The 10th of Muharram is known as the day of Ashura, marking the day that the grandson of the Holy Prophet SAW, Imam Hussain AS, his family and over 72 of his companions bravely faced the 30,000 man army of Yazeed and were martyred on the plains of Karbala. The significance of this day permeates through all aspects of life from spiritual and ethical to social and political issues and there are an infinite number of lessons to draw from this most tragic of events.
The aspect on which we would like to draw attention to is freedom from oppression and slavery to other than Allah SWT by way of submission to Allah SWT alone. Hayhat Minna Thilla!, which is translated as “Never to humiliation!”, is a well known saying of Imam Hussain AS highlighting that submission to other than Allah SWT as the greatest humiliation.
As the great mystic Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti once said:
"Shah ast Hussain, Badshah ast Hussain,
Deen ast Hussain, Deen e Panah ast Hussain,
Sar dad, na dad dast, dar dast-e-yazeed,
Haqaa key binaey La ila ast Hussain"
The King is Hussain, the Emperor is Hussain
Religion is Hussain, the Guardian of Faith is Hussain
He gave his head, but did not give his hand (allegiance, approval, or submission)
Indeed, Hussain is the foundation of La illaha il Allah.
He would never humiliate himself by submitting to or giving legitimacy to anyone or anything other than Allah SWT. He not only lived these words but spent every moment of his life bringing others to this truth.
Even in the early of hours of the morning of Ashura, one of the commanders of the enemy army, Hurr al Riyahi RA, came to Imam Hussain AS asking for forgiveness and pleading with him to be martyred serving the cause of Allah SWT. Imam Hussain AS was quick to forgive Hurr despite him being the one responsible for forcing the Imam’s AS family to set up camp at Karbala and be encircled by the enemy army. Imam Hussain’s act of forgiveness is an example for all of us to forgive easily those who sincerely reform.
Also, Hurr’s turning of heart shows us that it is never too late to repent and choose freedom over slavery. When Hurr was breathing his last breaths before martyrdom, Imam Hussain AS said to him “you were named well, you are indeed free in this world and the next” (Hurr means ‘free’ in Arabic).
Imam Hussain AS shows us that there are only two options in life, either submission to Allah SWT or submission to other than Allah SWT. True freedom is only attained when we submit our nafs, or ego, to the will of Allah SWT alone, not to the glamour of the dunya (world) or to those ‘in power’.
Inshallah Allah SWT gives us the strength and guidance to choose freedom over slavery everyday and especially in those critical moments of our lives just like Hurr al Riyahi did, and to always stand firm against oppression everywhere.