Saturday 25th of June 2022
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Were the Sayyid al-Shuhada' to come and observe these things (and, of course, he does from the world of the spirit, but were he come into the world of appearance ) he will find that we have carved out for him companions that he never had.

Were the Sayyid al-Shuhada' to come and observe these things (and, of course, he does from the world of the spirit, but were he come into the world of appearance ) he will find that we have carved out for him companions that he never had. For instance, in the book Muhriq al-qulub - whose author was, incidentally, an eminent scholar and jurist, but who had no knowledge of these matters - that one of the companions to appear out of nowhere on the day of 'Ashura' was Hashim Mirqal, who came bearing an eighteen cubits long spear in his hand. (After all someone had claimed that Sinan ibn Anas - who according to some reports severed the head of Imam Husayn - had a spear sixty cubits long. He was told that a spear could not be sixty cubits. He replied that God had sent it for him from the heaven!) Muhriq al-qulub writes that Hashim ibn 'Utbah Mirqal appeared with a spear sixteen cubits long, whereas this Hashim ibn 'Utbah was a companion of Amir al-Mu'minin 'Ali and had been killed twenty years earlier.

We have attributed several companions to Husayn ibn 'Ali that he did not have, such as the Za'far the Jinn. Similarly, there are some names among the enemies that did not exist. It is mentioned in the book Asrar al-shahadah that 'Umar ibn Sa'd's army in Karbala' consisted of one million and sixty thousand men. One may ask, where did they come from? Were they all Kufans? Is such a thing possible?

It is also written in that book that Imam Husayn himself personally killed three hundred thousand men in combat. The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima killed sixty thousand people. I calculated that if we assume that a swordsman kills one man every second, it would take eighty-three hours and twenty minutes to massacre a force of three hundred thousand. Later, when they saw that this number of those felled by the Imam did not fit with a day's duration, they said that the day of 'Ashura was also seventy-two hours long!

Similar things are said concerning Hadrat Abu al-Fadl, that he killed twenty-five thousand men. I calculated that if one man were killed per second, it would require six days and fifty and odd hours to kill that many. Therefore, we have to admit what Hajji Nuri, this great man, says, that if one wanted to mourn the Imam today and narrate the ordeals of Abu 'Abd Allah, may Peace be upon him, one should lament over these new tragedies, over these falsehoods, which have been incorporated in the accounts of his martyrdom.

Another example relates to the day of 'Arba'in. At the time of 'Arba'in everyone relates the narrative that leads the people to imagine that the captives of the Imam's family arrived at Karbala' on the day of 'Arba'in, and that Imam Zayn al-'Abidin met Jabir (ibn 'Abd Allah al-Ansari) there. However, excepting the Luhuf, whose author is Sayyid ibn Tawus and who has denied it in his other books, or at least has not confirmed it, such an episode is not mentioned in any other book, nor does it seem very reasonable to believe it. But is it possible to expunge these stories, which are repeated every year, from the people's minds? Jabir was the first visitor to Imam Husayn grave, and the significance of 'Arba'in is also nothing except that it is the occasion for the ziyarah of Imam Husayn's tomb. It is not for the renewal of mourning for the Ahl al-Bayt, nor on account of their arrival in Karbala'. Basically, the road to Madinah from Syria is not through Karbala' and the two ways diverge from Syria itself.

What is more painful is that, incidentally, there are few events in history that are as rich as the event of Karbala' from the viewpoint of reliable sources. Formerly I used to imagine that the basic reason for the proliferation of legends in this field is that the actual events are not known to anybody. But when I studied I found that no event of remote past-for instance of a period thirteen or fourteen centuries ago-has as reliable an history as the event of Karbala'. Reliable Muslim historians have reported the pertinent episodes with trustworthy chains of transmission from the first/seventh and the second/eighth centuries, and their narrations are close and corroborate one another.

There were certain reasons which were responsible for the preservation of these details in history. One of them, which caused the details of this event to be preserved and its objectives to remain clear, were the many speeches (khutbahs) that were delivered during its course. In those days, an oration was what communiques and press releases are in our era. In the same way that official communiques issued during wartime are the best historical source, so were orations in these days. Accordingly, there were many of them before the event of Karbala', during, and after it. Individuals from among the Prophet's household made orations in Kufah, Damascus and other places. Basically, their aim by delivering these orations was to inform the people about the episodes as well as to declare the truth of the matter and to spell out the goals. This was itself one of the reason for the events to be reported.

There were also many exchanges, questions and answers, in the event of Karbala' and these are recorded in history. They too disclose for us the nature of the occurrences.

Rajaz poetry 8 was also recited a lot during Karbala', and, in particular Abu 'Abd Allah ('a) himself recited much rajaz, and these rajaz verses also reveal the character of the confrontation.

There were many letters that were exchanged before and after the episode of Karbala', letters that were exchanged between the Imam and the people of Kufah, between the Imam and the people of Basrah, the letters that the Imam wrote earlier to Mu'awiyah (which indicate that the Imam was preparing for an uprising after Mu'awiyah's death), the letters that the enemies wrote to one another, Yazid to Ibn Ziyad, Ibn Ziyad to Yazid, lbn Ziyad to 'Umar ibn Sa'd, 'Umar ibn Sa'd to Ibn Ziyad, whose texts are all recorded in the history of Islam.

Hence the developments relating to Karbala' are quite clear and all of them are throughout a matter of great honor and pride. But we have disfigured this shining historic event to such an extent and have committed such a monstrous treachery towards Imam Husayn ('a) that if he were to come and see, he will say, 'You have changed the entire face of the event. I am not the Imam Husayn that you have sketched out in your own imagination. The Qasim ibn Hasan that you have painted in your fancy is not my nephew. The 'Ali Akbar that you have faked in your imagination is not my aware and intelligent son. The companions that you have carved out are not my companions."

We have fabricated a Qasim whose only desire is to become a bridegroom and whose uncle's wish, too, is to have him wedded. Contrast this one with the historical Qasim. Reliable histories report that on the night of 'Ashura' the Imam ('a) gathered his companions in a tent whose location, as described by the phrase 'inda qurbil-ma', 9 was the place where water used to be kept, or near it. There he delivered that very well-known sermon of the night preceding 'Ashura'. I do not want to mention its details here, but, to put it briefly, in this sermon the Imam told them that every one of them was free to depart and leave him to confront the enemy alone. The Imam did not want anybody to stay just for considerations of courtesy or to remain out of compulsion, or even to think that they were obliged to do so by virtue of the allegiance (bay'ah) they had given him. Hence he tells them, "You are all free, my companions, members of my family, my sons, and my nephews-everyone-to leave without being liable to anything. They [i.e. the enemy's forces] have nothing against anyone except me. The night is dark. Take advantage of the darkness of the night and depart. They will definitely not stop you." At first, he expresses his appreciation for them and tell them, I am most pleased with you. I do not know of any companions better than mine, and no better relatives than the members of my family."

But all of them tell him, in unison, that such a thing was impossible. What answer will they give to the Prophet on the Day of Resurrection? What will happen to loyalty, to humanity, to love and attachment? Their ardent responses and their words said on that occasion melt a heart of stone and are most moving. One of them says, "Is one life worth enough to be sacrificed for someone like you? I wish that I were brought to life seventy times to die seventy time for your sake." Another says, "I would lay down a thousand lives for your sake if I had them." Another says, "If I were to sacrifice my life for you and my body were burnt to ashes and the ashes were cast to wind, and were this done a hundred times, I would still love to die for your sake." The first to speak was his brother Abu al-Fadl, and then the Imam changed the subject and told them about the events of the next day, informing them that they all would be killed. All of them receive it as a great good news.

Now this young man - to whom we are so unjust and think that all that he cherished in his heart was the wish to become a bridegroom - puts a question to the Imam. In reality he expresses his real wish. When a group of elderly men gather in an assembly, a boy of thirteen does not sit in their midst, but reverently stays behind them. It appears that this youth was sitting behind the Imam's elderly companions and was keen to hear what others said. When the Imam told them that they would all be killed on the next day, this child wondered if he too would be one of them. He thought to himself, After all I am only a boy. Perhaps the Imam means that only the elderly would be martyred. I am just a minor." Therefore, he turned to the Imam and asked him:

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