“Insan ko bedaar tou ho lainay do, har qaum pukaray gi hamaray hain Hussain. [Let humanity awaken to the truth, all nations will claim Hussain as their own].” — Josh MaleehabadiThere has to be something really powerful, something very unique about an event that took place 1,379 years ago and is still annually commemorated with intense fervour and with a vivid verbal depiction that gives it a new lease of life. Karbala! Mere mention of Karbala is enough to cause one’s eyes to well up with tears considering that within 38 years of Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) departure from the world, the hypocrite among his followers had the audacity to spill the blood of his own kith and kin (Ahl-e-baith) with extreme barbarism. In a bid to hijack the growing influence of Islam and exploit its teachings for their own nefarious purposes, rulers of the day found in the Holy Prophet’s (SAW) beloved grandson Imam Hussain (AS) an inviolable resistance who emphatically criticised their unstoppable attempts to corrupt the words of Allah (SWT) and distort the teachings of His holy Prophet (SAW). He was a formidable force from whom submission to the evil Yazid (then usurper Khalifah) was the demand. For standing up, the family of the Holy Prophet (SAW) was continuously persecuted. The reign of brutal suppression, in utter violation of the Islamic principles, by the tyrannical ruler and his associates prompted the Kufa citizens to invite Imam Hussain (AS) in order to rid them of Yazid. What happened after that has culminated in the observance of martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS) along with members of his family and close associates year after year and all around the world. If Imam Hussain’s (AS) objective was to battle his opponents, he would not have taken along with him, the womenfolk and small children. The very fact that they were with him proves his humility in keeping the flag of his grandfather’s religion flying high, and stress upon the message of peace.For the Muslims, this event signifies an important chapter of the Islamic history that helped to establish right from wrong, truthfulness from falsity, faithfulness from hypocrisy and above all righteousness from sin. The gruesome nature of this incident has had such an impact on the enlightened people that even non-Muslims could not help but cry out for the pain and misery that the family of the Holy Prophet (SAW) had been subjected to while at the same time they eulogised the supreme sacrifice of Imam Hussain (AS) in reviving Islam. To this day his name is taken with reverence while Yazid and his henchmen are cursed for their shamelessness, and acts of extreme cruelty sparing neither children nor women or the elderly.Edward G. Brown, professor of Arabic and oriental studies at the University of Cambridge, in his book A literary history of Persia on page 227, praises Imam Hussain (AS) in these words: “… a reminder of the blood-stained field of Karbala, where the grandson of the Apostle of God fell at length, tortured by thirst and surrounded by the bodies of his murdered kinsmen, has been at anytime since then sufficient to evoke, even in the most lukewarm and heedless, the deepest emotions, the most frantic grief, and an exaltation of spirit before which pain, danger and death shrink to unconsidered trifles.”Thomas Carlyle a Scottish historian and essayist while emphasising the power of having faith in God, explained: “The best lesson which we get from the tragedy of Karbala is that Hussain (AS) and his companions were rigid believers in God. They illustrated that the numerical superiority does not count when it comes to the truth and the falsehood. The victory of Hussain (AS), despite his minority, marvels me!” If Imam Hussain’s (AS) objective was to battle his opponents, he would not have taken along with him, his womenfolk and small children. The very fact that they were with him proves his humility in keeping the flag of his grandfather’s religion flying high, and stress upon the message of peace. The famous English novelist, Charles Dickens wrote: “If Hussain had fought to quench his worldly desires…then I do not understand why his sister, wife, and children accompanied him. It stands to reason therefore, that his sacrifice was purely for Islam”.Uncountable battles with the most heinous atrocities have been fought in the history of mankind but Karbala stands out as one where a small group of men, women and children remained steadfast with Imam Hussain (AS) amid horrendous moments of torture and anguish. Dr. K. Sheldrake (1888-1947), a British born pickle manufacturer who converted to Islam wrote: “Of that gallant band, male and female knew that the enemy forces around were implacable, and were not only ready to fight, but to kill.Denied even water for the children, they remained parched under the burning sun and scorching sands, yet not one faltered for a moment. Hussain marched with his little company, not to glory, not to power of wealth, but to a supreme sacrifice, and every member bravely faced the greatest odds without flinching.”Antoine Bara, a Christian Lebanese poet and vociferous admirer of the Imam said: “No battle in the modern and past history of mankind has earned more sympathy and admiration as well as provided more lessons than the martyrdom of Hussain in the battle of Karbala.”Even the famous men and women of the Indian Sub-continent were full of accolades for Imam Hussain (AS) and his faithful followers. The tragedy of Karbala and its spirit of non violent resistance and supreme sacrifice has been a source of inspiration for many renowned leaders. Mahatma Gandhi’s first Salt Satyagraha was inspired by Imam Hussain’s (AS) non violent resistance to the tyranny of Yazid. It is believed that Gandhi studied the history of Islam and Imam Hussain (AS), and was of the opinion that Islam represented not the legacy of a sword but of sacrifices of saints like Imam Hussain (AS).Jawaharlal Nehru regarded Karbala as representing humanity’s strength and determination. He expressed his sentiments in these words: “Imam Hussain’s (AS) sacrifice is for all groups and communities, an example of the path of righteousness”.Dr. Radha Krishnan wrote, “Though Imam Hussain gave his life years ago, but his indestructible soul rules the hearts of people even today.” The great poet Rabindranath Tagore, considered Imam Hussain’s (AS) sacrifice as indicative of spiritual liberation. He said, “In order to keep alive justice and truth, instead of an army or weapons, success can be achieved by sacrificing lives, exactly what Imam Hussain (A.S.) did”.And finally the most emphatic statement comes from Dr Radhakrishnan who said: “Though Imam Hussain (AS) gave his life almost 1300 years ago, but his indestructible soul rules the hearts of people even today.”The writer, lawyer and author, is an Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)Published in Daily Times, September 21st 2018.