Say, “O Allah, Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent. (3:36)
Coming of life and death is much like the coming of day and night, each phase an indication of the next, each era guaranteed to be succeeded by the next. We all must die. We are here today and will leave tomorrow. Yet some of us live forever. Prophet Muhammad SAW lives forever. Imam Hussein AS lives for ever. They live in the glory that Allah SWT has bestowed upon them because of what they sowed in their life.
Allah SWT is The Superlative, the Honored and Dignified. He gives honor to whom HE wills. He gives honor to those who obey him and worship him. HE has given honor to Prophet Muhammad SAW. Magazines like Charlie Hebdo may mock Prophet Muhammad SAW but Allah SWT has raised Prophet Muhammad in the eyes of scholars like Michael H. Hart. Many others have been the victims of Charlie Hebdo’s mockery including the innocent victims of the recent London attacks and Aylan, the symbol of Syrian refugee crisis. The actions of Charlie Hebdo’s authors are a reflection of their own character, not that of Prophet Muhammad SAW. The title “Mercy for All Mankind” is a reflection of the character of Prophet Muhammad SAW. Allah SWT raised Prophet Muhammad SAW from an orphan to be a leader of an entire nation just as he raised Jesus PBUH from the small town of Nazareth to be the prophet of an entire nation. Through HIS glory, HE raises from a place of namelessness to the list of “Most Influential People” whom HE wills.
Like Prophet Muhammad SAW, Allah SWT honored Imam Hussein AS, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad SAW. Like Charlie Hebdo who desecrated the honor of Prophet Muhammad, Yazid desecrated the dead body of Imam Hussein with the hooves of his horse, the ultimate sign of dishonor and disgrace in his time. Yet people all around the world, Muslims, and non-Muslims alike revere Imam Hussein AS, commemorate him, shed tears for him and praise the notion that he stood for. He stood for justice. He stood for human dignity. Imam Hussein AS stood for people to follow the religion of Allah SWT. In the religion of Allah SWT is dignity. But this is a very limited explanation of dignity and of Imam Hussein’s stance. Imam Hussein stood for freedom of speech. He stood for freedom of thought. In the freedom of thought, a reflective mind, and intellect is Human Dignity. Imam Hussein’s opinion was one: Yazid is not the rightful leader of his people. Imam Hussein made his opinion loud and clear for all to hear. We live in a time when people are being ruled by leaders who are not the rightful owners of the throne. Should we also stand up against them and speak, loud and clear? Or should we adopt methods of peace, harmony, and diplomacy? Or, perhaps, there is a way to adopt both: clear rebellion and diplomacy, in a balanced, tactful manner. Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is adopting methods of diplomacy and using the law of the nation to fight their cause for justice. They are also making it loud and clear when the leaders are not right. So maybe there is a way to adopt both ways. Imam Hussein fought Yazid in battle but was imposed upon him. He was stranded in the desert of Karbala to face an army of thousands with his meek battalion composing of teenagers and women. All of this because Imam Hussein refused to pledge allegiance to Yazid as his leader.
In our time, voting has taken the place of pledging allegiance and there is a social understanding that the elected president is of all people whether we vote for him or not. Yet, after 2016, people took to the streets to make it clear that Mr. Trump is “not [their] president.” He does not represent Americans just as Yazid did not represent Imam Hussein. The people who took to the streets after Mr. Trump was elected president followed the legacy of Imam Hussein without even knowing about him. If we introduce Imam Hussein to people, they may develop a softer corner for Islam knowing the values Islam stands for- justice, sacrifice, and devotion. Until then, the likes of Charlie Hebdo may attack Islam and Muslims but billions of Muslims around the world will continue to love Islam, it’s teachings and their prophet. On the day of Judgement, Allah SWT will honor Prophet Muhammad SAW with the highest status in Paradise for the devotion and sacrifice he showed in way of Allah. May Allah SWT honor us through the nearness of our Prophet and his progeny in Paradise.