Let us reflect upon the cause of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (A.S.)
From the day he left Madinah on the 28th Rajab in 60 Hijrah, at every stage, our Imam made his mission clear. He left no doubt as to his intentions. It was not to fight Yezid to get the throne of the empire over which the khalifah ruled. Imam mission was to reawaken the spirit of Islam and rekindle the Islamic conscience which was nearing extinction by the conduct of Muawiyah and Yezid. Justice and morality were gradually being destroyed by the greed for land and power of those who had become rulers. Qur'an insists that distinction can be accorded by piety alone. Since the death of the Holy Prophet a social order had come into existence creating aristocracy based on nepotism and blood relationship.
Let us look at some of the statements by Imam Hussain. Before leaving Madinah Imam Hussain made a will and handed it over to his brother Muhammad Hanafiya. In this will Imam wrote:"My mission is to reform the muslim community which I propose to do by AMRAL BIL MA'RUF AND NAHYA ANIL MUNKAR, inviting them to the good and advising them against evil. It is not my intention to set myself as an insolent or arrogant tyrant or a mischief maker".
In Mecca a man came to him and said he was a Shiah of Ahlul Bait. Imam looked at him and said:"My friend, never claim to be one of our Shiahs lest Allah, on the Day of Judgement, raise you with the liars. No one can be our Shiah except a person whose heart is free of deceit, malice or hatred towards others and free of corruption. If you are not such a person you can claim to be our admirer or supporter but never our Shiah."
Being a Shiah means having a pure mind and soul, free of greed, malice, jealousy, deceit. It means keeping away from back biting and other habit of putting down others. It means having a thirst for knowledge. It means living our lives justly, humbly and being true to ourselves and others.
In Mecca Imam addressed a large group of scholars who had come for pilgrimage. He exhorted them to do amr bil ma'ruf and nahya anil munkar and not to pander to the philosophies of the rulers who paid them to keep away from truth. This was a long and powerful speech reminding the scholars of their duty to inculcate Islamic conscience and not to mislead the masses who trusted them.
This famous speech of the Imam, is a document which must be read by all of us every Muharram so that we could ourselves be our own judge as to how seriously we take our duty to do amr bil ma'ruf and nahya anil munkar. These are mandatory obligations.
The Holy Prophet (SAWA) has said :The world is like a ship and mankind its passengers. The welfare of all depends upon the safe conduct of each. If anyone is found making a hole on the side of a ship, he must be stopped.
The Holy 5th Imam (AS) "Amr-bil-ma'roof and nahya 'anil munkar are the most important obligations because upon them depend the performance of all other obligations. If amr-bil-ma'roof and nahya 'anil munkar are done the earth will become a safe place, enemies will be subdued and all other affairs discharged satisfactorily"
The Holy Prophet (SAWAW) "He who does amr-bil-ma'roof and nahya 'anil munkar is the vicegerent on the earth of Allah, His Prophet and His Book."
The sole cause for which Imam Hussain set out from Madinah was to perform his duty to do amr bil ma'ruf and nahya anil munkar to the ummah which had not only apathetically accepted the evil that had been flowing from the court in Damascus but, sadly, begun to emulate it. The inevitable consequence of this would have been a total destruction of all Islamic values.
In a letter which he addressed to the people of Kufa Imam wrote: "An Imam is one who judges by the Holy Qur'an, upholds justice, professes the religion of truth and dedicates himself to obeying Allah and His Prophet."
When Hur and his army stopped Imam caravan from going to Kufa, and Hur told Imam that his order from ibne Ziyad was to ask Imam for Bai'at to Yezid, Imam refused to declare Bai'at to someone who was only serving his own ends and not of Islam. Hur said that such an attitude might cost Imam his life. Imam replied: "Are you threatening me with death? Death is many thousands of times better than the dishonour of Bai'at to an enemy of Islam. Do you not see that truth is not being practised and falsehood is not being prevented? I see death as a blessing and life with tyrants as the most disgusting state one can be in."
At Kerbala, facing the army of Yezid, Imam Hussain addressed them as follows:"Remember that when you see a ruler who does what has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, who indulges in sins, who oppresses the people he rules, and you do nothing to stop such a ruler, before Allah you are as guilty as he is." He went on to add:"My parents did not raise me to submit myself to an evil tyrant. I am your Imam and it is my duty to tell you that you have surrendered the freedom of your mind to the evil ways of Yezid. If you do not care for Islam, and do not fear the day of judgement, at least do care for that precious gift from Allah, the freedom of your spirit!!"
When Amr Sa'ad called upon the army to attack and kill Imam Hussain he said: "Death is better that disgrace and disgrace is better than the fire of hell."