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“…and I am from Hussain”: Looking into a hadith from Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

One of the mysterious statements of the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) is what he said about one of his grandchildren, Hussain ibn Ali (pbuh) [the son of Imam Ali (pbuh) and Lady Fatima (pbuh), the daughter of the Holy Prophet]. Many people did not understand this sentence until Imam Hussain carried out his famous uprising. The following Op-Ed article attempts to discuss and delve into the different aspects of this hadith.

Ya’la bin Marah Aameri related, “I went out with the Messenger of God toward a banquet to which he was invited. Hussain (pbuh) was playing with other children. The Messenger of God stood in front of them and opened his arms, but this child (Imam Hussain) kept running to this side and that side escaping from the Messenger of God, which made him laugh. Until finally, the Prophet hugged and kissed him. Then he said, “Hussain is from me and I am from Hussain, may God love the one who loves Hussain.”[1]

In this hadith, the controversial phrase is the phrase where the Prophet, after saying “Hussain is from me,” says, “And I am from Hussain.” Deliberation on this part of his statement reveals its truly astonishing characteristic. Therefore, it is better to explain this hadith from several perspectives in order to understand it better.

In this regard, it is necessary to think about what is meant by “me and my dependence on someone else” or “someone else’s dependence on me.” For the first part of this speech, which is this interdependence and this human relationship, we can study this matter from different perspectives. The two most important perspectives will be explained.

Family or blood relationships: This kind of relationship means that a person is related by blood to another person or persons. For example, it is clear in this tradition that the first interpretation of the words “Hussain is from me” is a genealogical interpretation, because Hussain (pbuh) is the son of the Prophet’s daughter and his bloodline goes back to the Holy Prophet of Islam.

Ideological relationship: An ideological relationship, as is clear from the word “ideology”, refers to beliefs and convictions. In the first part of the hadith, this aspect can also be seen. That is, Hussain’s (pbuh) belief and conviction is the same as my belief. In fact, Hussain’s outlook and worldview are similar to mine.

But to understand the mysterious (second) phrase of the hadith, we also need to unravel the other dimensions that can be understood from it.

Blood relationship: This relationship is not logical and naturally cannot be easily accepted here. That is, the Prophet being from the blood of Hussain has no meaning or truth in the real world.

Ideological relationship: This is also not acceptable because the bringer of religion and ideology is Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who is the Prophet of Islam, and not Imam Hussain (pbuh). This is also not accepted historically. It is the Prophet of Islam who has influenced the beliefs of human beings after himself.

As we can see, if we analyze the issue from the perspective of the individual himself, no reasonable understanding can be obtained from this part of the hadith under discussion unless we remove the “I” as a person and consider not only the body and beliefs of this person, but also consider the “effect” and “scope of his influence” as being parts of him. And this is the correct approach. Today, we use this same approach when considering movements and schools of thought. Now from this perspective, one should ask what was the “effect” of the Prophet of Islam. If this effect and the scope of his influence are determined, can a relationship be established between these and Imam Hussain (pbuh). And then in continuation, can a relationship be found with respect to the mysterious phrase in question?

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is called the Prophet of Islam because he brought the religion of Islam to the people of his time and taught them a worldview and way of life which is called Islam. Hence, we can refer to the religion of Islam and Muslims as the legacy of the Holy Prophet and the scope of his effect and influence. Now if we return to the hadith under discussion and examine it from the perspective of the effect of the Holy Prophet, we should read the second phrase as follows, “My Islam is from Hussain.”

Here too, the previous question arises, and that is concerning the fact that we know Islam was brought by the Prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). So this idea that Islam was brought by Imam Hussain (pbuh) is not acceptable. But another aspect of this can become clear for us instead by knowing the history of Islam. This aspect is concerned with the “survival of Islam”, and this is what the study of history clearly shows us.

Historically, after the death of the Prophet of Islam, the path of the Muslim religion and society did not proceed as had been intended by the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet. There is much evidence with respect to the emergence of numerous cases of falsehood, injustice, religious distortion, the growth of hypocrisy, and so on. Many of the issues that Islam emphasizes gradually disappeared from the Islamic society. The rise of civil wars, as reported in historical texts and in many sources, illustrates this situation.

A serious matter resulting in the arise of deviation after the demise of the Prophet was the matter of his successor. Some such as the Shi’a believed that the Prophet introduced a successor, and he is Ali ibn Abi Talib (pbuh). He was the closest person to the Prophet in terms of faith, knowledge, justice and courage, and the Prophet introduced him to everyone in Ghadir Khom. But another group believed that the Prophet did not choose anyone, and he left this choice to the people alone and to the elders of the tribes. In the end, the result was that Imam Ali (pbuh) did not become the caliph immediately after the Prophet because some people from the tribes chose other individuals.

Following this, social and religious unrest escalated in the Muslim community, and even the three caliphs were killed one after another. After the assassination and martyrdom of Imam Ali (pbuh) and the elimination of Imam Hassan (pbuh) from the caliphate, Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan proclaimed himself to be the ruler. In addition and contrary to the promise that he had made to the Muslims, he introduced his son, Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan, for the first time as the next caliph in a move that was reminiscent of a monarchical tradition. He also asked others to pledge allegiance to him. This occurrence was enough for a number of the Muslims to consider this appointment to be a beacon of danger for all of Islam. Because before this if a caliph did not practice Islam in accordance with the Qur’an and the Prophet, at least he did not show open opposition to religion. This time however, Yazid was a tyrannical ruler who openly ridiculed Islam, and he was determined to distort it with the help of his cohorts. In such a situation, Imam Hussain (pbuh) did not pledge allegiance to Yazid ibn Muawiyah, and in accordance with the Islamic practice of enjoining good and forbidding evil, he engaged in jihad to bring reform to the Islamic community.

Yazid decided to assassinate Imam Hussain (pbuh), but the reformist, enlightening endeavors of Imam Hussain (pbuh) continued and led to a series of events that culminated in the event of Ashura. This was an event in which Imam Hussain, his relatives and his companions were martyred at the order of Yazid, and their wives and children were taken captive by Yazid’s army.

This event was so immense and shocking to the Islamic nation that after this event reform movements and fighting against oppression started in the Islamic world. With his uprising, Imam Hussain (pbuh) acted in such a manner that the difference between the two ways, the way of the original Islam and the way that was non-Islamic, became clear in the Islamic nation. One side emphasized pure Islam and justice and the other side stood in opposition to it.

In fact with his uprising, Imam Hussain (pbuh) highlighted the reality that what had been dominating the Islamic government and society after the death of the Prophet was not Islamic rule or an Islamic government. Rather, it was a society whose name was Islamic but which was plagued by anti-Islamic tyranny and leadership. Therefore in a sense, Imam Hussain (pbuh) emphasized again with his movement what the Holy Prophet had been sent for. As we have seen over thousands and hundreds of years, many revolutionary, justice-seeking, pious movements have defined their identity and path based on the example of Imam Hussain’s uprising.

The following story has been narrated in a hadith, “When Imam Sajjad (pbuh) returned to Medina after the event of Ashura, someone came to him and said, ‘O son of the Messenger of God! You have witnessed what happened due to your departure!… This caravan has returned and only one man [Imam Sajjad (pbuh)] is in this caravan.’ The women had been captured, had suffered and were mourning. Imam Hussain was not alive anymore. Ali Akbar was not alive anymore. Not even Imam Hussain’s infant was alive anymore. In response to that person, Imam Sajjad (pbuh) said, ‘Think what would have happened if we had not gone!’ Yes, if they had not gone, the bodies would have survived, but the truth would have been destroyed. Souls would have melted, consciences would have been trampled upon, wisdom and logic would have been condemned throughout history, and not even the name of Islam would have survived.”[2]

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution has said in this regard, “The basis of religion has become linked to Ashura, and it has survived thanks to Ashura. Had it not been for the great sacrifice of Hussain ibn Ali (pbuh)—which caused history’s conscience to become fully aware and awakened— in the first century or first half of the second century according to the Hijri calendar, Islam would have been completely eliminated.”[3] And hence it may be said, “‘I am from Hussain’ means the religion of the Prophet was revived by Hussain bin Ali.”[4]

[1] Ibn Abi Shibah, Abubakr, Masnaf Ibn Abi Shibah, vol.6, p. 380.

[2] Leader’s speech in meeting with government officials. [Mar. 18, 2002]

[3] Leader’s speech in meeting with members of the clergy. [June 19, 1993]

[4] Leader’s Friday Prayer sermon. [May 8, 1997]

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