Travelling back 1400 years in Islamic history, somewhere in the vast Arabian desert, we come upon the story of our dearest Prophet (SAWW)’s[1]grandson. Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) has said, “Hussain is from me, and I am from Hussain. Allah[2] loves whoever loves Hussain.”[3]

When exploring the concept of starting with oneself to make a bigger impact, Imam[4] Hussain (AS)[5] is one of the greatest examples. There is much to learn from his nobility and sacrifices. To this day, his refusal to pledge allegiance to a corrupt tyrant and the events of Karbala continue to have everlasting effects on a global scale.

From his 6-month old son to his beloved young nephews to his lionhearted brother, he painfully lost many loved ones and companions in the battle of Karbala, and eventually his own life. Deprived of sustenance for days on end, the children and adults alike fought with bravery and faith against Yazid’s[6] army of thousands. These virtuous descendants and supporters of our Holy Prophet (SAWW) were martyred in brutal ways and their bodies continued to be defaced even after their pious souls had returned to Allah. Those who remained, notably including Imam Hussain (AS)’s courageous sister, Lady Zainab (SA),[7] were taken prisoners and carried on his legacy by spreading word of his message.

Why did Prophet Muhammad (SAWW)’s family selflessly endure such hardship? Imam Hussain (AS) said, “I revolted not for wickedness nor for fame. Verily I rose only to seek for rectification in the nation of my grandfather, The Messenger of Allah.”[8] He also said, “Don’t you see that the truth is not followed and the falsehood is not discouraged? (The situation is so severe) that a believer wishes to meet Allah (i.e., to die). Today I don’t see death but prosperity, and living with tyrants is nothing but disgust and disgrace.”[9]

Karbala is about resistance in the face of oppression, injustice, and corruption.[1]  By standing up against tyranny and unislamic practices, Imam Hussain (AS) collapsed Yazid’s rule and preserved the beautiful religion Allah sent down to us. Undoubtedly, his sacrifices rescued Islamic teachings and paved the way for generations to come. People around the globe still commemorate Imam Hussain (AS)’s integrity and resilience. He reflected on the teachings of his beloved grandfather and acted on the principle of justice, which continues to inspire millions. Despite tragedy and loss, Imam Hussain (AS) is ultimately victorious. The message he hoped to convey through faith and courage has travelled throughout history and made its way to us, as we follow in his footsteps and strive to build morally just societies.

[1] SAWW: ṣallā -llāhu ʿalayhī wa-ʾālihī wa-sallam / blessings of God and peace be upon him and his progeny.

[2] Allah: God.

[3] Al-Tirmidhi. Jamiʽ at-Tirmidhi (3775)

[4] Imam: Islamic leader.

[5] AS: ʿalayhi s-salām / peace be upon him.

[6] Yazid: second tyrant ruler of the Umayyad Caliphate.

[7] SA: salāmu -llāhi ʿalayha / peace of God be upon her.

[8] Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project Team.

[9] Shaykh Abu Nu’aym Ahmad al-Isphahani. Hilyat ul- Awliya wa Tabaqat-ul-Asfiya. 2, (p. 39).