Imam baqir (p.b.u.h) said: Allah,blessed most high said,I will certainly punish every muslim community who accepted the leadership of a tyrant leader who isn't chosen by Allah.
Raḥmat-i wāsiʽah: Bayān-i raḥmat-i wāsiʽah-yi Khudā, Ḥaḍrat-i Sayyid al-Shuhadā’ ʽalayh al-salām PDF Print E-mail
Written by Muhammad-Reza Fakhr-Rohani   
Saturday, 08 October 2016 00:13

[The All-Encompassing Divine Mercy: Some Characteristics of the All-Encompassing Divine Mercy, the Prince of Martyrs, Imam al-Ḥusayn], in the words of the late Grand Ayatollah Muḥammad-Taqī Bahjat, Qum, 1436 AH/ 1394 Sh/ 2015.351 pp., 16,500 Rials, hardback.

The book under review straddles a martyrdom account (maqtal) of Imam al-Ḥusayn and a set of moral lessons derived from the life and triumphant martyrdom of Imam al-Ḥusayn, as manifested in the speeches of the late Grand Ayatollah Muḥammad-Taqī Bahjat (1295-1388 Sh/ 1916-2009). Ayatollah Bahjat was a great contemporary mystic whose moral teachings and advice brought him much fame in his life time. In addition to his hometown Fūman, Guīlān Province, northern Iran, where he attended local madrasas, he received his religious education first at Karbala and then at Najaf. The book in focus is a collection of his moral and mystic apothegms connected with his interpretation of the tragic and triumphant Ashura Battle of Karbala in general and Imam al-Ḥusayn in specific.

It is really a compelling and really demanding job that requires several research teams to come up with a comprehensive bibliography of the books written on Imam al-Ḥusayn. Despite the general theme of such publications, a great majority of the books that come to deal with Imam al-Ḥusayn focus on his martyrdom at Karbala in 61 AH/ 680. Granted it is his and his companions’ martyrdom that drive people to shed tears, yet the episodes of this tragic event have been packed with so many moral and mystical lessons. It is this book of the late Ayatollah Bahjat that focuses on such lessons taken from the event of the Ashura Battle of Karbala. Parenthetically, it must be indicated this is not a book originally penned by Ayatollah Bahjat, rather it is a posthumous collection of the points he used to make in his discussions and lessons.

The book title signifies just one of the many, many designations of Imam al-Ḥusayn in Islamic sources. [1= designations] It indicates that Imam al-Ḥusayn has been an embodiment of the all-embracing Divine mercy on the mankind. While the unnumbered, preparatory chapter of the book is entitled “Showq-i zīyārt” (the desire for performing ziarat), it makes a connection between a short biographical profile of Ayatollah Bahjat and his ardent desire to pay a ziarat unto al-Ḥusayn’s tomb at Karbala when he was yet a child. It illustrates how Ayatollah Bahjat made his way to Islamic religious education and made a great mystical figure. His staunch belief in the extraordinary nature of the jobs performed for rendering services to Imam al-Ḥusayn filled his whole life. He believed that an essential point of making ziarat unto the ziarat-worthy characters lies in the belief that they answer and fulfill the desires of those who perform ziarat unto them, hence there is no difference between their being alive or dead in this respect.

The first chapter of the book is concerned with sincere devotion and love to the Ahl al-Bayt, the descendants of the Prophet Muḥammad. The common point of the points made in the chapter prove that sincere devotion and love to Imam al-Ḥusayn benefits both Muslims and non-Muslims. It indicates that this sacred love makes the pivot of sincere worshipping Allah, a love that underlies and makes the spirit of all pious religious rituals in Islam.

Chapter Two deals with some noteworthy characteristics of the matchless companions of Imam al-Ḥusayn. It is a truth that all of those who were martyred together with Imam al-Ḥusayn were steadfast in their decision to defend Imam al-Ḥusayn, yet none of them was forced to remain with him. Imam al-Ḥusayn ha let them go, even on the eve of Ashura, just some hours before the outbreak of that imposed war (because it was certainly the Umayyad army that insisted on fighting). A key point is that the companions of Imam al-Ḥusayn truly believed in the sweetness of sacrificing their lives for the sake of Allah in favor of Imam al-Ḥusayn. It is sufficient to remark that reportedly a young nephew of Imam al-Ḥusayn described ‘martyrdom’ as “sweeter than honey” (aḥlā min al-ʽasal).

Chapter Three focuses on some remarks on the lives of Imam al-Ḥusayn and his family members and companions. Here it is indicated that Imam al-Ḥusayn was a high dignitary, yet he was kind to whoever appealed to or helped him. Although he was under much pressure in the imposed war, he never stopped offering his sincere advice to his enemies. A corollary of this point is that Imam al-Ḥusayn was kind to everybody, even kinder than them to themselves.

The pivotal point of Chapter Four is the wickedness of the Umayyad army that opposed Imam al-Ḥusayn. It was their deviated character that drove them to oppose and fight Imam al-Ḥusayn, although they knew well the truth. On pages 126-7 of the book there is an account that indicates that Muʽāwīyah in a dialogue with his son Yazīd confessed that leadership was certainly a right of the descendants of the Prophet Muḥammad, yet he advised his son not to recognize this right for them at all.

The lessons derived from the event of Ashura make the theme of Chapter Five. Here some of the important lessons that can be taken are indicated. For example, the wicked sacrifice everything and everybody and overlook every value for the reaching their whims, a marker of those who cannot perceive what awaits them in the world Hereafter. Everybody is expected to determine to which camp, i.e., the right or the wrong, they are associated. Hence historical incidents are for our taking lessons and add to our better perception and taking sounder decisions, not merely for regarding them as what happened and finished. In the meantime, even a wicked person may make his individual and historic decision to change his camp, to leave the wicked and to join the felicitous. This is what took place in the case of al-Ḥurr b. Yazīd al-Rīyāḥī, a renowned and brave Kufan nobleman who used to be a high-ranking Umayyad commander but decided to overlook all gleanings of this transitory worldly life in the Umayyad camp, hence left it, and joined Imam al-Ḥusayn as a soldier, fought the enemies in his favor and attained martyrdom. This is an influential beam of hope that repentance always proves effective and constructive in and for the fate of the mankind.

The focus of Chapter Six is on some graces of Imam al-Ḥusayn and his descendants. Here some anecdotes are listed in that in defending himself, Imam al-Ḥusayn never killed whoever might be in front of him on the Ashura battlefield. As an Infallible Imam, he was able to discern if there might be a good-doing descendant in the progeny of the enemy who stood against him. If so, he let him go. Another indication is that love of Imam al-Ḥusayn benefits everybody, both Muslim and non-Muslim. It is cited that there was a Hindu who used to spend a huge sum of money each year for commemorating the mourning gatherings held in memory of Imam al-Ḥusayn. One day this Hindu was going to be dragged into a machine and was about to be killed. However, he was miraculously rescued. When he got back to his senses, he reported that at that critical moment he noticed a nobleman who rescued him. As he inquired of the nobleman’s identity, he said: “I am the one for whom you spend this sum of money every year.” Besides this, the book indicates the miracles of reciting the Ashura Ziarat-Text.

As rituals of performing ziarat unto Imam al-Ḥusayn are highly important and show the pilgrim’s awareness of his status, Chapter Seven deals with some of these hints. Here it is indicated that everybody needs the graceful and felicitous attention of the Infallibles. Those who feel desirous for communicating and keeping and reinforcing their relations with Imam al-Ḥusayn must go on pilgrimage to Karbala at least every four years, if feasible. The practice of performing ritual prostration on the clay or soil of Karbala or kissing his tomb are just some indications of our devotion to the lofty status Allah has given Imam al-Ḥusayn. Hence, such prostration and kissing should not be interpreted as acts of worshipping some clay or a piece of stone. This is just a manifestation of our loving them. The moment a pilgrim decides to pay pilgrimage (ziarat) unto Imam al-Ḥusayn, they are in his precinct; spatial distance never counts.

Proper commemoration of Imam al-Ḥusayn makes the hardcore of Chapter Eight. It is indicated that commemorating Imam al-Ḥusayn makes a highly praised supplementary ritual. Yet, in doing so, nothing should cause problems for other people; the public rights must be observed. The least effect of shedding tears in favor of Imam al-Ḥusayn is the spiritual link a devotee finds with him. In addition, the mourners receive abundant religious and spiritual grace.

Chapter Nine contains some recommendations on what should be observed in the lectures and addresses delivered in relation to commemorating Imam al-Ḥusayn’s martyrdom. It is indicted that successful clerics were those who recounted only the events that factually took place in the event of Ashura. In addition, not only must we be careful of the religious needs of other Muslim communities, we are expected to present a true picture of Islam in which the merciful character of this religion is manifested. In consequence, those who decide to make preachers must be careful to practice whatever they preach.

The next chapter of the book is devoted to a number of queries addressed to Ayatollah Bahjat and the answers he gave. The book finishes with a bibliography of the works mentioned or used.

The book already reviewed can be regarded as a new genre of maqtal works. This book was never an independent book, rather it was pieced together in which the fragments were selected from a much larger corpus of the addresses made by Ayatollah Bahjat. In such a kind of Husayni literature, various parts receive emphasis, with moral lessons taken from each section highlighted.