Birthdays are celebrated to express happiness and gratefulness. People cook special food, wear special clothes and decorate the venue of the function.Those who are invited bring gifts to express their love and happiness. Birthdays of world leaders, poets, philosophers, Prophets are celebrated around the world. On the 3rd of Shaban,4 Hijri as per Islamic Calendar,626 AD Ali Ibne Abi Talib (A.S.)and Bibi Fatima Zahra (S.A.) were blessed with a boy, who was named Hussain ibne Ali (A.S.).
The followers of Hussain ibne Ali (A.S.)still celebrate this day as a special day. On his birthday, most important questions that we need to ask are the following:(1) How much we know about Imam Hussain (A.S.);(2) What can we learn from his life; (3) Can we give any gift to him; (4) What can make him happy; (5) What should be the objective of celebrating this special day.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) loved his grandsons to an extent that he extended his Sajood when Imam Hassan (A.S.)and Imam Hussain(A.S.), in their childhood,sat on his shoulders during prayers.One famous saying of the Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) reported by many companions’ states: “Hussain is from Me and I am from Hussain”. The family of the Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) is above any sectarian or ethnic divide. Love and respect for them is ordained in Quran and Sunnah. In the Verse 23 of Surah Shura of Quran it is stated “Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives” .
The special status of the family of the prophet is also confirmed in Surah Ahzab Verse 33, “Allah desires to keep away the uncleanliness from you O people of the household, and to purify you with purification”.
When this verse was revealed companions asked from the Prophet (SAAW) that who are people of the household, to this he replied: Ali, Fatima Hassan and Hussain. At Ghadeer-e-Khum, while returning from Hajj, the Prophet (SAAW) addressed all the people and said that I am leaving behind you two strong pillars, Quran and my family (Ahle Bait), they would not let you go astray. Some scholars have interpreted this saying that Quran teaches the code of the conduct and the family of the Prophet (SAAW) truly upheld the values and teachings of Quran.
The life and martyrdom of Hussain ibne Ali (A.S.) is an education in itself for humanity. It is for this reason that his struggle serves as an example for people of all faiths and sects. A saying is attributed to Nelson Mandela that:”I have spent more than 20 years in prison, then on one night I decided to surrender by signing all the terms and conditions of government. But suddenly I thought about Imam Hussain (A.S.) and Karbala movement and Imam Hussain (A.S.) gave me strength to stand for right of freedom and liberation and I did”. His life is remembered as a struggle for social justice. Scholars, politicians, world leaders from all faiths mention him as a role model who sacrificed everything for social justice. Interestingly, if we look at all the religious and political parties in Pakistan, they mention the name of Hussain ibne Ali (A.S.) as a role model for their struggle. While mentioning about truth and falsehood, comparisons are drawn between Imam Hussain and Yazid.
Hussain represents many values, such as standing with the oppressed, saying the right thing fearlessly, having patience on the will of God, enduring hardships on the path of Truth, standing for Justice. These values are universal in nature, so if we limit Hussain (A.S.) to a particular sect or remember him for just few days in an year, the great sacrifice can’t be understood.Likewise, it is not enough just to celebrate his birthday. He is to be seen as an ideology, as a way of life. His utmost obedience to God, fearlessness, his firmness on the values of truth and Justice, his act of performing prayer in the battlefield despite seeing his family die infront of his eyes are unprecedented. He is an inspiration above any ethnic, religious or sectarian divide. He sacrificed everything for humanity and to end human suffering.
The most important lesson of Karbala is to be aware that Human Action is the most important thing and sacrifice requires giving up something to get something of a higher value. If we remember Hussain (A.S.) only inthe months of Muharram and Shabaan, and we don’t speak truth and don’t stand with the oppressed, we need to seriously contemplate on our conduct. The battle between truth and falsehood will continue and those who are truly inspired by Imam Hussain (A.S.), shall show this affection by their conduct and actions, not just lip service.
There are several religions that are practiced in the world, each religion is further subdivided in sects which have a different worldview, and slight differences in understanding of God and his divine system, rituals and code of law. These differences are evident in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism etc. But the real divide is Truth Vs Falsehood, Positive Vs Negative, Good Vs Bad. All other divides have evolved over time, such as nationality, sects etc. For instance, in 1946, there were only Indian Muslims and in 1947 there was new identity of Pakistan.
At the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) there were no sects. The positive and negative divide is far more permanent, and it started since Adam was created who was opposed by Satan, Hazrat Ibrahim (A.S.) was opposed by Namrud, Hazrat Musa (A.S.) was opposed by Pharaoh, and eventually in Karbala, Hussain (A.S.) was apposed by Yazid. This divide persists till today and there are adherents of Yazid and Hussain (A.S.) i.e. those who are on falsehood Vs those who are with Truth.
There is evidence that our Beloved Prophet (SAAW) had tears in his eyes when he was informed about the fate of Hussain (A.S.) and this is narrated by both Umme Salma (S.A.) the wife of the the Prophet (SAAW) and Hazrat Ali (A.S.). Paying respects to the Aale Muhammad (A.S.) is a permanent feature of every namaz in the form of Darood.From a humanitarian lens, if we can remember the martyrs of 1965 War on 6th September or the killings of innocent children in APS Peshawar attack of 2016, or we burn candles, or commemorate the death anniversary of Dr. Allama Iqbal or Qauid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, why can’t we remember Hussain (A.S.). The whole world observes May 1st as a Labour Day, to remember the labourers who died in Chicago in the 19th century, then why can’t we remember the sacrifice of Imam Hussain (A.S.) who was the grandson of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAAW).
Hussain (A.S.) will live in the hearts of many around the globe, irrespective of colour, creed or caste and maybe that’s the Divine Plan. To be a follower of Hussain (A.S.) and to be inspired by Hussain (A.S.) requires a drastic change in our daily life,especially in our interactions with other humans. The students should not cheat, the workers should do their task honestly, the judges should decide cases on merit, police should perform their duties with honesty, and teachers should teach with honesty. We should not be indifferent to any wrong, instead we should play our role to spread hope and positivity. Action speaks louder than words and Imam Hussain (A.S.) proved this point by his way of life.