The martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (ʿa) created a school for the free men and women of this world. It showed everyone that martyrdom for a worthy cause is both simple and honorable in nature. In addition to reviving the religion of Allah (swt), Ashura also brought about the blossoming of the tree of Islam; this, in turn, led to the awakening of the Muslim Ummah and it awoke the spirit of bravery and martyrdom in them as well. It taught the human race many invaluable lessons in self-sacrifice and set up the Umayyad dynasty for complete and utter destruction. Many revolts sprung up after Ashura and it did not take long before the Umayyads fell from power. Let us now delve deeper in to this issue with the help of the valuable viewpoints of Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi:
The Revival of the Genuine Islam through Means of being Truth Centric
After Karbala, Yazīd and his followers became extremely happy at what they had done. They assumed that through the killing of Imam al-Husayn (ʿa) and the taking of his family as captives, they had achieved a monumental victory for themselves and their government. They also assumed that they had destroyed the last pocket of resistance to their rule from the family of the Prophet (ṣ). They engaged in celebration and they acted in a hasty manner which would soon change their celebrations in to a permanent period of mourning.
Cities such as Kufah and Damascus were decorated for the occasion, gatherings of celebration were organized, complete with dancing and wine drinking. This was all done for the killing of Imam al-Husayn (ʿa) and his companions, and the enslavement of his family members. The family members were marched throughout the cities, the children were whipped in order to make them continue walking, and the heads of the martyrs were placed on the tips of spears and paraded around. All of these things were done in order to showcase what had happened in Karbala.
In spite of all this, the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (ʿa) and his companions ended up reviving the religion of the Prophet (ṣ). The pure blood of Imam al-Husayn (ʿa) watered the tree of faith and it resulted in awakening the Muslims to what was going on around them. Similarly, the revolt of Ashura can be looked from the perspective of a tradition by the Prophet (ṣ) which stated: Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn. From this perspective, it was not just the religion of the Prophet (ṣ) which was saved but rather, it was the message of all of the prophets (ʿa) which was saved from destruction.
The Realization of Freedom through the Revolution of Ashura
Even though the battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH may have seemed to favor the forces of falsehood, this initial assumption soon proved to be incorrect. The Imam al-Husayn (ʿa)’s sacrifice began a school of thought, not just for the Muslims, but for any freedom seeking human beings. This school of thought will continue to inspire all humanity long in to the future for as long as the battle between truth and falsehood continues. One manifestation of this school of thought can be seen in the victory of the Iranian nation over the despotic and oppressive monarchy of the Shah. Other examples in this regard are the victory of the Iranian nation during the eight-year-long war imposed on them by the Ba‘this, and the heroic resistance of the Lebanese Hezbollah soldiers against the atrocious and armed-to-the-teeth Zionist army. These are all manifestations of Imam al-Husayn (ʿa)’s school of thought.
The Movement of Imam al-Husayn (ʿa): The Foundation for the Bloody Revolts which came after Ashura
When word of what had happened at Karbala spread everywhere, it had a very profound effect on Muslims. The one sided nature of the killing of Imam al-Husayn (ʿa) and his companions, and the merciless nature of the rulers in killing them and taking their families captive caused the Muslims to begin to truly hate the Umayyads. In addition, the way the Imam (ʿa) and his companions were killed increased the respect and love of the Imam (ʿa) in the hearts of the people. They saw Karbala as a true epic battle and this gave them the necessary courage to rise up against the Umayyad rulers. The revolts of the people of Medina, the Tawwābīn, and Mukhtār all had roots in Karbala and the wave of rage and courage which it inspired.
The Revolt of the Tawwābīn
After the battle of Karbala, the Shias of Kufah considered themselves to be the most blameworthy for what had taken place. They felt guilty that they had not helped the grandson of the Messenger of Allah (ṣ) and they were deeply ashamed. In order to make up for their serious failure, they decided to rise up and revolt against Yazīd’s government. They hoped that this would remove the disgrace which was hanging over them and that it would help purify them of their sins.
As the leader of this group, Sulaymān ibn Ṣurad al-Khuzāī mentioned the following: ‘The grandson of the Prophet (ṣ)… was killed amongst us. Even though he cried out for help, we failed to aid him. The wrongdoers targeted him with arrows and spears… and they rushed towards him in order to kill him, but we did not do anything to help.’ Thus, Sulaymān prepared the people to revolt. The reality of the matter was that these people wished to revolt and they wished to kill and be killed in order to save themselves from the pain which their conscience was causing them and to be purified of their sins in failing to aid the Imam (ʿa). For this same reason, Mukhtār also began to raise forces in revolt against Yazīd during this same time period. In spite of having similar goals, he was not ready to j o i n forces with Sulaymān and he said: Through this revolt, Sulaymān wishes to have himself and his companions killed.
After all, the primary forces of the Tawwābīn revolt were made up of those who had abandoned Muslem ibn ʿAqīl in Kufah due to the threats of Ibn Ziyād. After Karbala though, they were so severely affected that they took heart to revolt against Yazīd even if it ended up costing them their lives. The Tawwābīn began to fight against the forces of Yazīd and they fought until they were killed. Since all the heads of the movement ended up being killed, their revolt was crushed, and the flames of their revolution were dimmed for a period of time.
The Revolt of Mukhtār
The appearance of Mukhtār on the scene created a veritable hurricane amongst the people and he began to gather forces with the purpose of taking revenge for the killing of Imam al-Husayn (ʿa) and his companions. In time, as he gained more power, he hunted the killers of the Imam (ʿa) and killed them one at a time. The people were so angry at what had happened in Karbala that none of the killers were spared and they were all killed in a short period of time. Each of the killers was killed based on what they had done to the Imam (ʿa) and his companions on the battlefield. When we examine the foundations of Mukhtār’s revolt, we find that it was primarily rooted in the desire to seek revenge for the blood of Imam al-Husayn (ʿa)…
The Decline of the Umayyads after the Revolt of Ashura
After the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (ʿa), many revolts broke out amongst the Muslims against the Umayyad rulers. A tipping point had been reached and the people sought to take the revenge of Imam al-Husayn (ʿa) against his oppressors. The veil had been removed from the Umayyad rulers and their lies; the illegitimate nature of their rule was now solidly established for all to see. Things were now so clear cut that the Abbasids, who wished to take the reins of power for themselves, rose up through the slogan of taking revenge for what had happened to Imam al-Husayn (ʿa) and gaining the pleasure of the Family of the Prophet (ʿa).
The reality is that the most powerful element which helped bring the Abbasid dynasty to power was their slogan in regards to Imam al-Husayn (ʿa) that won them the support of the people in this regard. Even though the Abbasids had worldly goals, they used such slogans to their advantage. In the end, the Abbasids were successful and the Umayyads were overthrown and destroyed completely.
A Final Word
In conclusion, it must be said that Ashura has become more than just a historical fact; it can rather be likened to a school which builds complete human beings. The revolution of Imam al-Husayn (ʿa) is not something which only belongs to the Muslims of this world; it rather belongs to the freedom seeking human beings of this world. Many of the intellectuals from various nations and faiths have used Karbala as a model and point of inspiration for salvation from oppression and unjust domination. There is hope that in the world of today, the oppressed nations will take lesson from the story of Karbala and rise up, crushing their oppressors once and for all.
Researched and edited at editorial deputy of his eminence office
. حُسَيْنُ مِنِّي وَ أَنَا مِنْ حُسَيْنٍ
. Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 43, p. 261. This tradition has been narrated in the various sourcebooks of the Ahl al-Sunnah as well. It can be found in texts such as: Mustadrak Ḥākim, vol. 3, p. 177; Muʿjam al-Kabīr Ṭabrānī, vol. 22, p. 274; and Kanz al-ʿUmmāl, vol. 12, p. 115.
. Kāmil Ibn Athīr, vol. 4, p. 163.