‘I look always with wonder at this Arab Prophet whose name is Muhammad, thousands of blessings and peace be upon him. How exalted his status was! One cannot perceive the ultimate limit of his station…’1 (Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi)
The Tragedy of Karbala
The background to Karbala revolves around the refusal of Hadhrat Imam Hussain(ra), the blessed grandson of the Holy Prophet(saw), to pledge allegiance to Yazid, the son of Muawiyah. Muawiyah had rebelled against Hadhrat Ali(ra), the Fourth of the rightly guided Khalifas and father of Hadhrat Imam Hussain(ra), and established his own governance and declared himself a self-appointed Khalifa. Before his demise, Muawiyah appointed his own son, Yazid, as his heir apparent. Whilst many Muslims pledged allegiance to Yazid, Hadhrat Imam Hussain(ra) and some other Companions had rejected this outright. They felt that due to Yazid’s impiety, he was not worthy, nor possessed the right to the Khilafat. The true Khilafat was not a dynasty where the son would automatically become the heir-apparent. Rather, the true Khalifa was chosen by God, albeit through the will of the people. Thus, Muawiyah and Yazid were trying to establish a despotic rule in the guise of Khilafat.
Hadhrat Imam Hussain(ra) eventually set off for Kufa in Iraq on the beckoning of around 18,000 people who written letters pledging their allegiance to him. Although Hadhrat Imam Hussain(ra) had indications through visions and also the information received from others that something was not right, he set off to Kufa, not yet fully aware that the people of Kufa no longer supported him. En route, Hadhrat Imam Hussain(ra)’s party were confronted by a large army in Karbala. The enemy commander said he had been ordered to detain Imam Hussain(ra) and his party and demanded they pledge allegiance to Yazid. Despite the fact that Hussain(ra) explained to the enemy commander that he been beckoned by the people of Kufa, and that he was even ready to travel elsewhere, his plea fell on deaf ears.
On the morning of Ashura (the 10th of Muharram), judgment day arrived. There were only approximately 72 people with Imam Hussain(ra) against 4000 soldiers. One by one Imam Hussain(ra)’s Companions fell fighting the enemy soldiers, desperately trying to defend Imam Hussain(ra). After, the Ahle Bai’at (family of the Holy Prophet(saw)), one by one also fell fighting. 20 members of the family of the Holy Prophet(saw) were killed in the field of Karbala. Imam Hussain(ra) fought valiantly until his last breath, but he also eventually was martyred. Horse riders rode forth and trampled upon the dead body of Imam Hussain(ra). Imam Hussain(ra) had been hit 45 times by arrows, 33 times by spears and over 40 times by sword blows. Hadhrat Hussain(ra)’s head was severed and sent to Kufa, where the governor had it displayed for public view. This was a tragic day in Islamic history, when the blood of the noble people of God was shed in this merciless slaughter. The people of Kufa also had displayed ultimate cowardice and hypocrisy. However, Imam Hussain(ra) had given his life to uphold the truth, of this there can be no doubt. A full account of the events that transpired at Karbala can be read in the article we featured in the January 2011 Edition of The Review of Religions, ‘Imam Hussain and the Tragedy of Karbala.’ Here, our purpose is to depict how true love for the Holy Prophet(saw) and his family can be expressed.
Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi, has stated in his writings that Yazid was an impure worm of the earth, blinded by the love of the world; whilst Imam Hussain(ra) was truthful and provided a pure model for future Muslims to follow. Once in the house of the Promised Messiah(as), the incident of Hadhrat Hussain(ra)’s martyrdom was being related. Upon hearing this the Promised Messiah(as) started crying most profusely, and stated with immense pain: “Yazid performed this cruel act against the grandson of the Holy Prophet(saw), but God also rapidly brought His wrath down upon the oppressors.”2
True Expression of Love for the Holy Prophet(saw)
Each year in the first ten days of Muharram, Muslims around the world mourn the martyrdoms of Hadhrat Imam Hussain(ra), his family and companions that took place in the fields of Karbala over 1000 years ago. Because many of those martyred on that fateful day were close family members of the Holy Prophet(saw), remembering Karbala holds special significance for Muslims. Some Muslims take to the streets and wail excessively, beating their chests with their hands and other weapons. They believe that literally enacting the torment the family of the Holy Prophet(saw) went through at Karbala is an important aspect of the commemoration. Others take part in processions, specially organised functions and other events and gatherings in mosques and halls. However, within such gatherings numerous innovations have been introduced which are far-removed from the real teachings of Islam. Further, sectarian violence has become the norm during this month. Shias target Sunnis, and Sunnis attack Shias, resulting in loss of life and property. These acts are carried out in the name of God and the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw).
So what is the correct way for a Muslim to mourn the events of Karbala? How can a Muslim express true love for the Holy Prophet(saw) and his family?
In this era the correct method has been beautifully elucidated to us by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) of Qadian, the Promised Messiahand Imam Mahdi. The Promised Messiah(as)’s love for the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw) and his family was absolute, sincere and unparalleled. His writings, books and speeches are replete with heartfelt affection towards the Holy Prophet(saw). It would take several books or even more to suitably depict the true devotion the Promised Messiah(as) had for the Holy Prophet(saw). Here, we only provide a glance of that love he held. He writes:
‘I always wonder how high the status of this Arabian Prophet was, whose name was Muhammad, (thousands of blessings and peace be upon him). One cannot reach the limit of his high status and it is not given to man to estimate correctly his spiritual effectiveness….He is the fountainhead of every grace and a person who claims any superiority without acknowledging his grace is not a man but is the spawn of Satan, because the Holy Prophet(saw) has been bestowed the key to every exaltation and he has been given the treasury of every understanding…I am nothing and possess nothing. I would be most ungrateful if I were not to confess that I have learnt of the true Unity of God through this Prophet. The recognition of the Living God we have achieved through this perfect Prophet and through his light. The honour of converse with God, through which we behold His countenance, has been bestowed upon me through this great Prophet. The ray of this sun of guidance falls like sunshine upon me and I continue illumined only so long as I am adjusted towards it.’3
The Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw) had foretold that when the moral state of the Muslims would be at its lowest ebb; when the Mosques, although full, would be devoid of actual worship; when the Qur’an would be read by Muslims but without an understanding of its inner meanings, and when the Muslim clergy would be the worst of creation, the Messiah would arrive. It was exactly in such circumstances that Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as) was raised as the Messiah and the Mahdi for the task of rejuvenating the true teachings of Islam, through explaining the inner meanings of the verses of the Qur’an. He provided thousands of logical arguments to corroborate his claim, and also was supported with Heavenly signs that were displayed in his favour. He wrote over 80 books, guided by God, replete with profound insight into the true, beautiful teachings of Islam. His writings were based on his discernment of the hidden meanings entailed within the Qur’an as taught to him by God. As the Hakm and Adl (Judge and Arbiter) of the time he said that he had been commissioned by God to rectify the erroneous concepts that had entrenched themselves into Muslim practices and customs, but not by bringing anything new, for the Qur’an is the Final and Perfect Book. As the Promised Messiah(as) explains:
‘Now under heaven there is only one Prophet(saw) and only one Book. The Prophet is Muhammad(saw), the Chosen One who is higher and more exalted than all Prophets and is the most perfect of Messengers and is the Khatam-ul-Anbiya’, and the best of men by following whom we find God Almighty and all the veils of darkness are lifted and the signs of true salvation are witnessed in this very life. The Book is the Holy Qur’an, which comprises true and perfect guidance and effectiveness, through which knowledge and understanding of the Divine are obtained and the heart is purified of human weaknesses; and being delivered from ignorance, heedlessness and doubts, a person arrives at the stage of complete certainty.’4
Thus, the Promised Messiah(as) corrected the error-strewn practices and doctrines of the Muslims based on the true teachings of the Qur’an, and the practice of the Holy Prophet(saw). And in this light, his love for the Prophet(saw) was unmatched. The Promised Messiah(as) writes:
‘That light of high degree that was bestowed on perfect man was not in angels, was not in stars, was not in the moon, was not in the sun, was not in the oceans and the rivers, was not in rubies, emeralds, sapphires, or pearls; in short, it was not in any earthly or heavenly object. It was only in perfect man whose highest and loftiest and most perfect example was our lord and master, the Chief of the Prophets, the Chief of all living ones, Muhammad, the Chosen One(saw). That light was bestowed on this man and, according to their ranks, upon all those who bore the same colour to some degree…. This dignity was found in its highest and most perfect form in our lord and Master and our Guide, the immaculate Prophet, the righteous one, testified to by the righteous, Muhammad, the Chosen One(saw).’5
Elsewhere, depicting the miracle of the Holy Prophet(saw) in transforming a society of people steeped in ignorance and moral degradation, into shining models of piety, the Promised Messiah(as) writes:
‘A strange and phenomenal event took place in the deserts of Arabia, when hundreds of thousands of dead become alive within a few days, and those who had been corrupted through generations took on Divine colour. The blind began to see and the tongues of the foolish began to flow with Divine wisdom. Such a revolution took place in the world as no eye had seen or no ear had heard of before. Do you realise what this was? All this was brought about by prayers during the darkness of the night of one who had been wholly lost in God. This created uproar in the world and manifested such wonders as seemed impossible at the hand of the unlettered helpless person. O Allah! Send down blessings and peace upon him and on his followers in proportion to his concern suffering for the Muslim Ummah [community of Muslims] and shower upon him the light of Thy mercy, forever.’6
After the Promised Messiah(as) the system of Khilafat—Successorship— was established by Divine Will, in accordance with the prophecies of the Qur’an and the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw). The present Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), Khalifatul Masih V, in his Friday Sermon has explained the best method of remembering Karbala, in light of the profound spiritual knowledge granted to the Promised Messiah(as). His Holiness explained that the best way to remember Karbala is to send Darud, invoking salutations and blessings upon the Holy Prophet(saw) and his family, and to bring about pure reformation within ourselves. He said that all Muslims undoubtedly feel sorrow and grief regarding the incident of Karbala. But certain Muslim groups adopt customs which appear quite extreme in our view. Darud, however, has been expounded by the Holy Qur’an, the Traditions of the Holy Prophet(saw) have drawn attention to it, as has the Promised Messiah, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as), Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. It is a most excellent way of professing love for the Holy Prophet(saw) and his family.7 The Promised Messiah(as) said:
‘One night this humble one invoked blessings on the Holy Prophet(saw) to such a degree that my heart and soul were filled with its fragrance. That night I saw in my dream that angels were carrying water skins full of light into my house and one of them said to me: These are the blessings that you invoked upon Muhammad.’8
The Promised Messiah(as)’s life was a true reflection of the life of the Holy Prophet(saw), because of which, even the hearts of some of his fiercest enemies became inclined towards the true Islam. Hence, the Promised Messiah(as) taught that to express real love for the Holy Prophet(saw), a true Muslim, along with invoking Durud (invoking salutations/blessings upon the Holy Prophet(saw)), should strive to follow the example set by the Holy Prophet(saw). He or she should obey all the injunctions given by God, and endeavour to lead every moment of his life in the way the Prophet(saw) did. When a Muslim adopts this approach, his or her Durud will emanate from the heart, and he or she will become a paragon of virtue and high moral standards. This is how true love of the Holy Prophet(saw) can truly be expressed, rather than by holding rallies and introducing customs and rituals that the Holy Prophet(saw) never practised. The excellent behaviour of such a Muslim would lead people, even the opponents of Islam, to stand up and take notice, and praise the teachings of Islam and the person of the Holy Prophet(saw) for inspiring such excellent conduct. Hence, just as Hadhrat Hussain(ra) and those with him, stood firmly in the face of certain death, Muslims should similarly display this forbearance and steadfastness in front of people with Yazid-like natures and be resolute. Hussain(ra) expressed the truth despite facing a huge army; hence Muslims should present the truth without regard for the consequences for their own persons.9
The Promised Messiah(as) has explained logically, and through Divine revelation, the best manner of expressing love for the Holy Prophet(saw) and his family. In these few pages full justice cannot be discharged in depicting just how beautifully the Promised Messiah(as) has expressed that devotion. We humbly urge our readers to visit the following link at the official website of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, www.alislam.org/books/, where all the books of the Promised Messiah(as) that have been translated into English can be read, —the Promised Messiah(as) expression of true love for the Prophet(saw) will become further evident. Finally, we present one last extract of the Promised Messiah(as) from amongst his treasure of writings, in which he expresses his love for Islam and the Prophet Muhammad(saw):
‘O all ye who dwell upon the earth! And O all human souls that are in the east or in the west! I announce to you emphatically that the true reality in the earth is Islam alone, and the True God is the God Who is described in the Qur’an, and the Prophet who has everlasting spiritual life and who is seated on the throne of glory and holiness, is Muhammad, the Chosen One(saw). The proof of his spiritual life and holy majesty is that by following him and loving him we become recipients of the Holy Spirit and are favoured with the bounty of converse with God and witness heavenly signs.’10
- Haqiqatul Wahi in Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol.22, pp.118-119
- Seerat Tayyiba, Hadhrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra), p.36
- Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 22, pp. 118-119
- Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 1, pp. 557-558, sub-footnote 3
- A’ina-e-Kamalat-e-Islam, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 5, pp. 160-162
- Bakaratud Dua’, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 6, pp. 10-11
- Friday Sermon, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), 21st January 2011
- Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in Vol. 1, p. 598, sub-footnote 3
- Friday Sermon, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba), 10th December 2010
- Tiryaq-ul-Qulub, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 15, p. 141