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Roots and the Series of Events that culminated to the Ashura Massacre

On Friday, 5th Muharram 1432 H, the Baqiyyatullah Husainiyya, as usual, was full of attendants who graced the Ashura mourning assembly. Sayyid (H), in his opening remarks, noted that the extent of the atrocities committed against Imam Husain, his companions and the other members of the progeny of the Prophet at Karbala called for analysis into the immediate and remote causes of the episode. What happened has contradicted all known norms of war in both the pre and post Islamic Arabia and hence constituted not only a war crime but a brutal massacre.

The reason for the fanatical hatred to the members of the Household of the prophet could better be understood by tracing the sociology of the Arabs before the advent of Islam, Sayyid (H) continued. The Arabs had no established monarchy. They had tribal family clans: Banu this and Banu that. The heads of family clans take decisions on behalf of the society. Although they form alliances between family clans, there was intense competition between these different clans. A seemingly minor issue could lead to terrible tribal feud. This was clearly manifested in the heated debate on which clan had the right to put back Hajrul-aswad on the Ka’aba. It was the Prophet, who they call Al-Amin (The Trustworthy) before the Islamic Revelation, who resolved the issue amicably.

The origin of the Arabs could be traced to Fihr bn Malik popularly called Quraish. Abdulmanaf had Hasheem and Abdusshams among his sons. These gave rise to Banu Hasheem and Banu Umayya respectively. Abdulmutallib was the head of Banu Hasheem. The tribal friction inherent with the Arabs existed between these two groups. Banu Hasheem excelled in all kinds of virtues and goodness. Banu Umayyah became envious. As time went on, honour, reverence, regard and respect of the Banu Hasheem went on increasing the more: They held the trusteeship of the keys to the Ka’aba and the custody of the spring well of Zamzam.They acquired the custodianship of the Zamzam due to the ‘mysterious discovery of the Zamzam well by Abdulmutallib.

These and the episode of the ‘Elephants’ enhanced reverence and respect to Abdulmutallib in particular and to Banu Hasheem in general throughout the Arabian Peninsula. The year of the elephants was the year when the Prophet of Islam was born. The issue of the advent of the Seal of the Prophets was a well known fact to both the Jews and the Arabs. That was the reason for the settlement of the Jews at
Yathrib for they hoped that he would be from them. Similarly, each Arab clan hoped that the last Prophet came from them.

Muhammad (SAWA), was born from the noble womb of Aminatu, the wife of
Abdullah, who is the son of the revered Abdulmutallib. A Jewish delegation had to go to Makkah to see this Baby. Upon seeing Mhammad, they confirmed that he was indeed the awaited Seal of the prophets, for, all the signs as explained by their gospel were clearly manifested on him. They went mad! They lost all hopes that the last
prophet would be from Bani Israel. They rebelled and resolved to ‘frustrate Allah’ for not resorting to their whims and caprices.

Similarly, other Arab clans despaired on ever rubbing shoulders with Banu Hasheem since they were bestowed with an everlasting Leadership, not only of the Arabs but of the whole of Mankind. Thus they also resolved not only to disagree but to fight this to the core. Abu Jahl clearly stated this. This is the genesis of the staunch hatred meted out to Banu Hasheem and hence desperate attempts made to extinguish
the Light of Islam right from the onset.

They persecuted the Prophet to the core and planned his assassination ‘collectively’. He was forced to migrate. They pursued him. After Badr, Uhud, Khandaq and Co., their efforts were all brought to naught. Makkah was at last conquered by the Prophet, may the blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny. After the conquest, Quraish leaders and masses had no option but to surrender which they did. Thus they became the “Tulaqah’.

They did surrender, however, Rahban wa Ragban. Rahban: due to the fact that they were afraid of what would befall on them if they had resisted. Ragban: due to the fact that they hoped for the worldly leadership opportunity in the future. Indeed they planned and seized this opportunity. This explained the reason for the denial of the
right to successor ship of the Prophet to Imam Ali (AS). This culminated into the series of events and ultimately got to the peak at Ashura.

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