventually killed, holding firmly to his principles.

A painting shows Hussain standing alone against millions of Yazid’s army

After his death, Hussain’s family was taken captive. His sister, Zainab, took up the role of leadership and gave an inspiring speech in Yazid’s palace, condemning his actions and his style of leadership.

Zainab was one of the first to be inspired by Hussain’s stand and his principles. Despite the sexism that existed in society at the time, she refused to be silent and held Yazid and his ministers to account for their role in the moral decay of society.

Sir Charles Dickens said, “In a distant age and climate the tragic scene of the death of Hussain will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader.”

Hussain’s example is that one man can stand against an army, and in giving his life inspire those after him to overthrow the abusive Umayyad dynasty. Just as those who lived in the 7th century were inspired by Hussain’s stand, so are the millions today that pay homage to Hussain for his stand and mourn his death. People from all around the world visit the grave of Hussain in Karbala to pay their respects.

A painting shows Hussain and his brother Abbass fighting against Yazid’s army

Hussain (Peace Be Upon Him) was a 7th century revolutionary leader who made the ultimate stand for social justice in the face of corruption and tyranny. He gave everything, including his life, for the dignity of his society.

It is in the very nature of great reformers that they belong to everybody, everywhere. Hussain’s noble deed is so relevant to the entire human race that I am sure there is a far bigger audience waiting for him somewhere than the one he already has. All that is required is to draw people’s attention.

Contemporary society, irrespective of race and religion, would do well to have a closer look at the “Hero of Karbala” as his message transcends the barriers of caste creed, race and religion. Advocates of human rights, sociologists, reformers, theologians, all included, will find “delightful wisdom, sweet instructions, and a meaning suited to their mind”, in his story. His message is certainly not an exclusive preserve of any particular group. It embraces the entire human race. It was not a power struggle. Hussain persistently and explicitly expounded, “What matters to me is to “correct not conquer” – An affirmation that he would die in the firm belief that a despot’s idiosyncrasies could never be an effective instrument of religious policies. Yezid became too big for his boots and assumed the characteristics of a despot who, almost as a condition of his position, made boastful and frivolous claims that he alone could lead the nation.

Millions gathered outside Hussain’s shrine in Karbala on the eve of Arbaeen (the 40th day of his martyrdom.

Hussain was, however, committed to redeeming Islam and maintaining the faith intact.

He hoped that matters would improve and kept a low profile to preserve amity. He had a clear choice: stand aside and let Yezid act according to his whims; (and thus join in and implicitly justify his abominable escapades) or counter his devious bluster. Hussain had to decide: to take the situation in its stride as a price worth paying for the “status quo”; or view it as an ominous foretaste of the consequences of the extensive damage done by the far-reaching anti-Islamic activities of Yezid, the mammon of unrighteousness, whose lust for power prompted him to beat the nation into the mould he favoured. He and his profane crew conspired to scuttle the ship of Islam by worse than heinous deeds, violating the aims for which Islam was born.

The golden domes are the shrine of Hussain and his brother Abbass in the city of Karbala in Iraq

Hussain had no desire to live under such a corrupt Caliph. He wanted to act as quietly and as “spontaneously” as possible so as to limit the possibilities of an open clash with the Calip. But Yezid bargained hard. Hussain (Peace Be Upon Him) could not take his effervescent nonsense perpetually and did what was right.

If the moral standards of human behaviour were as high as they were in the person of Hussain the world would be a better place to live in, is the obvious inference. His incredible cool and superhuman moral courage to achieve his mission stirs our deepest emotions. His exemplary conduct, throughout, and adorable conscience tore Yezid’s monstrous designs to shreds.

People from all faiths across the world gather to pay homage to Hussain, the grave is surrounded by the believers

The virtuous people will continue to do their duty to maintain righteousness in this world and in this, they are entitled to universal recognition and support. Hussain’s acceptance of persecution in the cause of humanity was the most convincing and moving proof of God’s immanence in men. He was a man par excellence who maintained the highest standards set by the martyrs and heroes of all ages. With a courage that was more than human he managed to leave a message for the entire world, “Do not submit to exploitation, of any kind; maintain a tenacious grip on veracity; better die with honor than live in shame”. He surely deserves universal recognition. “He is an immortal heir of universal praise”. More than 1400 years have passed but the memory of that adorable hero, who resolutely faced the soul-searching trials and tribulations, has not diminished. On the contrary, it has grown in intensity. Imbued with exemplary fortitude, moral fiber, and aplomb, Hussain has emerged as the most revered and meritorious martyr the world has produced, who established the highest standards of excellence of which humanity prides itself. Hussain said, “Avoid oppressing the one who does not have any supporter against you, other than the Almighty God.”

If you stand against a tyrant, if you support a poor and opressed one, you clearly stand with Imam Hussain and you are to be considered his companion andOne day will come when the entire universe will believe that we belong to the Imam Hussain who said ‘No’.

One thought on “Hussain who said ‘No’: The Universalist

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