Imam Hussain: The Eternal Life

Imam Hussain: The Eternal Life
If you neither believe in religion nor fear the hereafter, then at least be free from Tyranny and Arrogance”—Imam Hussain AS

In general, one of the most cherished desires of human beings, other than immortality, is to become famous. For this purpose, the ambitious can go to whatever extent possible to be known and remembered, while there are some who unconsciously fall on the pulpit of fame and yet a vast majority remains oblivious to the world at large. Great scientists, discoverers, inventors, writers, philosophers and artists become famous by achievements in their respective fields.

The idea of fame is not restricted to just noble deeds but sometimes, people break all norms of sanity indulging in perverted practices. How can anyone forget the likes of Jack the Ripper, the Boston Strangler, Adolf Hitler and our infamous Javed Iqbal? Other than these notorious and reputable figures, the common people too aspire for sons for continuing their lineage and of course, so that their names can be carried forward to future generations—although this is a short-lived memory!

Philosophers and poets have spoken about eternal life as granted to those whose virtuous acts continue to benefit humanity even after they have transitioned from this world. The human body has an expiry date, but if one truly wants a place in everyone’s memory then it must be marked by some important footprint though on a pessimistic note, William Shakespeare opined in his play Julius Caesar The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.”

Nonetheless, one cannot deny that respect, popularity and permanence are earned only through goodness.

Many a times as and when people engage themselves in different activities they fail to perceive that they could be heading either towards fame or disrepute. Mercenaries who inflict cruelty on others do so with the aim of subduing them. They probably believe that by overpowering others they are in fact, sculpting their lives, manifesting their peculiar ideals. Blinded by their zeal for exerting influence, they consider their success even in suppressing the benevolent and virtuous. For onlookers, the situation on ground can be viewed in multiple ways with some siding with victims, some with the oppressors and some maintaining neutrality.

Arthur Schopenhauer writes in Parerga And Paralipomena: “...those eminent and remarkable works which are destined to belong to the whole of mankind and to live for centuries, are too advanced when they are produced and are, on that account, foreign to the cultural epoch and sprint of their times.”

Jealousy and envy are attributes of the mediocre in different branches of knowledge. When these average achievers fail to garner appreciation, they stand up to oppose the distinguished and outstanding individuals in a bid to kick them out of their sphere: Si quelqu'un excelle parmi nous, qu’il aille exceller ailleurs (if anyone makes his mark among us, let him go and do so elsewhere). Therefore, wherever there is some form of excellence it is likely to be opposed by the envy of thousands who in agreement with each other may try to suppress or to stifle it altogether. Another method to counter it is to deny its very existence.

Such was the destiny of Imam Hussain AS when he was confronted by a legion of green-with-envy-men led by the infamous Yazid in the battle of Karbala in 61 AH, 1374 years ago. While Yazid, with his propaganda machinery and well-equipped military forces was trying to subdue the great Imam Hussain AS, his small band of loyal followers comprising family and friends, put up the fiercest resistance ever recorded in history. Disregarding any suggestion for compromise or bowing to unscrupulous demands, Imam Hussain AS stood by his principles regardless of the ensuing brutality unleashed on his supporters, his family, his progeny and on himself. This temporary bout of success in eradicating the Prophet’s (PBUH) family was widely celebrated by his enemies only to be soon turned into the most crushing defeat imaginable.

News of the Imam’s martyrdom spread like wildfire, encompassing within its flames the repute of the notorious Yazid and his henchmen, purging the infested minds of the people made to believe that the slain were actually rebels. The passionate speeches of Bibi Zainab AS, Imam Hussain AS’s sister, in Yazid’s court exposed his evil intentions. Her powerful voice and knowledge laden words in the full court of the oppressor became victory signals for the otherwise apparent defeat in Karbala. Consequently, these last many centuries has seen a consistent commemoration of Imam Hussain AS’s martyrdom. By embracing death, he attained an eternal life and an ever-enduring distinction much to the fear and envy of his enemies.

If Yazid ever harbored a yearning for fame, ironically, his wish was granted, for his name together with that of Imam Hussain AS, has always and would forever echo in the corridors of time with the only difference that while Imam Hussain AS would be revered, Yazid would be cursed. His fate like all such despots who despise honor, justice, benevolence, kindness and fear of God, will remain damned in the eyes of the people and no matter how hard an effort they put to repress men of principles, they will emerge forth with great vengeance.

“Remember, the more the tyrant tries to erase the name of Imam Hussain, the more this name will live.” - Ruhool Ahmad Kawa [The Silence of 25 Years: Imam Ali (AS)]

The writer is a lawyer and author, and an Adjunct Faculty at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), member Advisory Board and Senior Visiting Fellow of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE)