From Ashoor to Zahoor: The Transition from Imam Hussain (as) to Imam Mahid (atf)
By Asad Jafri
As we bid farewell to the days of mourning of Imam Hussain (AS), a question that is often asked and pondered over is how does one keep that flame of inspiration burning that was so intense during these precious Ayyam-e-Aza. History tells us that the passion that can be seen across our centres during these valued days simply isn’t seen once these days come to an end. To answer this question we must establish a connection between the events of Kerbala that occurred in 61 A.H and that with what is happening today. We must conceptualize Kerbala and view Ashura as not just a day but rather a philosophy and mode of living. If we see the events of Kerbala as simply a historic event then this passion is bound to die once the days of commemoration are over. However adopting this historic event as a movement to be lived for and a philosophy to be adopted, preserves this passion long after the commemoration is over.
That connection that is needed must be the establishment of a correlation between the uprising of Ashura and the revolution of the Zahoor. This union will allow us to extract the lessons of Kerbala and apply them to our preparation for the arrival of the Imam of our time (atf).
Let us examine two important events or “callings” in history to better understand what this connection is all about.
The call of the Ahle Medina
At the time of the pilgrimage to the Ka’aba, some of the men of the Khazraj tribe came to Makkah and met with the Holy Prophet (SAW) in Masjid al-Haram. He explained the divine faith of Islam to them and encouraged them to believe in this religion, which is the faith of peace and tranquility. The heads of the Khazraj tribe who resided in the city of Yathrib (present day Medina), who were also tired of their disputes and conflicts with the Aws tribe, felt that Islam was exactly what they needed to solve these ongoing issues.
When the Khazrajis, who had become Muslim, were about to return to Yathrib, they asked the Holy Prophet of Islam for a missionary, and he assigned Mas’ab ibn `Umir to accompany them. After some time, Mas’ab reported back to the Holy Prophet (SAW) regarding the reform that has taken place and the conversion to Islam of the chiefs and leaders of both the Khazraj and Aws tribes. It was only after seeing this reform that the Holy Prophet (SAW) accepted the invitation and made his famous migration from Mecca to Yathrib that later became known as Medinat-un-Nabi (The City of the Prophet) and established the Islamic Government.
Conclusion: Migration and Success only happened after the tribes of Medina changed and reformed themselves.
The call of the Ahle Kufa
When Yazid was made Caliph after the death of his father, the people of Kufa initially rejected this appointment and wrote thousands of letters to Imam Hussain (AS) requesting for him to be their Imam and Guide. A portion of the letters sent to Imam Hussain (AS) from Kufa are below:
“We request you to come to us so that Allāh may unite us upon the truth. No’mān bin Basheer is alone present in the palace, but we do not gather with him on the Friday (Prayers), nor do we go to him on the day of Eid. If we learn that you have proceeded to come to us, we shall drive him out from here until we pursue him to Syriā, Allāh willing. Allāh’s Peace and Blessings be upon you.”
Imam Hussain (AS) replied to the letters by acknowledging their request and announcing that he will be sending Muslim ibn Aqeel as his ambassador. Upon Muslim’s arrival close to 20,000 people gave allegiance to Imam Hussain (AS) causing Muslim to inform the Imam to make his way to Kufa. This news reached No’mān bin Basheer, who was made the governor of Kufā by Mu’āwiyah. He went out and started admonishing people from supporting Muslim bin Aqeel Then Ubaydullāh told the noblemen and chiefs who were with him to deceive those people who were with them with false promises, and threaten and warn those who were disobedient to them. They did as directed until the situation reached such a stage that women started coming to their sons and brothers and telling them to return, for the other people who were left were sufficient for the task (of supporting Muslim). Likewise men too started coming (to take their relatives) and people started moving away. Ultimately Muslim was left with only thirty men. When he recited the Prayers of Maghrib in the Mosque, thirty people followed him. When he saw this situation he turned towards the door of the Bani Kindah. Only ten people remained with him until he reached the door, but when he stepped out no one was left. Then he turned around and saw that no one was left to guide him or offer him shelter in their house or defend him from the enemy. Muslim was martyred before he could get news back to Imam Hussain (AS) to not come to Kufa.
Conclusion: People paid allegiance to Imam Hussain (AS) and wrote thousands of letter asking him to come and lead them but some false promises and threats from Ubaydullah turned them away from Muslim who was left alone.
From these two historical callings we can derive two very important points:
- The Ahlul Bayt (AS) deemed reform of the ummah as a vital component of success and ultimate allegiance to them
- Without reform and transformation, success within any ummah is unattainable
The question that must be asked is that as we call for our Imam of today for help – As we pray for his speedy reappearance and beg that he come and save us, is our calling that of the Ahle Medina or the Ahle Kufa? Will our reform breed our success like those of Medina or will our failure to change be noted in history forever to be narrated like those of Kufa?
Now that we have understood the sheer value and importance of reform let us examine how this reform is achievable thru these two very significant missions namely the uprising of Imam Hussain (AS) and the revolution of the Imam of our time (AS).
Within the science of morality there is a discussion on the state of the heart of man. One of the facets of this discussion revolves around the hard-heartedness of man being a roadblock for internal reform and self building. We have a tradition by our Ahlul Bayt that states that a man’s inability to shed tears is due to his heart becoming hard and his heart becoming hard is due to excessive sinning. We can derive from these traditions that the first ingredient for reform is a soft heart. The majalis of Aba Abdillah Al-Hussain (AS) creates an atmosphere of pure and utter grief. When one hears about the heart rendering acts committed against the family of the Holy Prophet on the plains of Kerbala, their hearts begin to soften and their eyes begin to water. These tears hold great value for many reasons – one of which is that they pave the path of reform for us. It is reported that our Holy Prophet (SAW) when addressing his Beloved Daughter, Janab Fatima Zahra (SA) says:
“O’ Fatimah! Every eye shall be weeping on the Day of Judgment except the eye which has shed tears over the tragedy of Husain (A.S.) for surely, that eye shall be laughing and shall be given the glad tidings of the bounties and comforts of Paradise.”
It is in this state that man’s heart is at its softest and reaches the peak of vulnerability for change. It is for this reason that we find in our books that one of the best times for dua is when the tears are rolling down your face. Once we have that occurrence of a soft heart it is at that moment that we must ensure that we begin to think about and eventually practically apply a strategy for change.
Imam Hussain (AS) provides the tools for reform while Imam Mahdi (atf) provides the mission for reform!
If we can grasp this connection and understand this link than as we continue to commemorate the Great Sacrifice of Imam Hussain (AS) year in and year out we can guarantee that that Light of Inspiration will stay lit way beyond the days of commemoration.
With the blessing that is Azadari we can now use this blessing to prepare for that final victory – the Zahoor of our Beloved Imam (atf).
“O Allah! Give me ma`rifah of Your Existence. For, if you do not give me ma`rifah, I will not recognise Your Holy Prophet (SAW.). O Allah! Give me ma`rifah of Your Beloved Prophet (SAW) for if I do not have ma`rifah of Your Prophet (SAW), I will not recognise Your Hujjah (lmam(atf)). O Allah! Give me ma`rifah of Your Hujjah. For, if You do not give me ma`rifah of Your Hujjah, I will deviate from my religion.” 
Asad Jafri is a student from the Hawza in Qum
 Nafasul Mahmoom, Sh. Abbas Qummi, Section 8, Chapter 4
 Bihar al‑Anwar, vol. 44 pg. 193.
 Usul Al-Kafi, vol 1, pg 337-341